Each spring during J. Harry and Anna Jeanes Academic Honors Week (see below), Honors seniors present their thesis projects and their achievements are recognized in assemblies of students and faculty. Students who successfully complete all components of the program (including graduating with a 3.2 cumulative GPA or better) receive the "Honors Program" designation on their diplomas and on their permanent academic records. (Honors Program graduation with further distinction is awarded to certain students based on their final, cumulative GPA and on their performance in the Honors thesis.) Honors Program graduates often request additional bound copies of their successfully defended thesis projects--one for themselves, others for friends and family and contributing faculty. Lastly, the program's graduates are specifically honored at each Baylor commencement ceremony--in the printed program, through special enhancements of the graduation regalia, and by announcement as they are awarded their degrees--for their commendable accomplishments.
Dr. Wallace Daniel (formerly dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and director of the Honors Program) conceived of the idea of Academic Honors Week during his first year as director of the Honors Program, with an intent to celebrate the scholarly work that students in the Honors Program were doing. He believed that Honors Program students had committed themselves to academic achievements at the highest levels, and in applauding them, he hoped to encourage many disciplines and schools to focus time and attention on the best and brightest within their divisions.
Dr. Daniel presented the idea to Mr. Harry Jeanes, who (with his wife, Anna) proceeded to establish a full-fledged endowment on behalf of the idea, which has since become the annual J. Harry and Anna Jeanes Academic Honors Week, held toward the end of each academic year.
The spring of 2012 marked the twentieth annual Honors Week and Honors Convocation. Honors Week provides a venue for special lectures and for Honors Program students to present overviews of their thesis projects, and Convocation allows us to showcase outstanding students. I believe David Solomon of Notre Dame gave the keynote address at the inaugural Convocation. Indeed, many of its speakers have been, like Dr. Solomon, distinguished Baylor graduates. Some had become college presidents (Judy Mohraz of Goucher College, Olin Robison of Middlebury College, Benjamin Ladner of American University, and Robert Sloan of Baylor); others were leaders in medicine (Elaine Lambert at Stanford and Walter Wilson at the Mayo Clinic). Noted scholars such as Michael Kennedy (history), Linda Leavell (literature), and Alden Smith and Thomas Hibbs of our own Honors College, have also given the address.
Several years ago the Convocation expanded to recognize distinguished students throughout the College of Arts & Sciences, and it now encompasses all of the colleges and schools at Baylor. For many of us Honors Week and the Honors Convocation in particular have become high points in the academic year, when we have a chance to celebrate the outstanding achievements of our students. As indicated in the Honors Convocation materials, "The visionary desire of Mr. and Mrs. Jeanes"--and, we might add, that of Dr. Daniel--"to recognize intellectual achievement underscores one of the University's fundamental purposes: the pursuit of academic excellence."