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May 8, 2006
Sacramento State Bulletin

Honors program headed for successful start

Sacramento State’s new honors program seems to have struck a chord with potential students. More than 100 students have applied to the program which begins in the fall, says interim director George Craft.

Of course, Craft notes, it’s hard to know how many will actually show up. The plan is to have about 60 students in each cohort.

To increase the odds of keeping most of those students, faculty and staff associated with the honors program have been in contact with each of the students to answer questions and generally encourage the students to take advantage of the opportunity to join the program by attending Sacramento State. “We have called every student admitted to the program at least once,” Craft says.

Craft thinks that there’s a good chance some of these highly qualified students wouldn’t have come otherwise, so the personal touch seems to be appreciated. “We’ve had students say that ‘No one else called us.’”

Recruitment efforts for the program have mostly been through high school counselors who received a postcard describing the new program. Then as soon as fall applications started coming in, faculty and staff from the honors program e-mailed any student with a 1200 SAT score or a 3.5 GPA, directing them to the honors website and inviting them to apply.

In addition to coursework, the honors program will provide social opportunities as well. The new honors office in Foley Hall will feature a large student lounge where students can socialize and study.

“For students to be immersed and committed to an honors program there needs to be life outside the academy,” says Roberto Pomo, who was recently named the new director of the program. “An active social life is an integral part of the academic experience.”

Among the plans for other out-of-the-classroom activities is a colloquia series where student can meet informally with scholars, such as an evening with the University’s deans. “They all started out as students,” Pomo says. “How did their academic experience contribute to who they are now?”

Plans also call for culturally driven field trips such as to the theatre, galleries or the ballet both in Sacramento and, if funding permits, in the Bay Area.

With the first group of students arrive this fall, they will find a first-year curriculum for the program firmly in place, Craft says. The second year’s courses have been planned but aren’t yet approved and the upper-division courses are still in the development stage.

Three of the courses in both the fall and spring semester will be honors courses such as Education, Self-Examination and Living, World Civilizations I: to 1600 and World Civilization II: 1600 to the Present, Mathematical Reasoning, Public Speaking, and Critical Thinking.

The courses are all designed to have global outlook. Pomo hopes to expand on this commitment to internationalization by encouraging each of the students to study abroad for at least a semester during their junior year.

The honors program is fairly intensive, Craft says, and it will require a lot of energy, coordination and attention on the part of faculty. To help them prepare, there will be an honors faculty workshop on May 12 led by Gail Zimmerman who teaches in the HIS program at McClatchy High School.

For more information, contact Craft at 278-6340 or Pomo at 278-6368.




 

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