From the Director's Desk

November 26, 2013

I am happy to report that the UM-Dearborn Campus Honors Program is thriving. A record 165 students were interviewed for admission to the Program in 2013, and 89 of them were invited. Using group interviews for a second year, Professors Rosano and Moran received the same positive response from students, who especially appreciated the opportunity to participate in discussions focused on the major themes of our curriculum.

Even as admissions grow, we are able to maintain the high quality of our incoming students. The average GPA of students admitted is 4.00 (identical to last year), while the average composite ACT score is 29, also the same as last year. Parsing ACT scores along the lines of standard ACT categories allows us to identify the particular strengths of our incoming student body. Our students scored highest in the areas of English and reading, followed by math and reasoning. Their high academic achievements received recognition in the form of academic scholarships. Twenty-four received Chancellor scholarships, 26 Deansí scholarships, and twenty-one Maize and Blue scholarships.

Iím also happy to report that faculty participation in the Honors Program is growing. Najda Rotner, an Assistant Professor of Art History, will be offering an Honors tutorial for the first time in Fall 2014, while Anna Muller, an Assistant Professor of History, will be debuting a new tutorial in the Winter of 2015. In addition, two former tutorial instructors, Larry Radine and Elizabeth Rohan, will be returning to the tutorial classroom, Larry in the Fall of 2014, and Liz in the Winter of 2015, while Joe Lunn, a Professor of History, will be returning to the Hist 264 classroom in the Fall of 2014. Aside from Professor Lunn, our distinguished staff of core course instructors remains the same: Professors Rayne Allinson (The Medieval Era), Scott DeGregorio (the Ancients and the Medieval Era), Tom Cobb (Four Trials and the Medieval Era), Gerry Moran (Four Trials and Contemporary Civilization), Mike Rosano (Four Trials, The Ancients, and the Moderns), Paul Sunstein (Four Trials and the Ancients), and Ron Stockton (the Moderns). The Campus Honors Program continues to expand educational opportunities and improve learning contexts for our students. In addition to capped classes, seminar formats, and dedicated teachers, we are continuing with our highly successful first-year tutorial program. Shane Henson, an April 2013 Honors Program and UM-Dearborn graduate, is our 2013-2014 Tutor III. He is maintaining a steady weekly pace of advising students, especially since essay season began.

On Aug 27 we kicked off the academic year with orientation of incoming students, all but one of whom attended. The theme of this yearís program was the idea of the Campus Honors Program as ďa worthy difficulty,Ē a theme appearing prominently on our first tee shirt, handed out to all students at the beginning of the day. A worthy difficulty encapsulates our understanding of the Honors Program as an academically worthy investment of studentsí time and effort. Students need not recoil from the Program because of its many difficulties, for the benefits of the program are enormous. They include mastery of critical thinking, reading, and writing skills, all of which are essential to success in work and life, and immersion in the great texts of Western Civilization. The morning phase of the program was highlighted by Professor Rosanoís overview of the Four Trials course, and the afternoon phase was devoted to discussion of the major themes of the summerís reading, including the Iliad, Samuel I and II of the Hebrew Bible, and The Apology of Socrates.

One of my main goals for the Campus Honors Program is a vibrant alumni association. Thanks to the determined efforts of two of our alumni (2012 graduates), Emma Slonina, and Christie Taylor, this is coming to pass. An Alumni association was formed in September, 2013, and the first association event, the Directorís Picnic, was held on October 19. There was a great turnout despite the rain, and since then an alumni association Newsletter is up and running. The association continues to work on collecting the names of all of our alumni and on organizing alumni into nodes for the purpose of creating networks and enhancing communication among all association members. My hope is to sponsor a Campus Honors Program reunion in the Spring of 2105.

Another one of my main goals is a vibrant Honors overseas program. Work is well underway on an Oxford University option, and plans are proceeding on a summer Great Texts Tour of Italy. People interested in news of progress in this area and of events taking place in the Honor Program in general may tune into our Facebook and Twitter sites, created and maintained by the unstoppable Emma Slonina.

December graduation is fast approaching, and we have recently learned that two of our graduates will be honored at commencement. Elizabeth Bastian will be receiving the Chancellorís Medallion, the highest honor bestowed on a graduating senior, and Pamela Yaacoub has been chosen to deliver the student commencement address. Congratulations to both of them; the awards are most richly deserved.

This edition of From The Directorís Desk is dedicated to the memory of Sid Bolkosky, who passed away on June 14 of this year. He is, and will continue to be, sorely missed.