Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. University Honors Program. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
The University Honors Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a university-wide undergraduate program for academically gifted students interested in advanced learning and research opportunities. The program was initially devised in 1958 when SIU President Delyte W. Morris recommended a faculty committee be formed to plan an academic program for gifted high school students. The committee created the 4-year Plan A Curriculum to supplement the university’s standard curriculum, stimulate independent inquiry, provide instruction in broader concepts than those provided in one area of specialization, and provide an opportunity for greater exchange of ideas among students and teachers. First year students studied fine arts and humanities, the sciences, and social studies. Second year students studied Greek, Hebrew, and Roman culture. Third year students studied non-Western cultures, Russian, China, and India. Finally, fourth year students studied the problems of the individual and society of which he or she was a part of. The Plan A Curriculum was approved in 1959 and began in January 1960 with E. Claude Coleman as Director. Dr. James G. Benziger, English Professor at SIU, replaced Coleman as Director in 1965.
The Plan A Curriculum was replaced by the President’s Scholar Program at the end of Spring 1967 and began in July 1967. Its purpose was to make a student’s experience at SIU as valuable to him or her as possible, to recognize academic potential and achievement, and to represent within SIU the interests of academically advanced students. The program was renamed the University Honors Program circa 1976.
The University Honors Program began reporting to the College of Liberal Arts in 1986. By 2008 the director of the program reported directly to the SIUC Chancellor, and of 2016 the director reports to the Associate Provost of Academic Programs.