The Honors College is an uninterrupted success story that tells a story of exponential academic enrichment. The program (as it was then called) was initiated by Dr. Larry Long in 1989. He felt that Harding University's most scholarly students would benefit from a special program that allowed them to approach their studies in creative, advanced ways.
The program began with 19 students who have since achieved excellence in their fields. By 1998, the program expanded to more than 500 students and received “college” status. The Honors College has since become a major social and intellectual force on campus. It now has more than 1100 members.
Distinguished professor Jeffrey Hopper replaced Larry Long as the dean of the Honors College in 2001 and was joined by Mrs. Debbie Baird as the new administrator at the same time. Mrs. Baird serves as a special academic advisor to honors students and coordinates honors contracts.
In 2011, Dr. J. Warren Casey became the Dean of the Honors College.
In 2015 Dr. Mike James was appointed Dean of the Honors College and served in that capacity for five years.
The Current Dean is Dr. Kevin Kehl. He was appointed in June of 2020 by President Bruce McLarty.
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.
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.
Sears Honors CenterWhat is the "Sears" Honors Center?
The Sears Honors Center is located in a beautiful house on the Harding University campus (704 East Center Street). The house was built in 1950 and served as a private residence until purchased by Harding. For a time the house housed female students, and later it was used for storage purposes. During the spring of 2005 the facility was completely remodeled inside and out. It now houses offices for the Honors College, Summer Academic Institute, and International Programs.
Why is it called the "Sears" Honors Center?
L. C. Sears served as the first academic dean for Harding. His life had a huge impact on the University during her early years. He was an accomplished professor, author, administrator, and Shakespearian academic scholar. His family still lives in Searcy, and the facility was named to honor him and his legacy.
What's in the Honors Center?
The interior structure of the center was not altered structurally. Instead, the space has been transformed into offices, while keeping a fully functional kitchen and a comfortable, inviting living room.
The living room is large and open and contains soft leather furniture, and a fireplace.
The kitchen (probably the most popular room in the house) is maintained in 1950’s retro style. It’s equipped with an oven and stove, refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher, as well as pots and pans and cooking utensils.
The back yard consists of comfortable patio seating. There is also a outdoor equipment that may be borrowed by honors students upon request.
Are there computers available for student use?
Yes. There are currently six laptop computers available for students to either use in the house or check out for a few days. These computers are capable of being used for preparing research papers and other homework, and also for internet research. The computers also have wireless capabilities, so a student may, for example, sit on the couch in front of the fire and check e-mail or research a project.
How is the Sears Honors Center used?
The center is a great gathering place for meeting friends, studying, and just hanging out. Picnics, meetings, small classes, study groups and group meals (e.g. chili day) occur regularly. The living room is a wonderful place to relax or work on homework. The kitchen may be used to cook ‘home-cooked’ meals or meet friends for sandwiches. The back yard is a wonderful place for picnics and small gatherings or classes. The Honors Center is intended to enrich the honors students’ experience in the Honors College and is available for most Honors-sponsored events and activities.