Each spring during J. Harry and Anna Jeanes Academic Honors Week, 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, graduating with at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA receive the "Honors Program" designation on their diplomas and in their academic records. Honors Program graduation with further distinction is awarded to select students based on their final, cumulative GPA and on their Honors thesis. Graduates of the Honors Program often request additional bound copies of their successfully defended thesis projects, one for themselves, others for friends, 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.
During his first year as director of the Honors Program, Dr. Wallace Daniel conceived of the idea of Academic Honors Week, with an intent to celebrate the scholarly work of students in the Honors Program. He knew that Honors Program students achieving academic accomplishments, and wanted to applaud them, as 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. 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, former dean of the 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 are highlights of the academic year, when we can celebrate our students' outstanding achievements. 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."