National Collegiate Honors Council


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From: Housing Honors, edited by Linda Frost, Lisa W. Kay, and Rachael Poe. National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series (Lincoln, NE: 2015).


Copyright © 2015 by National Collegiate Honors Council.


The University Honors Program (UHP) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), its 200 or so students, and its four full-time staff members (Director, Associate Director, Program Coordinator, and Program Manager), all have the good fortune to call home a beautiful old church on the south side of UAB and Birmingham. The Spencer Honors House is where the UHP holds its classes and conducts its business and where the program’s students convene for the myriad reasons honors students convene: committee meetings, late-night study sessions, general recreation especially of the pool and ping pong sort, hanging out, or spending private time by themselves. Its old-world ambiance lingers, countered by remnants of its original graffiti wall, recast every so often by new students with new complaints or new drawing skills that fuel the dynamism of the environment. Its couches and computer rooms, its card-access and kitchen provide night owls with all they need for last-minute test preps or further procrastination. How this glorious domicile came to be, or rather how it came to belong to the honors program, is a story already and best articulated by the program’s founding and now retired director, Dr. Ada Long. Long provided the following genesis story of the UAB Spencer Honors House a few years ago for an event celebrating its benefactors Bill and Virginia Spencer:

When I was first appointed honors director in 1982, Tom Hearn, UAB’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, showed me with great pride a small duplex on 15th Street for our soon-to-be digs. It was one of the handful of actually old buildings on campus and the only one that had been a private house in the residential neighborhood UAB had razed to the ground when starting to expand its campus in the 1960s and 70s.We had only 33 students in the program that first year along with a half-time secretary and four teachers in the interdisciplinary course. The duplex worked for us, though the next year we would have had to teach the interdisciplinary course in some other location to accommodate a second influx of students.