The History of Stetson's Honors Program

Dr. John Hague and Dr. Micheal Denner sitting in green chairs.

(Dr. John Hague, director of the Honors Program during the 1960s, and Dr. Michael Denner, current director)

Stetson's Honors Program was founded in 1956, making it the oldest program in the Southeast and one of the older programs in the United States.

Below is Dr. John Hague's history, written in 1997 on the fortieth anniversary of the program. You can also read an article by John Hicks, "Stetson's New Honors Seminars" (from the ICSS newsletter, The Superior Student, May and June 1959) and John Hague's article, "Growth of the Honors Program at Stetson University" (from the ICSS newsletter, December 1960).

Reflections on the History of the University Honors Program

by John Hague

Composed on the occasion of a celebration of forty years of Honors at Stetson University

In the Spring of 1956 Dean William Hugh McEniry decided that Stetson ought to have an Honors Program. After consulting with several faculty members, he announced the formation of a program which in the first year would only be available to rising seniors. In the fall of 1956 Mary Ann Coslow, Rod Dugliss, Sid Knight, John Morgan, and John Riser became the charter members of the Program. John Hicks was named the faculty director. The students were, upon entering the Program, forgiven whatever requirements were at that time unmet, whether general or departmental in nature. Each student proposed a senior project and asked three or four faculty members to supervise it. Those most often chosen for Honors committees were Lycan, Wynn, Hicks, Stewart, (Dean of the Chapel) Barber, McEniry, Hague, and Copps (Economics). During the year the students wrote a number of short papers related to the major project and discussed each with the members of the committee. A major paper brought the year's work to an end. All of the work was un-graded: successful completion of the projects were noted by H's on the students' transcripts. An H meant simply that the work completed was of Honors caliber. At the end of the year, after orals, the faculty took the five to lunch at Rymals' Restaurant north of town. Sid Knight provided the most memorable reflection when he told the group that it was a good thing for him to have joined the Program because he would never have read anything otherwise. Gilbert Lycan treated the remarks as a joke, but Sid insisted that he could get a B in any non-science course without reading a book. Gilbert said he knew that Sid had read the books for his Western Civilization course, but Sid stoutly insisted that he never had.

The vast majority of Honors Program graduates have had distinguished careers. The ranks include deans, provosts, professors, writers, artists, health care professionals, ministers, and lawyers. Carolyn Miller Parr has been a Federal Judge for more than ten years and has given the Commencement Address at the Stetson law school. Merrill Maguire Skaggs has been the Dean of the Graduate School at Drew University and has given the Commencement Address on the DeLand Campus. A significant number of Honors Program graduates have been inducted into the Stetson University Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

(read the rest of Hague's History)

© 1997 John Hague