Honors College Director
new University Honors College (UHC) opened
its doors in the Fall Semester. Its purpose is to attract top scholars
to the university and place them in an environment that stimulates personal
growth. The Honors College offers interdisciplinary educational opportunities
that enhance the general curriculum as well as social and cultural opportunities.
In addition, honors students will take several Honors course together.
to join the program have distinguished themselves in high school or
at the university level with proven record of academic achievement,
leadership and community involvement. UHC participants will maintain
high academic standards and complete a senior project before graduation.
Located on the second
floor of Old Main, the Honors College is directed by Dr.
Carolyn R. Thompson. An Honors Council, comprised of professors
and administrators, has also been appointed to assist and guide the
Q. Tell us about
the first class of students admitted to the Honors College?
We have 25 students
in the inaugural University Honors College freshmen class, the class
of 2005. They are a very capable and energetic group. Average SAT scores
are approximately 1210 and entering GPA's are above 3.9. But beyond
grades, they are an equally interesting and diverse group. Two of our
students are instructors in Tae Kwon Do with 13 years of experience
between them. We have enough members who play musical instruments to
form a medium size group. One young woman began her volunteer activity
at the Robeson County Humane Society within a week of her arrival on
campus. The UHC web site will be totally renovated and far more interactional,
thanks to one of our scholars. We have two varsity soccer players. One
of the women is married, and she brings her husband to social events.
While none of these students has yet to declare a major, their interest
is widespread, including computer science, biology, chemistry, social
work, teacher education, history and English. Working with them and
the many other capable students here at UNC Pembroke reassures me about
the future of our nation. They are intelligent and caring, concerned
about the environment and the well being of our citizens.
Q. Are they all
freshmen, or did the UHC accept qualified upperclassmen?
This group is all
freshmen. We do have a limited number of students who are sophomores
and some juniors who have applied for admission to the Honors College.
Q. When the Honors
College matures, how many students will be in the program?
The National Collegiate
Honors Council, of which we are members, recommends that honors programs
not exceed five percent of the student body. With a projected enrollment
of 4,000 undergraduates, that will be approximately 200 students. Honors
programs tend to be about 60 percent women. We have 54 percent women.
All but one comes from North Carolina, from Charlotte to Jacksonville.
The largest number of students are from Cumberland County. We have two
students from Charlotte. Our out-of-state student is from Middletown,
Are all Honors College students given full scholarships?
No, there is no
scholarship money that is automatically awarded to students admitted
to the University Honors College. We wanted to separate academic performance
from scholarship assistance. Bruce Blackmon, director of Financial Aid,
has been helping our students obtain the scholarships, grants and loans
so that many of the UHC students have some kind of financial support.
Additionally, I would like to identify some funds that we could use
to recruit talented students to the program, and I am working with Lynda
Parlett in the Office of Development to identify funding sources for
Q. What is the
recruiting process like? Do they apply or are they recruited by your
office and the Office of Admissions?
The answer is both.
I will visit numerous high schools around the region and talk with guidance
counselors and advanced placement seniors about the enhanced opportunities
provided by the UHC. Guidance counselors can be instrumental in a student's
college selection. Additionally, when applications come into UNC Pembroke,
the Office of Admissions identifies those students with appropriate
GPA and SAT scores and sends their names and addresses to me. I will
send each of those students a letter with a UHC brochure, inviting them
to apply for admission to our program.
Q. Has the start-up
I would say remarkably
so, thanks to the interest and support of the Office of Admissions and
the Office of Financial Aid. The Housing Office and the Office of Students
Activities made arrangements to house these students together and helped
engage each of them in the UNC Pembroke experience. Our Honors faculty
this fall, Dr. Elizabeth Normandy and Dr. Monika Brown, are both superb
professors and offer a challenging academic experience. With the help
of Computing Services, we were able to get the UHC lounge and computer
lab up and running. I am delighted with the start up thus far.
Q. What Honors
courses are offered this fall, and what makes them "Honors"
Our goal in the
UHC is to create a "learning community" for the freshman experience.
Currently UHC students take freshmen seminar, English and Current World
Problems together. Next year, we will add Biology, another required
course, to the list. While we can't expect these students to stay together
as they enter disparate majors and choose very different elective, we
hope to enable a group cohesion in the first year, that will encourage
them to work together, to compete academically, and to set an academic
pace as they progress through four years at UNC Pembroke. Next semester
students will study together in a second English course and they will
take one of two Honors Seminars, Great Cultural Epochs with Dr. Robert
Brown and Frontiers in Human Behavior with Dr. Kathleen Rileigh. The
"HON" courses are interdisciplinary seminars that offer the
students an opportunity to examine interesting areas of study with some
of our outstanding faculty. These courses are only available to Honors
scholars. They carry higher reading requirements and enhanced expectations
from the faculty. In addition to those I have mentioned, Honors courses
include Contemporary Issues in Science and Technology, Modeling and
Analysis of Natural Systems, and a required research experience during
the junior and senior year. The research experience sets our Honors
program apart from many of the others in the state and region. Each
of our students will work with a faculty member in the major to undertake
and complete research in a particular area. The results of that effort
will be presented to the UHC at the conclusion of the student's senior
year. UHC students, who complete the requirements of the program, will
receive an "honors college" diploma and special recognition
There is a strong contingent from faculty and administration on the
Honors Council. What is their role?
The University Honors
College is an academic, cultural, service and learning experience. While
the original conception was Chancellor Meador's, we could not have undertaken
this effort without the commitment and support of all of the organizational
units on our campus. From admissions, to housing, to GPAC staff, to
faculty, to athletics, everyone has cooperated in the development of
the UHC. Consequently, we have wide ranging representation on the University
Honors Council, the oversight and support group that has created this
effort. I am pleased to say that the faculty who have taught UHC courses
this fall, are very pleased with their progress and have both said the
students are challenging and productive. I have even had faculty ask
me how they can offer a course in the UHC; that was a delight to hear.
Q. What social
and cultural enrichment activities have taken place and what activities
UHC students attended
the GPAC performance of "Ragtime," which was preceded by a
taped discussion of the "Making of Ragtime" with Whoppi Goldberg,
in which she reviewed the history of the era and the significance of
the individual characters as representatives of the era. They attended
the Erin Brockovich lecture and the Ralph Nader evening as well as other
guest speakers during the year. In November, the noted pianist Valerie
Zamora will meet with the UHC students and music students prior to her
Wednesday morning conference. Next semester, we plan a visit to the
North Carolina Museum of Art as well as other regional cultural opportunities.
I had hoped to be able to go to Washington, D.C., during the spring
semester, but we may have to postpone that trip until next year. North
Carolina has an annual meeting for the presentation of student research
that I hope we will attend in future years. I anticipate that several
Honors students will attend the regional collegiate Honors Council meetings
in Atlanta in the spring and will plan to participate in the national
conference in the fall, 2002. This program continues to evolve and I
expect that we will add new endeavors as we grow and mature.
Q. The Honors
program will no doubt evolve. What changes do you anticipate?
The Honors College,
like all the academic units in the institution, has a plan for future
growth and development. In addition to continued strong recruitment,
I think our major initiatives would be to identify funding for scholarships
for UHC students, to review and revise the core curriculum of Honors
seminars to be sure we are challenging our students effectively, and
to work on creating a new resources to support undergraduate research,
perhaps a center for undergraduate research that would support faculty
and the students they mentor with funds for undertaking research, support
for grants and contracts and money to attend regional and national conferences
to present their work.
For more information,
contact Dr. Carolyn R. Thompson
to University Newswire