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History of the Honors College

The fall of 2013 marked the transition of the Honors Programs into the Honors College, but the two Honors programs have a long history.

The Presidential Honors Program started in the fall of 1985 with fifteen students, and the curriculum consisted of two special Honors seminars. The size of the program has gradually increased to its current size of around sixty students, and the curriculum now includes Honors core courses, three Honors seminars, and a senior research project. The Presidential Honors scholarship amount has gradually increased from $2,500 in 1985 to the current amount of $7,000, which adds up to a $28,000 scholarship over four years.

The Honors Degree Program offered its first Honors core course in 1990, one section of English 112 with twenty-five students. Now over 900 students participate in the Honors Degree Program, and the Honors College offers Honors sections of most core courses, special Honors seminars, as well as a number of upper-level Honors options. We also have a number of Honors Degree Program scholarships.

The Honors College now sponsors numerous cultural and academic enrichment events that are open to students in both Honors programs. And in the fall of 2016 the new Honors Hall opened, housing 440 Honors students and the offices of the Honors College.



Dr. Russell Long


Dr. Mallory Young


Dr. Patricia Zelman


Dr. Craig Clifford

Professor of Philosophy

Executive Director, Honors College

Dr. Clifford teaching a class

About the Executive Director

Dr. Craig Clifford did his undergraduate work in Plan II (the liberal arts honors program) at the University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in philosophy. He completed his PhD in philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1981, writing a dissertation on Plato and Martin Heidegger under Professor Kah-Kyung Cho. He studied German and attended lectures on Plato by Professor Emeritus Hans-Georg Gadamer in Heidelberg, Germany, in the summer of 1978.

Dr. Clifford has taught at Tarleton since 1983, including an annual Presidential Honors Seminar on “The Concept of a Liberal Education.” He also regularly teaches the philosophy of the Italian Renaissance for the Honors College study abroad program every summer in Urbino, Italy.

He is the author of In the Deep Heart's Core: Reflections on Life, Letters, and Texas (Texas A&M University Press, 1985); co-editor with William T. Pilkington of Range Wars: Heated Debates, Sober Reflections, and Other Assessments of Texas Writing (Southern Methodist University Press, 1989); author of The Tenure of Phil Wisdom: Dialogues (University Press of America, 1995); co-author with Randolph M. Feezell of Coaching for Character: Reclaiming the Principles of Sportsmanship (Human Kinetics, 1997) and a second edition under the title Sport and Character: Reclaiming the Principles of Sportsmanship (Human Kinetics, 2010); and co-editor of Pickers and Poets: The Ruthlessly Poetic Singer-Songwriters of Texas (Texas A&M University Press, 2016). His essays, guest columns, and reviews have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines.

Honors Graduates

graduate speaker at graduation ceremony

The Tarleton State University Honors College now has 1,655 alumni!

Our first graduating class consisted of only two students in the fall of 1998. In the spring of 2019, we had 163 graduates.

We have had 171 outstanding graduates and 11 graduation speakers.

221 of our students have graduated summa cum laude, 178 have graduated magna cum laude, and 279 have graduated cum laude.

We have 931 Honors Degree Program graduates and 273 Presidential Honors Program graduates.

PHP Graduates
Outstanding Graduates
Graduation Speakers

Alumni Day

alumni day photograph

Honors College Alumni Day is an opportunity for us to share the growth and development of the Honors College with you - our Alumni. We invite you to spend the full day with us, or simply select what parts of the day you would like to participate in.

For more information, contact us at or (254) 968-1926.

Schedule of Events:

8:30AM - Campus Tour

10:00AM - Tour of the Honors Hall and meet with the Executive Director and the Provost

12:00PM - Lunch

2:00PM - Alumni Forum

4:00PM - Networking Reception

Update Your Contact Information

Update your contact information with the Honors College and let us know if you would like to be more involved.

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