The newest construction on Washburn University’s campus won’t involve hard hats, bulldozers or neon orange signs. Rather, the university’s latest work will involve a revamp of the honors program.
Michael McGuire, dean of the University Honors Program, accepted his new position in August. McGuire, an associate professor in the psychology department, hopes to give the program a better focus so students develop a better understanding of what the honors program entails.
“An honors program is an enriched educational experience for academically superior students,” said McGuire explaining the importance of a successful honors program.
McGuire hopes to alter the program from its current state.
“I’m hoping that this will be a selling point for the university,” said McGuire.
A fully developed honors program can be used to recruit strong students, who in turn go out to the workforce, represent the university well and give back to Washburn.
“One of the problems I am faced with is what areas of this program need to be revitalized,” said McGuire.
The biggest problem area, said McGuire, is connecting with students. The program needs to establish solidarity and students need an easier way to find out if they are enrolled in the Honor’s Program.
Another change that McGuire envisions is to establish a student council. The National Collegiate Honor’s Council, the governing authority for university honor’s programs, lists 17 characteristics for a fully developed honor’s program, one of which is a student council. Currently an honor’s advisory board exists, but there are only three students on the board.
The curriculum needs to be revisited to answer questions about course substitutions. “The mechanism for reviewing courses that constitute as honor’s courses” will be studied and “a more formal procedure will be in place,” said McGuire.
All honors courses also need a special assessment form just for honors students. McGuire wants to implement changes to the program as soon as possible, but said that “this is an on-going process.”
Some changes have already been implemented or are in progress. In the past, there have never been official guidelines as to what specific requirements make a student eligible for the honor’s program. Now, incoming freshman are required to have a minimum ACT score of 28 and a high school GPA of 3.5. Current and transfer students must have a cumulative college GPA of 3.5. Another change being pursued is to recognize members of the Honors Program with a spring banquet and a reception after graduation.
Students who wish to apply to the honors program for the spring 2010 semester should do so by Dec. 1. If you are unsure as to your standing in the honors program, or for more information about Washburn’s Honors Program, visit www.washburn.edu/honors.