Political theorist addresses education’s importance at Honor’s Convocation

Liberty is learned through education, said a professor and world-recognized political theorist at Thursday’s annual Honors Convocation. About 150 students, faculty, staff and community members attended the hour-long ceremony focusing on students’ performance in a global community with performances by the 3-year-old Steel Drum Band and a keynote speaker, Benjamin R. Barber.

Barber, University of Maryland professor of civil society, is a best-selling author, president and director of CivWorld, a non-governmental organization campaigning for democracy.

Manochehr Dorraj, professor of political science, introduced Barber as a “first-rate thinker and true Renaissance man.”

Barber congratulated honors students for completing their thesis presentations, which were presented in this week’s five-day festival.

“I want to really address my remarks to you (honors students) because you are a rare species,” Barber said. “In the media today, you’re somewhat forgotten. Your achievements ought to be recognized.”

Education is an essential element to creating and maintaining a democracy, Barber said.

“The central role of education is so we can learn liberty,” Barber said. “Teaching is what keeps the soul, mind and democracy alive.”

Mickey Ley, a member of the honors cabinet, said Barber’s message was inspiring and complemented the global theme.

“He was really inspirational,” said Ley, a sophomore political science major. “The speech was pertinent to students and I was really pleased he came.”

Convocation also recognized sophomore engineering and mathematics major Lauren Del Gallego and Darren Ong, a sophomore mathematics major for the Honors Scholar Award. Del Gallego and Ong will receive $2,500 for their future research project.

Economics professor Stephen Quinn was given the 2007 Honors Faculty Recognition Award. The award is determined by a vote from all students in the honors program.

Nowell Donovan, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, introduced this year’s Phi Beta Kappa honor society inductees. Only 30 students out of more than 700 honors students are selected to be in the society every year, Donovan said. Juniors inducted must have a 3.9 GPA and seniors must have a 3.7 GPA in order to be considered for the society.

Laura Hardin, president of honors cabinet, said Convocation is an important part of honors week that includes the whole TCU community.

Several non-honors students attended Convocation as well. Shane Constable, a freshman premed and biology major, said he attended convocation in order to support his friends in the program.

Convocation was followed by a banquet for honors students and faculty as a conclusion to Honors Week.

“I think Honors Week provides a great opportunity for honors students to showcase their hard work and passion for a particular subject,” said Hardin, a junior sociology and religion major. “Students presenting their honors projects have worked really hard for several semesters building up to Honors Week. This week honors students as well as supportive faculty for their academic achievements and successes.