Honors Program hires assistant director in preparation of college

A new position in the Honors Program has been created to help the growing program in its transition to becoming the Honors College in 2009.Peggy Watson, director of the Honors Program, announced at the Honors Achievement Celebration on Feb. 11 that English professor Ron Pitcock will become assistant director of the program, beginning fall 2007.

“The Honors Program has grown so much recently that it needs more than just one person,” Pitcock said. “This is just one way of meeting those needs.”

Though the program has not increased the number of students invited into the program, which is generally around 250 incoming students, the retention rate has increased. In the past, the retention rate from freshman to sophomore year has been around 85 percent. This year, that number increased to 93 percent.

Watson has attributed the increased retention rate to improvements in advising and housing, both of which, she said, are necessary for the expansion to an entire Honors College.

“This growth was instrumental in supporting the Honors College,” Watson said. “It shows us that we’re on the right path and we’re getting better.”

Pitcock will assist the program in advising and he will teach three honors classes a semester.

The addition of Pitcock’s position is one of several steps taken by the program in preparing for the transition to the Honors College, which will occupy a section of the current Student Center upon its completion.

A committee of seven faculty members met in the fall and will meet again this semester to discuss objectives and goals for the new Honors College.

Some of the goals discussed include: providing more support through advising, allowing more points of entry into the program, becoming more involved with student affairs and increasing recruiting of students.

Watson said the committee will submit a plan to Provost Nowell Donovan by the end of the summer with specifics regarding the new college.

Honors students will also see a change in housing in the upcoming fall semester. Currently, honors students reside in Moncrief, Sherley and Clark halls. Beginning in the fall, honors students will also be housed in Milton Daniel Hall.

“Having a single area will really help build the feeling of community,” Honors Cabinet President Laura Hardin said. “Even if it’s not as nice, it gives us an opportunity for a more cohesive community.”

Milton Daniel will undergo minor renovations over the summer to convert the dorm into a coed residence, by adding women’s restrooms and making fraternity chapter rooms into study lounges, complete with new furniture.