Should Honors Colleges Charge Extra? If So, How Much?

A recent, excellent piece in Inside Higher Edby Rick Seltzer, explores the pros and cons of public honors colleges’ charging extra fees (or differential tuition) in order to enroll and serve increasing numbers of honors students.

(Here we can pretty much confine the discussion to honors colleges because honors programs rarely charge significant fees for attendance.)

At the end of this post is a list of honors colleges that have significant honors fees, and the fee amounts.

Much of the piece involves Barrett Honors College at Arizona State, and Barrett Dean Mark Jacobs is a proselytizer for charging the extra fees and is proud that Barrett has been successful, telling Inside Higher Ed that “when you’re an educational institution, the best you can talk about in terms of the effect outside your own institution is hoping that good ideas you have might be copied and used by other people, or translated to fit their context.”

Ten years ago, Barrett enrollment cost each student $250 a semester. Now, the fee is $750 a semester, or $1,500 per academic year. With the cost of in-state attendance at ASU now at $28,491, the honors fee adds about 5% to the total cost.

One of Jacobs’ arguments mirrors those of almost all public university honors deans and directors: The “liberal arts college within a major research university” model is a bargain for students who would pay much more to attend a good liberal arts college or a strong private elite research university. So, even with the extra charge, public honors remains “a smoking deal” and “an absolute steal.”

Jacobs is in a position to know whereof he speaks; he has bachelors with high honors from Harvard, a Ph.D. from Stanford, and he had an endowed chair in biology at Swarthmore.

Another argument is that state funding cuts have put public universities in a bind, and the extra fees for honors help expand those and other programs at the universities. In addition, public honors colleges (and programs) give highly-talented students in-state options that are in great need given the increased selectivity and arbitrary admission standards of elite universities.

One thing not in doubt is whether the practice at Barrett has helped financially. “In 2017,” Seltzer writes, “the college draws 36 percent of its budget from general operations and 4 percent from endowment income. A whopping 60 percent of the budget comes from the fee.”

On the other hand, Bette Bottoms, dean emerita at the University of Illinois Honors College and a longtime leader in honors education, maintains that universities should value their honors colleges enough to put institutional money into them and not ask students to pay the costs.

“Now, if you tell me that Arizona [State] has some way of waiving the fee for lower-income students, that makes the model more palatable, but I still don’t agree with it,” she told Seltzer. “Do incoming students know this? We never charged a fee, and I found that prospective students and their families often expected it anyway — I’m sure this kept some students from even considering applying.”

“Arizona State must set aside 17 percent of its honors college fees for financial aid,” Seltzer writes, and, according to Jacobs, “Barrett students can receive need-based and non-need-based aid from the university’s central financial aid office. Students can also receive aid from the honors college in the event their financial aid packages are not enough to allow them to pay the fee for being honors students.”

The Barrett model has influenced at least a few other honors colleges. The new Lewis Honors College at the University of Kentucky will charge a $500 annual fee. The namesake of the LHC, Tom Lewis, donated $23 million to his alma mater to create the new honors college. He is also an Arizona resident and longtime supporter of Barrett, who likely believes the Barrett model is a good one to follow.

But not entirely. Dean Christian Brady, formerly dean of the well-known Schreyer Honors College at Penn State, recognizes the good work of Dean Jacobs at Barrett, but believes honors colleges should not be so physically separated as Barrett is on the ASU campus. He wrote at length about his philosophy on this site two years ago.

The issue of elitism at honors colleges (and programs) is also a factor. Even though Barrett goes out of its way to connect hundreds of ASU faculty, honors students, and non-honors students through the extensive use of honors contract courses, the physical separation of the honors campus can be a negative for some while it is a positive for others.

Our own view is that the extra fees can have an overall positive impact if they do not exceed, say, 5% of the in-state cost of university attendance and if the honors colleges have resources to assist students for whom the fee is a burden.

Another way to measure the impact of the extra fees is to analyze the extent to which they might discourage students from completing the full honors curriculum.

The honors college that charges the most in extra fees (actually differential tuition) is the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. There, students face an extra charge of $4,192 per year, which amounts to a 15.8% increase in tuition. Some scholarships to offset the very considerable charge are available after the first year.

It may be noteworthy that Barrett and Clark have similar student profile stats, though Clark students have somewhat higher test scores (new SAT 1410 to new SAT 1350). The six-year grad rate for Barrett honors entrants was 89% and for Clark entrants, 82%.

Oregon State Honors College has a differential charge of $1,353, not too much below the fee at Barrett. Oregon State honors entrants had a six-year grad rate of 87.6%, with a sizable portion of engineering students. The average (new) SAT at the OSU Honors College is about 1430.

While this is not definitive data, it only makes sense that the greater the differential cost, the more honors students will be forced to balance the value of their honors education against the cost or simply conclude that they cannot afford honors at all.

University Annual Fee
Oregon 4192.00
Arizona St 1500.00
Oregon St 1353.00
South Carolina 1150.00
Colorado St 1000.00
Massachusetts 600.00
Kentucky 500.00
Arizona 500.00
Houston 500.00
Auburn 437.50
Clemson 437.50
Purdue 200.00
Utah 150.00
Virginia Commonwealth 100.00
Penn St 50.00

Arkansas Honors College “Honors Passport” Courses Combine Foreign Study, Student Presentations

Editor’s Note: The following information is from the University of Arkansas Honors College. The college dean has designed the Honors Passport experiences, a capstone course abroad. “Honors Passport courses send honors students and top faculty scholars to historically and culturally significant sites around the globe. During these two-week intersession courses, each student much research and present on a historic site, monument or notable individual, taking an active role in teaching the course.”

Sixteen Honors College students recently spent a full semester preparing for study abroad in Peru, and landed in Lima well-versed on the Incan Empire, the Andean Hybrid Baroque and indigenismo.

Arkansas Honors Dean Lynda Coon and Prof. Kim Sexton, Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design

“The idea is to create an international capstone experience where students and professors together explore the interaction of contemporary and historical sites, texts, and artifacts,” said Honors College Dean Lynda Coon.

Honors College Dean Lynda Coon has launched a series of innovative honors courses since joining the history faculty in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences in 1990. She helped to create the Honors Humanities Project (H2P) and as dean she has developed Signature Seminars, Forums, Retro Readings courses and this Honors Passport study abroad experience. Coon’s research focuses on the history of Christianity from circa 300-900.

Kim Sexton, an associate professor of architecture at Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, specializes in the architecture of late medieval and Renaissance Italy. Since joining the Fay Jones School’s faculty in 1999, Sexton has taught survey courses in the history of world architecture, specialized courses on medieval and Renaissance architecture, and space and gender theory. Sexton is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Loggia Culture: Spatial Practices in Medieval Italy that positions the loggia or portico in cultural history.

Arkansas psych major Linh Luu giving a presentation at Santa Catalina, a Dominican convent in Arequipa, Peru.

Dean Coon and Professor Sexton have taught the second semester of H2P since 1999. They also developed Medieval Bodies/Medieval Spaces, an interdisciplinary honors colloquium that traces the evolution of western medieval history through text, ritual and built environments.


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New Director of UT Austin Plan II Honors Is a Guggenheim Fellow, Winner of Teaching Awards

Editor’s Note: The following news is from the UT College of Liberal Arts.

New Plan II Director, Dr. Alexandra Wettlaufer

Plan II is pleased to announce Dr. Alexandra K. Wettlaufer as our new Director, following Dr. Michael Stoff who served as the program director for the past 11 years. Dr. Wettlaufer has been the Plan II Associate Director since 2005, overseeing the program’s senior thesis course and developing a deep love for the program and our students.

She is a Professor of French and Comparative Literature, specializing in 19th-century literature, visual arts, culture, and gender studies. A recipient of a 2014-15 Guggenheim Fellowship, Dr. Wettlaufer is currently working on a book project entitled “Reading George: Sand, Eliot and the Novel in France and Britain, 1830-1900.”

She is the author of three previous books: Pen vs Paintbrush: Girodet, Balzac and the Myth of Pygmalion in Post-Revolutionary France (2001), In the Mind’s Eye: The Visual Impulse in Diderot, Baudelaire and Ruskin (2003), and Portraits of the Artist as a Young Woman: Painting and the Novel in France and Britain, 1800-1860(2011).  She has published numerous articles on Balzac, Sand, Baudelaire, Zola, Manet, Ruskin, Turner, Berlioz, Grandville, and Flora Tristan; her article “She is Me: Tristan, Gauguin, and the Dialectics of Colonial Identity” (Romanic Review,2007) was awarded the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association Essay Prize, Honorable Mention.

Dr. Wettlaufer has received fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, ACLS, Bourse Marandon, the Clark Art Institute, and the National Humanities Center.  Her teaching awards include a President’s Associates’ Teaching Award, the Blunk Memorial Professorship in Teaching and Advising, a Raymond Dickson Centennial Endowed Teaching Award, a Liberal Arts Council Teaching Award, and University Coop Award for Undergraduate Thesis Advising.

She is the Co-Editor of Nineteenth-Century Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Journal and serves on the Editorial Boards of European Romantic Review, Nineteenth-Century Studies, George Sand Studies, and Dix-Neuf. Dr. Wettlaufer has also served on the Advisory Boards of the American Comparative Literature Association, Nineteenth-Century French Studies Association, Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, and on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association.  Dr. Wettlaufer is a core faculty member of Comparative Literature, Women’s and Gender Studies, and European Studies.


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Fall Application Deadlines for 80 Honors Colleges and Programs

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for 2018-2019. Readers should  nevertheless check honors websites to verify that the dates below have not changed.  

Below is a list of application deadlines for 80 public university honors colleges and programs.  Please note that some deadlines are fast-approaching, while a few are as late as the Spring and Summer of 2017.

If the deadlines are separated into categories (early action, early decision, regular deadline, priority deadline, etc.), we will list the deadlines for each category.

Alabama Honors: For University Fellows applications, the deadline is December 15, 2017; for other applications there is “no formal deadline,” but for housing and orientation purposes, the earlier the better.

Arizona Honors : Priority deadline is December 3, 2017, with notification January 21, 2018. Essay required. Note: This is a significant deadline change.

Arizona State Honors (Barrett): Early action deadline I- November 1, 2017 (notification December 15); early action deadline II- January 7, 2018 (notification February 16); regular deadline February 25 (notification March 30); late consideration, April 1, 2018 (notification May 11).

Arkansas Honors: November 1, 2017 for priority application; for scholarships, priority deadline is November 15, 2017; for financial aid, priority deadline is January 15, 2018, and final deadline is February 1, 2018; final Fall application deadline is August 1, 2018, but this might be too late for honors college.

Binghamton HonorsPriority deadline and common app by November 1, 2017; all application materials by December 1, 2017; priority decision by January 15, 2018. Regular deadline January 15, 2018 (notification April 1, 2018).

Cincinnati Honors: December 1, 2017, for honors and for scholarships.

Clemson Honors (Calhoun): Priority honors deadline December 8, 2017, after meeting university deadline of December 1, 2017, with notification February 15, 2018; regular deadline March 1, 2018; after meeting university deadline of February 15, 2018; notification April 1, 2018.

Connecticut HonorsFor merit and honors consideration, December 1, 2017.

Delaware Honors:  Deadline January 15, 2018, including honors essay; (notification mid-March 2018).

Florida Honors: (Freshman Honors): March 1, 2018; notification April 1, 2018; must accept by May 1, 2018.

Florida State Honors: For presidential scholarship, honors medical, or honors legal, deadline is November 12017. Honors application deadline is February 14, 2018.

Georgia State Honors: Early action deadline is November 15, 2017; regular action deadline is March 1, 2018.

Georgia Honors:  February 1, 2018; (notification April 1, 2018).

Georgia Tech Honors“Students who have been accepted into Tech as an Early Action Applicant will receive an invitation to apply for admittance into the Honors Program for the Fall semester of their first-year.” The early action deadline is October 15, 2017; the document deadline is December 1, 2017. Notification by mid-January.

Hawaii Manoa HonorsSee website.

Houston Honors: November 15, 2017, for priority consideration; final deadline April 1, 2018.

Illinois Honors (CHP): Early action deadline November 1, 2017, preferably earlier, with notification December 15; final deadline December 1, 2017, with notification by February 2, 2018.

Illinois Chicago Honors: Early action, November 1, 2017; regular decision, January 15, 2018. f

Illinois State Honors: See website.

Indiana Honors (Hutton): Deadline for Hutton scholarships November 1, 2017.

Iowa HonorsSome scholarship deadlines in early December 2017; recommended final deadline, March 1, 2018. Latest admission, May 1, 2018.

Iowa State Honors: April 1, 2018, but prefers earlier applications.

Kansas Honors: November 1, 2017, for admission and scholarships.

Kansas State HonorsNo specific deadline, but admission may be limited to space available.

Kentucky Honors: December 1, 2017.

LSU Honors (Ogden): November 15, 2017; notification mid-December, 2017, onward, on a rolling basis.

Macaulay Honors CUNY: December 1, 2017, including essays; notification of college choice in February 2018; notification of honors decision by March 15, 2018.

Maine Honors: Early action is December 1, 2017; regular decision (recommended) is February 1, 2018; transfer deadline is June 1, 2018.

Maryland Honors: Must apply by November 1, 2017, the university preferred deadline; no separate honors application; notification late January 2017

Massachusetts Honors (Amherst): Early action November 1, 2017, credentials by November 20; regular deadline January 15, 2018, credentials by February 1, 2018; scholarship deadline March 1, 2018. No separate honors application.

Michigan Honors: Updated info to be posted at honors side November 1, 2017. Likely deadlines: Apply to university first, then send honors essay; university early action deadline November 1, 2017 (notification late December); regular deadline for failed early action and others is February 1, 2018 (notification mid-April 2018). Students admitted to the university may submit LSA honors application essays and other information through early April 2018, but the earlier the better as space is limited.

Michigan State Honors: University has rolling admissions deadlines, but students should apply by November 1, 2017. Invitations are extended approximately 8 weeks after admission to MSU. Average ACT 32.

Minnesota HonorsPriority application deadline November 1, 2017 (notification by end of February, 2018); applications after December 15, 2017, all invited only after university acceptance on space-available basis only. No separate honors application.

Mississippi Honors (SMBHC): Early action November 1, 2017, notification December 20, 2017; regular deadline is January 5, 2018, notification by early March 2018.

Mississippi State Honors: December 1, 2017, preferably earlier; after that date, space available basis.

Missouri HonorsThe university scholarship deadline is December 1, 2017. Students may apply as early as August 1, 2017.

Nebraska HonorsThe Fall priority deadline is October 15, 2017; final deadline is February 15, 2018.

New Jersey Inst of Technology Honors (Dorman): February 1, 2018.

New Hampshire Honors: Early action is November 15, 2017. Regular decision was extended from February 1 to March 1. No separate honors application. Double check website to make sure regular deadline is extended for 2018.

New Mexico HonorsUniversity final deadline is May 1, 2018.

North Carolina HonorsMust be accepted by university first, followed by honors invitation. University early action deadline is October 15, 2017, with decision by late January 2017. Regular deadline is January 15, 2018, with notification in late March. Final university deadline is February 15, 2018, with decision by mid-April. Admitted students are automatically considered for an honors invitation, typically sent out within two weeks of admission to the university.

NC State HonorsMarch 15, 2018.

Ohio University HonorsDecember 1, 2017.

Ohio State HonorsTest scores, letters of recommendation, etc., by November 1, 2017.

Oklahoma HonorsUniversity scholarship deadline is December 15, 2017. Final deadline is February 1, 2018. No separate deadline for honors college.

Oklahoma State HonorsDeadline for many scholaships is November 1, 2017. Final deadline is February 1, 2018.

Oregon Honors (Clark)Early action deadline November 1, 2017, with all materials due November 7, 2017; notification December 15, 2017. Regular deadline January 15, 2018, with all materials due February 1, 2018; notification April 1, 2018.

Oregon State Honors:  Early round deadline is November 1, with notification by December 31; primary round deadline is February 1,2018, with notification by March 31, 2018.

Penn State Honors (Schreyer): (Schreyer): Priority deadline November 30, 2017, allows for interviews by end of January, 2018; final deadline December 20, 2018; notification by late February, 2018.

Pitt Honors“We operate on a rolling admission policy and although there is no specific deadline to apply for admission, it is to your advantage to plan ahead and apply early.” The priority deadline for scholarships is December 15, 2017.

Purdue HonorsPriority deadline is November 1, 2017, for admission and scholarships.

Rhode Island Honors: Early action deadline is December 1, 2017; regular deadline is February 1, 2018.

Rutgers Honors (Honors College): December 1, 2017.

San Diego State Honors (Weber): Preferred deadline is January 15, 2018.

South Carolina Honors: Preferred deadline for scholarships and honors college admission is October 15, 2017. Test score assignment to university and letters of recommendation, November 15, 2017. First round of notifications in late December, 2017. Final notification in mid-February, 2018.

Stony Brook HonorsPriority deadline January 15, 2018.

Temple HonorsEarly action deadline November 1, 2017; university deadline is February 1, 2018. No separate honors application, and honors notification is within four weeks of university acceptance.

Tennessee Honors (CHP): November 1, 2017, in order to be eligible for major scholarships.

Texas A&M HonorsApplication period begins August 1, 2017.

Texas Tech Honors: Application period begins July 17, 2017, and ends March 1, 2018.

UC Davis HonorsApplication period for all UC campuses is August 1-November 30, 2017. Honors invitation after applicants confirm UC Davis as choice on May 1, 2018.

UC Irvine Honors (CHP): Application period for all UC campuses is August 1-November 30, 2017. Honors invitation after applicants confirm UC Irvine as choice on May 1, 2018.

UCLA HonorsApplication period for all UC campuses is August 1-November 30, 2017. Honors invitation after applicants confirm UC Irvine as choice on May 1, 2018.

UC Santa Barbara HonorsApplication period for all UC campuses is August 1-November 30, 2017. Honors invitation after applicants confirm UC Irvine as choice on May 1, 2018.

University at Albany Honors: Apply February 1–April 1, 2018, with reviews of applications in early March. Applications after April 1, 2018, on a space-available basis. Some advantage to applying no later than March 1, 2018.

Univ at Buffalo (SUNY) HonorsEarly action by November 15, 2017, to university and provide all test results and supporting material by December 15, 2017, also the scholarship deadline. Regular decision is February 1, 2018.

Utah HonorsPriority deadline November 1, 2017; final deadline March 1, 2018.

UT Austin Plan II: May apply beginning August 1, 2018; recommended deadline is October 15, 2018, but final deadline is December 1, 2018. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are accepted.

UT San Antonio Honors: November 1, 2018, through February 1, 2018.

Vermont HonorsEarly action November 1, 2017; regular deadline January 15, 2018. No separate honors application.

Virginia Honors  Echols: University early action deadline November 1, 2017; regular deadline January 1, 2018.

Virginia Tech HonorsUniversity early decision deadline November 1, 2017, with notification December 15; regular deadline is January 15, 2018, and notification by April 1, 2018.

Washington HonorsNovember 15, 2017. Notification of university admission March 1–March 15, 2018; notification of honors admission March 19–April 13, 2018.

Washington State HonorsJanuary 31, 2018.

Wisconsin Honors: First Fall deadline is November 1, 2017, with notification by January 31, 2018; Second Fall deadline is February 1, 2018, with notification by March 31, 2018. Honors applicants have 30 days to apply for honors after they login.

Georgetown Prof on Finding Best Teaching, Mentoring: Consider Honors Colleges (with a nod to INSIDE HONORS)

Editor’s Note: In a piece in the Washington Post, Georgetown University Professor Jacques Berlinerblau, author of the book COLLEGE CONFIDENTIAL, offered several tips for prospective students who want a good return on investment, smaller classes, strong teaching, and undergraduate research and mentoring. Below are his comments on honors colleges, and a nod to our own book, INSIDE HONORS.

“Honors Colleges: In many ways an Honors College represents an institutional effort to deal with all the deficiencies of American undergraduate education alluded to above. These units (here is a handy guide) are usually carved out from larger schools. They may possess a “war chest” which lets them lure high-performing applicants away from highly ranked places where professorial buy-in will be minimal. In short, these administrations try to identify the best scholar-teachers on the Quad (regardless of their politics), place them in small classroom settings, and properly train them and incentivize them to completely commit to undergraduate teaching. That’s what all colleges should be doing. And that’s what all parents should be looking for.”

It would be hard to find a stronger endorsement of honors colleges.

Top 25 Universities for Silicon Valley Hires: 17 Are Public

The website Quartz just published a list of the universities that place the highest number of grads at tech firms in Silicon Valley.

“The most coveted jobs are in Silicon Valley, and most selective US universities are members of the Ivy League. So it stands to reason that tech giants like Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook would scoop up best and brightest from those bastions of power and privilege.

“Think again. None of the eight Ivy League schools—Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania—cracked the top 10 on a list of the universities sending the most graduates to tech firms, according to an analysis by HiringSolved, an online recruiting company. The company used data from more than 10,000 public profiles for tech workers hired or promoted into new positions in 2016 and the first two months of 2017.”

Editor’s note: The HiringSolve link also lists the 10 specific skills most in demand as of 2017, with changes from 2016. For example, the top four skills for entry level placement in 2017 are Python, C++, Java, and algorithms. The top job titles for entry placement in 2017 are Software Engineering Intern, Software Engineer, Business Development Consultant, and Research Intern.

Now let it be said that the 17 public universities in the top 25 are generally much larger than the private institutions on the list, so the sheer volume of highly-trained tech grads from the publics is much larger.

But the final message from Quartz was this:

If the list tells us anything, it’s that admission to an elite university isn’t a prerequisite for a career in Silicon Valley, and what you know is more important than where you learn it.” [Emphasis added.]

Here are the top 25 universities for Silicon Valley tech placement, in numerical order:

UC Berkeley
Stanford
Carnegie Mellon
USC
UT Austin
Georgia Tech
Illinois
San Jose State
UC San Diego
Arizona State
Michigan
UCLA
NC State
Cal Poly
Cornell
Waterloo (Canada)
Texas A&M
Washington
Purdue
MIT
Santa Clara
Univ of Phoenix*
UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis
Penn State

*Hypothesis: hands-on experience and later degrees?

Q & A with Inaugural Honors Dean at Kentucky’s Lewis Honors College

Editor’s Note: The following detailed Q & A is between editor John Willingham and Dr. Christian M.M. Brady, the inaugural Dean of the Lewis Honors College at the University of Kentucky, where almost half of the inaugural class is receiving full tuition scholarships or greater awards. Dr. Brady is the former longtime Dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. [Emphases below are added.] Please see earlier post, Kentucky to Open New Honors College with Gift of $23 Million.

Dean Christian M.M. Brady, Lewis Honors College

Editor: Can you say what the expected test score and GPA requirement will be, at least approximately at LHC?

Dean Brady: This year’s incoming class has an average unweighted GPA of 3.86 and an average ACT of 31.4. Please note that these figures are determined after the fact. The LHC does not use standardized test scores, but rather has an holistic selection process. The formal statement on the website currently reads*: “Applicants to the Lewis Honors College typically have at least a 28 ACT or 1310 SAT (M + EBRW) and an unweighted GPA of 3.50 on a 4.00 scale.” These minimums are not guarantees of admission to the program, but act as a benchmark for consideration. All applicants should be aware that Honors admission decisions are made independently of Competitive Academic Scholarships and applications will not be reviewed until a student has been admitted to the University….[A]n applicant’s essay responses carry a large amount of weight in the admission process….The deadline for submission of the application and all required documents is December 1.

*These minimum requirements are likely to change.

Editor: In what ways will the LHC differ from the previous honors program? In what ways the same? Will the number of honors sections be significantly increased?

Lewis Hall

Dean Brady: Honors was created at UK in 1961 and has taken on various forms in its nearly 60 year history. With the establishment of the Lewis Honors College we will continue the more recent progress of a university-wide honors program with certain key features. The development of a foundational course and experience that all Lewis Honors College Scholars will participate in, the expansion of departmental honors courses, and the strengthening of the honors thesis or capstone requirement. Students are also required to do 6 credits of “honors experience,” which can be accomplished via study abroad, service learning, and research. The LHC will have up to ten lecturers who will teach the Foundations Seminar and other honors courses through the relevant departments. We will also have two endowed lectureships: one in the area of organizational behavior and the other in entrepreneurship. There is a new Career Advising Center being created, with a staff of four advisors. There will also be five Academic Advisors. These new staff positions, along with other student programing positions, will all be in place by the end of fall 2017. Staff will be housed in the new Lewis Hall.

Located directly across from the WT Thomas Library and next to “The 90,” a dining and classroom space, Lewis Hall is one of three Honors residence halls and includes 346 beds. It also has over 20,000 square feet of office and meeting space, including four classrooms and a café. There is a spacious outdoor patio venue as well. One particular concern that I think will come to the fore is the commitment to helping students from their earliest moments on campus to discern their pathway forward. (E.g., they might have always thought they should be an engineer because they are good at numbers and like creating things, but they might actually be more of a business person. Or vice versa.) This will be determined and elaborated later in this semester, once we have the opportunity to meet with students and faculty.

Editor: What is the size of the class of 2021, and anticipated size thereafter?

Dean Brady: The incoming class is predicted to be 540 and our target is to maintain 10% of total student population, roughly 2,200 LHC Scholars.

Editor: What is your personal vision for LHC, building on your long experience at Penn State and contacts in the honors community?

Dean Brady: I believe firmly that every honors college and program should reflect what is distinctive and unique about the larger university community of which it is a part…. [W]e should also have a particular distinctiveness that reflects the Kentucky identity. This does not mean that we are regional, quite the opposite. The traits I have already seen in terms of work ethic, humility, and commitment to community are those that we should seek to inculcate in all students. Over the next 5 to 10 years we will build one of the strongest honors colleges in the nation. Founded upon the strength of excellent faculty, great breadth of offerings at UK (it is one of the most comprehensive research universities in the nation, with every professional school, aside from veterinary, within 1 mile of the honors complex), and developing men and women to understand and meet their own potential while benefitting their communities. As some have put it, “doing well while doing good.” The LHC will also become a standard within the nation and the world for innovation….With over thirteen years in the honors community, I look forward to working with our colleagues around the world to continue to learn from their best practices, develop exchange opportunities for our students, and help establish new standards for honors education. We will be submitting a proposal to host the [Honors Education at Research Univerity] HERU meeting in 2019 and I look forward to working with my SEC colleagues, many of whom I have already met through HERU and Big Ten conferences.

Interior view of Lewis Hall

Editor: What are the amounts and availability of merit scholarships, and do LHC students automatically qualify for university scholarships? Does the LHC offer its own merit scholarships?

Dean Brady: I am still learning where exactly all funds reside, but this is certain: the LHC has more than $8MM in scholarships each year. Almost half of all incoming students will have a scholarship at least cover full tuition. We are also preparing to enter into a capital campaign in which developing further scholarship and grant funds (for research, study abroad, and internships) will be a priority.

Editor: Can you tell us more about the honors residence halls and the LHC administration building?

Dean Brady: I referenced the new Lewis Hall earlier. There are also two other Honors residence halls, all built within the last 5 years, that are beautifully appointed with learning spaces for the students on each floor, ground floor lounges, and located next to the library and the new, $112MM Jacobs Science Building.

Another view of the Lewis complex

Editor: Can you tell us more about the size of the LHC staff and their assignments; are any staff dedicated to prestigious awards?

Dean Brady: When fully staffed we will have over 30 staff members including an associate dean for academic affairs, a director of academic affairs, five academic advisors, and up to twelve lecturers. We will have a senior director of student affairs who will oversee a director of career advising and 3 career advisors, a director of recruitment, a director of the Residential College (student programming), and an administrative assistant for student affairs and receptionist. We will also have a budget officer, director of communications, and a philanthropy officer.

Editor: What are the levels of honors completion and the semester-hour requirements for each level; is there a thesis required; is there a limit on honors conversions (contract courses?

Dean Brady: There are some adjustments being made, but the basic requirements beginning in 2018 will be:

• Total of 30 honors credit hours

• Writing, Reading, and Digital Studies/CIS (accelerated two-semester course)

• 2 first year courses + foundational seminar

• 2 upper level courses + directed elective (“Honors students must choose at least three credit hours in HON 301 [an honors ‘pro-seminar’] or departmental Honors sections outside their general discipline of study, including declared majors, minors, and certificate programs at the time of course enrollment.”)

• 6 cr Honors experience study abroad, experiential & service learning, research

• Senior Thesis

Former Schreyer Dean Christian Brady Is First Dean of UKY New Lewis Honors College

Editor’s Note: The following post is from the University of Kentucky.

University of Kentucky provost Tim Tracy announced today that the former head of one of the most highly regarded honors programs in the country will be the first dean of the Lewis Honors College.

Christian Brady for 10 years — from 2006 to 2016 — served as dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University. Previously, he directed the honors program at Tulane University. At Penn State, Schreyer — under Brady’s leadership — raised more than $80 million to enhance honors education, developed a renowned leadership academy, and tripled applications to the college while also increasing selectivity.

Christian Brady

Brady’s permanent appointment is subject to approval by the UK Board of Trustees. He begins his work at UK Aug. 1.

“In Christian Brady, we have someone acknowledged throughout the country as a leader in honors education, who at the same time, has maintained an active career as a scholar in his field,” Tracy said. “This combination of skills, background and leadership is precisely what we have been looking for in our inaugural Lewis Honors Dean. Our students and staff are excited about the potential of growing this program into one of the leading Honors Colleges in the country under Christian’s leadership. The Lewis Honors College, I’m confident, will quickly become one of the distinctive programs at UK, one that helps prepare students for what President Capilouto often refers to as lives of meaning and purpose.”

Brady is a scholar of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature. He has written two books and has a third one in progress. Brady also is the author of numerous scholarly articles and papers.

“It is a great honor and responsibility to be the founding dean of the Lewis Honors College. Honors education is not an exercise in elitism, rather it is providing UK honors students with an enhanced educational experience that will also benefit the entire university. Our goals are nothing less than building the best honors program in the nation and developing women and men who will transform this world in a positive way.”

In October 2015, the University of Kentucky received the largest single gift in its history — $23 million — from alumnus, longtime donor and successful entrepreneur Thomas W. Lewis and his wife Jan to create the Lewis Honors College from the previously existing Honors Program. The dean of the Lewis Honors College is a full-time appointment, reporting directly to the provost and serving on the Deans’ Council.

The dean serves as the academic and administrative head of the Lewis Honors College and is responsible for the leadership and administration of all aspects of the college.

Does Participation in an Honors Program Lower GPAs?

A recent paper by a prominent honors director and associate cites three main concerns of parents and students about participating in an honors program:

“They and/or their parents believe that honors classes at the university level require more work than non-honors courses, are more stressful, and will adversely affect their self-image and grade point average.”

Some students, the authors write, “are likely basing their belief on the experience they had with Advanced Placement (AP) classes in their high schools. Although AP classes are not specifically designed to be more work or more difficult, at their worst they can be little more than that.”

The authors of the paper, “The Effect of Honors Courses on Grade Point Averages, ” are Dr. Art Spisak, Director of Honors at Iowa the University of Iowa and Suzanne Carter Squires, a Churchill Scholar and former Director of Assessment for Iowa honors. Dr. Spisak is also the current President of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC).

As the title states, the authors focused on whether honors participation does in fact lower GPAs, probably the overriding concern of parents and students.

After reviewing and citing previous related studies and conducting two in-depth studies of their own at a large public research university, the authors conclude that “the findings show that the perception of honors courses as adversely affecting GPAs is invalid.”

The previous studies indicated that honors and non-honors students of equal measured ability had about the same GPAs or the honors students had higher GPAs in the first year and about the same GPAs going forward.

An important finding of one study also showed that honors students have “higher self-concepts than do high-ability students not participating in an honors program.”

The first study by Spisak and Squires “began with a cohort of 786 students that was unusual in its makeup and, for that reason, especially apt for the purpose. All 786 students were part of an honors program at a large, public, R1 university. They all had earned their way into the program via a minimum composite ACT/ SAT score of 29/1300 and a high school GPA of at least 3.8. Once in the program, they had to maintain a university GPA of 3.33 to maintain membership.”

“Of the original cohort of 786 honors students, the study considered only the 473 students who had remained in the program for at least two years.” This would appear to indicate a low retention rate, but the program at the time automatically enrolled students who met the stats requirements and many dropped out. Most honors programs use invitation-only approaches now.

“The findings from this first study were that the mean GPA of honors students who took honors classes (3.74) was statistically the same as that of honors students who took no honors courses (3.70).

The second study by Spisak and Squires differed from the first in that it compared honors students’ GPAs in their honors classes to their GPAs for all their classes. The first study, in contrast, compared GPAs of one group of honors-eligible students who took honors courses to those of another group of honors-eligible students who had not taken honors courses.

The results showed that “honors students’ GPAs in their honors courses are statistically the same as their GPAs in all their classes. Thus, the conclusion for the second study is the same as for the first study: honors courses do not adversely affect the GPAs of honors students.”

So…if honors students in honors classes have the same GPAs (or even higher) that students of equal ability in non-honors classes, can one conclude that honors classes are not competitive or demanding?

The likely answer: honors classes typically cover more material and in greater depth than non-honors classes, but smaller class sizes, greater engagement with professors, and encouragement or competition from peers create more interest and focus.

Wyoming, Northern Arizona U to Greatly Expand Honors Colleges

Editor’s Note: The creation and expansion of honors colleges is a major development in higher education. Below are two examples, each from the university’s public information departments.

Aiming to recruit more high-achieving high school graduates and enrich its undergraduate experience, the University of Wyoming is taking initial steps to expand its Honors Program.

The concept of transitioning the existing Honors Program to an Honors College was favorably received by the UW Board of Trustees last week, and the university administration plans to present a full proposal to the board at its May meeting.

“Our Honors Program has a long and rich history, and we see tremendous opportunity to make it an even more vibrant and influential part of the university,” Provost Kate Miller says. “Transitioning to an Honors College would raise its profile, allowing us to attract, retain and add value to the experiences of some of our finest students and faculty at an even higher level than we do now.”

Among the plans are moving the Honors Program from its current location to the Guthrie House — former home of the UW Foundation — on the south end of the UW campus; changing the position of Honors Program director to Honors College dean; and expanding honors enrollment and programming.

Slightly more than 900 UW students are currently part of the Honors Program, which provides coursework, advising and scholarships for high-achieving students who commit to take certain courses, maintain a grade-point average of at least 3.25 and complete a senior capstone project. Students graduate with an honors minor in a variety of fields.

The proposal expected to go before the trustees in May calls for changing the honors minor to a concurrent major or part of a major in all fields of study; gradually expanding the Honors College faculty and staff to accommodate more students; and, in general, developing a curriculum that would better prepare students for professional or graduate school success.

“The competition for high-achieving high school graduates in Wyoming and the region is becoming more intense, and most of our competitors for these students now have honors colleges, which is a national trend,” Miller says. “We feel strongly that this would be beneficial for the entire university as well as the state.”

The UW Faculty Senate is considering the Honors College plan, which stems from multiple reviews of the Honors Program and a steering committee report completed in December.

 

The Arizona Board of Regents approved construction of Northern Arizona University’s Honors College Living and Learning Community at its meeting in Tucson last week.

The 204,656-square-foot building, which is going up at University Drive and Knoles Drive, includes bedrooms, classrooms, a student advising center and study areas. It is a state-of-the-art building designed to be a place where Honors College students can live, study, congregate and collaborate with others who are passionate about learning and creating. The project will cost more than $56 million.

“We are pleased to see an increasing number of top-performing students choose NAU, and programs like the Honors College play a major role in attracting and engaging these students,” President Rita Cheng said. “This facility is an example of our commitment to make NAU home for the region’s best and brightest.”

The Honors College is the oldest honors program in Arizona, and it continues to grow; enrollment increased by 24 percent for the 2016-2017 school year. NAU recently changed the Honors Program into an Honors College, allowing for greater recruitment and retention opportunities for the top talent in the state.

Participation in the Honors College allows undergraduate students to take specialized courses, including a capstone course, access the Honors Writing Center and do research. Establishing classes specifically for Honors students provides them the opportunity to break out of traditional classroom settings and mentor their peers.

Wolf Gumerman, director of the Honors College, said students are put on flexible and rigorous pathways to help them achieve their educational and career goals, offering access to research and a thesis, internships, faculty mentors and more.

“For high-achieving students, the benefits are amazing,” he said. “Our classes are smaller and more discussion-based, and the new curriculum is really driven by the students’ interests.”

Preliminary work to address infrastructure began in the fall, with construction beginning this summer. With the addition of the Honors community, which is scheduled to open in fall 2018, and SkyView, which opens this fall, NAU will add nearly 1,300 on-campus beds in less than 18 months, allowing the university to remain in the top 1 percent of universities nationwide providing on-campus housing.

“I am excited to see the Honors Residential College move forward and break ground next week,” said Rich Payne, executive director of Housing and Residence Life. “This facility will help NAU recruit and retain highly motivated scholars to the Honors College and provide a new high-profile home to students, dedicated faculty and staff where students will enjoy rich in and out of classroom activities and interactions in state-of-the-art surroundings.”