Tag Archives: Nadia Raza

And Then There Were Two: The New Configuration of the Honors Program’s Administration

We are in the fifth year of the honors program, and after several iterations of honors administrative leadership, the college has settled on a tentatively permanent structure: a dean and a faculty coordinator. This may not sound like a significant decision, but we have built this program with an ever-changing team. It is exciting and anxiety-producing to think we have some stability now even with fewer people working on the program.

We began with two faculty coordinators (Nadia Raza and me), each working on the program part time. Then Nadia stepped down and Katie Morrison-Graham came on board, although for a time the three of us were working on honors together.

Nadia, Katie, and me working with then Vice President, Sonya Christian.

Nadia, Katie, and me working with then Vice President, Sonya Christian.

Then we switched to one coordinator. Even though I was the only coordinator, I was still working on the program part time. We originally had an administrative support person, as well, who also handled advising and marketing. Then we lost that position and replaced it with a new administrative support position minus the advising component and some of the hours. We had no academic dean initially, although we have had one for the past few years. So many starts and stops. So many changes. There were moments when I felt like our program resembled the blackberry bushes I saw while hiking at Mount Pisgah yesterday in this unusually warm November: clusters of dried berries with a few new red and black berries mixed in.

Blackberries

What season are we in again? Are we winding down, starting up, or carrying on?

Fortunately, we’ve had a leadership team comprised of intelligent, motivated, thoughtful people who have helped support what we called “the core team.” I know the leadership team will continue helping honors to thrive. Our “core team” is now comprised of me and my dean, Susan Carkin. Susan has been on the Honors Leadership Team from the program’s inception and attended the National Collegiate Honors Council conference with me.

Susan Carkin

Susan Carkin

The Language, Literature, and Communication Division’s Lead Administrative Coordinator, Linda Schantol, has generously taken on some of the administrative support that had been provided elsewhere.

Linda Schantol

Linda Schantol

Having a permanent faculty coordinator position with 75% of its workload dedicated to directing the program, and having the coordinator work one-on-one with the academic dean, will provide the stability and continuity the program needs. It’s a sign that the college is committed to serving all of our students.

Thinking this morning about the program’s history and this new opportunity to dedicate so much of my focus to coordinating this program, I found myself recalling Jorie Graham digging her hands into the absolute (“The Visible World”). The seeds are planted.

Honors Seminars

On Wednesday, 10/16/13, the Curriculum Committee approved the HON 202_H prefix for the Honors Capstone Seminar. Last year, they approved the HON 201_H prefix for the Invitation to Inquiry Seminar. This two-class sequence is a requirement for students in our program, and, after running variations on the seminars as IDS experimental classes for two years, I feel we’ve landed on the best approach for our college. My co-faculty coordinator Katie Morrison-Graham and I are also working on a conference presentation and contributions to a monograph chapter on two-year college honors seminars for the NCHC this fall. Honors seminars have definitely been on my mind.

The panel and chapter will include contributions from honors faculty at other schools so that we can present a wide range of options for building seminars. There are so many different approaches to seminars depending on the needs of a college or program as well as on the resources available. Schools offer seminars for varying amounts of credit. Some offer non-credit seminars. Others, like Lane, offer them for four credits. Some schools require that students be in the program to take the seminars, while others open them to students across campus. Formats differ greatly and can range from one-hour presentations/discussions by faculty from different disciplines to classes requiring extensive reading and research.

Lane’s seminar sequence is research-based. The first class, Invitation to Inquiry, takes an interdisciplinary look at the academic research process and focuses on thinking critically about this process. What assumptions do we make about scholarly research? If we test these assumptions by engaging in research, do they hold up? What assumptions might have been made in the past but are now being reexamined? This question arises when my colleague and former co-faculty coordinator, Nadia Raza, guest lectures on the implication of academic research in the history of Western Imperialism which always leads to some impressive and difficult discussion by the students. Students also participate in academic events. For instance, they attended a conference on the death penalty at the University of Oregon’s law school and UNESCO Chair at the University of Oregon, Steven Shankman (below), also guest lectured in the seminar about the conference and his work with the Inside Out Program.

Steve Shankman

Our second seminar, Honors Capstone Seminar, is a modified version of the seminar created by Dean of Science, Sarah Ulerick. It builds on the skills developed in the Inquiry seminar. The students decide on group research projects. They then conduct this research over the term and present their findings at a public symposium. As they become clearer about their audience, they also determine the best way to present these findings. They symposium has included guest panels, student paper presentations, keynote speakers, posters, and PowerPoint presentations.  Honors student, Mary Gross (below), presents findings from her group’s research and statistically significant survey on health care needs and services for two-year college students.

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