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Mar­keting Department | Courtesy

 

After two years of dis­cussion, Hillsdale College’s Honors Program finalized plans to change its name, alter its recruitment process, and get a new director.

To emphasize the inter­dis­ci­plinary aspects of the program, the name is changing to Col­le­giate Scholars. Addi­tionally, the school closed the program to freshmen. The plan is 30 new members with at least a 3.4 GPA will apply for the program fol­lowing the end of the aca­demic year and enter as sopho­mores. Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Clas­sical Studies Eric Hutchinson is working with Pro­fessor of History Richard Gamble, current head of the program, to assume the role of director after the spring semester.

“Honors can suggest — can suggest — that somehow Hillsdale College has to be improved to make it good enough for a certain applicant,” Gamble said. “That’s not the case.”

Col­le­giate Scholars will no longer have core class sec­tions spe­cific to the program. Require­ments will not specify Col­le­giate Scholars take more advanced science and math classes than the core cur­riculum neces­sitate as well. Stu­dents in the program will still write a thesis, take sem­inars, and have the oppor­tunity to graduate with honors.

Gamble said by accepting stu­dents after freshman year, com­paring appli­cants becomes easier because stu­dents’ grades come from Hillsdale courses instead of a variety of high school back­grounds.

Not having freshmen was a point of con­tention for current stu­dents in the program.

“We were upset,” Honors Program co-Pres­ident junior Luke Zahari said. “It was a for­mative expe­rience. It was the thing that defined our freshman year and our intro­duction to a com­munity of learning at Hillsdale.”

Gamble said he hopes the sem­inars and program events will con­tribute to the devel­opment of com­munity among the program’s members. He said he believes the stu­dents will make the most of the changes.

Recruitment for the program will occur during the spring semester. Inter­ested freshmen of any GPA may enroll in a new one-credit seminar entitled The Liberal Arts Tra­dition to get a feel of Col­le­giate Scholars. The program is offering four sec­tions, each taught by a pro­fessor from a dif­ferent dis­ci­pline and will give a deeper look at readings from Western Her­itage.

Co-Pres­ident junior Andrea Sommer said she loves the program for the men­torship she received from older stu­dents. Not having freshmen in the program, she said, makes it dif­ficult to pass on the favor.

The seminar, based on the one-credit course for­merly taken by Honors Program stu­dents during their first semester, will offer men­torship oppor­tu­nities to upper­classmen. Six to eight stu­dents will have the oppor­tunity to vol­unteer as tutors to help stim­ulate con­ver­sation in the sem­inars.

Former co-Pres­ident senior Christina Lambert said this is a tran­si­tional year since there were no new stu­dents in the program.

“Each year it will become the new normal, and it will bring a lot of pos­itive things that no one expected it would con­tribute,” Lambert said.

As for the name of the program, Gamble said it was one of the hardest deci­sions to make, but it better encom­passes what the orga­ni­zation is.

Lambert agreed.

“I think the new name and what it will com­mu­nicate to future stu­dents and present stu­dents is that it’s a program made up more than just aca­demic excel­lence,” she said. “That’s a core part of it, but it con­tains the area of inter­dis­ci­plinary learning and building mem­bership and com­munity.”

That cross-subject inves­ti­gation is some­thing to which Hutchinson looks forward as he becomes more involved in the program. He said he is eager to foster rela­tion­ships with the stu­dents in the program and expose them to con­ver­sa­tions with college faculty.

“There are a lot of really great pro­fessors on this campus,” Hutchinson said. “What I would love to do is try to find a way to involve a lot of the faculty in teaching sem­inars, speaking at various events the program hosts to give stu­dents a sense of the breadth and depth of the resources that are available here.”

Through the tran­si­tions, Sommer said program members are trying to remain opti­mistic.

“We go to a con­ser­v­ative school, we’re going to be resistant to change,” she said. “I don’t think the admin­is­tration would make the changes unless they thought it was the best thing for the college. At this point, I’m trusting the admin­is­tration, and hope­fully, it’s still able to grow and be the beau­tiful thing it has been in the past.”

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Breana Noble
Breana Noble is The Collegian's Editor-in-Chief. She is a born and raised Michigander and studies politics and journalism. This summer, Breana interned in New York City at TheStreet, a business and finance news website. She has previously worked for The Detroit News, The American Spectator, and Newsmax Media. She eventually hopes to pursue a career in investigative journalism. email: bnoble1@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @RightandNoble