NORMAN — The Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College at the University of Oklahoma celebrated 50 years Tuesday with “Education for the 21st Century,” a panel discussion featuring three OU Rhodes Scholars: Jason Sanders, M.D., 2000; Andrea DenHoed, 2008; and Mubeen Shakir, 2013.
The honors program was founded in 1963 and elevated to college status in 1996-97.
Honors College Dean David Ray said the college has a special function in the university, serving all majors and all colleges with small classes, reading and writing intensive curriculum with a large amount of student-organized and initiated reading groups and film series.
Ray said over the past three years, the college has had about 80 independent reading groups.
“They (Honors College students) recently told me the Honors College is shamelessly idealistic, and I hope that’s true,” he said.
Ray described a recent trade journal article’s answer to the question “What’s the point of an Honors College anyway?”
“The point of an Honors College is its idealism; its aspiration to be highly intellectual and provide serious students with serious challenges for the work in the building is cultural, artistic, scientific and intellectual.”
Ray presented Dr. Carolyn Stout-Morgan, associate dean of the Honors College and associate professor of sociology, human relations and women’s studies, and Dr. Nancy Mergler, OU provost, with “Extraordinary Service to Honors Students” awards.
To start the discussion about “Education for the 21st Century,” OU President David L. Boren said education faced several challenges including lack of funding, technological complexities and vocationalism.
Boren said when he became president at OU, the university received 32 percent of its funding from the state, but if current legislation passes, it will only receive 14 percent of funding plus 6 percent for the medical school from the state.
Additionally, distance learning has been on the rise, and some think it should be a replacement for the campus environment, Boren said and vocationalism, which focuses solely on teaching for a job, confuses “earning a living” with “living a life.”