Honorary Lifetime Members

The membership of the Great Plains Honors Council has awarded the distinction of honorary lifetime membership to a select number of GPHC colleagues in recognition of their outstanding service to the honors community.

Dr. Carolyn Barros, University of Texas at Arlington, the founding dean of the Honors College at UT Arlington, brought together many of the separate honors programs across campus into a single centralized administrative unit with academic advising and scholarships. She raised over a million dollars for Honors at UTA, and successfully managed an Amon Carter Foundation Grant to support the College’s establishment. Dr. Barros, an English professor with a special interest in biography as a literary genre, is author of many works on female British writers.

Dr. Gary Bell, Texas Tech University, a specialist in British history, taught at Western Illinois University and Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas (where he founded and directed the Honors Program). He moved to Texas Tech in 1993 as Director of Honors. With significant support from the university and from donors, he grew the program from four to over a thousand members, and it became an Honors College in 1999. He stepped down as Dean in 2010 to return full-time to the faculty. Dr. Bell has served as a member of the Board of Directors as well as chair of the Finance Committee of NCHC; in addition, he was President of GPHC and founding chair of the Texas State Honors Directors. He has long served as an NCHC site visitor. Although no longer formally involved in honors administration at TTU, he is contemplating a book on developing honors programs and colleges.

Dr. Dennis Boe (deceased), East Central University, was the widely admired honors director whose untimely death in 2005 inspired the development of the Boe Award, which since 2008 has recognized excellence in student research. He was a longtime director of Honors at East Central, and a personality at NCHC and GPHC meetings, serving for many as an exemplar of a dedicated honors leader. He combined the roles of scholar, musician, poet, administrator, and friend. Dr. Boe performed in numerous concerts. He was a Teacher of the Year at East Oklahoma State, and a regional leader in the arts in Oklahoma.

Sally Bohon, who worked as Assistant to the Honors Director at Texas Christian University during the 1980s and 1990s, was the first woman to receive Lifetime Member status with the GPHC.  She is also the only non-director to have achieved this status.  Bohon was known for her commitment to the cause of honors, her alacrity with daunting projects, and her ability to work with and rally honors students, mentoring them for success, and participation in larger endeavors.  She served several years as Vice President in the GPHC, willing as with TCU to work through the details that leads to organizational success.  As Chris Willerton notes, she was also a sparkling personality who galvanized regional endeavors in honors.

John Britt (deceased), Lee College, led from 1995 until his retirement in 2012 perhaps the most successful community college honors program in the nation. Under his mentorship, Lee College students frequently won prestigious awards at both the regional and national levels, and many had their work accepted for publication. In 1998, he won the Bryan Teaching Award for best history teacher in the state of Texas, the first community college instructor to earn that designation. In 2003 he served as President of GPHC, and in 2018 the GPHC Poster Award was renamed in his honor.

Matt Campbell, Johnson County Community College, retired in 1999 after a 37-year teaching career. At JCCC he taught Children’s Theatre, Technical Theatre and Interpersonal Communications. He was selected to be the first Director of the Honors Program in 1986 and continued in this role until retirement. Mr. Campbell served on various committees of NCHC and hosted two GPHC conferences. At the time of his retirement he was also director of College Now, a concurrent enrollment program, and continues to advise for the program. 

Dr. Larry Clark, Southeast Missouri State University

Sandy Deabler (deceased), North Harris College, earned her M.A. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Maine-Orono in 1970. She began her career at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and worked in business and industry before moving to Texas, where she joined the Psychology faculty at North Harris College (now Lone Star College) in 1982. While at NHC, she twice received the Faculty Excellence Award. She founded the college’s Honors Program and served as its director for 13 years. Under her leadership, the program became a model for the five other colleges in the Lone Star System. Prof. Deabler passed away in 2008.

Dr. K. Ann Dempsey, St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley, received her doctorate from St. Louis University in American Studies. She was the founding Coordinator of the Honors Program at Florissant Valley Community College which began in 1986.  She was an active participant in the annual meetings of the Great Plains Honors Council thereafter, and served a term on the Executive Committee of the National Collegiate Honors Council.  In 1993 she brought the NCHC to our region, serving as the local chair of the national conference in St. Louis.  When she retired, she created the K. Ann Dempsey Honor Scholarship Fund in the Greater St. Louis Community Fund for Florissant Valley Honors Students.  The Scholarship Fund continues to encourage honors education in St. Louis, granting scholarships each year.

Dr. Joy Flasch, Langston University, was the first director of the E.P. McCabe Honors Program, which was founded in 1989 at Langston University (Oklahoma’s only HBCU), and she held this position until her retirement in 1997. She taught for several years in the English Department at Oklahoma State University before moving to Langston, where she became professor of English and the first chair of the Department of Communication. She served as Executive Secretary of GPHC, and her students presented frequently at the annual meetings. She authored a critical biography of the poet Melvin B. Tolson and numerous scholarly articles, and was PI on grants to Langston University totaling more than $700,000 during her 33-year career at the institution.

Dr. Henry (Jim) Kelly, Texas Christian University, was a member of the Chemistry faculty of Texas Christian University for thirty-three years.  He published many articles, along with collaborators from England and Canada, specializing in Ferriheme models of Peroxidase Enzyme Reactions.  He was the fifth Honors Director at TCU, serving from 1983 to 1988.   During this term, he used insights gained from his collaborative work and brought together a team of professors in the honors program who were dedicated to research and interdepartmental teamwork. TCU Honors became an outstanding scholastic model, supporting undergraduate creativity.

David Lawless, Tulsa Community College, retired from Tulsa Community College in 2011 after 43 years of teaching Speech Communication and more than twelve years of directing the TCC Honors Program. During his tenure as the Honors Coordinator, the program made significant gains in academic quality, student recruitment to honors, and scholarships awarded. He served as GPHC President in 2008, and was instrumental in establishing the Dennis Boe Award. In 2010 he served as host of the GPHC conference at Tulsa, which set a new benchmark of quality for subsequent GPHC annual meetings.

Dr. Helen (Lynne) Johnson Loschky (deceased), Lincoln University, devoted most of her teaching career to Lincoln University in Jefferson, Missouri. She taught courses in literature, served as department head, and later became Director of Honors at Lincoln. She was the driving force behind Lincoln’s membership in GPHC. In the mid-1970s Dr. Loschky became the first woman permitted to teach prisoners at the Missouri State Penitentiary, where she taught at least one course annually for ten years. She was a founding member in 1978 of the Zebra Organization, which was dedicated to breaking down social barriers in Missouri.

Dr. Virginia McCombs, Oklahoma City University, has been a recognized leader in honors education regionally and nationally. She served as President of GPHC in 1998, and was elected President of the National Collegiate Honors Council in 2005. She was editor of the journal Honors in Practice, and is well known for her roles as NCHC consultant. She has served at one time on nearly every committee in NCHC and GPHC. She established the Student Interdisciplinary Panel in 2004, which quickly became a signal contribution to the culture of NCHC. She was program director for the 2007 GPHC meeting, and chaired the GPHC Travel Grants Committee from 1993 to 2006.

Dr. Kathryne McDorman, Texas Christian University

Dr. John Poe, Wichita State University

Dr. C. Earl Ramsey, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, taught English and interdisciplinary studies for half a century at Yale University, Bryn Mawr College, and UALR until his retirement in 2013. Beginning in 1989, he directed the Donaghey Scholars Program at UALR, an elite program commended by external reviewers as unique in the country due to its interdisciplinary core curriculum and emphasis on study abroad. Donaghey Scholars include rising academics, scientists, political leaders, journalists, and CEOs. In the early and mid-1990s, he held all major executive positions in GPHC, including President.

A former honors student and Wilson Fellow, Dr. Rosalie Cohen Saltzman is the founding director of the Honors Program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Under her direction that program grew from an original seven to more than 700 students, and expanded from a single college to all seven colleges on the UNO campus. Saltzman has been active in NCHC activities since the late 1970s. She hosted the 1981 NCHC conference in Omaha. Under her auspices the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Honors Program has co-sponsored NCHC Semesters Abroad in Prague, the ancient Moravian city of Olomouc, and Thessaloniki, Greece. She has been a member of the NCHC Board of Directors, an endorsed NCHC Consultant, and has served as President of the GPHC.

Dr. Robert Spurrier, Oklahoma State University, brought OSU into the Great Plains Honors Council in 1988, and hosted the 1993, 1995, and 2000 GPHC conferences. He piloted the move of the unit to the impressive Old Central landmark that became its home in 2009. He has won numerous awards for teaching and academic advising. A past president of NCHC, he has twice been elected to its board of directors, and served for four years as NCHC Secretary. He originated two of NCHC’s signature annual conference sessions, Developing in Honors and Best Honors Administrative Practices. He was selected as a member of the first class of Fellows of NCHC and is one of the organization’s most experienced Recommended Site Visitors. Dr. Spurrier is the author of several books and numerous articles, and is a co-author of NCHC’s monograph Assessing and Evaluating Honors Programs and Honors Colleges: A Practical Handbook.

Dr. Ken Weaver directed the Honors Program at Emporia State University from 1990 to 1993. He served as President of GPHC from 1991 to 1993, and hosted the 1991 annual conference. Dr. Weaver directed the 1992 Kansas Regents Honors Academy and planned and hosted the annual Kansas recognition ceremony for the Duke Talent Identification Program. After stepping down as Director of Honors, he returned to the Department of Psychology and Special Education, where he served as chair for 14 years. He is now dean of The Teachers College at Emporia State, and he continues to teach for the Honors Program.

Dr. William Whipple, University of Maine, was director of the Donaghey Scholars Program at University of Arkansas - Little Rock from 1985 through 1988. Prior to that he was associate director of the Honors Program at State University of New York at Oswego, and subsequently he directed the Honors Program at the University of Maine. He served as President of both the Great Plains and the Northeast Honors Councils. His academic training was in psychology, and he is known as an advocate for collaborative approaches to teaching and learning, having founded the Collaborative Learning Action Community and the Student Caucus of the American Association for Higher Education. Before retiring in 1998, he served as an academic dean at Albright College and at Bethany College.

Dr. Chris Willerton, Abilene Christian University, was founding director of the Honors Program at ACU in 1985. Under his leadership, the program flourished: it became an Honors College in 2008, and he became its first dean. Dr. Willerton contributed to GPHC as Executive Secretary-Treasurer, President, newsletter editor, web manager, and conference organizer, and served on many committees and panels for NCHC. He is one of the de facto historians of GPHC, helping to guide the organization from a small network to an established regional honors association in 1975. In 2010 Dr. Willerton left honors administration to return to full-time teaching and research. He recently completed a three-year term as the James W. Culp Distinguished Professor of English at ACU. 

Dr. Ken Buckman, University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley

Dr. Karl Petruso, University of Texas at Arlington