BOV Discusses Honors Program

The University of Mary Washington’s Board of Visitors met on Nov. 17 to discuss present and future plans for the university.  One of the items on the agenda for Friday morning was the forthcoming honors program.

The presentation, led by Richard Finkelstein, dean of the college of arts and sciences, and Kelli Slunt, professor of chemistry, proposed ideas and topics that would contribute to the creation of a new honors program at UMW.

“Having an honors program has been long discussed at Mary Washington,” said Finkelstein.  He also said that official work on the program began a little over a year ago.

Finkelstein views the honors program as a “cauldron of new ideas” that would help to develop teaching across the school’s curriculum, regardless of whether or not students are enrolled in the program.

Central to the idea behind the program is what would be included with the first-year experience. The focus would be on both co-curricular and pre-matriculation activities in order to help tie a UMW education with careers outside of college.

Additionally, there would be an emphasis on internships and increased undergraduate research.

Many of the co-curricular activities would also be open to students outside of the honors program.

There would be no more than 50 students admitted to the honors program per year. That number includes both incoming freshmen who were admitted and current UMW students who choose to transfer into the program.

The requirements for freshmen would be at least 3.9 cumulative GPA, and a 1300 on the SATs.  Students who matriculate into the program would have to have a 3.2 GPA from UMW.

“We are really going for some of the best students one can attract in Virginia,” Finkelstein said.

The presentation continued by discussing some of the proposed seminars and honors courses that faculty have pitched for the program.  Finkelstein made the point that there is a “robust number of courses that have already come in for a very small number of students.”

Finkelstein later clarified that those students not in the honors program could also sign up for honors courses if they choose to.

One perk for students in the program would include a minimum $1,000 that would be put towards undergraduate research.  The hope is that this would help to bring more resources into undergraduate research.

Some of the other perks would be preferential registration for courses, scholarships and more alumni engagement opportunities.

Overall, Finkelstein said that the program is unique due to its “general emphasis on leadership, and its definition of leadership as something more than intellectual success.”

The honors program is set to begin next year, with the first year of the program only including freshmen.

Additionally, on Saturday morning, junior Ryley Trahan made an appeal to the BOV on tuition increases.

Trahan claims that when students enroll at UMW, “admissions should tell them how much their four years is going to cost, total,” as “increasing tuition on students already enrolled in the University is forcing students to make a decision between financial security and being educated.”

Eventually, Trahan hopes that there will be a “legislative follow up from the BOV” as he is looking out for “the economic future of my classmates.”

Photo by Emily Montgomery.

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