Clark Honors College at U. of Oregon: Professors Are the Advisors

Other leading honors colleges and programs involve professors in the honors advising process, sometimes as co-advisors with full-time honors staff professionals. At Clark Honors College (CHC) at the University of Oregon, honors advising is one of the responsibilities of about two dozen resident CHC faculty, many of whom have offices in Chapman Hall, home of the college.

Now, in addition to resident faculty advisors, the college has a Director of Undergraduate Advising, Elizabeth Raisanen, Ph.D. Dr. Raisanen works as a liaison with academic departments and their advisors, coordinates the peer advisors from the college, plans programming for the Global Scholars Hall, and centralizes information about prestigious scholarships, fellowships, and internships.

Global Scholars Hall

Global Scholars Hall

All of this adds up to a lot of individual attention for CHC students.

“The Global Scholars Hall is home to students in the Robert D. Clark Honors College who can attend lectures, discussions, film screenings, and academic advising offered right where they live. Students in the five language immersive communities in Spanish, German, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and French share a section of rooms with other people studying the same language so that they can become more fluent through everyday communication,” according to the university.

“Whether chatting in German while eating lunch in the Fresh Market cafe or learning to make sushi in the demonstration kitchen, students in these programs will create and participate in a global academic experience.”

The CHC is a “small liberal arts college of approximately 800 students within a renowned research university.  The Clark Honors College features small classes and close interaction between students and faculty.  It emphasizes interdisciplinary scholarship and independent research in a tight-knit, dynamic community of students and faculty,” according to the CHC.

“The Clark Honors College is made up of students from every department and school at the University of Oregon—from architects and musicians to biology and business majors—with classes designed to foster intense and creative exchange among different approaches and viewpoints. This diversity of viewpoints is one of our greatest strengths.  The CHC offers a broad, innovative, and rigorous curriculum in the arts and sciences, fulfilling all University of Oregon general education requirements.”

Some honors classes meet in Chapman Hall; the average class size for sections offered directly by the CHC is 16.9 students.

Classroom in Chapman Hall, before quarter begins

Classroom in Chapman Hall, before quarter begins

The Hall is undergoing renovations now, and will feature additional classroom space.

Admission is competitive. For Fall 2014, the median SAT score was 1320, and the median high school GPA was 3.91 on a 4.0 scale. The honors admission director is Paula Braswell. Editor’s note: Paula was our genial and knowledgeable “tour guide” during a recent visit to the CHC.

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Honors News–August 11, 2015

August 11, 2015–Exciting news from Rutgers New Brunswick: a new Honors College, along with its own central living/learning community, is welcoming approximately 500 “of the highest achieving students from New Jersey,” according to Dean Matt Matsuda.

“Our students come from across the undergraduate schools at Rutgers-New Brunswick– Arts and Sciences, Environmental and Biological Sciences, Engineering, Business, Pharmacy, and Fine Arts,” the Dean reports. Membership in the Honors College is a four-year experience.

The new living/learning facility, “situated at the heart of the New Brunswick campus and opening this fall,” houses all first-year students in the Honors College, “as well as administrative and advising offices, six seminar rooms, plentiful lounge and study areas for programming, and three live-in faculty apartments. We are ready to welcome our inaugural class this fall as Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, celebrates its 250th anniversary.”

Building on the success of the SAS (Arts and Sciences) Honors Program, the new Honors College “expands honors education at Rutgers-New Brunswick, by redefining interdisciplinary education. While the school-based honors programs will continue as they have in the past, the new Honors College invites students from across the liberal arts and professional schools to live and work together to tackle global issues.

“The Honors College is a community where intellectual curiosity, hands-on knowledge, diversity, collaboration, and giving back are central to its philosophy.”

August 11, 2015–Although there are few hard and fast rules regarding honors programs, honors curricula and completion requirements are, as one might think, the most important components of an honors program. Here’s why: More honors classes, and the requirement that honors students must complete 25-40 hours of credits in honors, place students in a learning environment together more frequently, and reinforce their contacts with professors and research opportunities. Lower levels of completion, while still providing the advantage of replacing many Gen Ed courses with smaller honors sections, can (but not always) lead to a student’s declining interest in honors.

Living/learning communities, clubs, honors benefits (e.g., priority registration) and volunteer activities are also vital components of honors education–but in the end what happens in the classroom, and how frequently it happens, are the most important factors in sustaining the honors experience.

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.