In 1979, at the request of the former president Dr. Martin B. Garrison, Dr. Bill Gentry began developing ideas for the creation of an Honors Program at Henderson. In 1984, the Honors College began with a group of 23 incoming freshmen. Now the program welcomes over 100 freshmen each year.
Honors Students were originally housed in Pines Hall, with classes held on the third floor of Foster Hall.
The Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust donated $1 million to the building of Sturgis Hall. Completed in 2002, the building houses most of the students of the program and also provides the classroom space.
The Honors College admits students on the basis of their national examination scores, high school grade point average, rank in class and a competitive essay. The average composite ACT score for Honors College students ranks in the 94th percentile nationally.
Honors College graduates have received scholarships to further pursue their academic interests at such prestigious institutions as Duke, Rice, Vanderbilt and the University of North Carolina. The achievements of the graduates serve as a testimony to their academic preparation in the Honors College.
Meaning of Areté
In 1993, the students and faculty adopted the ancient Greek word for "highest excellence"-areté- as their goal. Although the interests of students enrolled in the Honors College are as varied as their backgrounds and their majors, they have a common academic bond, the pursuit of excellence.
The Honors College student council created the arch logo after the Honors Center was established in Foster Hall in 1994. The Roman arch logo was designed as a representation of the arched windows-once doorways-of Foster Hall. Combining the Greek and Roman symbols, the council associated two of the major civilizations so important in shaping Western intellectual traditions.
In 1994, the Honors College medallion was inspired by the university's bronze centennial medallions and was designed as a cooperative effort among the Honors College student council, the director and graphic artist of public relations, and the Honors College director. The medallions replaced double gold chords previously worn to designate honors graduates. The medallion was awarded to the first Honors College Scholar during the 1995 spring commencement ceremony.
The centurium in the center of the medallion echoes the official logo of the university, while the rays around the outer circle represent the illumination that comes with a strong liberal arts education enriched by the honors curriculum. The two colors of the original medallion ribbons, dark red and gold, were selected to represent Henderson and highest academic achievement, respectively.