Stephens Scholars History
The honors program at Stephens dates back to the 1960s, when it was created as a pilot program. It has since evolved and today is known as Stephens Scholars.
The honors program is founded. The plan grows to include study trips, faculty tea parties and concentration weeks allowing for contemplation of specific academic studies.
- 1960: Stephens administrators decide to pilot a program that allows women of similar academic backgrounds to live together in one residential hall.
- 1961: West Hall is designated a first-year dormitory with a House Plan allowing students to take special courses together in humanities, contemporary social issues and communication.
- 1963: The program includes study trips in Columbia and New York City.
- 1964: West Hall is renamed Searcy Hall in recognition of longtime Stephens faculty member Laura Searcy. The House Plan is renamed Searcy House Plan.
The program continues to grow in popularity. Holiday parties and academic gatherings become popular traditions. Students create House Plan scrapbooks to organize photographs, news clippings and other materials.
- 1973: The living-learning experiment becomes a model for other campuses.
- 1975: Margaret Campbell becomes part of the Searcy House Plan and remains involved until 2016.
- 1977: Searcy Hall Plan participants raise money and awareness for women’s rights issues.
The plan remains popular as holiday parties, dances and other social events complement the academic rigor of the honors program. Students continue to capture memories in annual scrapbooks.
- 1980: House Plan members celebrate the 20th anniversary of the program’s founding. Also that year, the group receives an award from the National Center for Citizen Involvement for its fundraising efforts.
- 1981: The honors program hosts Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell for a campus reading.
- 1984: The honors program hosts political debates, celebrates U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro’s nomination as the first woman for the position of vice president of the United States.
The honors program remains housed in Searcy Hall and continues to find the right balance between rigorous academic work and social activities.
- 1990: The program establishes the Martin Scholarship in honor of Dorothy Martin, a founding faculty member.
- 1991: Dr. Tina Parke-Sutherland is invited to be part of the honors program. Sutherland continues to be involved in the program today.
- 1993: The Searcy Plan gets a visit from Martha Wisbey, dean of students, who declares the program a “community that Stephens College is very proud of.”
- 1994: Searcy Plan members hold the first-ever Songfest during orientation, a tradition that has since become campus-wide and continues to be celebrated today.
- 1995: The program honors James M. Shirky, a humanities professor and founding faculty member, upon his retirement by establishing the Shirky Scholarship.
The honors program has evolved from 2000 to today to better reflect the changing needs of today’s learners. Today, a select group of academically gifted students take part in the program.
- 2005: The honors program becomes the Honors House Plan and moves to Pillsbury 4th floor.
- 2007: The program is relocated to Roblee 4th floor.
- 2013: The plan is relocated to Tower 3rd floor.
- 2014: The Honors House Plan transforms into Stephens Scholars. Honors students are now able to choose from multiple housing options. The honors program remains focused on academic rigor while promoting engagement, community and opportunity.