March 19, 2007

Improvements planned to honors program

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Officials in the University Honors Program are planning improvements designed to attract even more stellar students to Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

"In the next 18 months, if all goes well, the University Honors Program will become more inviting, more viable and more visible," said Interim Director James S. Allen. "More inviting means that we recruit students directly from high school into the program. More viable means that we reward these new students for their commitment to the University, beginning their first semester here, in their majors, in their housing choices, in their course registration, in short, in a value-added learning experience inside and outside the classroom. More visible means that these students can find us on campus and that we recognize their accomplishments on their transcripts and on their diplomas at graduation. That's a lot."

The proposed changes are part of a strategic plan shaped by Allen, University Honors Program Associate Director Lori Merrill-Fink and consultants who visited the campus and submitted recommendations with an eye toward a larger and more effective honors program. They want to build on the success the program has achieved over the years.

Last month, SIUC honors student Fahran Robb of Pinckneyville was among only 80 students chosen by USA Today as a member of the 2007 All-USA College Academic Team. This is the second year in a row Robb received the recognition.

Robb is one of nearly 900 honors students at SIUC. They benefit from the curriculum of small classes specially designed for honors students by University faculty. Each honors course is limited in size to 15 and restricted in enrollment to honors students.

Entering freshmen with ACT composite scores of 29 or above and undergraduates with a minimum 3.25 grade-point average and 12 semester hours completed, may apply for admission into the honors program.

Allen said his passion for the program is rooted in what honors students "bring to the University: curiosity, talent, hard work and a love for learning," he said. "Everyone benefits while they're here, including their fellow students, who come to appreciate the same values by the time they graduate."