The history of Harding University's Honors College is an uninterrupted success story that tells a tale of exponential academic enrichment. Dr. Larry Long founded the Honors Program (as it was then called) in 1989. Long felt that Harding University's most talented and scholarly students would benefit from a special program that allowed them to approach their studies in creative, advanced ways.
The program started off with 19 students who have since gone on to become lawyers, doctors, business leaders and college instructors. By 1998, it had expanded to over 500 students and was transformed into its own college. The Honors College has since become a major social and intellectual force on campus. It now has more than 1000 members, about 150 of whom are part of the upper-tier Honors Scholar group.
Distinguished professor Jeffrey Hopper replaced Larry Long as the dean of the Honors College in 2001. Debbie Baird joined the Honors College at the same time. Mrs. Baird acts as a special academic advisor to honors students - a service not available at any other college on campus - and coordinates honors contracts.
Current honors students come from most majors and many different countries. They frequently move on to successful careers, and often place at the most prestigious graduate schools, including Ivy League and other first-tier graduate programs. Like the first honors class, they benefit from a quality program that stresses academic excellence, independence, thoughtfulness, service, fun and friendship.
Finally, the honors student officers, too, have established a tradition of service that greatly contributes to the college. Owing to their initiative, the Honors College has established a legacy of working with the Searcy Children's Home, Habitat for Humanity, and the Searcy Sunshine School for the differently able. Habitat for Humanity in White County was actually established by the Honors College and its council president, Hillary Kennington Mount, who is now a physician.
On June 1, 2011 Dr. J. Warren Casey became the Dean of the Honors College.
The history of the Harding University Honors College is the story of people making the most from their undergraduate experience, working to learn about life and to live as God would have them. It is the story of talent, dedication, excitement, discipline and growth. It is the story of Christian education at its best.