The Honors Program began at West Georgia College in the Fall of 1975. It was developed under the auspices of the Honors Program Committee, an ad hoc committee appointed by outgoing West Georgia President Ward Pafford. Professor Virginia Meehan of the English Department was the first Chair of the committee. Following the guidelines provided by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), the committee set out to convince the faculty, students, and staff of the benefits of the Honors Program. In addition to establishing the Honors Program, the Honors Program Committee also helped establish the Honors Convocation, an annual event celebrating student academic achievement across the entire campus.
For over a decade, the Honors program consistently offered courses in Literature, Critical Thinking, and American Government, with occasional offerings in History, Economics, Sociology, Mathematics, or Psychology. In 1989 another new feature was added to the Honors Program: the annual trip to Washington, D.C. during Spring Break. Technically a "field trip" as part of the Honors American Government course, it provided hundreds of West Georgia students the opportunity to meet Presidents, U.S. Senators and Congressmen, and to see the wonderful museums and national treasures our nation's capitol offers its visitors.
Many of our students have never been out of their home state and many have never been out of the southeast. The trip was funded over the years on an ad hoc basis by the Political Science Department, the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor Wagner's personal funds. Due to budget restrictions, the Annual D.C. Spring Break trip was suspended in 2008. With the arrival of Richard Miller as Dean of Arts and Sciences and Don Smith as Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Honors Program was given enhanced status and new directions. Both wanted to emphasize undergraduate research, and Smith believed that the Honors Program was the appropriate place for all national and international scholarship opportunities.
In June of 1999 the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia established the first Honors College in our state, at the University of West Georgia. The USG Board of Regents recognized that our Honors Program was more comprehensive than most and that we displayed most of the basic characteristics of a fully developed Honors College as outlined by the National Collegiate Honors Council.