Purdue to establish new Honors College

July 12, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's top students will have more academic options and resources thanks to the new Honors College approved Tuesday (July 12) by the university's Board of Trustees.

"Our Honors College will further our goals toward student success and provide a challenging and rewarding experience for Purdue's top students," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "Its focus on academic excellence and leadership is designed to attract high-achieving students who will thrive in a dynamic learning environment."

The new college, expected to admit first-year students in fall 2013, will build on the success of the University Honors Program, which began in 2004. It started with 75 students and increased to 450 students this past year. In addition to this university-wide program, there are currently more than 1,250 students housed in five college-specific honors programs.

An external review committee in 2009 recommended establishing an Honors College. In fall 2010, a task force under the direction of associate provost Dennis Savaiano was formed, and the group consulted with the University Senate, deans, the Teaching Academy, Purdue Student Government and each college.

The Honors College will replace the University Honors Program and the existing college honors programs. It will provide central recruiting, advising, residential learning opportunities and cross-disciplinary opportunities to all honors students.

"Improving the honors program is a component of the New Synergies strategic plan, and this new college will attract and meet the needs of students who want to complement their academic degree with an honors degree," said Dale Whittaker, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs. "Courses will be taught in ways that address the specific learning characteristics of honors students, and we will focus on the grand challenges of society and Purdue's strengths in science and society.

"Purdue has the opportunity to provide a science- and society-oriented honors program in a research-intensive environment that Indiana high school graduates will not find elsewhere in the state."

Through its research, the task force determined that a central university honors college would be essential to enhance student excellence and success.

"Members of the task force are grateful to the faculty, staff and students who provided feedback that was critical to this proposal," Savaiano said. "In addition to utilizing campus resources, the task force also benchmarked our peers, conducted a literature review of the research related to learning, and consulted with national experts who focus on retention and student success in higher education. The task force's report was vetted with the campus community this spring, and there was a tremendous amount of support."

Requirements for an honors degree will likely include a common first-year seminar, honors courses and a capstone experience. The enrollment goal for the new college is 2,000 students.

Admission requirements will be determined in the upcoming academic year, and the development process will include strong faculty involvement, Whittaker said. Students who earn the honors degree will receive a transcript entry, an honors medallion to be worn at commencement and a separate diploma. An interim dean will be appointed to lead the program's development, and staff will be housed in Residence Halls space.

"All Purdue faculty will be invited to participate in the development of the Honors College, and a smaller working group will be essential to establish curricular, faculty appointment and admission requirements," Whittaker said. "The Honors College also will offer an environment where Purdue faculty can explore new teaching methods and learning practices and share those results with the university community."

Program implementation and associated costs for the new college will be covered by internal reallocations and gifts.

Writer:   Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources:   France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                    Dale A. Whittaker, 765-494-6970, dwhittak@purdue.edu

                    Dennis Savaiano, 765-494-0819, savaiano@purdue.edu