First-Year Honors Program celebrates 40th anniversary


Photo: Huiling Wu/Iowa State Daily

ISU President Steven Leath attends the Honors Program dinner meeting on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, at Jischke Honors Building. Leath shared his educational backgrounds, life experiences and his thoughts about Iowa State. 

Mackensie Moore

A lot has changed since the 1970s, but the foundation for Iowa State’s First-Year Honors Program has remained the same. 

The Honors Program began in 1960 when some individuals saw an opportunity to bring together students who were highly engaged in their education. The program allowed those who had already proven themselves to advance their curriculum through research and study.

In 1970, Iowa State started to look at freshmen to determine what it could do to help students engage in an honors education.

“Our experience is all about that transition piece for our students,” Law said. “It’s the key factor to a lot of students choosing the Honors Program at Iowa State.”

The current program has 457 members and is still mentor-oriented. While previously only faculty and staff worked with the students, it now includes upper-division honor students to run the seminar.

“The honors program has become a forerunner for national standards,” said Laurie Smith Law, administrative director for the University Honors Program.

The program is now planning to honor some of the first classes: 1972, 1973 and 1974.

“We call them our guinea pigs for being the first three classes that went through the program as it was being put together,” Law said.

This Saturday, the Honors Program will host its anniversary gala in the Scheman Building. Approximately 50 alumni are expected to attend.

A cocktail hour will begin the night at 5:30 p.m. The main part of the gala will start at 6 p.m., allowing time for more socializing afterward.

The major portion of the night will consist of presentations and a dinner. 

Edwin Lewis, the first chairman of the Honors Program, and Cody Hancock, sophomore in chemical engineering and current student leader for the Honors Program, will give speeches. 

Lewis will speak about the history of the program and Hancock will talk about what the program has done for him.

“I don’t know how [the program] was 40 years ago, but I’m going to talk about my experiences, and I just hope it will bring back some of their memories,” Hancock said.

Hancock credits the program with how he met many of his friends and for helping him to grow as an individual.

“It’s given me a community that I can rely on and go to for anything, and it’s great,” said Hancock.

Saturday’s gala will highlight how the program has changed as well as what the future holds.