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Honors College Mission Statement

The Honors College at the University of Oklahoma provides a supportive and challenging academic program for intellectually motivated undergraduate students. Offering an enriching interdisciplinary curriculum through its diverse programs, the Honors College supports students in a full range of academic pursuits. Carefully designed small classes, a collegial environment, and close advising prepare students for advanced study leading to the bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, or any other bachelors degree offered at the University. The Honors College at the University of Oklahoma seeks to inspire students to a lifetime of broad intellectual curiosity and continuing self-sustained inquiry and personal growth.

History of the Honors College

Dean Ray Meeting with Students

The tradition of an Honors education at the University of Oklahoma dates to 1963, when the Honors program was inaugurated under president George Lynn Cross. The goal was to provide more challenging educational opportunities for those students who were motivated to go above and beyond the basic requirements of a college degree. Small classes, taught by outstanding faculty, were essential to the program’s mission.  

The Honors Program continued to grow in the ensuing decades. In line with the national trend of expansion of Honors programs, Director Nancy Mergler (1987-1994) took steps to formalize the program’s structure, adding and enhancing many of the components that remain part of the College today. These include building up the UROP program, which funds independent student research; creating Undergraduate Research Day, an annual conference at which Honors students present their original work; streamlining the design of Perspectives and Colloquium courses, the interdisciplinary classes taken by all Honors students; and bringing engaging speakers to campus to meet students and discuss their research.

By the 1990s the Honors program had become a robust hub of intellectual activity on the OU campus, drawing students from all fields and disciplines who were eager to be part of it. New university president David Boren recognized that with increased infrastructure and support, the Honors program would have even greater potential for enriching student education. Thus, in 1997, the Honors College was born as a separate academic unit within the university, with its first dean, Dr. Steve Gillon. Under Gillon’s leadership the College expanded research support for students, launched the popular Honors at Oxford summer program, established a Writing Center specifically for Honors students, and began to hire its first endowed chair faculty members.

Since 1997 the Honors College has continued to develop unique opportunities for undergraduates to pursue research and creative activities, and to work collaboratively with other highly motivated and gifted students. Honors College faculty members, all leading scholars in their fields, are united in their commitment to provide a high-quality education in small, focused classes, and to provide valuable mentorship for students. Today, the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma offers two kinds of education in one package: the small college atmosphere where students make close personal connections, and the vast university setting with all the opportunities that environment provides.