As UA honors students adjust to the responsibilities of a new semester, incoming Honors College Dean Terry Hunt inherits the duty of overseeing the creation of a new honors complex as well as changes to the honors curriculum.
After a year of planning, the Honors College will begin implementing a new honors experience this fall for its incoming students. A seven-week “Catalyst Course” will introduce students to the new assigned common reading book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, and students will examine different topics surrounding the book’s theme of incarceration.
In the spring of 2018, the Honors College will also pilot a “Triptych Course,” in which students will look at a single topic or problem from the perspective of three professors from different disciplines. Each week, students will rotate into one of three groups headed by different professors, stopping in between rotations to discuss their findings.
There are also plans to create an “Engagement Hub” for honors students in their junior year which will prepare them to take on their senior capstone project. Through internships, research, study abroad and other opportunities, students would be able to explore their interests and gain experience before their capstone the following year.
“We’re trying to create a coherent and cohesive honors curriculum that takes students from day one all the way through the capstone experience,” said Interim Honors Dean Elliot Cheu.
According to Cheu, these ideas for updating the honors curriculum came about after the report from the UA Honors Re-Envisioning Task Force, a group from the Office of the Provost which evaluated the Honors College last year.
While focus groups and committee meetings took place, much of the planning for the updated honors program occurred before Hunt was appointed as the new honors dean. Hunt said he looks forward to working on the curriculum, which he notes is different from those he oversaw as dean at the University of Oregon Honors College and director of the University of Hawaii campuswide honors program.
“I’m interested in starting off my position at Arizona by learning and listening as much as I can,” Hunt said.
Recognized worldwide in the archaeological community for his work on Easter Island, Hunt said he would love to teach while at UA.
“It’s a very good way for me to interact with students and to stay in touch in a very persistent sort of way with who our students are,” Hunt said. “Working with students is an important part of my job.”
The new honors complex, scheduled for completion by fall of 2019, will be located just north of campus and will consist of honors student housing, a recreation center, offices, classrooms and a parking lot.
“Having a physical center for the Honors College is really important,” Hunt said. “It gives the college identity; it gives it a sense of place and it brings students, faculty and staff together in terms of proximity. The new complex is very exciting and it will be really important to the college having a greater sense of community.”
The construction of the new complex has generated much controversy from the residents neighboring the planned site, their chief concerns being that the project failed to consider input from the community and that the complex would not adhere to the zoning standards of the neighborhood.
According to UA Vice President for Communications Chris Sigurdson, the university is meeting with individual neighbors who live adjacent to the new complex’s proposed site to discuss the project’s development. Sigurdson declined to comment on the nature or extent of these conversations.
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