The Sphinx Senior Society is the oldest and most prestigious honor society of the University of Pennsylvania, recognizing the top seniors who have made significant contributions to the university as leaders of the campus. Continuing in this tradition, the society has come to represent all facets of university life and has reflected the changing face of Penn’s student body. Members today include leaders in student government, performing arts, media, service groups, cultural organizations, Greek life, athletics, and other realms of student affairs.
As a self-perpetuating organization, each current member personally invites individuals from the junior class to apply for membership every spring. These prospectives, all of whom have in some way served the University through their extracurricular activities, have an opportunity to learn more about the society, meet current Sphinx members, and pick up an application at an informal smoker. The seniors then select the members of the next Sphinx class based on their achievement, leadership, commitment, and character. There is also an opportunity for individuals to be inducted in the fall of their senior year through an identical rush process, so long as the total membership of the society each year does not exceed thirty. Occurring since the first graduating group in 1900, an extensive alumni network has developed over the decades, which allows Sphinx members to not only communicate with each other well beyond graduation, but to also interact with past Sphinx generations.
An assembly of Penn’s current and past student leaders, Sphinx provides a unique opportunity for its members to come together and effect positive changes at Penn and in Philadelphia. The network established amongst the membership facilitates discussion and interaction between the members’ respective organizations, allowing for innovative joint projects and community services. Members also attend each other’s events and performances, to both show support for fellow Sphinges and to develop camaraderie amongst the membership. Through such interactions and a number of social events, Sphinx members have and continue to be agents of change and impact both inside and outside the University.