CLA Honors pulling a Houdini?

The first draft of the task force’s report recommends consolidation of programs.

With regard to the article “CLA student board listens to issues during open forum,” published in Friday’s Daily, allow me to comment on the reported statement about the future of Honors in the College of Liberal Arts, in which the assertion is made that “CLA Honors will be no more.” What actually will happen to Honors-CLA and the rest of the collegiate honors programs is most likely a bit more complicated.

First of all, at this point, all anyone has seen is the first draft of the report of the honors task force, which was submitted Dec. 12; the final draft was just submitted to Provost Tom Sullivan on Friday, and it won’t be made public until sometime this week.

Second, when it is made public, the final draft of the report will offer recommendations to the University administration. The administration then must decide if it wants to follow some or all of the recommendations the task force proposes, and then it must appoint a new task force or committee or team to implement the recommendations that are to be followed. The first draft of the report recommends that the implementation team be made of associate deans from various colleges, directors of the current collegiate honors programs, and some members of the current honors task force.

The first draft of the task force’s report recommends that a University honors program should be created that would consolidate the current honors programs on campus, and that freshmen would be admitted to that program; however, each freshman in the campuswide honors program also would be admitted to one of the freshmen-admitting colleges on campus (CLA, the Institute of Technology, the College of Biological Sciences and the Carlson School of Management, etc.). It also recommends that advising of the honors students be done in the colleges, or at any rate, by advisers from the various colleges, and of course every honors student on campus ultimately would need to graduate from one of the degree-granting colleges. Thus, the current honors programs in the various colleges would have to continue in some form, although, as part of the larger campuswide entity (which might end up being called an “honors college,” but at least in the first draft of the report it is called the “University Honors Program”). Then, of course, the report proposes the creation of another new program or option that is supposed to be part of the campuswide honors entity, the “Regents’ Scholars Option.” While this option is proposed to be more intercollegiate than honors in each of the colleges, the students admitted to the “RSO” also would each be admitted to a college. Exactly how all this will actually work will depend on what the final draft of the report recommends, which recommendations the administration decides to follow and how the implementation team decides to work out the details.

Therefore, no one knows yet exactly how all this will be implemented, so no one should jump to any conclusions about what will be “at an end.” What we can hope for, however, is some kind of central campuswide honors entity that will be dedicated to strengthening honors in every college at the the University, not just in honors recruitment but also in honors courses, advising, programming, research opportunities, study abroad, service learning and other co-curricular opportunities.

Richard W. McCormick is the director the honors-College of Liberal Arts and a University Professor. Please send comments to [email protected]