Campus News

Honors Program celebrates 50 years with special lecture

UGA’s nationally recognized Honors Program is celebrating its 50th birthday and its growth from fewer than 50 students in 1960 to some 2,500 in 2010.

To commemorate its golden anniversary, the Honors Program sponsored a special lecture in mid-October. Honors alumnus and history professor James C. Cobb delivered remarks about his more than 40-year association with the Honors Program, first as a student in the mid-1960s and now teaching Honors courses.

Tracy Yang, a Foundation ­Fellow and 2010 Truman Scholar, highlighted the importance of the student-faculty interactions in Honors when introducing Cobb before the lecture.

“My peers and I have had the privilege to pursue numerous opportunities outside of the classroom, but these experiences were not what I came for when I arrived at UGA,” said Yang, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. “I came for high-quality instruction and mentoring opportunities from innovative and respected faculty.”

Cobb traced the history of the Honors Program back to 1960, when the Honors Council was established and the first seven Honors courses were offered that fall. By spring, 16 courses were offered and enrollment grew from the initial 43 students to 126.

The Honors Program has had five directors since its inception: C. Jay Smith, 1960 to 1967; Lothar Tresp, 1967 to 1994; Alex Rosenberg, 1995 to 1999; Jere Morehead, 1999 to 2004; and current director and Honors alumnus David S. Williams.

Cobb praised Tresp for elevating the reputation of the Honors Program to the national level. He recalled attending a 1987 conference of the National Collegiate Honors Council as the new director of the Honors Program at the University of Alabama and finding Tresp’s sessions on how to start an honors program were standing-room-only.

“I will always be grateful to Dr. Tresp both for the example he set when I was a student in UGA Honors Program and for the support and guidance he offered when I was serving as honors director at the University of Alabama,” Cobb said.

Following Cobb’s lecture, a reception was held in Moore College where Honors alumni, including Alice Peek Kuzniak and Delores Paulk Evans, reminisced. They both earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics during the 1960s.

“The celebration was a fitting tribute to the UGA Honors Program,” said Kuzniak. “I was delighted to be able to renew old acquaintances and talk with those administrators who currently ensure that the Honors Program continues to give students the chance to have meaningful academic experiences.”

From its modest beginnings, the Honors Program now offers a full, four-year array of academic, cultural, research, internship and study-abroad opportunities. More than 200 Honors course sections are offered annually across campus. The Honors Program also encompasses the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and the Foundation Fellowship.

“The Honors Program is focused on one fundamental promise-to do everything possible to enable our top undergraduates to not only meet, but exceed, their dreams,” said David S. Williams, current director. “To do so requires that we provide an ever-expanding set of opportunities for our students.”

The Honors Program also held a luncheon for members of the Honors Alumni Board and the Honors Advisory Board earlier in the day. A plaque in the lobby of Moore College and a bench located outside the front entrance were dedicated in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Honors Advisory Board.