A proposal that would limit the amount of honors students in each classroom to 25 and give a $1,250 fund to honors faculty to cover the cost associated with teaching was endorsed by the Educational Programs and Policies Committee yesterday. The proposal was brought forth in September 2004 by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Dr. Peter Jones.
If the proposal is ratified by both the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Subcommittee and the full Board of Trustees, the new Honors Program will take effect in the fall of 2006.
According to the program’s Web site, “The main foci of the Honors Program are small, stimulating classes. Greater interaction among Honors faculty and students is a hallmark of the program.”
However in the past, the program’s goals have not always been met. A chief objective of the program is to have no more than 20 to 25 honor students enrolled in one class. According to Jones, in some cases the number of students registered to take a particular course was lower than the university requirement. This forced the program to open some courses to non-honors students, which significantly increased the size of some classes.
Under the new proposal, the number of students enrolled in one class will be capped at 25. Courses will be open to honors students only, and only honors faculty actively involved in research will be permitted to teach.
The new program would allot honors faculty up to $1250 (approximately $50 per student) for each class to cover any direct costs associated with teaching.
“The fund would cover such things as travel, registration or entrance fees, speaker costs etc.,” Jones said. “The funds cannot be used to provide a stipend or salary to the faculty.”
Some honors faculty members believe that the funds will allow them to expose their students to subject matter first hand.
“I think professors may incorporate more field trips in their curriculum,” said professor Mary Stricker, who will be teaching honors statistics next semester. “I may use the funds to take a trip to the U.S. Census Department to show students first hand how statistical research is done.”
According to Jones, the Honors Program is currently a two-year, lower division program and the only ways students can be admitted are directly out of high school or as a transfer student. If a student’s admission information matches the required criteria – a score of 1300 or higher on the SAT and high school grade point average of 3.8 – that student is automatically admitted.
If the proposal for the new program is accepted, there will be additional ways to be admitted into the program. If a student has a lower SAT score, ranging from 1200 to 1300, and a high school GPA of 3.8, or if a student has a lower GPA of at least 3.3, and a SAT score of 1300, their application will be reviewed.
In addition to these changes, the new program would also include an upper division for junior and senior students who have excelled during their collegiate career. Upperclassmen with credit hours ranging from 60-75 and a 3.6 or higher GPA will be automatically admitted into the program.
“My hope is that many students will come to Temple and have the opportunity to get into a program that is really going to propel them on throughout their graduate and/or professional career,” said Jones.
Many honors students look forward to changes made within the program.
“It’s very exciting,” said freshman Philip Matthews, a Latin American studies major, who is also an honors student.
“I’m in the College of Liberal Arts so that probably means we will take more field trips. They can bring in some of the authors of the books we are reading. It brings a whole new dimension to the course and to the learning experience in general,” Matthews said.
“It’s more of an incentive [for freshman] to be in the honors program and want to stay in it,” said honors freshman Kelly Rodenbach, a speech pathology major.
However not all students are in agreement with the proposal. Some students believe that the Honors Program creates a two tiered university in which honor students are separated from the general student body and receive greater opportunities to excel academically.
“I don’t think they should give extra funds to honors students because they already get special privileges for being in the honors program,” said sophomore Tanzil Farooque, a business law major. “Maybe they should reduce the amount of money given to the faculty and distribute it evenly amongst all faculty members.”
“Honors students already get the best teachers and the best learning environment; now they are getting extra funds,” said sophomore Shanita Taylor, a business marketing major. “Where does that leave the rest of the student body?”
Jones said that the university does not have the means or the resources to provide these opportunities to everyone, but believes that improvements made to the Honors Program will benefit the university as a whole.
“I think by having a strong Honors Program, you strengthen the entire university and it allows us to have opportunities for all students, not just honors. …We want them [honors students] to be a catalyst for the university; the engine that pushes the entire student body on to better things.”
Kennedi Greenwood can be reached at email@example.com.