Honors Program History

Honors through the Decades

See below for a timeline of major milestones, profiles of a few of our amazing students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and historic honors newsletters from 1960-1975. You can also view An Honorable History: Celebrating the University of Iowa Honors Programa booklet chronicling the history of Honors at Iowa and what it means to our students. 

How did Honors at Iowa begin?

The University of Iowa Honors Program was created sixty years ago 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.

To mark our 60th anniversary in 2018, a team of honors students digitized many historic honors newsletters from 1960 through 1975. During this period, the newsletter was usually published monthly, and highlighted honors community events as well as stories about students, faculty, and courses.