Honors at BYU

In 1959 English professor Robert K. Thomas approached President Ernest L. Wilkinson and suggested that Brigham Young University start an Honors program to better serve the exceptionally bright and highly motivated students that were beginning to enroll at the university. Thomas argued that an Honors program would provide the university with three major benefits:

  1. It would provide a more flexible, stimulating program of general education for students.
  2. It would provide a mechanism to allow faculty to engage more closely with motivated students.
  3. It would improve the entire set of academic offerings at Brigham Young University.

President Wilkinson and the university administration carefully considered Thomas’ proposal and in September 1959 announced that an Honors program would begin the following year. Robert K. Thomas was appointed the first director of the program. The Honors program quickly became one of the defining offerings of the educational program at Brigham Young University.

The University Archives is home to several collections that document the history of the Honors program. They include:

  • UA 687 Robert K. Thomas Academic Vice-President Records, 1967-1983. These records document some of Thomas’ activities with the Honors program. To access the finding aid for this collection click here
  • UA 1205 Brigham Young University General Education and Honors records, 1960-1993. This collection documents the history of the Honors program from its establishment in 1960 into the mid-1990s. To access the finding aid for this collection click here.
  • LD 571 .B67gb P64x 1985 The Honors Program at Brigham Young University, 1960-1985 by Richard Poll.
  • AS 36 .B752 M6771 2002 History of the Brigham Young University Honors Program : 1978-2001 The building and reconstructing of an honors program by Kristen Morris.

If you would like to learn more about the resources available for studying the history of the Honors program at Brigham Young University, please contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu.

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