Graduation Cords

History of Honors

Ashleigh Luke Graduation

The spiritual father of the honors study in the university was the late Dr. H. M. (Jim) Lafferty, professor of secondary and higher education and later the institution's director of organized research. He was faculty adviser for the senior academic honor society, Alpha Chi, and established Honors Day in 1952 with an annual awards assembly.

On May 9, 1961, President James G. Gee appointed a large representative faculty committee to plan a full honors program. The committee's report, adopted by unanimous faculty vote on February 9, 1962, outlined a general program for organizing separate "honors sections" in many undergraduate survey courses; a series of weekly honors colloquia to give the program coherence; and a special provision for independent tutorial study leading to completion of a written honors thesis and a final oral examination to qualify for honors graduation. The chairman of the planning committee, Dr. Hugh I. Shott II, professor of English, became the first program director in 1962.

Upon Dr. Shott's departure in 1965 to become dean of North Georgia College, Dr. Ralph Goodwin, who had served as the planning committee's recording secretary, assumed the directorship. In 1966 the annual luncheon became the central observance for Honors Day. When Dr. Goodwin left in the fall of 1966 to begin a year's postdoctoral research leave, Dr. Bob R. Dowell, professor of English, became program director. Following Dr. Dowell's resignation in 1967 to become dean of arts and sciences at Pan American University, Dr. Goodwin was asked to resume the directorship and served through 1971.

At this time, at the beginning of Dr. Robin Rudoff's service as director, a provision was put in place for term appointments for the directorship, rotating among experienced and interested faculty members throughout the university. Among those still associated with the university who were members of the original planning committee are Dr. Goodwin, Dr. Beatrice Murphy, Mr. Charles McGough, Dr. William O. Dorries, Dr. William C. Adams, Dr. Otha Spencer, Dr. Margaret Wheat, and Dr. Dorothy Ingram, all now retired as professors emeritus.

In January of 2007, President Keith D. McFarland charged the Honors Director, Dr. Raymond Green, with the task of establishing an Honors College. The goals of the Honors College included expanding the honors curriculum and establishing a residential learning community of Honors Scholars. A committee was established with representatives from all three colleges for the purpose of creating the Honors College curriculum. The final product was a 30 credit Honors curriculum that students from all majors could undertake. The Honors College of Texas A&M University-Commerce opened its doors in the Fall of 2007 with the admission of 55 students.  These students, and the Honors Office, were housed in the Prairie Crossing Apartment Complex.  As the Fall semester begins in August, the University is thrilled to welcome the 10th cohort of the Honors College onto campus.