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Honors Program Begins

William Hourigan is appointed the first Director of the Honors Program, the predecessor to the Mahurin Honors College. Honors scholars are required to complete a Freshman Honors Colloquium course.

Student Research Conference Begins

The Student Research Conference provides opportunities for scholars to present their research and creative endeavors to the WKU community. Learn more

Paul Corts is appointed the second Director of the Honors Program

paul corts

A graduate of Georgetown College and Indiana University, Dr. Corts was a faculty member and administrator at WKU from 1968 to 1978. He went on to serve at Oklahoma Baptist University, Wingate University, and Palm Beach Atlantic University. Later, Dr. Corts was Assistant Attorney General for Administration with the U.S. Department of Justice, then served as President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. He retired in 2012. (Photo credit: AGBSearch.com)


Student Honors Research Bulletin First Published

The Student Honors Research Bulletin features articles written by undergraduates based on original research projects and class papers.

Junior Scholars Program Begins

High-achieving Kentucky high school seniors attend a residential summer program at WKU, attending college courses and lectures. Sponsored by the Honors Program.

A. Faye Robinson is appointed the third Director of the Honors Program

A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Dr. Robinson was a top-ranked student in her undergraduate and graduate careers. She served as faculty and assistant dean of the graduate school at WKU, becoming known for her tenacity and pioneer spirit. Later, as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at WKU, Dr. Robinson was the highest-ranking woman in college administration in the state. She retired in 1989.

James Baker is appointed the fourth Director of the Honors Program.


A graduate of Baylor and Florida State Universities, Dr. Baker was a faculty member in the History department at WKU. He has authored over 22 books and 60 articles, and delivered papers in Italy, Korea, Taiwan, China, and other Asian countries. He also directed the Canadian Parliamentary Internship Program.


Robert D. Hoyt serves as Acting Director

During the 1983-1984 academic year, Dr. Hoyt serves as Acting Director of the Honors Program while Dr. Baker is on sabbatical.

Sam McFarland is appointed the fifth Director of the Honors Program, which is renamed the University Scholars Honors Program.


A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Dr. McFarland joined WKU in the fall of 1971 and taught at WKU until 2013. During his tenure as Director, Dr. McFarland began an honors seminar entitled Understanding Human Rights. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in the Former Soviet Union (1989) and named a WKU Distinguished University Professor (1999).


Honors Day Begins for High School Students

Honors Day, the predecessor of High School Honors Luncheons, introduces top Kentucky high school students to the University Scholars Honors Program.

Kentucky Honors Roundtable Begins

The KHR presents opportunities for Honors scholars from across Kentucky to present their original research and projects.

21 Credit-Hour Honors Curriculum Implemented

The new curriculum includes a required 3 hours of Colloquium, 6-hour senior thesis, and overall GPA of 3.4 to graduate. Students are also able to create honors augmentation contracts in non-honors, upper-division courses.

Honors Parents’ Association Begins

The Association provides parents and spouses with opportunities to support Honors scholars’ research and activities.

Honors Housing is First Offered at Rodes-Harlin Hall.

Specific floors of the hall are reserved for Honors scholars, helping to foster an increased sense of community and collaboration. Learn more

24 Credit Hour Honors Curriculum Implemented

The new curriculum includes a 1-hour freshman orientation, 3 hours of Honors Colloquium, and a required 6-hour senior thesis.

First Barry Goldwater Scholar

Gary Wedding (BS, Environmental Health & Safety, 1999) is the first Honors scholar to receive a Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Doug McElroy is appointed the sixth Director of the University Honors Scholars Program


A graduate of Long Island University and the University of Maine, Dr. McElroy joined WKU in 1993 as a faculty member in the Department of Biology. He also served as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Nairobi, and conducts research on wildlife molecular forensics, population, and conservation genetics. He is currently a Professor and Associate Vice President for Academic Enrichment and Effectiveness at WKU.


Honors Center Established

Located on the corner of 15th Avenue and State Street, the Honors Center provides program offices, a computer lab, study and meeting space, and a thesis defense room for the Honors Program.

First Assistant Director

Dr. Patricia Minter is appointed as the first Assistant Director of the Honors Program. Dr. Minter earned her doctorate from the University of Virginia, specializing in American legal history and Civil Rights. She is an Associate Professor in WKU’s History Department, and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Society for Legal History and the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. She has also served on the WKU Faculty Senate (2000-01) and as Faculty Regent on the WKU Board of Regents (2007-14).

Honors Development Grants Established

The Honors Program begins offering the Honors Development Grant, which provides funds to scholars for thesis-related expenses, study abroad, and professional travel.



Craig T. Cobane is appointed the seventh, and first full-time, Director of the University Honors Scholars Program.

ctcA graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Cobane holds a doctorate in Political Science. Previously, he spent time at NATO Headquarters in Belgium, and was the AAAS Defense Policy Fellow assigned to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations at the Pentagon. He has participated in numerous study abroad programs and received four teaching awards.


Honors Program Enrollment

At the time of Dr. Cobane’s appointment as Director, the University Honors Scholars Program has a total enrollment of 350 students.

McLean Hall is added as a Housing Option for Honors Scholars.


Arête begins as the Honors Program Newsletter.

The Honors newsletter, Arête, was named for the Greek word for ‘excellence’. The publication is produced by Honors scholars, who serve as writers, photographers, and designers.

HonorsToppers begins to offer Honors scholars various opportunities to serve the community.

As the official ambassadors of the Honors College, HonorsToppers help our future scholars through the recruitment, admissions, and orientation process. Learn more

Honors Freshman Orientation Retreat (H4) begins in the Fall.

H4 is a 4-day retreat to welcome incoming first year scholars and acquaint them with their classmates and curriculum. Originally at Camp Loucon in Leitchfield, KY, the retreat later moves to Deer Run Retreat Center in Thompson’s Station, TN, to accommodate growth. Learn more

Lindsey (Thurman) Westerfield (English BA, 2007; MA, 2010) is selected as Honors Student of the Year by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC

lindsayLindsey was a 2001 Rogers Scholar, 2002 Kentucky Governor’s scholar, and a WKU Spirit Master from 2005-2007. She worked five years at the Honors College as Coordinator of Student Recruitment, one year at the Russell County Tourist Commission, and Director of the Russell County Public Library.


Allison Harnish (Anthropology, Sociology, Criminology BA, 2006) receives Student Achievement Award from the National Association for Practice of Anthropology


Dr. Harnish places first in the National Association for Practice of Anthropology’s annual competition, for her study on bushmeat and sustainable community-based ecotourism in Kasigau, Kenya. Dr. Harnish was a Fulbright grantee in 2009-2010, which she used to conduct research in Africa. She obtained a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Kentucky, and is currently a faculty member at Albion College in Michigan.

The Honors College at WKU is established as the first honors college in Kentucky.

Two 33 credit-hour curriculum tracks are established (Honors College and Honors Program). Additionally, an 18 credit-hour Honors in the Major option was also created.

Enrollment Doubles

From 2005-2007, first-year enrollment in the Honors College doubles.

“WKU in England” Partnership Created

The education abroad program enables students to spend a semester at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England. The first semester, 27 students studied at Harlaxton, including Jennifer (Dooper) Salazar (BA, English & Spanish, 2010), who stated, “Harlaxton is like education on steroids.” Jennifer went on to complete her Masters in Teaching from the University of Iowa. Learn more

Arête is awarded First Place in the National Collegiate Honors Council newsletter contest.


The Gatton Academy for Mathematics and Science Established

The Academy is a residential program for Kentucky’s brightest high school students to pursue a rigorous curriculum focused on developing future leaders in science, mathematics, technology, and engineering. Learn more

Alicia Miller (BA, Political Science and German, 2007) is selected as the inaugural Ogden Foundation Scholar.


WKU’s top academic honor is presented to one graduating baccalaureate degree senior who has demonstrated exceptional academic achievement and outstanding university and civic engagement. Alicia went on to obtain her Masters in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Office of Scholar Development Established

The campus-wide office helps high achieving students develop the vision, experience, and skills to be independent, engaged scholars through original research and scholarship opportunities. Learn more

WKU Wins ONE Campus Challenge Grand Prize

Led by Honors scholar Matt Vaughan (BA Political Science and Anthropology, 2011), WKU students beat out 1400 schools to win the ONE Campus Challenge and earn the title of the most effective poverty-fighting campus nationwide. Learn more

Jarve Endowed Professorship in Honors Established

The first endowed professorship in the Honors College is established through a major gift from John and Jacque Hughes Jarve of Atherton, CA. The professorship supports the work of the director and, moreso, undergraduate scholars. Honors scholars have used Jarve funds to study abroad and conduct ground-breaking research in their fields, such as Charles “Chad” Coomer (2014, Biology and Chemistry), who used Jarve funds to conduct virology research at the National Cancer Institute in 2013. Chad went on to become a Goldwater Scholar, and was awarded a Fulbright grant to study at University College London. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in virology at the University of Oxford’s Dunn School of Pathology and plans to become a physician-scientist dedicated to developing an HIV vaccine and better treatments, providing patient care through translational medicine, and making science more accessible to students through mentoring and education. Read more

First Honors College Graduate

Jeremiah M. Bush (BA, Music) is the first graduate of the Honors College.Read more

First SMART Scholar

Rachel Bowman (Gatton Academy, 2009) is the first WKU student to receive a Department of Defense (DoD) SMART Scholarship. Learn more

The Chinese Flagpship Program Is Established

This federally-funded grant program is an intensive, four-year Chinese language program that helps scholars achieve Superior levels of proficiency and cultural literacy while preparing them for careers in a globalizing society. Learn more

100th Student participates in Education Abroad at Harlaxton

WKU sends its 100th student to participate in the “WKU in England” program at Harlaxton College.

First Udall Scholar

Honors scholars William “Joey” Coe (BIS, Interdisciplinary Studies, 2011) and Patrick Stewart (BS, Biology, 2012) are the first WKU students to become Udall Scholars.

Honors College Graduates First Gatton Academy Alum

The first 3 Gatton Academy of Math & Science alumni graduated from the Honors College: Sarah E. Boswell (BA, Religious Studies), Thomas Tyler Clark (BA, Mathematics), and Chris A. Obermeyer (BS, Biology and Religious Studies). As of April 7, 2017, over 48 Gatton alumni have graduated from the Mahurin Honors College.

WKU is named a Top Fulbright Producing Institution

During the 2009-2010 academic year, four Honors scholars receive Fulbright awards and WKU ties for third place among Master’s institutions. Read more

Arête awarded First Place in the NCHC student-published division competition for the second time.

Areté, the student-produced newsletter of the Honors College at WKU, has been recognized with its third national award in three years. Read more

Honors Faculty Institute hosted by Honors College

WKU becomes the first university in Kentucky to host the weeklong seminar sponsored by NCHC for honors faculty and administrators from around the country. Read more

Honors College surpasses Challenging the Spirit goals

The Honors College surpasses its targets from the Challenging the Spirit Strategic Plan for 2007/08-2011/12, with over 1,200 scholars enrolled and an average ACT score of 29 for the 2011-2012 academic year.


WKU Ranks in Top 10 of Fulbright Producing Institutions

During the 2010-2011 academic year, four Honors scholars receive Fulbright awards, putting WKU among the top 10 Master’s degree granting institutions.

First “Key to the College” is presented to John C. Schroeder

The Key recognizes individuals’ extraordinary commitment and services to the Honors College. John C. Schroeder is recognized for helping to establish WKU’s partnership with Harlaxton College. The Commons in the Honors College International Center is named in honor of John and Diane Schroeder. Read more

Honors College Parents’ Association is reestablish

The HC-PA is the official parents’ organization within the Honors College. Read more

Honors College Parents’ Advisory Council Established

The leadership body for the HC-PA, the Council supports the academic and social success of Honors scholars through financial assistance, student engagement activities, and recruitment. Greg (WKU, 1977) and Becky Jones, parents of Jordon Jones (Dance, 2014), serve as the first co-chairs. Read more

First Tenure-Eligible Honors Faculty Hired

Continued growth and maturation led the Honors College to hire its first tenure eligible faculty to help create several unique interdisciplinary Honors core academic experiences.

Honors College “Week of Thanks” Tradition Begin

During this week-long activity, Honors scholars thank those who positively impacted their lives through various activities. Learn more

First Capstone Year Scholar

Sarah Schrader (BS, Biology, Chemistry, and Honors Self-Designed, 2014) is the first scholar from WKU to complete the Capstone Year (2012-13) in Nanjing for the Chinese Flagship Program.

First Boren Scholar

Kevin Worthy (BA, International Affairs & Asian Religions and Cultures, 2014) is the first WKU scholar to receive a Boren Scholarship for International Study, which funded his Capstone Year in Nanjing for the Chinese Flagship Program. Read more

First Mitchell Finalist

Honors scholar Cory Dodds (BA, Political Science, 2013) is the first WKU student to become a finalist for the George Mitchell Scholarship Program. Cory went on to complete his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Cory currently serves as Coordinator of Nationally Competitive Opportunities at WKU’s Office of Scholar Development, helping scholars achieve their dreams of studying abroad through nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships.Read more


“Citizen & Self (HON 251)” Course Begins

Scholars who enter the Honors College in Fall 2012 or later are required to take “Citizen and Self,” a challenging, interdisciplinary course that involves studying the self, citizenship, democracy, diversity, and community. Scholars interact with others, both in the classroom and the Bowling Green community, and complete original research projects. Learn more

Honors College Graduates over 100 scholars

For the first time, the Honors College graduates over 100 scholars in an academic year by recognizing 116 Honors College scholars in 2012-2013.

First Finalist for Rhodes, Marshall, and Gates Cambridge

Sarah Schrader (BS, Biology, Chemistry, and Honors Self-Designed, 2014) is WKU’s first finalist for the prestigious Rhodes, Marshall, and Gates-Cambridge scholarships. She was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for science research in 2012 and conducted research in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the Sackler Institute at NYU. Sarah is currently pursuing her MD and PhD degrees in Microbiology through the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program. She plans to pursue a research career as a geneticist, collaborating with scientists in China and other Mandarin-speaking areas.


Honors College Spotlighted in National Guide

The Honors College is spotlighted in “A Review of Fifty Public Honors Programs” by John Willingham. Learn more

500th Student participates in Education Abroad at Harlaxton

WKU sends its 500th student to participate in the “WKU in England” program at Harlaxton College.

WKU Ranks Third as a Top Fulbright Producing Institution

During the 2014-15 year, six students receive Fulbright awards and WKU ties for third in the nation of Master’s Institutions. Learn more


All 4 WKU Nominees Recognized by Goldwater

All four WKU student nominated for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program were honored, with three awardees and one honorable mention. Read more

“Citizen & Self” First Offered as Study Away Program

For the first time, the “Citizen & Self (HON 251)” course is offered as a Study Away program. During May and June of 2015, fifteen students and two faculty complete the course in Washington, D.C., learning about the city’s diverse and changing neighborhoods while living, cooking, and working together. Read more

Honors College Incoming first-year ACT/SAT scores 30/1300.

For the first time in the College’s history the average ACT/SAT of the incoming first year class exceeded 30/1300. Those scores correspond with an estimated percentile of Top 3% of all tests taken that year.


1000 Scholars Complete “Citizen & Self”

As of Fall 2015, over 1,000 Honors College scholars have completed the required Citizen & Self (HON 251) course, exploring issues in the Bowling Green community and completing interdisciplinary research projects.

First U.S. Foreign Service Internship Scholar

Alexandria Knipp (2018, International Affairs, Arabic, and Asian Religions & Cultures) is the first WKU student to be awarded a U.S. Foreign Internship. The internship included a summer position in Washington, D.C., a second summer at a U.S. Embassy overseas, and preparation for working as Foreign Service officer. Alexandria also earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and served as president of the Model Arab League at WKU. Read more

Honors College International Center Dedicated

hcic lobbyThe new 67,000-square foot building is dedicated on October 23. The building houses the Honors College, Office of Scholar Development, Chinese Flagship Program, Study Abroad & Global Learning, Office of International Programs, Kentucky Institute for International Studies, International Enrollment Management, International Student Office, and English as a Second Language International, in addition to classrooms, study rooms, and a thesis defense room. Click here for a video tour of the HCIC.


Honors College Graduates over 200 scholars

For the first time in its history, the Honors College graduates over 200 scholars in an academic year by recognizing 255 graduates in 2015-2016.

Honors College Surpasses Enrollment of 1,300

During the 2015-2016 year, total enrollment for the Honors College is over 1,300 scholars.

Chinese Flagship Partners with Alltech

A leader in nutrition and scientific innovation focused on yeast-based technology, nutrigenomics, and algae, Alltech partnered with the Chinese Flagship Program to provide internships to select WKU scholars. The internships feature 30 hours of internship responsibilities and learning about China’s unique business environment, as well as 10 hours of one-on-one language instruction, at Alltech’s facilities in China. The two inaugural interns were Honors scholars Alexis Corbin (2018, Geography/Environmental Studies and Asian Religions & Cultures) and Megan Laffoon (2017, Biology). Read more


Chinese Flagship Grant Renewed

The Chinses Flagship Program grant is renewed by the National Security Education Program for four years. Learn more


Dixie and Peter Mahurin Establish Mahurin Honors College

On January 27, the Honors College is named in honor of Dixie and Peter Mahurin for their legacy of support for gifted education at WKU. Learn more


WKU Ranks Second as a Top Fulbright Producing Institution

During the 2016-17 year, eight students receive Fulbright awards, and WKU ties for second in the nation of Master’s Institutions. Learn more


Honors Housing Expands

Southwest Hall is added as an Honors Housing option in the Fall semester.

Mahurin Honors College Launches Speaker Series

On February 22, The MHC launched its first-ever speaker series with a guest who tackled some of the toughest subjects in higher education. Dr. Sarah Mahurin, dean of Timothy Dwight College at Yale, gave a lecture titled “Narratives of (and in) Higher Education” to more than 100 WKU faculty, staff, students and community guests. Read More

Mahurin Honors Student Receives Hollings Scholarship

Meteorology student Dallas McKinney of Mayfield, KY (2020) is one of 120 undergraduate students selected for the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship. He will receive up to $9,500 to support two years of academic study and a paid summer internship at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) facility. Read More


Mahurin Honors Student Selected as Goldwater Scholar

Biology and Chemistry student Lauren Pedersen of Barbourville, KY (2019) was selected as a 2018 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, the premier award for undergraduates pursuing careers in science, mathematics or engineering. She is the only student from Kentucky to receive a Goldwater scholarship this year. Read More

Mahurin Honors Senior Receives Princeton in Asia Fellowship

Anthropology and International Affairs student Natalie Webb of Louisville, KY (2018) has been awarded a fellowship from Princeton in Asia. After graduating from MHC this spring, Webb will teach English at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for a year. She previously studied abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, during the spring 2017 semester. She said her semester in South Korea was a transformative experience that encouraged her to pursue post-graduate opportunities abroad. Read More

Mahurin Honors Student Selected as WKU's First Truman Scholar

Economics and Spanish student Loandria “Andi” Dahmer of Fisherville, KY (2019) has been selected as a 2018 Harry S. Truman Scholar, and she is the first student from WKU to earn this honor.  She will receive $30,000 for graduate school and opportunities for professional development to prepare her for a career in public service leadership. Read More


Michael E. Smith serves as Acting Executive Director

During the 2018-2019 academic year, Dr. Michael Smith, a professor from the Biology Department, served as Acting ExecutMichael Smithive Director of the Mahurin Honors College while Dr. Cobane was an American Council on Education Fellow. 


Mahurin Honors Senior Receives WKU's first Rangel Fellowship

Political science and international affairs student Deven Richardson (2019) has been selected as a 2019 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellow, and is the first WKU student to earn this award. Through the fellowship, Richardson will receive $75,000 for a two-year graduate degree, paid internships in the U.S. Congress and embassies abroad, and numerous opportunities for mentoring and professional development.

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 Last Modified 2/22/22