Iron Arrow Honor Society

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The distinctive Seminole patchwork jackets worn by Iron Arrow Honor Society members.

The Iron Arrow Honor Society is an honor society at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida for students, faculty, staff and alumni.[1][2] It is the highest honor that can be bestowed by the university.[3]

Founded at the University of Miami in 1926, the society admits about thirty members annually, including undergraduates, students at the School of Law, and Miller School of Medicine. Membership is based on unanimous votes of the membership. Criteria include scholarship, leadership, character, humility, and love of alma mater.


Historically, the society was male-only, founded as the "The Highest Honor Attained by Men". In 1937 Nu Kappa Tau, a separate sister organization, was founded as "The Highest Honor Attained by Women". In 1966 the group became affiliated with the national women's honor society, Mortar Board, and as Randy Femmer wrote in his book Iron Arrow: A History,[4]"leaving Iron Arrow to carry the tradition alone".[5][6]

In 1976 the federal government notified the University of Miami that it was providing significant assistance to Iron Arrow in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The university responded by having Iron Arrow move its tapping ceremony off campus and negotiated with it to accept women members. In turn, Iron Arrow sued the federal government seeking the right to continue on campus as a male-only organization. In 1982 University President Edward T. Foote II wrote to Iron Arrow stating that regardless of how the court case came out, Iron Arrow would not be allowed back on campus as a male-only organization. This rendered the court case moot before it was scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Iron Arrow Honor Soc. v. Heckler, 464 U.S. 67 (1983)[7]

In 1985 the society's all-male membership voted to admit women, and Iron Arrow was allowed back on campus.

Prominent members[edit]

Alumni Notability
Bowman Foster Ashe First President of the University of Miami
Xavier Cortada Artist
Dante Fascell Former U.S. Representative
Michael Johns Health care executive, former White House speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush
Dexter Lehtinen Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida
R. Fred Lewis Chief Justice, Florida Supreme Court
Russell Maryland Former professional football player, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders
Jackie Nespral WTVJ and NBC News anchor
Jon Secada Grammy Award-winning musician
Donna Shalala Current President of the University of Miami and former US Health and Human Services Secretary
José Szapocznik Clinical psychologist
Lauryn Williams 2004 Summer Olympics silver medalist, women's 100-meter sprint


  1. ^ "History | University of Miami". 
  2. ^ "Iron Arrow Nomination Form" (doc). Retrieved 2009-09-22. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Arrowheads," Miami magazine, Fall 2000.
  4. ^ Femmer, Randolph (1989). Iron Arrow: A History. Coral Gables, FL: Iron Arrow Honor Society, University of Miami. OCLC 2564244. 
  5. ^ Chapman, Cheryl (Fall 2000). "Arrow Heads". Miami Magazine (alumni publication). Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  6. ^ Femmer, Randolph; Illustrated by Thad Kock, Jr., (1976). Iron Arrow: A History (1st ed.). Coral Gables, Florida: Iron Arrow Honor Society - University of Miami. p. 174. 
  7. ^ "Iron Arrow Honor Society v. Heckler, 464 U.S. 67 (1983)". FindLaw. 

External links[edit]