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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. Other members of the original planning committee include 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. Each of these faculty were accorded professor emeritus after their retirement.

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 the three existing 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. 

By the spring of 2010 the success of the Honors College was undeniable. With a staggering number of incredible applicants the decision was made to form and recruit for the Regents Scholars Program, a second track within the Honors College. Originally housed in the University College under Dr. Ricky Dobbs, the Regents Scholars Program was developed to assist with university efforts towards creating globally-minded students. With that goal at the forefront of the program’s purpose the first cohort of 25 students was brought in with the mission of coming together as a community brought together by academic excellence, held together by a resolve to become global citizens, and challenged to personal and intellectual growth. Since 2011 the program has traveled internationally with students to 8 different countries as part of a capstone experience in this specialized curriculum. In spring of 2017 the Regents Scholars Program was moved back to the Honors College, allowing honors programming to work together under the direction of the Dean of Honors, Dr. Green. This change has allowed students in all programs to benefit from the high-impact opportunities available within the Honors experience. 

In the spring of 2019, President Mark Rudin directed that the Honors College increase the number of students to 400. As part of this move the Regents Scholars Program will be absorbed into the Honors College, with its curriculum and travel capstone experience remaining as educational options for students. Recruitment has begun for this first expanded class that will join the university in the Fall of 2020.

As the fall semester begins in August, the University is thrilled to welcome the 13th cohort of Honors College students and 10th, and final, cohort of Regents Scholars to campus.