ASU Barrett Honors College Founder Retiring

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The founding Dean of the Arizona State University Barrett Honors College is retiring next spring. Ted Humphrey joined ASU in 1966, and held many other posts besides founder of the honors college. He’ll discuss his career, the Barrett Honors College and changes he’s seen at ASU.

Ted Simons: The founding Dean of ASU's Barrett Honors College is retiring next spring. Ted Humphrey is stepping down after a long and varied career that began on the Tempe campus back in 1966. We welcome Ted Humphreys to Arizona Horizon. Good to have you here.

Ted Humphrey: Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: And congratulations. 1966, what was that campus like back in 1966?

Ted Humphrey: I remember the first time that I was there. For my interview I had just bought a black suit, and they just plowed up the college Avenue, and I found myself on my interview sessions walking back and forth across college Avenue and kind of like pig penned, kept coming up, but it was, it was, you know, it was then as it is now, a campus in development. And you could see that, that really wonderful things were going to happen there.

Ted Simons: And what brought you here and what got you into this honor's program business?

Ted Humphrey: What brought me here was, was the offer of a ten-year track position and, and my entire time, in academia, has been, has been difficult for, for persons seeking ten-year track positions, so I had that offer and, and really, the department of philosophy, at that time, had, had a very specific slot for a person with my abilities or my training. And it was nice to me to fit in to that.

Ted Simons: And you fit in, and not only did you fit in, but you wounds up getting an honor's program started. Talk to us about that. It was not always Barrett and not always as big of a deal as it is now.

Ted Humphrey: No. And a lot of things just start out, or have their foundation in one's life. I started at the University of Berkeley, and I had gone from a very small town, 1,000 then, and 1,000 now, and I was -- I looked a lot like students in Arizona look today, that is, I was the first generation college student. At Berkeley, I found myself lost. And I had to leave Berkeley, unfortunately. I still kind of really identify with Berkeley, and I ended up at U.C. riverside, which was a small campus. It was, it was about, about 1400 undergraduates, 200 graduate students and 400 faculty, and it was that kind of small environment that, that I felt comfortable in, that, that nurtured me on and, and, and in graduate school, in my career, and I saw something very similar happening in the State of Arizona. Namely, we had, we, we -- our three campuses, are actually more alike than they are different, and that is to say that they are large universities, and I saw a lot of first, first, first generation college students coming there and, and found erring, not able to find their way around these campuses. Furthermore, at that time, when I, I took over the honor's program, in 1983, Arizona was sending 80% of its top 5% of high school graduates out of state, and we were sending 90% of, of our national merit scholars, and we did not have a good place for them to go.

Ted Simons: And you developed a place.

Ted Humphrey: Well, that was the whole idea. How do we keep Arizona's very best students here and, and how do we attract students from out of state?

Ted Simons: So how did that, that effort and, and getting that honor's program off the ground, how did that become the Barrett honor's college?

Ted Humphrey: At a certain point in agreement with, with the President laddy core, we decided we would go out and actively recruit very strong students, and we went after national merit scholars, and we went from having, having attracting 15 or 20 national merit scholars per year to, to the first year we went out, we had 118. And, and, and we were in the midst of a capital campaign and, and Greg, Greg and Barbara Barrett came to us, came to the President and said we would like to make a gift to, to, to, to the University and, and it turned into a naming gift for, for, for the college. We were the first college named. At asu.

Ted Simons: Isn't that something? And, and, and obviously, the Barrett Honors College got much success, continued success, but you have kind of decided to get back into, into, into faculty. What was that all about?

Ted Humphrey: I had spent 25 years continuously in an administrative position. I went straight from a chairmanship to a directorship to a Deanship, and the year that I became chair, or -- became director of the honor's program, I published two books, and they were very, very well reviewed. And I went -- the, the energy it took to, to develop the college, meant that I was not writing. It also meant that I was not in the classroom as much of the time as I wanted to be, and I had just, just didn't want to, to end my career as an administrator. I really loved being with students.

Ted Simons: But, you must look at the college now, and you must be awfully proud of what you see?

Ted Humphrey: Oh, it's, it's developed wonderfully. It's had the support of, of several Presidents, and President Crow has really helped us to become the premiere honor's college in the United States. Just, just hands down.

Ted Simons: And isn't that something? With that, my last question to you is, I've been here for 50 some, close to 50 years now. Where do you see ASU in another 50 years?

Ted Humphrey: Oh, boy. I can't even conceive. Particularly, if we continue this, this trajectory of development. I think ASU is the, the post World War II University that has developed and the most significant ways of any, any post-world War II University in the country.

Ted Simons: How so?

Ted Humphrey: Look at our research record at this point. This is, this is -- in absolutely every survey of the universities, this is a top 100 in the world University. Virtually every one of our programs, graduate and undergraduate is ranked well into the top 50 programs. It's just -- and the physical plant. Stunning! Really stunning!

Ted Simons: Well, you have been a major part of that growth, and congratulations on a wonderful career, and good luck on what will no doubt be an active retirement. It will be active. Good to have you here and thanks for joining us.

Ted Humphrey: Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: And Friday on Arizona Horizon, it's the Journalists' Roundtable. We'll look back on Tuesday's general election and see what it means for Arizona's future, and the state house of Senate choose new leadership. Those stories and more Friday on the Journalists' Roundtable. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, and thank you very much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Ted Humphrey:Founding Dean, Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University;

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