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Charles and Gloria Joiner Honors Program

Program Mission

To be a premier scholar – practitioner program for undergraduate research and experience with a focus on developing and transforming students who are equipped to identify solutions today that meets tomorrow’s challenges. The Honors Program also seeks to inspire an unequivocal deep integration of faith and intellect that reflects the justice, mercy, and love of God.


For more information or questions about the SWU Honors Program contact:

Program Vision

To intellectually develop and challenge the minds of SWU undergraduate students through research and experiential opportunities that will further prepare them to impact and meet the needs of the community and beyond.

Honors Defined

Honors education is characterized by in-class and extracurricular activities that are measurably broader, deeper, or more complex than comparable learning experiences typically found at institutions of higher education. Honors experiences include a distinctive learner-directed environment and philosophy, provide opportunities that are appropriately tailored to fit the institution's culture and mission, and frequently occur within a close community of students and faculty (National Collegiate Honors Council, 2019).

Program Learning Outcomes

The Honors Program at Southern Wesleyan University seeks to achieve the following program learning outcomes.

  1. Integrate faith and learning through critical, creative and independent thinking.
  2. Enhance their work through a deeper mentoring relationship with faculty.
  3. Contribute to an innovation-oriented community of scholars.
  4. Demonstrate a higher level of academic mastery through engaging in scholarly work in their chosen field and presenting at on-campus forums, local, state, regional or national conferences.

Honors Program Academic Requirements

The Honors Program at Southern Wesleyan University is a four- to six-semester program that affords qualified students the opportunity to participate in advanced study beyond the classroom experience in their chosen field while still in college. Students interested in the Honors Program must apply and meet the following minimum requirements for entry into the program.

  • A cumulative SWU GPA of at least 3.6 and in good standing as described in the Student Handbook.
  • A minimum of 15 credit hours completed at SWU.
  • Approval and recommendation from a faculty member in the discipline related or closely related to their area of study and one additional recommendation from SWU faculty, staff and/or church member.
  • A writing sample addressing why they want to join the Honors Program and the relationship between academic and faith.

Once accepted into the Honors Program at SWU, a student must maintain a minimum 3.25 semester GPA while a member of the Honors Program.

Application Process

Once a student is eligible to apply by meeting the first two criteria in the Honors Program Academic Requirements, the coordinator of the Honors Program or a member of the Honors Oversight Committee at Southern Wesleyan University will invite the student to apply by email. Students will prepare and submit the remaining above application materials including faculty/staff recommendations. Applications will be reviewed by the Honors Oversight Committee (HOC) using a rubric point system. Students obtaining the top scores will be invited to complete an interview with the HOC. After the interviews are completed, the HOC will notify students whether or not they have been accepted.

Charles and Gloria Joiner Honors Program

The SWU honors program is named for two long-time residents of Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Charles Joiner graduated from Southern Wesleyan University in 1962. Mrs. Gloria Joiner also attended SWU. In addition to being an alumnus, Dr. Joiner served on the SWU board of trustees for 45 years, 13 of those as board chair. Upon his retirements in 2017, Dr. Joiner was honored with a Presidential Citation for his service to the university and elected to be an emeritus Trustee. Mrs. Joiner served SWU alongside Dr. Joiner as part of the board spouse’s auxiliary. Dr. and Mrs. Joiner have four daughters, three of whom also attended SWU. The daughters are: Amy Splawn, Rebecca McCracken (1994), Laura J. McDanal (1997), and Ashley George (2007). SWU’s Joiner Hall is named in honor of the family.

Funding for SWU’s honors program along with a permanently endowed student research fund has been provided by a generous gift from the Splawn Family Foundation. Fund recipients are selected by the Honors Oversight Committee and known as Joiner Research Fellows.

The program name honors Dr. Charles and Mrs. Gloria Joiner for their strong love of Jesus Christ and passionate commitment to academic excellence throughout their many years of service to the university.