The word Prytanean derives from the Greek word “Prytanes” meaning, in a broad sense, a representative. At one time, Ancient Greece was divided into a number of political units, each responsible for sending a representative to the law-making convention in Athens. When the convention was in session, a lamp was kept burning over the door of the building where the meetings of the Council of the Chosen Ones were held. This lamp appears on the Great Seal of the University of California, whose motto is “Let there be light,” and also serves as the Prytanean symbol.
To recognize and honor the scholastic achievement of undergraduate women
To encourage fellowship among women with diverse goals and interests
To provide community service to the University and community
To define positive roles and encourage leadership for women
The Prytanean Society is the oldest collegiate women’s honorary society in the United States. It was founded in 1901 on the UC Berkeley campus. The Berkeley chapter later established the UC Davis chapter in 1952. The Davis initiation class was made up of sixteen members, several of whom live in Davis today and support the active chapter.
"the oldest collegiate women's honorary society in the United States"
The history of Prytanean is the development of a respected campus organization whose members maintain the high ideals of scholarship, service, friendship, and respect for one another. Its purpose has been to secure due recognition for women of achievement. During the academic year, active membership numbers 40-75 students of diverse ethnic backgrounds and majors from all three colleges. The alumnae membership now numbers over 3,000 women, including physicians, journalists, professors, lawyers, judges, artists, and other outstanding women dedicated to community service. The Davis chapter remains a nexus for active women working toward common goals, both academic and service, within a supportive framework of active members and alumnae.