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Rules and Structure of the UHV Honors Program

Rules and Structure of the UHV Honors Program

The Honors Program at UHV will fulfill the needs of students who are academically talented and motivated. We seek students who are searching for a university experience that offers enriched opportunities and challenges.

Students will be recruited for the Honors Program through presentations during orientation and other student events. The director of the Honors Program will work with UHV’s recruiting offices to identify incoming students who are candidates for the Honors Program. Application materials will be sent to students who meet application criteria. The goal will be to attract the top 5 to 10% of incoming students. There is no deadline to join the Honors Program—after the first semester students with high GPAs will be offered a chance to join the program. Students who transfer or join late will be considered for inclusion as well.

I. Basic Requirements and Enumerated Benefits

Basic Requirements for Honors Program Graduation:

Graduation:

  • Completion of an UHV program according to all UHV policies
  • Enrollment in a Face-to-face class every long semester
  • Completion of a School Honors Track 
  • Completion of a Senior Project
  • Participation in two Honors Program activities per academic year while enrolled in the Honors Program. (Event approved by the director may be substituted.)
  • A 3.5 GPA for all college coursework—including transfer credit 

Graduation with Distinction:

  • All of the above
  • 9 credit-hours of lower-division Honors Coursework—not including the Honors Track section of UNIV 1300.
  • Basically, the difference between graduation and graduation with distinction is that those graduating with distinction will be those students who start at UHV (or transfer very early). This means they are taking Honors classes as part of their core requirements. Transfer students typically come in core-complete or nearly core-complete from community colleges. Students transferring  from community colleges honors programs will be considered for this distinction.

Requirements to Maintain Good Standing:

  • Maintain a GPA of 3.5
  • Must not earn Ds or Fs (students may petition the Honors Program Director to re-take a course)
  • Attend two Honors events per semester (unless excused by the Honors Program Director) 

Honors Program Probation in Case of Loss of Good Standing:

  • Students will be placed on one semester of probation in a case where they violate standards.
  • Students will work closely with the Honors Program Director during probation. 
  • Students on probation will retain all privileges and general expectations of Honors Program students.
  • Failure to correct deficiencies during the one semester probation will result in the student being removed from the Honors Track—this will not affect their otherwise good standing as a UHV student.
  • Longer probation periods can be requested from the Honors Track Director in cases of legitimate need (course rotation prevents a re-take, medical need, family crisis, etc.).

Honors Program Benefits:

  • Honors Program Director (or designee) will act as Student Success Coach for Honors students.
  • Honors Track Common area/work space will be provided
  • Special UNIV 1300: First Year Seminar for incoming students
  • Honors Colloquium every semester
  • Special graduation regalia for Honors Graduates and Honors Graduates with Distinction
  • Honors Program Student Organization membership

Basic Admission Criteria:

Freshman:

  • Letter of application addressing qualifications and college goals to be reviewed and approved by Honors Track Committee
  • One of the following:
    • SAT (Reading + Math) score of 1150
    • ACT score of 25
    • Graduate of the top 15% of a ranked high school class
    • International Baccalaureate degree
    • Two letters of recommendation from high school teachers and approval from the Honors Track Committee 

Transfer Student Admission:

  • There is no deadline to join the Honors Track—after the first semester students with high GPAs will be offered a chance to join the program
  • Letter of application addressing qualifications and college goals to be reviewed and approved by Honors Track Committee
  • 3.5 GPA on all college coursework (this is a necessary but not sufficient criterion)
  • Sample of coursework or other project which demonstrates academic distinction

II. Admission Process

The Director of the Honors Program will work with UHV’s recruiting offices to identify incoming students who might be successful in the Honors Program. General criteria are listed in section I. It is the goal of this program to attract the top 5 - 10% of incoming students. See the enumerated criteria in section I for detail on proposed admission criteria. Students who transfer or join late will be considered for inclusion as well. These students should be working at a similar level to students who join as freshmen.

Adjustment of the admission criteria should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the top 5 - 10% of students are being identified and served.

III. Honors Program Courses

Lower-division Classes:

The Honors Program will maintain control over the coursework related to the core and offered at the lower-division level. These classes will generally be open to upper-division students but are intended for lower-division students in their first two years. No course requirements or descriptions will be changed. Lower-division courses will be offered as special sections of existing Core Curriculum courses and open only to Honors Program students. These courses will be designated courses of the “Honors Program Core” to distinguish them from the three school Tracks. Honors Program Core courses will supplement regular course work with material that integrates extra or complex ideas. This part of the program can be rolled-out as early as the fall semester of 2017.

In all cases, any Honors Track Core course must meet all criteria of the catalog and policies of UHV.

Upper Division Students—School Honors Tracks:

Once Honors Program students become upper division students, they will need courses specifically in their major area. Each school will establish an Honors Track to allow students to supplement upper division course work in their majors. These tracks will be developed in coordination of the Honors Track Director. Assuming a 2017 launch of the Honors Program Core, there will be plenty of time for each school to prepare a Track. Tracks would need to be complete by fall 2019.

Arts and Sciences has already developed an Honors Track which is compatible with this proposal and could work as a template for other school-specific tracks to be developed. In A&S at this time, it is not practicable to offer dedicated upper-division Honors Track sections as anticipated enrollment is not large enough. Therefore, a system Honors Track Contract Courses have been developed courses will allow students to supplement upper division course work in their majors. Any upper division course can, with the consent of the instructor and the coordination of the Honors Track Director, be converted into an Honors Contract Course. Students and instructors work together to develop a project to supplement the course or augment an existing assignment within the first two weeks of courses. Students are required to complete at least three Contract Course and a Senior Project. Students are additionally required to take at least one Contract Course per long semester. Accommodations are made for part-time students.

Senior Project:

Each Track will coordinate, in addition to other requirements, a senior project appropriate to the needs of the student. Every Honors Program student will enroll in an independent study or other appropriate senior course with a professor of their choosing to complete a senior project. This should be done in their last year of coursework. The Honors Senior Project can take the form of research project, a significant piece of writing, a creative project, or some other project deemed appropriate for their field. The student’s major professor will coordinate with the Honors Track Director. Projects will be part of an Honors Track Colloquium to be organized by the Honors Track Student Organization in consultation with the Honors Track Director.

IV. Proposed Progress through Honors Program

In this section, I will sketch the progress a typical student would go through in her time in the Honors Program as an illustration of the program. Students will, of course, modify the order of this proposal as it is rare for students to follow the traditional four-year path. The Honors Program Director will maintain records and meet with students to insure that they are progressing adequately.

Before freshman year:

Application materials will be sent to students who meet the application criteria and application letters will be solicited. The Honors Program Director will work with recruiting and other offices in student services. Further, the Honors Program Director will address orientation groups and other meetings of students (Jag days, Jag Journey and the like). 

Freshman year:

In the first semester of the freshmen year, students will take a section of UNIV 1300: First Year Seminar as a specially designated Honors Learning Community. This section of UNIV 1300 will be linked with an Honors Program Core class and will orient students to the Honors Program and to university life in general. There will be an additional Honors Core Class offered during the fall aimed at sophomore students (but not closed to freshmen). In the spring semester, at least one Honors Program Core course will be available for students to take.

Sophomore year:

As students works through this year and finalizes their decision on a major, they will have the option to take Honors Track Core classes through the year. Students should have accumulated nine credit hours of Honors Program work by the end of this year (not including UNIV 1300).

Junior year:

Students will begin working on their major plans and working on school appropriate Honors Tracks. Students should, during this year, work out a plan with the appropriate Honors Track Coordinator to insure that they can complete all the requirements to graduate. This is the natural place for a transfer student to join the program.

Senior year:

In addition to other School Honors Track requirements, students will devise a senior project. This project will be part of a colloquia or conference to be organized by the Honors Program Student Organization and Director. Students will receive special regalia at graduation and enjoy other recognitions such as a special Honors Program reception with their families. Of course, a close relationship with faculty will likely benefit students as they transition to careers and/or graduate school. If a student does not formally complete Honors Program work, there is no penalty and they will graduate according to the normal policies of UHV.

V. Student Involvement

An Honors Track Student Organization will be established for students enrolled in the Honors Track. The Honors Track Director will advise this student organization. The organization will assist in organizing Honors Track colloquia and other events. Importantly for the culture of the university, this organization will as provide a social venue for Honors Track Students. The president and vice president of the Honors Track Student Organization will sit on the Honors Track Committee.

Other projects that the Honors Track Student Organization might undertake to further student involvement might include:

  • Assisting in organizing a research conference
  • Developing service learning projects
  • Organizing social events appropriate for university life
  • Becoming involved in the governance of the Honors Track
  • Assisting the Honors Track Director in recruiting students at orientation 

Students will also have some benefits that are more social in nature. These are appropriate because a significant goal of the Honors Program is to build strong ties among students and between students and faculty. Thus, the Program should include realistic opportunities for students and faculty to engage in academically-minded social events. To this end, the Honors Program should involve some fieldtrips or other events based on building relationships. Further, Students in the Honors Program should be afforded physical space for their work. Several simple accommodations can be made to create this space. A wing in the dorm should be provided to house students who have similar academic goals. An office or small suite can be set aside as an Honors Lounge for the use of Honors students. 

One example of student involvement and outreach is the Undergraduate Research Conference A&S is sponsoring this semester. This conference invites undergraduate researchers from both UHV and other institutions to present their work. This is a fine example of honors-type work because it encourages high academic standards, creates a community of scholars in dialogue, and emphasizes that the work done here compares well to the work occurring at other institutions. Similarly, projects like this help students develop a CV and hone their presentation skills. Projects like this would be emphasized and sponsored by the Honors Program—and the Budget in Section VIII includes funds to provide for prizes, conference costs, and publicity.

VI. Role of the Honors Program Leaders

Honors Program Director:

The Honors Program Director is a faculty member selected for his or her ability to build and maintain relationships with students as well as the administrative ability to maintain the complexities this program. The Honors Track Director will act as the Student Success Coach for Honors Students. The Director of the Honors Program should report to the Associate Provost of the University College (or equivalent administrator).

The Honors Program Director will:

  • Ensure that there are two Honors Track Core courses in the fall and one in the spring semester
    • the UNIV 1300 section does not count toward the 15 hours of courses on the Honors Track for graduation
    • The Honors Track section of UNIV 1300 will focus on the particular needs of advanced and bright students and might require some modification from the typical UHV 1300 syllabus
    • Some Honors Courses might be “Combo Courses” in which a normal class has a group of honors students who break out into a small group and complete different assignments.
  • Teach the Honors Program sections of UNIV 1300 or designate a replacement
  • In the spring semesters, call for proposals for Honors Program Core courses and, with Honors Committee assistance, select courses for the fall and spring Honors Track Core
  • Ensure that an adequate and meaningful rotation of courses are offered for the diverse needs of the Honors Track students
  • Act as faculty advisor to the Honors Track Student Organization
  • Coordinate with Student Affairs and Academic Affairs on student requirements to fulfill roll as Student Success Coach
  • Coordinate with recruiting to identify potential students
  • Coordinate with the University College or other such unit to coordinate overlapping programs.

Roll of Individual School Honors Track Coordinators:

The individual Honors Track coordinators will be appointed by the dean of each school with the approval of the appropriate school’s faculty and of the Honors Program Director. It is advisable that the Honors Track Coordinators be involved in the day-to-day life of the main UHV campus. The responsibilities of the Track Coordinators are as follows:

  • Create and maintain a unique track that engages upper-division students in Honors work
  • Counsel transfer students
  • Assist in recruiting transfer students
  • Assist individual faculty members as necessary
  • Maintain high academic standards in their Track
  • Coordinate with other Track Coordinators
  • Assist the Director as needed.
  • The Honors Program Director can act as the Track Coordinator for the School Honors Track in which he or she is housed

The Honors Program Committee:

Additionally, the Honors Program Director will organize and chair a committee to assist in governing the Honors Track. This committee will help select courses, advise on program needs, and offer guidance and assistance in Honors Track events. The committee will consist of the following voting membership:

  • The Honors Program Director (who chairs)
  • The Honors Track Coordinators
  • All professors teaching Honors Track Core Classes that academic year
  • The President and Vice President of the Honors Track Student Organization

VII. Compatibility with Current Programs

Nothing suggested by the Honors Program should contradict or change any part of any degree program or UHV policy. All ideas presented in this proposal are intended to supplement existing and future programs and not to, in any way, circumvent any requirement. Honors curriculum should address the advanced needs of students but still provide all the basic requirements of a university education. In any case where a particular program is not compatible with the Honors Program, the Honors Program Director and the Honors Track coordinator will modify the Honors Program requirements to the needs of the individual student. A student given this accommodation will be treated the same as any other Honors Track student and afforded the same benefits.