Honoring Our Students

Dear Colleagues,

This is the inaugural edition of "News from the Provost," an informal and (somewhat) regular means of sharing my thoughts, experiences, and aspirations with you. As always, I invite you to join me in discussing any of the topics which I present.

My first month has been filled with meetings, lunches, receptions, athletic events, and more meetings. I've met with each of my standing committees and members of the Board of Trustees and Regents, have represented the College to WASC, and shared lunches with students and faculty. In this message, I'd like to focus on the discussions I've heard regarding our creation of an honors program.

To begin, I'd like to acknowledge the important work done by Mary Volmer, Frank Murray, and Frances Sweeney. They have been the movers of this initiative, which is starting to take form. The Honors Program at Saint Mary's clearly has to be a program of distinction, one which current and prospective students see as a mark of earned academic achievement. At the same time, we might wish to couple our academic emphasis with one of community engagement, including but extending beyond residential living arrangements. Our honors students might be those who maintain a high GPA, participate in a "cornerstone" (such as the honors section of MySMC) and "capstone" (senior thesis, collaborative research project) academic experience, and also ones who are particularly committed to effecting social change. Our honors students may chose this designation upon admittance, or they may choose to enter the program later in their academic career, depending on their academic and personal preparation. Their graduation with honors need not signify elitism, but a defined and public commitment to a particular level of academic inquiry and social responsibility.

Although some details remain to be determined, a solid foundation has been built. The Campus Deans and Directors Committee will present a full proposal to the Educational Policies Board next month, with an official "unveiling" of the program to follow shortly thereafter. All are invited to contact Dr. Sweeney (Frances) for comment or suggestions. I am excited to see this become part of our programming, and thank you to all who have worked on this important endeavor.