Faculty governance body next step for Honors College

February 21, 2012

The next step in getting Purdue's planned Honors College off the ground will see a University Senate committee consider a faculty governance body for it, the college's interim dean says.

Once the Senate's Educational Policy Committee proposes and the University Senate approves an Honors College faculty governance body -- likely this spring -- the body's members will consider adopting a host of recent task force recommendations, says Dennis Savaiano, interim dean of the Honors College and professor of nutrition science.

Savaiano detailed those task force recommendations and provided other Honors College updates Monday at the University Senate.

"We're trying to design an honors experience that integrates the great strength of the academic colleges with leadership, scholarship and engagement opportunities," Savaiano says.

"We want to help students change the world. Students who are engaged citizens, who understand scholarship, and who can do research and interpret research are in a better position to be leaders, and that's what we want to provide."

Scheduled to admit first-year students in fall 2013, Purdue's Honors College was approved by the Board of Trustees in July 2011. The task force, which conducted its work during fall 2011, recommended guiding principles for the college. The task force then split into six groups to address areas of curricula, faculty governance and appointment, admissions, scholarships, residential and co-curricular activities, and post-graduate opportunities.

Before it wrapped up its meetings last year, the task force recommended that students first should be admitted into their discipline before being considered for Honors College admission. During this process, students also would be considered for Presidential Scholarships, Savaiano says.

Under the task force's recommendations, all first-year Honors College students would take a common introductory course or seminar. Honors College students also would need to complete a significant capstone or thesis requirement.

The task force recommended that students admitted into the Honors College would be eligible for supplemental financial awards for scholarship, leadership and citizenship activities.

Savaiano emphasized that the Honors College likely will adopt a residential co-curricular model that will use residence hall space to enhance students' academic success. However, how that model will work or what space will be used is under study.

A separate task force is benchmarking co-curricular programs at other universities to determine how Purdue's own program might look, Savaiano says. That task force is expected to make its own recommendations by the end of March.

"The Honors College's goal is to build student leadership, to make our students scholars and to engage these students with the campus, the community and beyond, to make them great citizens," Savaiano says.

The college is expected to grow on the success of the University Honors Program, which began in 2004. It started with 60 students and increased to 450 as of this year.