Welcome to Honors

Art SpisakHello and thank you for visiting the Honors at Iowa website. There are many similarities between honors programs nationwide, yet each has a distinct identity. Our program’s uniqueness is captured by our tagline, Make Your Connection. We strive to help our students first and foremost to make a connection with themselves – that is, to find out who they are and where they want to go. We think that’s the logical and most profitable place to begin, and particularly for high capability students, who typically can do more than one thing well. Through our staff, through our student center and honors residence halls, and through honors classes and contact with honors faculty, we’ll help students to make connections both within and without.

My own role in this is to provide the resources for our students to succeed, whether that is through the honors staff, course offerings, research opportunities, or scholarships. Please contact me personally if you have questions or concerns about the program. I’d be happy to respond.

Warm Regards,

Art L. Spisak, PhD
Director, University of Iowa Honors Program

The Honors at Iowa Mission

Honors at IOWA enriches the undergraduate experience by cultivating intellectual curiosity and practical skill through challenging coursework, creative engagement, and experiential learning to nurture a deeper understanding of one's discipline and self.

How we do it:

  1. We engage and challenge our students in their first two years through seminar-style classes that give them a broad and varied knowledge base.
  2. We enable our students to engage in experiential learning through participating in undergraduate research, study abroad, internships, and more.
  3. We help them with their self-discovery process through the personal guidance, community, and many other opportunities (some quite unique) that we offer as part of membership.

Honors at Iowa Charter

Our Charter outlines our program and its mission.

Annual Report

Our Annual Report summarizes the past year's activities.

How did Honors at Iowa begin?

Samuel Rhodes-DunlapThe University of Iowa Honors Program was created in 1958 by Samuel Rhodes Dunlap. Professor Dunlap introduced the program as a response to the U.S. government’s call for better and more competitive education. His intent was to ensure the University’s position as a leader in research and learning. Dunlap was the program director from its founding in 1958 until his retirement in 1981, and was instrumental in the growth of the program from the half-dozen or so departments at its beginning to the many involved when he retired. He worked with the various departments to get them interested, and was also involved with honors at the national level. He attended many conferences and seminars across the country in order to promote honors.

Dunlap’s Legacy – Students First

Although Professor Dunlap worked hard at all levels in promoting honors, he never lost sight of his own program’s primary mission of serving the students. Dewey Stuit, the former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and a colleague of Dunlap, said, “You sometimes read that the University doesn’t show individual attention to students. Samuel Dunlap was an example of a person who puts students first. . . . He always looked out for the individual . . . .”

Visible and lasting proof to Professor Dunlap’s commitment to honors and the students is the Rhodes Dunlap Scholarship, which was made possible by his bequest. Each year Honors at Iowa gives out a substantial number of these scholarships to its students in Dunlap’s honor. Thus does his vision of honors education continue on.

Make Your Connection

Former Director Nelson and studentDunlap’s approach to, and philosophy of, academic excellence have been carried through and augmented in the Honors Program to this day. Honors at Iowa now extends across all the undergraduate colleges and departments at the University of Iowa. It is truly a university-wide program, with its administrative home being the University College housed in the Provost’s Office. Honors now has dedicated space in the Blank Honors Center for Honors Professional Staff offices (4th floor) and the Honors Student Center (3rd floor); it also has two residence halls – Daum Honors House and Centerstone.

Yet, even with the scope of the program, our primary concern is with the individual student. Our tagline, Make Your Connection, captures it most concisely: through our program our students make their connection with who they are, their social community, and with their particular area of study and their career. We think that’s the logical and most profitable place to begin, and particularly for high capability students, who typically can do more than one thing well.