The Honors College

Oak View Hall, Room 210
509 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester , MI 48309-4452
(location map)
(248) 370-4450
Fax: (248) 370-4479

students in front of the Honors College building with the Grizz bear logo painted on the grass

About The Honors College

At the Honors College (HC), we empower students to thrive. The college enrolls academically strong undergraduates who strive for the highest distinction. Offering unique additional scholarships, dedicated housing, small classes, a flexible curriculum, one-of-a-kind research, creative opportunities and a collaborative environment, the Honors College helps guide students in every degree toward success.

Mission Statement

The Honors College at Oakland University actively supports the aspirations and goals of all dedicated, high-achieving and gifted students to excel in everything they do, to contribute to their own success and to the success of the world at large. Aspiration, inspiration and celebration enliven our strong pillars of Academics, Involvement and Mentorship. Diversity informs us, and commitment drives us. Through the power of mentorship and leadership, and through the advancement of knowledge and understanding, we will make a positive contribution to our fields of study, to our future professions and to the communities in which we live.

Dean's Welcome
Headshot of Graeme Harper

Welcome to the the Honors College at Oakland University. We create an environment for those who want to achieve, and we support your ambitions. We are ambitious, for the Honors College itself and for you. Around five percent of undergraduates across the United States graduate from an honors college every year - making your time in the Honors College a unique, experience in developing your potential.

Building on our past and looking to your future, you won't just discuss what it is to be the best, you'll show it - through the work we support you to undertake and through the things that you will achieve. You'll also have fun! No one should ever discount the importance of fun and a supportive community in the pursuit of achieving great things.

If you would like to be a member of this distinguished group of students, whether you are planning to be a doctor, an engineer, an artist, a business leader, or you are undecided, call or email us. We’ll arrange a visit that will show you the endless opportunities available to you as a member of the Honors College!

And of course, please let me know if we can be of any additional service!

Graeme Harper, DCA. Ph.D., Dean
The Honors College
(248) 370-4450

Board of Visitors

The Honors College Board of Visitors was established to assist the Dean in deepening the relationship between the Honors College and alumni, students and the community.

Meet our Honors College Board of Visitors Members:

Katie Aleck  SHS ‘17

DC Armijo, CAS '96

Kirbionne Brakins

Sue Evans (chair), CAS ‘88

Aaron Garofolo, (Secretary) SECS, ‘17

Aaron Helander, BIS ‘17, SBA ‘20

Isabella Limbert, student rep

Megan Tack (vice chair), SBA ‘18, ‘21

Keith Tack, parent

Anna Tack, parent

Korin Visocchi, SEHS ‘19

*With thanks to our former BOV members:

Matt Bloom, SECS ‘17
Elspeth Coats, SBA ‘91
Brian Neumeyer, SECS ‘16

We are always looking for enthusiastic Honors College alumni and friends to join our board.  If you or someone you know is interested, please contact us at

Celebrating our history

In the 1950s Oakland University became the first university in the U.S.A. ever created with that strategic input of honors college students. While over 60 percent of other honors colleges in the United States were created after 1994, we at Oakland have embodied those ideals since our very foundation. In this way, the Honors College here has both a firm foundation and steady vision that is closely aligned with the university’s mission. Drawing on the principles set out by Matilda and Alfred Wilson when they donated their entire Meadow Brook estate to establish Oakland University, the HC provides driven, aspirational and talented young people the benefit of a high-quality education.

In 1977, the first students of a college at OU named “The Honors College" entered Oakland, under inaugural Director Mel Cherno, to further advance the ideals that makes Oakland unique. Since then, The HC has had five Directors and, most recently, a Dean. When Professor Cherno left the program, Robert Howes, professor of history, held the position from 1980 to 1985. Brian Murphy, professor of English, became the Honors College director in 1985 and stayed a record 17 years. Jude Nixon, professor of English, became director in early 2002, and continued the great tradition. Graeme Harper became director in August 2011. In February 2013, Dr. Harper was appointed the first Dean of the Honors College at Oakland University.

Over 40 years now since its own foundation, the Honors College to grow and its students continue to excel – more so every year and in ways that are both remarkable and exciting. Aspiration, Inspiration and Celebration influence our mission, which is supported by the strong pillars of disciplinary and multi-disciplinary innovation, undergraduate research and creative practice, community and community engagement and positive mentorship.


The Honors College is strengthened through the generosity of friends and alumni. Your support helps us reach our mission to provide bright and determined students the greatest support to achieve their greatest potential. We support aspiration, develop abilities and celebrate commitment. Although the students in the Honors College major in a range of subjects, their pride and ambition to become leaders in their community makes them distinctive among their peers.

Walt: Twenty years ago I became involved with the university. So in various ways, it’s been the last two decades. A little over a decade ago, after a decade of involvement with the foundation and various activities at the University, Donna and I figured we would make a major contribution and we studied long and hard, so it’s a little over a decade ago that we started our endowed scholarship.

Donna: For me I think it really does expand your horizon. I was twenty-nine before I was even on an airplane and I went directly to the Netherlands to live and I really did experience firsthand a different culture and really an immersion in it. And so I think the study abroad is really nice because it gives the student a little more than just, you know, the family trip for a week or two.

Walt: Living in other cultures really enhances basic skills by building on empathy and so having those cultures and empathy. And we couldn’t go abroad when we were in college and we regretted it and so we started a scholarship for those who couldn’t afford it to help them go abroad and enhance their basic skills.

Donna: I do believe that being immersed in a culture not only gives you more of a feel for other traditions and all of those things but it also build your own self confidence and your ability to deal with other people.

Donna: If you’re blessed then you must give back and you try to find ways that you can be impactful and sharing your blessing.
Naming Opportunities
Naming opportunities exist to support new facilities and new developments in the Honors College, so that we can assist these highest achievers to accomplish their goals.

Naming and other donor inquiries are welcomed from individuals, couples, families, associates, friends, organizations, foundations, and businesses. Please contact Kelly Brault, the Honors College major gift officer, about these opportunities. Kelly is available at or via phone at: 248-370-4921.

There are many ways you can support the academic endeavors of students of the Honors College. One is to give directly to one of our scholarship funds:


The Honors College aims to provide high level mentorship and mentor support in four key areas:

  • College readiness and college entry for high and sustained achievement
  • Undergraduate research and advanced creative activities
  • Your Graduate School and career strategies
  • Leadership development in research, service and team building

As a community of high achieving students in every major/minor, the Honors College puts mentorship at the core of your college experience. From freshmen support to preparing for your graduation and career plans, through selected courses, priority registration, honors events and activities, and our dedicated and highly-experienced advising team, you’ll find a friendly, ever-engaging atmosphere in the HC.

Global Imaginarium

The human imagination is our most powerful tool. In the 21st Century world we have the ability to create a truly global “imagination powerhouse” – The Global Imaginarium

The Honors College is home of the Global Imaginarium, taking your learning, research and service experiences from the local and national to the international, and linking to our additional scholarship support for global Study Abroad through the wonderful Walt and Donna Young Study Abroad Scholarship, available to you as a student of the Honors College.

New technologies have openly linked the global power of our human imaginations. We can bring people together to investigate and resolve social and economic issues; imagine key solutions to the smallest or largest issue or need.

The Honors College Global Imaginarium creates an accessible virtual portal for the imaginative exploration of needs, ambitions, problems and, most of all, solutions. A portal, virtual creative place, multi-platform, accessible 24/7 from a variety of devices (i.e. web-based, mobile – by text, video, audio), anyone in the world can use the Imaginarium to set up and endeavor to resolve issues and needs. A creative common area for imaginative problem solving, the Global Imaginarium harnesses our creativity to provide for the future.

All are welcome in The Global Imaginarium!

Skype Address: global-imaginarium

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Suite

The new Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality (AR/VR) suite in The Honors College opens up previously unimaginable possibilities for exploring ideas, creating proof of concept explorations, enhancing investigations and discoveries, visiting places near and far that are otherwise inaccessible, initiating projects and teamwork in detailed and enlivening ways, and recreating the old and new in an exciting and vibrant 3D experience zone.

The Honors College AR/VR suite opens in the 2017-18 academic year. This endeavor is supported by funds by the Nicholson Faculty Initiative Gift Fund for The Honors College.  This suite will provide an innovation zone that empowers the physical with the virtual, joins the imagined to what is potentially real, and provides a test bed for Honors College classes as well as individual and group projects.

Honors Fellows

Celebrating human achievement is part of the Honors College at Oakland University. Here we celebrate the work and achievements of our Honors College Honorary Esteemed Fellows. From all walks of life, but with a shared sense of purpose and ambition, the Honors College Honorary Esteemed Fellows embody the ideals of going beyond the ordinary and seeking to make a difference. Scroll down and join with us here in celebrating the achievements of the Honorary Esteemed Fellows of the Honors College at Oakland University.

Jody Williams | Nobel Prize Winner and Honorary Esteemed Fellow of The Honors College. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the Nobel Women’s Initiative, activist, writer, teacher, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

David Kelley | CEO of design company, IDEO, one of the most significant design and consulting companies in the world. David’s contributions to the field of design are a human-centered methodology and culture of innovation. Winner of the Edison Achievement Award for Innovation, the Chrysler Design Award and the National Design Award in Product Design from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

Andrew Motion | Former Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Honorary Esteemed Fellow of The Honors College. Poet, novelist, biographer, in 2009 Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to literature. He was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 – 2009.

Jim Simons | Mathematician, billionaire, and philanthropist. Founder of Renaissance Technologies.

John Rink | Honorary Research Fellow. We celebrate the work of Dr John Rink, Professor of Musical Performance Studies, and a Fellow of St John's College, University of Cambridge.

Honors Industry Fellows:

Honors Industry Fellows are members of the business community who wonderfully exemplify honors ideals. These ideals include integrity, support for ingenuity and a belief in innovation, global understanding, a commitment to community, and a desire to make a positive difference in the world.

Gregg Garrett, CEO, CGS Partners

Jeffrey T. Cuthbertson, Cuthbertson Law, PLC

National Society for Minorities in Honors

Supporting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Honors Education.

The National Society for Minorities in Honors (NSFMIH) was founded in 2015 to bring together and advance discussions and action in relation to diversity, equity and inclusion in honors education. The organization holds an annual conference (first held at Oakland University in March 2016), hosted by institutions around the USA, and promotes the wide dissemination of ideas and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion in honors education - through its annual conference, through national and international seminars and electronic events, and through publications.

Contact/Chair: Dean Graeme Harper, Dean of The Honors College at Oakland University -