Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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

Whither Honors?

For seven years, I have worked on building the Lane Honors Program. In order to help build and coordinate this program, I have drawn on my experience teaching at the Clark Honors College, my participation at National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) conferences and on NCHC committees, and the extremely valuable input and engagement from Lane students, faculty, and management. In particular, the Honors Leadership Team has guided this work with dedication and wisdom.

The program has faced challenges from its inception. These challenges included faculty resistance to a program initiated by the administration, a misperception that honors education is elitist, a misunderstanding among some advisors and faculty that the honors classes did not count toward transfer requirements, and an ever-changing combination of managers and faculty on the program’s core team.

We overcame these challenges and provided an exceptional honors educational opportunity to Lane’s students based on best practices and the needs of our student population. Our students have presented their research at symposia and conferences, and they have published their work. We have seen students go on to become McNair Scholars, Ford Scholars, complete undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and law degrees. We have heard from former students that their honors experience changed their lives.

In the current climate of declining enrollment and substantial budget deficit, however, the college has recommended to the Board of Education that the Lane Honors Program be cut.

Eliminating the Honors Program is not the answer.

The second of the college’s core themes is Accessible and Equitable Learning Opportunities. Honors directly supports this core theme. If our students were beginning at their educations at four-year colleges or universities, they would have access to honors education. Experiencing honors at Lane allows them to develop their identities as scholars, honors students, and transfer students who can and should pursue higher educational goals.

From my experience in the NCHC, I know there are many formats a two-year college honors program can take. I also know that central to any of these formats is an agility that lets the program be responsive to changing budgetary and enrollment situations. Our program has that agility. We can capable of restructuring the program to have a minimal impact on the budget while continuing to offer honors education to our students. This restructuring allows us to use our existing infrastructure and to keep an honors program in place that can be scaled back up in the future.

Most importantly, restructuring rather than eliminating the Lane Honors Program allows the college to offer students the honors opportunities they so rightly deserve.

Several students and I will be speaking at an open comment session at the Board of Education meeting this evening. I will continue posting about the future of the Lane Honors Program and the efforts to save it.

Students Present at Regional Honors Conference

Last weekend, two honors students presented at the Western Regional Honors Council’s (WRHC) conference in Ashland, Oregon at Southern Oregon University (SOU). The following members of SOU’s Honors College organized the event: Ken Mulliken, Executive Director; Liesa Morrow-Bratcher, Office Specialist; Prakash Chenjeri, Faculty. SOU Honors WRHC Interns Lauren Aldana, Riley Evetts, Briana Morgan, and Micaela Saling also worked on the conference.

The WRHC is our regional chapter of the National Collegiate Honors Council, and I attend the chapters meetings each year at the national conference. I’ve been waiting for a conference to be held near enough to our college that we could afford to send students.

Tonyae Meeks presented, “Human and Environmental Health vs. The Waste Management System,” based on the research she conducted in Eileen Thompson’s honors WR 121 class.

Gus Smith’s presentation, “Production, Adaptation and Iconography of the Oresteia and Greek Theatre,” shared his research findings from Aryn Bartley’s honors Introduction to Drama class.

His historical research was also shared with the college drama department to inform this year’s production of the The Oresteia Project.

Poster for The Oresteia Project

Honors faculty member, Aryn Bartley, accompanied the students to the conference. The Honors Program provided tickets to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s (OSF) production of Julius Caesar on Friday night.

The OSF’s director, Cynthia Rider, gave the conference’s keynote speech on Saturday evening.

Gus is currently enrolled in the Honors Capstone Seminar. I’m sure his experience this weekend will inform his group research project and the symposium he will help organize later this term, and I’m also sure that Tonyae’s experience will impact her work in the seminar next year.

Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World

Yesterday, the Honors Program played host to a special event: Sharon Schuman speaking about her book, Freedom and Dialogue in a Polarized World.

Sharon Schuman

Schuman’s work is interdisciplinary and drew support from across the campus. The event was co-sponsored by the Library; the departments of Communication, English, and Philosophy; and Student Life and Leadership Development.

Schuman uses Mikhail Bakhtin’s work on the dialogic nature of language and extends it to the concept of freedom. She argues that freedom is also dialogic and that the more perspectives one can see from, the freer one will be.

Mikhail Bakhtin

During the talk, Schuman used excerpts from great works of literature to illustrate her points, suggesting both that polarization is not new and that solutions are possible. Among the works she referenced was Homer’s Ancient Greek epic, Iliad.

Image from Home’s Iliad

The event was well-attended with approximately sixty people in the audience, including students, faculty, and staff as well as members of the community.

At the end of the event, we raffled off eight free copies of the book. One copy was for non-students and the remaining seven copies were for students. Everyone who received a copy stayed to have it signed and to talk with Schuman.

Sharon Schuman is updating her blog to add a post about this event. I’ll link to it once she has it up. More information about Schuman and her book can be found on her website, Dialogic Freedom.

Honors Students and the UO Special Collections Library

Every winter, the students in the Invitation to Inquiry Seminar visit the University of Oregon’s Special Collections Library. Manuscripts Librarian, Linda Long, teaches an instructive and engaging class on archival research, introducing students to the concepts of scholarly archives, special collections, finding aids, etc.

Examining Japanese lantern slides from the Gertrude Bass Warner Collection.

The Special Collections Library Reading Room

The last part of the class is open for the students to walk around the room examining the various rare books and manuscripts that Linda has brought out for them to see.

Original manuscript for Ken Kesey’s novel, Sometimes a Great Notion.

A signed first edition of Sometimes a Great Notion is currently valued at $2000.

This class session is one of my favorites each year because it is such a pivotal moment for the students. For instance, most students have not been to the University of Oregon’s campus before. Although many of them will transfer to UO, at this point the campus is a large, unfamiliar, and confusing space.

University of Oregon

After the special collections class, students have a point of reference on the campus. They also begin to realize that the library resources at UO are available to them now and they are welcome to use them at any time.

A second moment of awareness that occurs on this trip is just how extensive academic research can be, how many sources of information are out there, and that there is no end to what can be researched. Viewing 13th and 14th century manuscripts emphasizes the long research history they are now a part of while the online research opportunities including access to Archives West reveals how contemporary research benefits from an ever-expanding access to materials.

Linda Long and I plan to meet to find ways to incorporate archival research into the Honors Program.