The academic program provided each Yeager Scholar is rigorous and demanding. The program consists of a number of elements:
The core curriculum is designed to assist each Yeager Scholar in developing skills in analysis, synthesis and critical thinking. Each scholar will be expected to demonstrate superior skills in written and oral communication. In order to remain in the Yeager Scholar's program, each student must maintain a cumulative 3.5 grade point average.
An important component of the Yeager Scholars Program is the opportunity to learn about and experience life beyond the shores of the United States. The Yeager Scholar is encouraged to gain an international perspective through the acquisition of a proficiency in a foreign language, followed by the opportunity to use that language in a foreign country and the chance to study at a foreign university.
Because it is vitally important for the successful professional of tomorrow to be able to communicate with people who speak another language, the Society of Yeager Scholars encourages students to experience that language and its culture first hand. The Scholar spends time in a country where he or she can use the language he or she has been learning to study and live in an environment that will give each Scholar a comprehensive picture of life in a different culture.
In addition, Scholars attend a summer program at Oxford University in an educational environment that tests their abilities as thinkers and writers. Here they also have the chance to expand their knowledge about the United Kingdom and the European Community.
The academic core is only one part of the Yeager program that is designed to assist the Scholars in attaining their potential as leaders of tomorrow. A variety of enrichment opportunities has been created that have long-lasting value for each Scholar.
Each Yeager Scholar is expected to develop leadership skills that will be a life-long asset. Participation in a variety of campus organizations and activities is a part of each Scholar's contribution to the University during his or her time on the campus. Scholars have already established a strong presence in many campus organizations ranging from student government to fraternities and sororities to campus honoraries in particular disciplines.
Yeager Scholars are encouraged, and have been active, in forensics, both debate and individual events, University Theatre productions, and WMUL-FM radio as a means of sharpening skills in communication. Written communication skills have not been neglected as Yeager Scholars have written for the student newspaper, The Parthenon, and won the honors categories of the Maier Awards, given annually for outstanding student work.
Strong emphasis is placed on the development of an awareness of the cultural heritage of the United States and the rest of the world. For that reason, Yeager Scholars are expected to take advantage of the cultural opportunities offered by by the University Artists Series, the annual Yeager Symposium, as well as the wide variety of University sponsored events open to all students. The opportunity to broaden their knowledge of the world through travel at home, as well as through travel abroad, is also a part of the Yeager program. Trips in the United States are arranged to enable the Scholars to visit historic sites, museums, businesses and industries, and scientific and research centers, to enhance and build upon work done in the classroom.
Organization of the Program
The Society of Yeager Scholars is housed in the Honors College at Marshall University. Academic policy for the Yeager Scholars program is guided by the Honors College Curriculum and Policies Committee composed of University faculty. The Dean of the Honors College along with the two Associate Deans are responsible for developing the curriculum, administering the budget, coordinating the international aspects of the program, and recruiting and advising of the Scholars.
A distinguished Board of Directors has been established to advise on policy, to promote the Society, to assist in recruiting students, and to be active in fund-raising. Permanent members of the Board of Directors are the President of Marshall University as well as the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and the Vice-President for Institutional Advancement of the University. The Governor of West Virginia is an Ex-officio member of the board.
Funding for the Society of Yeager Scholars comes primarily from private money. An endowment in excess of $9.2 million supports the Yeager Scholars and is administered through the Marshall University Foundation.
"Only the Best"
The Bell X-1. It is a wonderful airplane. The Air Force has allowed me to participate in a lot of research programs since the day I broke the sound barrier. And I'm grateful for all of them., very grateful. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm no hero like a lot of people say I am. Now the man who flew the Spirit of St. Louis over there, Charles Lindbergh, he was what being a hero is all about. I was just a lucky kid who caught the right ride.
Luck has played a big part in my life. For example, I was lucky to have been born in 1923, so that I came of age just as aviation was entering the modern era. In fact, being in my early twenties right after World War II was the key to everything that has happened in my life. It put me in the middle of the golden age of aviation research and development. And it allowed me to participate in the historic leaps from props to jets to rockets and on into outer space. Christopher Columbus made his mark on history by being born at a time when it was believed that the world was flat. I made mine by being born at a time when people still thought that the sound barrier was a brick wall in the sky. Like I said, luck. Pure luck.
Of course, luck didn't have anything at all to do with me not crashing into a brick wall in the sky because, as we all know now, there was no wall, no sound barrier in the sky. It was a myth. But a very real barrier did exist. It was in our knowledge and experience of supersonic flight. And when I finally broke through that barrier, aviation was changed forever.
Now there is another barrier that needs to be broken, in my opinion. And if we can help break it, maybe the world will be changed again and become an even better place to live. The barrier I'm talking about this time is not a physical one; it's academic. I call it the Barrier of Academic Conventionality. All too often this barrier limits the intellectual and social development of young people and thereby prevents them from achieving excellence in their chosen career fields, condemns them to professional lives of mediocrity.
This barrier exists in almost all our institutions of higher learning because they are by necessity in the business of mass-producing graduates, graduates with conventional, assembly-line educations. But what are the odds today of a young person with an assembly-line education achieving excellence in his or her career field? We don't believe anymore that the world is flat or that there is a sound barrier in the sky. These are not the times when simply being at the right place at the right time and having luck on your side are enough for even a handful of young people to really excel. They have got to have more going for them today, much more than our colleges and universities are now giving them.
The Barrier of Academic Conventionality must be broken! And I have joined forces with Marshall University in my home state of West Virginia to help make certain that it is.
I haven't joined with Marshall because I'm a graduate of the school. I'm not a graduate of any university. In fact, the only education I ever got, other than in high school, was in what an old friend of mine calls the College of Life and Death. I went there during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. No, I joined with Marshall because some very intelligent, very creative people there have designed a thoroughly unconventional academic program that I think will greatly increase the odds of young people achieving excellence in whatever they decide to do with their lives.
This program, which I'm honored to say has been named the Marshall University Society of Yeager Scholars, is only for a very small, very select group of students, only the best. It has been designed to groom them intellectually, personally, socially and professionally to become our leaders of tomorrow by challenging them again and again in every way to rise above the norm, to be better than they can possibly imagine. It's going to be tough. It's probably going to be painful for some. But by the time these special kids get through it all, by the time they have met all the rigorous mental and physical demands that will be made of them, overcome all the failures and disappointments and heartbreaks that they will surely encounter along the way, they will have learned what it's like to push themselves to the limits of their capabilities, to maintain complete control of those limits over extended periods of time, and to enjoy being out there on the edge where excellence resides. They will be exceedingly bright, well-rounded, sophisticated, ambitious and caring young men and women who will be fully prepared to take up the reins of leadership and make significant contributions to our nation. If there is such a thing as "the right stuff" -- they will really have it.
Society of Yeager Scholars
One John Marshall Drive
230 Old Main
Huntington, WV 25755