Four students from each of Utah's colleges and universities will be honored by the governor today, specifically for their academic accomplishments.

The 44 students were selected by each of the institution's presidents and have earned a place in a network of elite students, said Amanda Covington, spokeswoman for the Utah System of Higher Education.

"The object is to find strong performing students who are freshman or sophomores who show real promise, specifically in the area of scholars, such as Rhodes Scholars and Truman Scholars, in that area," she said. The students are invited to the Governor's Mansion for a luncheon, where they receive recognition and a certificate.

As a networking opportunity, Covington said the students will be able to "mingle" with other excelling students, presidents from each college and university, as well as Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr.

"They'll not only be receiving words of encouragement but also realize they are together and they can support one another in these academic endeavors," Covington said.

The students are selected by the presidents, based upon outstanding performance at each respective higher education institution. Most of them were noted for specifically high-level, even perfect ACT or SAT scores, high GPAs and participation in extracurricular activities. More or less, Covington said the students can use the achievement in their academic resumes, as well as team up with other students headed toward being scholars.

"It's helpful along the way to give them some encouragement and to give them an incentive to continue to strive for excellence," she said.

In its third year, the Governor's Scholars program is honoring freshmen or sophomores who "hold promising potential," said Huntsman's spokeswoman Lisa Roskelley.

Southern Utah University President Michael T. Benson will speak to the students, encouraging them to pursue academic excellence and civic engagement, including application for prestigious scholarships and continuing in graduate studies.

E-mail: [email protected]