Honors College task force focusing on student success and outcomes

October 31, 2011

A new task force is exploring curriculum development, recruitment, scholarships and other key aspects of Purdue's Honors College, which is expected to admit first-year students in fall 2013.

"At this point, the task force is focused on creating a curriculum that helps students become leaders and scholars as well as become engaged in their communities," says  Dennis Savaiano, interim dean of the Honors College, and professor of nutrition science. "Our goal is to recruit a new population to Purdue: students who want a strong academic discipline education as well as a broadening liberal education."

The task force consists of 51 faculty members from all academic colleges and Purdue Libraries, 28 staff members from 18 different units and 13 students from five different colleges. Members are divided into six working groups focused on the following areas:

* Curricula, led by Jeff Karpicke, assistant professor of psychological sciences.
* Faculty appointment/involvement, led by John Cushman, Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Science and professor of mathematics.
* Postgraduate opportunities, led by Riall Nolan, professor of anthropology.
* Recruitment and admissions, led by Rosalee Clawson, professor of political science.
* Residential and co-curricular activities, led by Vicki Simpson, clinical assistant professor of nursing.
* Undergraduate scholarships, led by Barbara Dixon, associate dean for administration in the College of Liberal Arts.

Savaiano says the working groups' discussions are guided by six principles. The Honors College must complement the academic colleges, be diverse and build student leadership, scholarship and engagement. The college also will integrate residential, co-curricular and curricular learning opportunities, promote innovative learning approaches and enhance the student profile.

"Our working groups are having very creative conversations," Savaiano says. "The task force is focused on student success and outcomes."

The working groups are expected to give initial reports to the entire task force in November, and then follow with final reports in December. Those reports will be turned into a white paper expected to go to the provost and University Senate in early winter.

This spring, the Honors College will focus on faculty governance, communication plans for admissions, and recruiting.

In the fall, the Honors College will look to students in Purdue's learning communities for  feedback on the college's curricular efforts.
"Our intention is to have all of the honors learning communities living in the same residence hall," Savaiano says. "This will give us the opportunity to test some of the curricular ideas being put forward as well as refine the freshman experience."

The Honors College, approved by the Board of Trustees on July 12, will bring together the University Honors Program and the College honors programs. The new Honors College will provide students with central recruiting, advising, residential learning opportunities and cross-disciplinary opportunities.