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Aerial shot of large group of HC students stand on O U campus with large Grizz mascot painted on the ground

About The Honors College

At the Honors College, we empower students to thrive. The college enrolls academically strong undergraduates who strive for the highest distinction. Offering unique additional scholarships, dedicated housing, small classes, a flexible curriculum, one-of-a-kind research, creative opportunities and a collaborative environment, the Honors College helps guide students in every degree toward success.

Mission Statement
The Honors College at Oakland University actively supports the aspirations and goals of all dedicated, high-achieving and gifted students to excel in everything they do, to contribute to their own success and to the success of the world at large. Aspiration, inspiration and celebration enliven our strong pillars of Academics, Involvement and Mentorship. Diversity informs us, and commitment drives us. Through the power of mentorship and leadership, and through the advancement of knowledge and understanding, we will make a positive contribution to our fields of study, to our future professions and to the communities in which we live.

Dr. Graeme Harper Headshot

Welcome to the the Honors College at Oakland University. We create an environment for those who want to achieve, and we support your ambitions. We are ambitious, for the Honors College itself and for you. Around five percent of undergraduates across the United States graduate from an honors college every year - making your time in the Honors College a unique, experience in developing your potential.

Building on our past and looking to your future, you won't just discuss what it is to be the best, you'll show it - through the work we support you to undertake and through the things that you will achieve. You'll also have fun! No one should ever discount the importance of fun and a supportive community in the pursuit of achieving great things.

If you would like to be a member of this distinguished group of students, whether you are planning to be a doctor, an engineer, an artist, a business leader, or you are undecided, call or email us. We’ll arrange a visit that will show you the endless opportunities available to you as a member of the Honors College!

And of course, please let me know if we can be of any additional service!

Graeme Harper, DCA. Ph.D., Dean
The Honors College
(248) 370-4450
[email protected]

In the 1950s Oakland University became the first university in the U.S.A. ever created with that strategic input of honors college students. While over 60 percent of other honors colleges in the United States were created after 1994, we at Oakland have embodied those ideals since our very foundation. In this way, the Honors College here has both a firm foundation and steady vision that is closely aligned with the university’s mission. Drawing on the principles set out by Matilda and Alfred Wilson when they donated their entire Meadow Brook estate to establish Oakland University, the HC provides driven, aspirational and talented young people the benefit of a high-quality education.

In 1977, the first students of a college at OU named “The Honors College" entered Oakland, under inaugural Director Mel Cherno, to further advance the ideals that makes Oakland unique. Since then, The HC has had five Directors and, most recently, a Dean. When Professor Cherno left the program, Robert Howes, professor of history, held the position from 1980 to 1985. Brian Murphy, professor of English, became the Honors College director in 1985 and stayed a record 17 years. Jude Nixon, professor of English, became director in early 2002, and continued the great tradition. Graeme Harper became director in August 2011. In February 2013, Dr. Harper was appointed the first Dean of the Honors College at Oakland University.

Over 40 years now since its own foundation, the Honors College to grow and its students continue to excel – more so every year and in ways that are both remarkable and exciting. Aspiration, Inspiration and Celebration influence our mission, which is supported by the strong pillars of disciplinary and multi-disciplinary innovation, undergraduate research and creative practice, community and community engagement and positive mentorship. 

Since its foundation Oakland University has had a relationship with honors education.

In the late 1950s when the university was being established, and its first curriculum was being created, a group of honors college students from the nation's first honors college - The Honors College Group, as it was called - was asked by the administration to make their recommendations on the Oakland University curriculum and to express their thoughts on how best to support high-performing students. The then Oakland Chancellor Durward "Woody" Varner later wrote to each of the group to thank them for their contribution to the character and direction of Oakland University.

As those early Oakland administrators pointed out, supporting educational excellence is not about elitism, not about rewarding those who hold a privileged position. Rather, it is about supporting those who strive to be the best they can be, who follow their aspirations with determination and with application.

"Honors education", Grey C. Austin points out in a book chapter entitled "Orientation to Honors Education", refers to "the total means by which a college or university seeks to meet the educational needs of its ablest and most highly motivated students" (Austin: 5).

AUSTIN, GREY C. 1986. "Orientation to Honors Education." In Fostering Academic Excellence Through Honors Programs, ed. Kenneth E. Eble. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Faculty and Staff Recognition

Many faculty at Oakland University have supported honors education in many ways and over many years.

In recognition of faculty who have made regular and important contributions to honors education, Oakland University has created the Honors Institute. The Institute celebrates those faculty who have made a sustained and lasting contribution to honors education. New members are celebrated each year.

Christopher Apap
Colleen Arnett
Nicole Asmussen
Claude Ballairgeon
Amy Banes-Berceli
Maria Beam
Susan Beckwith
Benjamin Bennett-Carpenter
Peter Bertocci
Dikka Berven
Courtney Brannon Donoghue
Gottfried Brieger
Maria Bryant
Doug Carr
Graham Cassano
Rebecca Cheezum
Eddie Cheng
Dan Clark
Chris Clason
Natalie Cole
Karen Conn
Brian Connery
Brian Dean
Thomas Discenna
Mark Doman
Ada Chun Dong
Bill Edwards
Randall Engle
Alan Epstein
Susan E. Evans
Susan J.Evans
Joanne Lipson Freed
David Garfinkle
Thomas Giberson
Gregory Giberson
Holly Gilbert
Stacey Hahn
Greg Hickman
Alice Horning
Jeff Insko
Jennifer Janes
Amy Johnson
Angela Kaiser
David Kidger
Chris Kobus
Paul Kubicek
Ji-Eun Lee
Todd Leibert
Yan Li
Larry Lilliston
Barbara Mabee
Sarah Maher
Kieran Mathieson
Linda McCloskey
Fritz McDonald
Erin Meyers
Jean Ann Miller
Pamela Mitzelfeld
Seigo Nakao
James Naus
Mark Navin
Barbara Oakley
Maria Paino
Jessica Payette
Sandra Pelfrey
Aldona Pobustky
Sandy Powell
Ingrid Rieger
Helena Riha
Brad Roth
Darrell Schmidt
Linda Schweitzer
Gary Shepherd
D. Shepherd
B. Shepherd
Karen Sheridan
Liz Shesko
Cynthia Sifonis
Craig Smith
Richard Stamps
Sally Tardella
David Tindall
Terri Towner
Stephanie Vallie
Robert Van Til
Donna Voronovich
Mary Wermuth
Susan Wood
Stephen Wright
Janusz Wrobel
Virgil Ziegler-Hill

The Honors College Council is the governing body of The Honors College and is made up of a dedicated and diverse group of Oakland faculty as well as select student research interns. Chosen faculty members are generally asked to serve a three-year term on the council while new student members are selected annually. 

The council meets every other month for updates on Honors College events and programs, to approve senior thesis proposals and conduct Honors College business.

Council Faculty Members
Amy Banes-Berceli Department of Biological Sciences
Assistant Professor
Eddie Cheng Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Distinguished Professor
Matthew Fails Department of Political Science
Associate Professor, Political Science
Darrin Hanna Department of Engineering & Computer Science
Associate Professor of Engineering, Engineering & Computer Science
David Kidger Department of Music
Associate Professor of Musicology
Ji-Eun Lee School of Education and Human Services
Associate Professor, Teacher Development and Educational Studies
Sanela Martic Department of Chemistry
Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Fritz McDonald Department of Philosophy
Associate Professor, Philosophy
Thomas Raffel Department of Biological Sciences
Assistant Professor, Biological Studies
Brad Roth Department of Physics
Professor, Physics
Kathleen Spencer School of Nursing
Assistant Professor, Nursing
Christopher Wilson School of Health Sciences
Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy
Susan Wood Department of Art and Art History
Professor, Art History
Virgil Zeigler-Hill Department of Psychology
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Training

The Honors College Board of Visitors was established to assist the Dean in deepening the relationship between the Honors College and alumni, students and the community. 

Current Board of Visitors:

Katie Aleck  SHS ‘17
DC Armijo, CAS '96
Kirbionne Brakins
Sue Evans (chair), CAS ‘88
Aaron Garofolo, (Secretary) SECS, ‘17
Aaron Helander, BIS ‘17, SBA ‘20
Isabella Limbert, student rep
Kathleen McMahon
Lauren Sanchez-Murphy
Megan Tack (vice chair), SBA ‘18, ‘21
Keith Tack, parent

Former Board of Visitors members:

Matt Bloom, SECS ‘17
Elspeth Coats, SBA ‘91
Brian Neumeyer, SECS ‘16
Korin Visocchi '19
Aaron Garofolo '17
Anna Tack

We are always looking for enthusiastic Honors College alumni and friends to join our board.  If you or someone you know is interested, please contact us at [email protected].

Celebrating human achievement is part of the Honors College at Oakland University. Here we celebrate the work and achievements of our Honors College Honorary Esteemed Fellows. From all walks of life, but with a shared sense of purpose and ambition, the Honors College Honorary Esteemed Fellows embody the ideals of going beyond the ordinary and seeking to make a difference. Scroll down and join with us here in celebrating the achievements of the Honorary Esteemed Fellows of the Honors College at Oakland University.

Jody Williams | Nobel Prize Winner and Honorary Esteemed Fellow of The Honors College. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the Nobel Women’s Initiative, activist, writer, teacher, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

David Kelley | CEO of design company, IDEO, one of the most significant design and consulting companies in the world. David’s contributions to the field of design are a human-centered methodology and culture of innovation. Winner of the Edison Achievement Award for Innovation, the Chrysler Design Award and the National Design Award in Product Design from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

Andrew Motion | Former Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Honorary Esteemed Fellow of The Honors College. Poet, novelist, biographer, in 2009 Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to literature. He was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 – 2009.

Jim Simons | Mathematician, billionaire, and philanthropist. Founder of Renaissance Technologies.

John Rink | Honorary Research Fellow. We celebrate the work of Dr John Rink, Professor of Musical Performance Studies, and a Fellow of St John's College, University of Cambridge.

Honors Industry Fellows:

Honors Industry Fellows are members of the business community who wonderfully exemplify honors ideals. These ideals include integrity, support for ingenuity and a belief in innovation, global understanding, a commitment to community, and a desire to make a positive difference in the world.

Gregg Garrett, CEO, CGS Partners

Jeffrey T. Cuthbertson, Cuthbertson Law, PLC 

Supporting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Honors Education.

The National Society for Minorities in Honors (NSFMIH) was founded in 2015 to bring together and advance discussions and action in relation to diversity, equity and inclusion in honors education. The organization holds an annual conference (first held at Oakland University in March 2016), hosted by institutions around the USA, and promotes the wide dissemination of ideas and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion in honors education - through its annual conference, through national and international seminars and electronic events, and through publications. 

Contact/Chair: Dean Graeme Harper, Dean of The Honors College at Oakland University - [email protected]

The Honors College

Oak View Hall, Room 210
509 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4452
(location map)
(248) 370-4450
Fax: (248) 370-4479