Committee to discuss methods for changing Honors Program into honors college

The Honors Program has been preparing for today’s meeting where a committee of faculty and honors students will discuss how to transform the current program into an honors college, said the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.The committee was set up to research different honors college models and find a model that suits TCU, said Nowell Donovan, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

In today’s meeting, the agenda will consist of committee members sharing information found by looking at other programs and ideas on how to develop the college, he said.

Peggy Watson, director of the Honors Program, said, “The goal is to offer more support to TCU’s honors students through advising and course selection.”

Watson said in a proposal for an honors college that the Honors Program, which has about 640 students, has reached its maximum potential and now needs to consider ways to improve, in part because of the increase in students and co-curricular activities taking place in the current honors program.

A retention study in 2005 showed that, on average, 12 percent of freshman who maintain a 3.6 GPA or higher do not return to TCU, according to Watson’s proposal. However, she said, preliminary reports on the 2004 class show less than 3 percent of this group of students who have been supported by the Honors Program did not return to TCU.

The proposed honors college would appoint faculty as honors professors for three years, which would allow faculty to focus on honors classes and better meet the needs of these students, Watson said.

This is different from the current Honors Program because professors for the Honors Program currently teach honors classes on their own time in addition to teaching other non-honors and sometimes other graduate classes, Donovan said.

With a revised program, the honors faculty would have more time to spend with students, said Joshua Long, president of the Honors Student Cabinet.

Watson said those involved with the Honors Program are also trying to raise money to increase scholarships for honors students.

However, the money will not come from tuition, said Mickey Ley, a sophomore political science major and Honor’s Cabinet member. The Honors Program is turning to alumni and people in the community for funding.

Ley, who is also an SGA representative, said SGA passed a resolution last spring, one vote short of unanimity, and also said students agree with the idea of an honors college.

“This would increase the status of the college, and therefore, the university,” Ley said, “which would make everybody’s education more valuable.”

Becoming an honors college would provide more resources and opportunities to students, said Long, a senior finance and accounting major.

In his address at the University Convocation, Chancellor Victor Boschini said he would like to increase the number of Chancellor’s Scholars from the current 49 students to 160 students.

The honors college would include the Honors Program and students in the Chancellor’s Scholar Program and the Community Scholars Program. It would also allow improved advising and an extended lecture series in addition to the Fogelson Forum, according to Watson’s proposal.