The Fran Coulter Honors Program was created to recognize academic excellence to provide courses to challenge highly-motivated, intellectually-talented, academically well-prepared, and/or creative students. An additional purpose is to enhance the image of the community college as a place associated with quality scholarly pursuits and activities.
Through participation in the program, students are encouraged to develop their full potential in leadership and scholarship through a variety of educational activities by working with a select group of dedicated faculty, both within and outside of the classroom setting, and through interaction with other honors program students.
The program was created to honor the beloved professor and first lady of ASUMH. The daughter of Allena and the late J.D. Dryer, Frances A. Dryer Coulter was a native of Mountain Home. Coulter earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in 1964. After four years of teaching at Fayetteville, Lavaca and Mountain Home high schools, she returned to the classroom to earn her Masters in Education from the University of Arkansas - Fayetteville. From 1972 to 1995, Coulter returned to OBU as an instructor, beginning as a part-time instructor until earning the title of professor in 1990. During this time, she earned her Ed.D. from the University of Arkansas.
In 1995, Coulter and her husband, Ed, returned to Mountain Home where he accepted the position as chancellor of Arkansas State University Mountain Home, and she became the first professor of history at ASUMH. In 2002, Coulter retired from the classroom in order to spend more time with her nine grandchildren, travel with her husband, and garden at their home on Buzzard Roost Road in Baxter County.
Coulter's contributions to education extended far beyond the classroom. She served on the board of many associations, museums, councils and institutes. She was published in numerous books, journals and newspapers. She was also awarded a number of honors and grants including a Fulbright-Hays Teacher Exchange to Pakistan in 1984 and two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities Institute for College Teachers. The first, "The Greek Character," was at Georgetown University in 1992 and the second, "A Quest for Peace and the Limitation of War," was at Rutgers University in 1997.
During her tenure at OBU and ASUMH, Coulter served on numerous university committees. Among her contributions at ASUMH, was serving as a division chair and sponsor of Phi Theta Kappa Academic Honor Society.
Coulter served two terms on the Arkansas Humanities Council. She was a past member of the Twin Lakes Arts Council, as a grant volunteer for the Wolf House in 1997, a participant in an after-school tutoring program in 2001-2002, and a former board member for the Arkansas Baptist News magazine. Coulter was also an active member of First Baptist Church of Mountain Home. She passed away in 2004 after a lengthy illness.
Following in her tradition of excellence, the Fran Coulter Honors Program will function as a vehicle to recognize academic excellence and provide courses to challenge highly-motivated and intellectually talented students. The goal of ASUMH through the Fran Coulter Honors Program is to develop enriched curricula that is innovative and interdisciplinary.
In December 2003, Coulter was present when the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas State University system in a surprise announcement established the Fran Coulter Honors Program at Arkansas State University Mountain Home. Since the vote of approval, a committee of ASUMH faculty members led by Dr. Pat Bailey, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, worked diligently to construct an academically stimulating program to further enhance the academic level of ASUMH. Faculty committee members are Rebecca Baird, assistant professor, English; Eddie Dry, assistant professor, biology; Steve Johnson, assistant professor, computer information systems; and Christy Preis, assistant professor, mathematics.
Dr. Bailey said, “Fran valued not just education but quality education. In all her endeavors throughout her years in the education profession, if you ask any of her peers, they will all tell you that Fran left her mark of quality on every project she undertook. If you ask any of her former students, they will tell you that Fran encouraged them to go above and beyond, to strive for excellence. It is most fitting that Fran’s educational legacy for academic excellence continue through our honors program.”
“A program of this caliber marks ASUMH as a community college with quality scholarly pursuits and activities to further attract and retain students of outstanding academic ability and creative talent,” she added.
To be eligible for the honors program, incoming freshmen must have a GPA (grade point average) of 3.5 in high school and enroll in 12 credit hours at ASUMH (college preparatory courses excluded). Current full-time students as ASUMH will be considered for the program if they have attained a 3.5 GPA, completed at least 12 credit hours, and/or have faculty recommendations from ASUMH faculty who are familiar with the students’ academic work. Eligibility to the program does not guarantee acceptance. Applications will be given careful consideration, and all applicants will be notified in a timely manner. For additional information regarding the Fran Coulter Honors Program, please contact ASUMH at (870) 508-6100 or visit www.asumh.edu.