I’ve recently been documenting the college’s plans to eliminate the Honors Program. Honors is on a list with several other valuable programs and services at the college, including Philosophy and Religion. Philosophy classes make up the majority of our honors social sciences offerings and have been instrumental for students expanding their critical thinking skills. Read honors instructor Caroline Lundquist’s article in the Eugene Weekly: “Philosophy is Dangerous.” It is difficult for me to imagine a college removing the opportunity for students to experience an honors education. It is inconceivable to me that a college would not offer courses in philosophy and religion. The Board of Education will vote today on whether or not to accept the administration’s proposed budget, including the program cuts.
I sent the following letter to President Spilde and the Board of Education. It is a slightly updated version of the comments I presented to the Board at an open comment session last month.
Dear President Spilde and Members of the Board of Education:
I am writing to ask that you reconsider eliminating the Lane Honors Program and instead allow us to significantly scale down the program until we have the resources available to scale it back up. I include below the comments I presented at a recent Board meeting, and I have added in the cost of maintaining a scaled down program.
When we built the Honors Program, we were tasked by the administration with modeling it after the Clark Honors College but tailoring it to Lane. We did that. We created a program based on national best practices and offering our students exceptional classes, intellectual and cultural events, articulation agreements with university honors programs, and opportunities for experiential learning and undergraduate research.
The difference between university honors programs and two-year college honors programs isn’t the quality of the education. It’s that two-year programs are also building honors students. Our students often have no prior honors experience, and they face the same challenges and obstacles as our non-honors students. Through our program, they develop their research skills, their sense of themselves as scholars, and their confidence, which allows them to transfer as Ford Scholars and McNair Scholars, to complete undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees. It changes their lives, and they credit Lane.
I appreciate the college’s budget challenges. When we created this program, we included the ability to scale down the program in leaner times and build it up again in the future. Using the existing honors classes that don’t cost anything more to run, reducing program coordination to a two-course release, and partnering with our newly rebuilt Phi Theta Kappa chapter will have a minimal impact on the budget. The total cost for this version is $17,000. The national honors organization and honors programs around the state sent you their support for this plan.
This is a matter of equity. If our students were at a university, they would have access to honors, and that speaks directly to our second core theme, Accessible and Equitable Learning Opportunities. A scaled down program requiring very few resources still supports our mission, core themes, and strategic directions; provides a valuable recruitment tool for our International Programs; and most importantly, offers our students the access to the honors education they so rightly deserve.
Thank you for considering this proposal.
Lane Honors Program