Honors News: August 19, 2015–Illinois at Chicago Honors College

University of Illinois at Chicago Honors College Receives Big Donations, Provides Great Support for Honors Students

The Illinois at Chicago Honors College has to be doing a lot of things right. The most recent annual report, perhaps the most detailed and informative that we have encountered, has lots of good news to present. Outgoing Dean Bette Bottoms has certainly left her mark on the College during her seven years of leadership.

Today, we will highlight the latest financial news from the College, and add some interesting news about honors graduation rates.

In Spring 2015, the College announced the largest gift in its history. “The CME Group Foundation gave the Honors College one million dollars over the next four years: $900,000 will support scholarships for students pursuing careers related to finance, especially low-income and first-generation college students from Chicago Public Schools. Another $100,000 will be used to provide emergency funds for Honors students of any major.”

Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah, established a scholarship fund to support first-year students with high academic ability and significant financial need. The Chicago neighborhoods that the Wood Family Foundation serves are Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, or Lawndale. “All tuition, fees, assessments, books, and room and board are provided and the ACCC provides a laptop,” according to the report. “The 2015-16 recipient is Marla Stamps, an entering freshman majoring in Urban Education.”

The Honors College itself  initiated two new scholarships to support students: “Over $200,000 in Fresh Start Scholarships were offered to new incoming first-year students with unmet financial need in Fall 2014. Ten City College Honors Transfer Awards of $1,000 each will be given to incoming transfer students from City Colleges of Chicago for Fall 2015.”

Dr. Siva Sivananthan funds the SAGE scholarship for incoming students in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, who are also from some of Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods. The recipients, freshmen Andriy Suden and Peter Durosinmi, each received $10,500 scholarships to be used for Honors-designated on-campus housing, renewable annually for four years.

“Finally, Kevin Desouza and his wife Sally have also funded a second endowed scholarship, called the Desouza Family Endowment Fund for Civic Leadership, to support students who go beyond the classroom and make a positive impact on the UIC community through service and leadership in student organizations.”

“The Honors College continued to provide the Dean’s Emergency Fund for students who have unique times of financial stress that can be relieved with relatively little money (usually $2,000 or less). The College gave approximately $60,000 in emergency funding last year to 49 students. Honors students have come to the Dean to ask for grants of as little as $62 to pay off their outstanding student account balance and to register for the next semester. Most requests are for larger amounts, but this kind of funding is crucial for Honors students who risk withdrawing from college due to unforeseen circumstances—from family home foreclosure to root canals—resulting in unpaid educational expenses.”

As for graduation rates, the report has a graph that illustrates the value-added impact that honors education can have.

The graph shows the six-year graduation rates of both honors and non-honors students, by ACT cohorts. Example: for students with ACT scores of 29-30, honors students had a graduation rate just over 80 percent, while the rate for non-honors students was less than 60 percent. The rates for students with ACT scores of 33 were 90+percent for honors students and, again, less than 60 percent for non-honors students.

Yes, it’s almost certain that some of this has to do with higher high school gpa’s for honors students versus the non-honors students, but the annual report makes it clear that there are also many other factors that contribute to honors success.

Honors News is a regular (not always daily) update, in brief, of recent news from honors colleges/programs and from the world of higher ed. Occasionally, a bit of opinion enters the discussion. These brief posts are by John Willingham, unless otherwise noted.

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