By Michelle Adams, Editor in Chief
An honors program designed to challenge Shenandoah University is in the works.
“The faculty at SU are in discussions about developing an undergraduate honors program…because we’ve recognized the need,” said Laurel Rodgers, the faculty committee chair and associate professor of biology. “The plan is this program would provide courses that go more in depth, [and provide] more breadth for students who want this experience.”
Additionally, “the honors program would be across [all] undergraduate programs,” according to Vice President of Academic Affairs, Adrienne Bloss. “And it will have both curricular and co-curricular possibilities, and we’ll have elements in general education, and in many majors as well. And there will be an interdisciplinary component.”
Bloss said that there may be the opportunity for experiential learning trips within the program, as well.
While a formal honors track is still years down the road, Rodgers said several honors-level classes are being offered in the coming semesters.
Two general education courses and three upper level courses are to be offered in spring 2017, she said.
Students must meet a minimum G.P.A. threshold to qualify for enrollment in these courses, but Rodgers said that this requirement is “more to protect the students…we don’t want them to be overwhelmed.”
“It’s not just something that’s harder,” Bloss said. “It’s not just a thing that you do more work. The point is to bring together challenge and opportunity in a way that really helps students that are ready for it develop as much as they can at that stage.”
“It’s going to really make a difference and be meaningful for these particular students,” she said.
Students are reacting positively to this opportunity.
“For as much as the tuition costs at a private school like SU, you would think there would be opportunities such as this one,” said English major Wyatt Dillon, 20. “I could see it helping the community by providing additional opportunities for students to advance their skills. It might also help students work harder to enter the [honors] courses.”
But Dillon is also concerned that this program may “cause a divide in the community.”
“Some students [may] believe that, because they are not in an advanced course, that their course is not as helpful or academically challenging,” he said. “In other words, the existence of advanced courses might send the message that anything not labeled advanced is not worth the money spent on it.”
Still, Rodgers, Bloss, and the members of the faculty committee are excited for the possibility of this program in the future.
“So many faculty and staff are really invested in [the creation of the program],” Bloss said. “And so many students are really excited about it.”