The Honors Program is an interdisciplinary community of dedicated and intellectually curious Honors Students and Honors Faculty. Honors Students are afforded enriched curricular and co-curricular opportunities which enable them to reach their highest potential by challenging them intellectually and preparing them for lives of integrity, value, and professional success. Honors Students not only distinguish themselves within their disciplinary homes, they develop, demonstrate and discover significant cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge and perspectives. Based on the belief that excellence requires engagement, the program seeks creative avenues for integrating theory and practice, enhancing critical thinking, examining ethics and values and fostering the development of better citizens and successful leaders.
The Honors Program will afford intellectually curious students a forum for the interdisciplinary and collaborative exchange of ideas through distinctive, innovative, and student-driven approaches to learning:
- Honors Students will understand and apply diverse discipline specific research methods and knowledge.
- Honors Students will acquire and apply ethical reasoning and critical thinking skills.
- Honors students will analyze and evaluate normative and descriptive claims using ethical reasoning and critical thinking skills.
- Honors Students will analyze and evaluate interdisciplinary scholarship related to topics of local, national and global import which are too large, complex or important to be understood from a single academic discipline or cultural perspective.
- Honors Students will create individualized & self-motivated scholarship or creative projects.
- Honors Students will understand and communicate the significance and outcomes of independent scholarship to the honors and University community with oral and written presentations.
- Honors Students will engage in activities which enrich and serve the Honors, Millikin, and larger community.
In the fall of 1973, the Vice President for Academic Affairs established a special ad hoc committee to begin planning for a comprehensive honors program at Millikin. The committee members included Dr. Henry Gromoll (Chairman, Behavioral Sciences), Dr. Daniel Guillory (Assistant Professor, English), Dr. Robert McIntire (Chairman, Political Science), and Dr. Ron Shelton (Chairman, Mathematics). Dr. McIntire assumed responsibilities as the first Chairman of the "James Millikin Scholars Committee." New members were then added to the Committee, including Professor William Chapman (Accounting), Mr. James Kettelkamp (Admissions), Professor Norman Jensen (Biology), and Professor Susan Schoen (Music).
During the 1973-74 academic year, the Committee developed a set of procedures for identifying and interviewing prospective candidates for the JMS Program. In May of 1974, at the regular monthly faculty meeting, the James Millikin Scholars Program was formally approved by a vote of the entire faculty. The Program became operational with the entering class of September, 1974. In January, 1975 Dr. Daniel Guillory began serving as Chairman, and later that year two members were added to the Committee: Dr. Neil Baird (Biology) and Professor Mary Lauerman (Foreign Languages). Acting on Committee recommendations made in the spring of 1976, Dr. Givens, Academic Vice President, appointed eighteen faculty members to serve as special JMS Advisors, beginning with the fall term, 1976. At that time the Program membership had grown to about sixty-five students and some two dozen faculty and administrators.
Today, the Millikin Honors community consists of over three hundred honors students across the Unviversity and a large number of dedicated Honors faculty. In 2016, significant Honors Curriculum changes were approved creating Honors and JMS programs that are distinct but closely related scholarship programs. The Honors Program is a comprehensive, four-year academic experience with small, engaging seminars with all and only fellow honors students and led by full-time, experienced and passionate faculty. The Honors Program also provides opportunities for Honors Students to engage with a large and vibrant community of intellectually curious students and faculty. The James Millikin Scholars Program provides students who desire it an opportunity for independent creative or research work. In concert, the Honors and James Millikin Scholars Programs create and contribute to the exciting and rich intellectual heart of Millikin University.