In the late 1950s when the university was being established, and its first curriculum was being created, a group of honors college students from the nation's first honors college - The Honors College Group, as it was called - was asked by the administration to make their recommendations on the Oakland University curriculum and to express their thoughts on how best to support high-performing students. The then Oakland Chancellor Durward "Woody" Varner later wrote to each of the group to thank them for their contribution to the character and direction of Oakland University.
As those early Oakland administrators pointed out, supporting educational excellence is not about elitism, not about rewarding those who hold a privileged position. Rather, it is about supporting those who strive to be the best they can be, who follow their aspirations with determination and with application.
"Honors education", Grey C. Austin points out in a book chapter entitled "Orientation to Honors Education", refers to "the total means by which a college or university seeks to meet the educational needs of its ablest and most highly motivated students" (Austin: 5).
AUSTIN, GREY C. 1986. "Orientation to Honors Education." In Fostering Academic Excellence Through Honors Programs, ed. Kenneth E. Eble. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Many faculty at Oakland University have supported honors education in many ways and over many years.
In recognition of faculty who have made regular and important contributions to honors education, Oakland University has created the Honors Institute. The Institute celebrates those faculty who have made a sustained and lasting contribution to honors education. New members are celebrated each year.
Courtney Brannon Donoghue
Ada Chun Dong
Susan E. Evans
Joanne Lipson Freed
Jean Ann Miller
Robert Van Til