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Honors college bolsters programs to help students succeed

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Selena Quintanilla | The Daily Wildcat

The Slonaker House located on Second Street on April 3. The honors college is bolstering resources offered to students to help ensure success in college.

UA faculty members and administrators met to discuss upcoming changes to the UA Honors College in the Student Union Memorial Center on April 11. Faculty roamed the ballroom, visiting booths that provided information on the new honors complex, recruitment and admissions strategies, engagement programs and the First Year Program.

“The UA Honors College provides a place for our best students but is also meant to attract those students,” said Elliott Cheu, UA physics professor and interim dean of the Honors College.

Cheu said the Honors College enhances the UA community, and as interim dean, Cheu began to move the Honors College forward by implementing some of these new programs and services. 

“Solving problems globally requires a nuanced ability to look at problems from multiple points of view,” Cheu said. 

Hoping to attract these critical-thinkers, Cheu has worked on refining the application process to tease out traits in applicants that will benefit the college. 

RELATED: Column: The proposed honors college village limits options for in-state prospective honors students

The new application will be completely separate from the university’s application. The college hopes that this application will give the admissions committee a more holistic view of candidates and reach a broader spectrum of potential students. 

The UA is also preparing to build a centralized honors complex, in which honors students will live, attend classes and socialize. This area north of campus is meant to bolster a sense community among students, make faculty and staff more accessible and attract top students to the program. 

Students should expect to see an expansion of student engagement programs over the coming years. The Honors College currently offers honors students programs, such as the First Year Project, the Honors Trip and competitive scholarships. The new engagement programs are meant to build upon the foundation of these services. 

The UA assigns honors students a common reading book the summer before their incoming year. This book is meant to give students a topic of discourse and bring students together over a common text. This year, the college has assigned the book “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine. This text explores racism in our society today.

RELATED: Community concerned about trust and credibility of UA in development of new honors complex

Partnerships Through Honors, a program that will match incoming students with carefully selected student mentors, is an expansion on the current honors mentor system. In the past, students have had the opportunity to request mentors from a student organization, but the UA Honors College has taken over this role to expand the program. Student mentors will serve as a support system for incoming students. The application to become an honors mentor is currently open. 

These changes will be led by an Honors College task force. The task force was formed January 2016 to help align the Honors College with the UA’s 100% Engagement Initiative and move the college forward. 

“We need to reconceptualize the honors experience—one that agrees with our values at the UA,” said Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost.

Comrie stressed the importance of this task force in maintaining the UA Honors College as a place for honors students to excel. He explained that there are always improvements to be made. 

“The UA Honors College was among the first honors programs and colleges, and life has moved on since then,” Comrie said.


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