Author Archives: Ce Rosenow

HONORS IS BACK!

On Wednesday, I met with Executive Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Jennifer Frei and Executive Dean of Student Affairs Kerry Levett to discuss the Honors Program. The meeting was at Jennifer’s invitation, and both she and Kerry wanted to figure out how to maintain a scaled back version of the Honors Program and an active Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapter. We decided to bring the issue up in a meeting that Stacey Kiser and I had scheduled with the President,  Interim Vice President, and Jennifer on Thursday morning to discuss expanding undergraduate research at Lane.

When Jennifer, Stacey, and I met with President Marge Hamilton and Interim Vice President Jane Harmon on Thursday, we began by discussing undergraduate research at Lane. Both Marge and Jane were very supportive of expanding this high impact practice for Lane’s students and directed us to move forward with the work.

Before we could bring up the Honors Program, however, Marge brought it up. She made it absolutely clear that she wanted an Honors Program and a PTK chapter at the college and would support bringing both of these honors opportunities back for students.

I’ll post more information in a few weeks after attending the initial planning meeting scheduled for early April. For now, it’s time to celebrate!

HONORS IS BACK!

Honors Independent Study

This term, we did not have the enrollment to run the HON 201_H Invitation to Inquiry Seminar. The class is a prerequisite for the HON 202_H Capstone Seminar in the spring, and it is also required for program completion. We waived these requirements so that the students can still take Capstone and finish the program.

I felt, however, that the students who had signed up for the class were missing one of the key opportunities of being in the program. In place of the seminar, I’ve arranged for independent study (HON 298_H) with these students to try to approximate some of what they would have been able to do in the seminar.

The independent study class is only one credit, so I’ve needed to be sensitive to workload. The primary requirements for the class are:

  • several one-hour, discussion-based meetings during the term
  • readings on critical thinking and on the role of Western research in colonization
  • building an ePortfolio

While it’s not a perfect solution, I do think that the students will be better prepared for Capstone. 

I also have to say that it has been so much fun meeting in my office and having discussions about the readings! Each time, I’m reminded that one of the benefits of honors education is that honors students teach each other and the students and instructor all learn.

Honors Program Still In Question

I’ve been waiting to post until there was more clarity about whether a scaled down version of the Honors Program would be allowed to continue. I can share what I know at this point.

Last fall, the administration considered having the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) advisor for our Sigma Zeta Chapter also do a small amount of program administration.

To date, however, the new PTK advisor has not been hired and the program coordination has not been aligned with PTK work.

The existing honors classes continue to be offered this year so that current honors students can finish the program.

More as I know it . . .

Honors Event Inspires Guest Speaker to Further Inquiry

Last February, the Honors Program invited scholar, Sharon Schuman, to campus to discuss her book, Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World.

Sharon Schuman

As I described in a post after the event, Schuman extends Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on the dialogic nature of language to the concept of freedom. She argues that freedom is dialogic. The more perspectives one can see from, the freer one will be.

This event was well-attended by students, faculty, staff, and members of the Eugene community. During the Q&A session, a student who was not in the Honors Program commented that Schuman seemed to think that polarization was a bad thing. She asked a thought-provoking question: “What’s wrong with polarization?”

Schuman was so intrigued by the student’s question that she continued thinking about it and whether there were positive aspects to polarization. Several months later, she wrote an essay in response. It was published in today’s Register-Guard newspaper as a Guest Viewpoint: “Polarization is Easy; Seeing the Other Side is Hard.” She will also post it on her website, Dialogic Freedom, and I’ll link to that post, as well, once it is up.

The Schuman event and follow-up essay exemplify so much of what is valuable about honors education at community colleges and specifically at Lane Community College:

  • encouraging student engagement in intellectual and creative activities with prominent scholars;
  • creating spaces for learning outside the classroom;
  • bringing together members of the Lane and Eugene communities to consider contemporary scholarship that is highly-relevant to today’s world;
  • engaging diverse perspectives; and
  • leading to increased critical thinking and broadening the discussion to a significantly wider audience.

In short, the event supported the college’s Core Learning Outcomes and its Core Themes. It is one of many examples of how honors contributes to mission fulfillment and of the valuable service that Lane Community College provides to our community. 

Update on Honors Program Status

I have been focusing on undergraduate research, student opportunities, and student accomplishments in my last posts because those topics represent so much of what honors education is about.

Unfortunately, I do need to acknowledge that this month the Board of Education officially accepted the college’s budget proposal, including the elimination of the Honors Program. Next year, we will offer the existing honors classes, including the two honors seminars, so that students can complete the program and be eligible for transfer agreements. There will be no program coordination and no honors events, just the classes. After next year, the program will be gone.

I plan to continue blogging here about honors at Lane and honors education in general through next year.

Undergraduate Research Materials

As a follow-up to my recent post on the Honors Spring Symposium, I’m sharing photos of the research poster and pamphlets created by the Capstone Seminar students as ways to share some of their research findings:

Morality Legislation Research Poster

Research Pamphlet Containing Information on Alcohol Education and Sexual Assault

Spring 2017 Symposium

What an event! The students presented their research findings in two sessions separated by a short break. The first group — Sam, Hayden, Holly, Emma, and Paige — addressed morality legislation in a panel discussion. They described their methodology, used women’s reproductive rights as their primary case study, and then elaborated on how the methodology could be applied to thinking critically about other moral issues that have been, or continue to be, legislated.

Morality Legislation Discussion Panel

The second group, Jack and Gus, opened with a cover of Lady Gaga’s song, “Til It Happens to You,” performed by Jack.

Jack just after finishing his song.

This performance was followed by Gus reading his paper and sharing slides describing many facts and statistics on alcohol education at universities and its potential impact on reducing sexual assaults.

Gus presenting his paper.

This segment concluded with Jack describing the shortcomings of colleges and universities in addressing the realities of alcohol consumption by student and performing a demonstration measuring the recommended amount of alcohol safely consumed per hour vs the actual yet often unrecognized amount of alcohol contained in a typical solo cup of Jungle Juice.

The students also created a research poster, brochure, and website. I will post links to them once their are available.

I have no doubt that these students will continue to pursue research interests during their time at Lane and at their transfer institutions. I hope they will also decide to pursue graduate degrees given their intellects, research skills, and passion for learning.

 

Undergraduate Research Field Trips

In my last posts, I noted the college’s plans to eliminate the Honors Program. Although the Board of Education has not officially voted on the final budget, it will do so at tomorrow’s Board meeting. When I know what next year’s version of honors will look like as students complete the program, I will add a post with that information. In the meantime, I want to focus on what the Honors Program has been about for seven years: building scholars and providing opportunities for undergraduate research.

In the Invitation to Inquiry Seminar held each winter, the students visit the University of Oregon’s Special Collections Library. There are previous posts describing this event and sharing photos on this blog.

In the Capstone Seminar held each spring, the students visit the University of Oregon’s (UO) Undergraduate Research Symposium, the Lane Community College Poster Day, and Oregon State University’s (OSU) Honors Thesis Fair. They also put on their own Honors Spring Symposium (I’ll blog about this soon as the symposium is tomorrow!).

There are several benefits to attending the UO’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. These benefits include becoming more familiar with, and comfortable on, the UO campus; seeing examples of research posters; reading a range of abstracts in the symposium program; and attending panel presentations. All of these benefits allow the students to see their research in context of other student research, to build confidence, and to take what they learn from the symposium and apply it to their own projects and assignments in the seminar. In short, this field trip supports the college’s Core Learning Outcome: Apply Learning.

Visiting the college’s own poster day builds on the UO visit by showing students the research projects other students at our college are engaged in and the quality of their posters. This event is organized by honors science faculty, Stacey Kiser, who also team-teaches the two honors seminars with me. Viewing the posters and talking with fellow students helps the seminar students see their work in the context of fellow Lane students.

Lane Poster Day

Another example of a Lane science poster.

Finally, the trip to the OSU provides examples of the research and educational experiences of other honors students. We have an information session at the OSU Honors College where the students learn about the requirements for transfer students and see the honors lounge, workroom, and classrooms. 

OSU Honors College Info Session

We also review the abstracts for the honors posters, walk through the poster session, and talk with students about their work.

Students viewing OSU research posters.

This trip provides a context for honors research, presents sample abstracts and posters that the students can consider when creating their own, and helps make them more comfortable on the OSU campus. It was gratifying to hear students talking about applying to the OSU Honors College after our visit!

Having seen the presentations, poster, and pamphlet the students will share at the Honors Spring Symposium tomorrow, I know the value of these field trips and the impact they have on the students’ own research and on their sense of themselves as scholars moving forward into their academic careers.

 

Honors Instructor Responds to Proposed Elimination of Philosophy Program

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.

Letter to the Board of Education and President Spilde

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.

Sincerely,

Ce Rosenow

Faculty Coordinator

Lane Honors Program