APU’s Honors College Recognized as a “Hidden Gem”

by Abigail Reed

From students and a professor discussing Aristotle’s philosophy of friendship around a table to afternoons in a library crafting essays on some of history’s greatest books—Azusa Pacific’s Honors College creates a living and learning community, which allows students to engage with life’s biggest questions, preparing the next generation of disciples and leaders. This fall, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni named APU’s Honors College one of five “Hidden Gems” in the nation, recognizing the exceptional value this challenging academic program holds for students.

With the decline of liberal arts programs and widespread emphasis on career preparation in colleges across the United States, APU’s Honors College provides a unique atmosphere for students to grow in their ability to eloquently express complex ideas, develop moral and intellectual virtue, contemplate life’s questions, and critically analyze classic texts—all in addition to their major field of study.

“We are primarily about developing young men and women of character and faith who can step into positions of leadership, in a way that is beneficial to all career paths,” said David Weeks, Ph.D., dean of the Honors College. “Whether elementary school teachers, doctors, or members of the city council, our nation is in dire need of people of character.”

How does the Honors College work to accomplish this aim? Every week, students and their professors gather around a circular table, ready for discussion with books in hand. Instead of a traditional lecture style class, the Honors College fosters a place of openness, community, and learning from one another—diving deep into wisdom of the past while cultivating interpersonal skills in the present.

“I have learned in discussions and through this community to have conversations imbued with grace rather than judgement, and to truly engage with the ideas of others,” said Reilly Fitzpatrick ’20, honors student and English major. “This is both a witness to who we are as Christians, as well as a valuable way to live and learn as an individual. Together, we seek truth and pursue beauty.”

As students in the Honors College read and discuss the words of great thinkers, from Augustine to Booker T. Washington, they think deeply about the answers to eternally relevant questions: Who are we? Why are we here? Who is God? What are our responsibilities to God and neighbor? What is good? What is true? Seeking these truths cultivates deep meaning, preparing students for a life of impact and fulfillment.

“The Honors College is a long-term investment that looks beyond a career or salary,” said André Villeneuve, Ph.D., professor in the Honors College. “Ultimately, investing in this program is an investment in eternity.”

Abigail Reed is a public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. She is a liberal studies major with an honors humanities minor.