Michael Arnold, director of the University of Delaware Honors Program, addresses students during a special event Friday.

Honors graduates

University Honors Program celebrates academic excellence

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11:41 a.m., May 28, 2011--The University of Delaware celebrated the academic excellence of its highest achieving students during the annual UD Honors Program awards ceremony held Friday morning, May 27, in the Trabant University Center.

An audience of more than 600 students, family and friends joined UD faculty, staff and administrators to recognize 47 students receiving the honors degree with distinction and 165 students receiving the honors degree. 

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Honors degree recipients satisfy all the coursework and grade point average requirements of the Honors Program. Honors degree with distinction recipients meet honors requirements and also complete and defend an honors thesis. 

Michael Arnold, Honors Program director and professor of economics, welcomed honorees and their guests at the first of many Commencement weekend activities.

“Thank you for the many contributions you have made during your four years here at UD,” Arnold said. “Both inside and outside the classroom, the group of students sitting here today have been our top leaders. I congratulate you on your accomplishments.”

University President Patrick Harker also lauded the honorees as students who have gone beyond the ordinary requirements and tested themselves and their abilities in the process.  

“It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t supposed to be,” Harker said. “This was an intense test that lasted four years and took a lot of hard work, intense study, late nights in the lab or the library, and some panic attacks along the way.” 

Harker also lauded parents for imbuing the honorees with the special qualities of initiative, independence and drive required to attain academic achievement at the highest levels.

“If this degree says a lot about your children, and it does, it also says a lot about the households they grew up in and the families that loved them along the way,” Harker said. “Achievement can triumph over adversity, but it more often thrives on support, especially the loving support of a family.”

Complementing family support, Harker said, is the surrogate family comprised of faculty advisers, deans and department chairs who do everything from fielding urgent phone calls to making room in already tight schedules for student appointments. 

“You are doing important work, time consuming, important work,” Harker said. “But, I imagine seeing the product of that work is something of a payback. Just look at what your investment has yielded.” 

In asking the audience for a final round of applause for the honorees, Harker reminded attendees that an honors degree and honors degree with distinction also represents a passport for great things beyond the undergraduate experience. 

“I thank all our Honors Program students for being brave, a little audacious, and for giving the students coming after you the license to be the same,” Harker said. “I wish you all the best as your paths unfold.” 

A breakfast for attendees was held before the ceremony in the Trabant University Center.

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Ambre Alexander

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