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About the Honors Program

History of the Program

The Honors Program was outlined in May 1967 for consideration by the faculty Senate and approved in November 1967, with the first Honors Scholars being admitted in September 1969. As the program developed during the 1970s and 1980s, the curriculum was revised a number of times, including the creation of an integrative seminar and an honors thesis/project. The Program continues to be guided by the Honors Council, a group of twelve faculty from across a variety of academic disciplines and from all three colleges. The Council has responsibility for continuous review of the curriculum and specifically the interdisciplinary courses that are unique to the Honors Program. The Council includes the Director of the Honors Program, who has reassigned time from a faculty position to direct the Program. From its inception, the Honors Program has been dedicated to academic excellence and classroom experimentation, and it serves as a model of interdisciplinarity for the University. The Honors Program is designed as a systematic, integrated, and articulated experience for selected undergraduates. As President Bangsberg stated in his inaugural 1965 address, "We must continue to develop our Honors Program and independent study, for the task of becoming educated cannot be completed in college. We must help our students to become self-motivated, self-directed, autonomous learners."

That challenge translated into a proposal that stated, "The purpose of the program is to provide superior students with instructional services which will challenge them to put forth their best efforts in undergraduate study and to enrich their college experience up to the level of their ability to learn." Examples of additions to the Program that serve to enrich the students' experiences, beyond the outstanding, innovative interdisciplinary course, are the Honors Council Lecture Series, a retreat at Lake Bemidji State Park, participation in the Upper Midwest Regional Honors Council Conference, and Honors Residence on the 11th and 12th floors of Tamarack Hall.

The Honors Program strives to provide intellectual excitement and academic challenges to all who participate in it, faculty and Honors Scholars alike. Through forty years, the Program has worked to remain faithful to President Bangsberg's initial charge that is as valid today as when it was made.