An administrative task force at Southern Oregon University has been developing a project dubbed the Honors College, a unique and challenging learning environment that combines real-world experience with classroom curriculum.
“The Honors College is an opportunity for like-minded students to work together in a more challenging and engaging way,” said Angel McDonald, SOU’s special programs assistant and one of the key developers of the program.
McDonald said the Honors College, scheduled to launch next fall, is envisioned to be a mix of many different types of programs, drawing on the resources available to the university from the surrounding community.
Other faculty members responsible for the program’s development include Professors Fredna Grimland, director of music education, and Prakash Chenjeri, associate professor of philosophy and head of the Philosophy and current Honors Program.
Chenjeri said the idea for the Honors College was conceived two years ago, when SOU President Mary Cullinan and Provost James Klein voiced a desire to strengthen the university by attracting high-achieving students.
“We want to attract high-achieving students and give them high academic curriculum combined with real-world experience,” said Chenjeri. “Every student will also be working with a community mentor. A one-size-fits-all approach is what we want to avoid.”
In developing a vision for the program, Chenjeri traveled the country to sample best practices in similar programs used at other universities and colleges, most notably the Glynn Family Honors Program at the University of Notre Dame and the Honors Program at the University of New Mexico.
“You [will] find aspects of different programs combined to make uniqueness an integral part of SOU’s program,” said Chenjeri.
Chenjeri and McDonald both cited the community mentor aspect of the Honors College at SOU as one of the unique feature of the program compared to other honors colleges.
“I think the community mentor will be the biggest selling point,” said McDonald.
The application deadline for the Honors College is set for March 10, 2013. Applications are open to transfer students and high school seniors or graduates. In addition to having been admitted to SOU, applicants are required to have a minimum cumulative high school or previous college GPA of 3.5, two letters of recommendation and a “carefully researched and logically developed short essay” responding to one of three topics given on the application website.
For more information or to apply, visit http://www.sou.edu/honorscollege/.