Honors Program transition into Honors College begins

Nicole Ely/The News Members of the Honors Program meet Tuesday night, led by the executive members.
Nicole Ely/The News Members of the Honors Program meet Tuesday night, led by the executive members.

Nicole Ely/The News
Members of the Honors Program meet Tuesday night, led by the executive members.

 (WITH VIDEO) – The Honors Program received approval to begin its two-year transition into the Honors College with the hopes of increasing participation and the creation of a designated residential section for its students.

The college will include new curricula models, more faculty and residential life elements.

Funding is also increasing in a two-step process, beginning in fall 2015 and continuing into the next academic year.

Warren Edminster, director of the Honors Program, said the new Honors College will take education outside of the classroom and engage students in a number of ways.

In 2009, 146 students participated in the Honors Program.

This number has steadily increased in the past six years, with 195 students participating in 2013. Edminster said he hopes this number continues to increase.

A residential component is being developed, though it is still in the early stages.

Members of the administration plan to visit schools such as Baylor University that already utilize these systems and come back with a recommendation for implementation.

By fall 2016, floors and wings of a residential college are planned to be devoted to Honors College students; however which residential college or colleges has not been designated by the program yet.

“The idea is that you create a living and learning community,” Edminster said. “So students take classes together, but they are also in same living area and have extra curricular programming available.”

Increases in faculty include a student development position, which will help students find scholarships and internships that fit their areas of study.

This role includes working with top students both enrolled in the honors program and outside of honors.

A curricula model is also being developed for international students. International, baccalaureate-seeking students will have honors courses available that encourage English education and travel within the U.S. as an educational experience.

Students will have the option of completing a certificate program, which allows participation in certain aspects of the honors curriculum but does not require meeting all the honors requirements.

The program is also changing their acceptance standards for freshmen applicants. 

In fall 2014, incoming freshmen were accepted to the Honors Program if they had an ACT score of 28 or above and a GPA of at least 3.5.

Students may apply to the program if they meet one of three requirements: a minimum 28 ACT score, minimum 3.5 GPA or being in the top 10 percent of their graduating class.

“This incoming class we’re bringing in for next semester we are looking at a little more holistically,” Edminster said. “We are considering leadership, extra curricular involvement, letting students make their case.”   

Despite the impending changes, some aspects of the program will remain the same.

“We are going to maintain the small class sizes,” Edminster said. “That’s a challenge but we’re going to be working with departments on that.”

Story by Lucy Easley, Staff writer