Welcome to the Honors Program

"History of Honors Education at Georgia Perimeter College"

Honors education has been a part of the educational opportunities available to students at Georgia Perimeter College since 1967. At that time DeKalb Community College, subsequently DeKalb College, offered special Honors sections of courses that individual faculty members, such as Professors Susan Thomas and Joan Murray, would develop and initiate. Because of growing faculty and student interest, in 1981 Dean Ron Swofford organized an ad hoc college committee for the purpose of establishing an Honors Program for the College. Judy Michna, a member of the Humanities Department at the Dunwoody Campus, chaired the Committee. The goal of this committee was to create an Honors Program that would provide structure and management for the Honors courses and would provide stimulating academic opportunities, a recruitment tool for talented students, incentives for four-year institutions to recruit our students, and opportunities for co- and extra-curricular activities to enrich the College.

In 1983, the DeKalb College Honors Program was established. The first three Coordinators were Judy Michna at Dunwoody, Richard Clow at Decatur, and Susan Thomas at Clarkston. Other than the occasional course in the sciences, the vast majority of Honors courses were concentrated in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Honors Program formally entered the Honors community by joining the Georgia Collegiate Honors Council (GCHC), the Southern Regional Honors Council (SRHC), and the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Richard Clow served as the third president of the GCHC in 1986-87. Susan Thomas served as its president in 1991-92. Professors Clow, Michna, and Thomas were honored by the Alumni Association in 1988 for their work with students in the Honors Program. Students in the Honors Program were then able to earn an Honors Certificate by taking five Honors courses.

The leadership and structure of the Honors Program was revamped with the hiring of Jeffrey Portnoy in 1992 to coordinate Honors at the Dunwoody Campus and Lawrenceville Campus, which offered its first Honors sections that year, and the appointment in 1993 of Susan McGrath as the Coordinator of the Clarkston, Decatur, and Rockdale Campuses. Under their guidance, the Honors Program increased the involvement for faculty and students on the state, regional, and national level. Honors administrators, students in the Honors Program, and faculty teaching Honors courses regularly attended and presented at the annual conferences of these Honors organizations. Portnoy has served twice as the President of GCHC (2000-01 & 2008-09). GPC has also served as the host institution for the annual meetings of the SRHC and the NCHC. Portnoy has also been on the Executive Committee of the SRCH. He has been the Co-Chair of the NCHC Publications Board since 1998 as well as the General Editor of its Monograph Series since 2004.

In 2004, an Honors Task Force co-chaired by Paul Hudson and Jeff Portnoy was constituted. The charge of the Honors Task Force was to reflect upon the short- and long-term needs of the Honors Program, the students it serves, and the administrators and faculty involved in Honors education and to recommend and seek support for the changes and structure it deemed appropriate. One immediate consequence of the work of the Honors Task Force and the contributions of many faculty curriculum committees was to more than double the number of courses that could be offered as part of the Honors curriculum, expanding from the Humanities and Social Science areas into Business, Science, and ultimately Mathematics.

In 2006, the Honors Task Force, with several adjustments in its membership, became the Honors Council, and Jeff Portnoy was appointed as the Interim Director of the college-wide Honors Program. Under this new organizational structure, Monica Benton serves as the Honors Coordinator for Decatur, Bill Price is the Coordinator at Dunwoody, and Salli Vargis coordinates the Honors Program at the Newton Campus. The new structure has produced some tangible benefits for students in the Honors Program, including the opportunity to earn an Honors Program Diploma for taking ten Honors Courses. Moreover, the GPC Honors Program now has a network of Articulation Agreements with four-year institutions that guarantee acceptance into the Honors Program at those universities as well as transfer scholarships for those who graduate from GPC and have earned an Honors Program Certificate or Diploma.

From offering only a handful of Honors courses some forty years ago, the Honors Program has blossomed into the largest two-year Honors Program in Georgia. The Honors Program typically offers during the academic year seventy or more independent Honors sections that enroll over 1,000 students and dozens of academic, literary, and artistic events that enrich the intellectual and cultural milieu of Georgia Perimeter College.