AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin community will gather April 4 at the Bass Concert Hall to celebrate its nearly 4,000 junior and senior undergraduates who have a grade point average of 3.5 or better. The 50th annual Honors Day Program begins at 2 p.m.
UT administrators have revamped the program this year to focus more on students. While two Presidential Citations are being awarded to faculty members, the focal point will be on student academic achievements.
“Just as we have made significant changes in Commencement in recent years, so are we redesigning Honors Day to make it a more memorable and meaningful experience for students,” said Dr. Peter T. Flawn, UT president ad interim. “Recognition of academic achievement is central to the educational mission of the University.”
The University spring Commencement, which has become much more celebratory in nature, has become so popular that seating capacity last year reached 15,000.
While Commencement is the occasion when the academic community celebrates with students their successful completion of an academic program, Honors Day — beginning in 1949 — has been the time to recognize the University’s most accomplished student scholars. Held for the first time on April 2, 1949, in Hogg Memorial Auditorium, Honors Day was initiated under President Theophilius S. Painter “to recognize those students who have excelled in scholastic work.”
During this year’s ceremony, all honor students will receive an honor ribbon, and the approximately 300 students with a 4.0 grade point average, will be recognized on stage and presented with an honor medallion. Students will be encouraged to wear both the honor ribbons and medallions during May Commencement.
A procession similar to the one that begins the Commencement ceremony, highlighted by the same colorful banners, will lead off the Honors Day convocation. Honor students will march in by college and school. In addition, a number of projections will be shown during the ceremony. It is hoped that various campus shots, as well as photographs of students involved in all areas of studies, will help to add new meaning and personalize the event.
The UT Wind Ensemble, conducted by Jerry Junkin, will provide music for the event, and junior music major Nicholas Rodriquez, will be the vocal soloist.
Two honor students, Madhu Chugh and Bradley Staats, will deliver brief remarks. Chugh, who is from Longview, is a 1997 Parents’ Association Outstanding Student and a senior in journalism and government. Staats, who is from Austin, also is a 1997 Parents’ Association Outstanding Student and is a senior in electrical engineering, Plan II and Spanish.
Former UT honor student, now dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Dr. Edwin Dorn, will offer remarks to current honorees. President Flawn will present the Presidential Citation to Professors Elspeth Rostow and John McKetta for their many contributions to the University over the course of their careers.
The convocation will be followed by a reception for all honor students and their guests.
In addition to the 2 p.m. convocation, a number of the University’s colleges and schools will hold special ceremonies for their students.