Press Releases | Liberal Arts

ACTA Designates the Honors College at Houston Christian University as a Hidden Gem for its Robust Liberal Arts Curriculum

March 25, 2024

Washington, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) is proud to designate the Honors College at Houston Christian University as a Hidden Gem. ACTA’s Hidden Gems initiative shines a light on honors programs, major degree programs, minor degree programs, and certificate programs that guide students through a high-quality and coherent interdisciplinary education across the liberal arts. Philosophy, literature, politics, history, and the Great Books of Western Civilization are topics that are often focal points. The Honors College at Houston Christian University boasts a three-year liberal arts curriculum rooted in the great works of Western Civilization. Students have access to co-curricular activities such as research projects, roundtables, symposia, and more.

“The Honors College at Houston Christian University shares in the university’s central confession, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord,’ by providing an integrated general education for undergraduate students willing to approach their studies with modesty and reverence. […] In small classes designed for transformative conversations, students and faculty seek truth together,” says program director Gary Hartenburg, Ph.D. “The Honors College curriculum stretches from the ancient world to the twentieth century, and students revel in its poetry, drama, history, art, philosophy, science, psychology, economics, mathematics, and theology. […] Our Honors Scholars come from all over the world and reflect the makeup of Houston as a global leader of diversity and growth. We are grateful to ACTA for recognizing the Honors College at HCU as a Hidden Gem.”

Gabriella Hsu, ACTA’s Senior Program Manager for Curricular Improvement says, “ACTA’s Hidden Gems program highlights major, minor, and certificate programs that offer students an unparalleled education in the liberal arts. Hidden Gems programs are so named for the high caliber of their faculty, thoughtfully structured curricula, and commitment both to the challenges and rewards of liberal education. Students enrolled in Hidden Gems programs are drawn into community and discussion rooted in the rich interdisciplinary study of the liberal arts and sciences. In its mission to support academic excellence, ACTA believes that the Hidden Gems program is an invaluable resource for students seeking a robust, collegial, and enriching education.”

ACTA’s Hidden Gems initiative serves as a complement to our What Will They Learn?® (WWTL) project. WWTL rates the core curriculum requirements at over 1,100 schools to determine which institutions provide a rigorous, liberal arts-oriented general education. Programs designated as Hidden Gems offer a robust liberal arts education regardless of their home institution’s core curriculum. WWTL and Hidden Gems help prospective students locate universities and programs that will prepare them for successful careers, informed citizenship, and human flourishing.

See a comprehensive list of all Hidden Gems here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gabrielle Anglin


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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