The Lemoyne-Owen College community is proud of its W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Program. The program was conceptualized in 1988 when Dr. Irving P. McPhail, who as the President of the college at the time, approached Dr. Mariam DeCosta-Willis and requested that she start an Honors Society. Dr. DeCosta-Willis proposed W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Program as the name in a tribute to a man who has been called the most outstanding intellectual of the 20th Century. It was Dr. DuBois who stated “You, our accomplished students, can and must become a part of the “Talented Tenth”. Eight members of the LeMoyne-Owen College graduation class of 2021 were W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars and three of them were class valedictorians.
Dr. McPhail stated, in 1988, that this “’Talented Tenth’ of students at Lemoyne-Owen College will demonstrate that the purpose of a liberal arts education is to transmit the culture, values, and knowledge of the past; to help men and women realize their human potential; and to affirm the humanity of mankind.”
Dr. McPhail noted several specific objectives that would shape the development of the Honors Program:
We pay tribute to Dr. McPhail and to those seven professors who were the first honors instructors for the W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Program; Dr. Stanley Abell, Dr. Rosanne Bell, Dr. Barbara Frankle, Dr. Reuben Green, Dr. Cortez Martin, Dr. James Robinson, and Dr. Miriam De-Costa Willis.
Since 1988, the program continues to seek and attract motivated, talented students, and provide a stimulating educational program; develop a close working relationship between honors students and faculty from all disciplines; provide a curriculum that reaches across all disciplines, thus providing the students a broad perspective outside their major area of study; provide opportunities for honors independent study projects; promote and highlight the mission of the college as a student oriented, high quality academic institution; and to provide opportunities for faculty to challenge their own teaching styles and to improve their instruction in an environment of talented and motivated students.
In addition to the very practical advantage of the honors student having demonstrated initiative and genuine intellectual strength during their college career, our honors program provides a novel approach to learning which is stimulating to the most motivated and ambitious students, rather than simply increasing the volume of material covered. The process involves the student requesting from the professor to take a particular course for honors credit. If the request is approved, a contract is completed and signed by the professor and the student. The coursework activity completed by the student must be above and beyond what is done in the regular classroom. If the student completes the activity with a “B” or better, the course is labeled as “Course taken for honors credit”.
Active students in the Honors program also have the benefit of registering early for the following semester’s classes, increasing the level of control honors students have over their class schedules. We strongly believe that this privilege helps to support the honors Program by providing each Honors student the opportunity to enhance and maximize their planning skills, inside of the classroom and out.
The W.E.B. Du Bois Scholars Program is an institutional member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Tennessee Collegiate Honors Council, and the Southern Collegiate Honors Council.