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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Honors program becomes college

By Carlos Mayorga

The Honors Program at the U will now become the Honors College, U President Michael Young announced at a reception Thursday.

More than 400 honors students, alumni and faculty attended the event at the president’s home.

The Honors Program “deserves the name of a college,” Young said. “It deserves the organizational capacity to extend and expand. This creates an educational experience that is really second to none in the United States.”

Faculty worked out a proposal last fall to begin the conversion to the Honors College. The pitch went to the U Board of Trustees on Aug. 20 and was approved. The name change will go into effect when the Utah Board of Regents approves the move at its October meeting, said Martha Bradley, director of the Honors Program.

Although the U has had an honors program since 1961, changing it to a college “will make students more competitive in their applications to graduate schools,” Bradley said.

“It’s a national trend to change honors programs to colleges, and for us to stay competitive with other universities and honors programs, this is a move we needed to make,” she said.

The shift will help the new college raise money for scholarships, attract better students and compete with other institutions with established honors colleges, such as Arizona State University, University of Arizona, University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh, Bradley said.

Michael Whitaker, a sophomore in biology, is pleased with the new designation and that the U is committing more resources to the Honors Program.

“It’s not so much the name, but the fact they are revamping it and including more resources,” he said. “It’s definitely motivating and encouraging to continue with the program and go through the extra work to get that designation on the degree.”

The Honors College will not produce its own degrees, making it slightly different from other colleges at the U. Students must maintain a 3.5 GPA, take seven specified honors courses and present an honors thesis. Honors students will graduate with honors degrees in their majors.

The new designation “highlights the stature” of the program, said David Pershing, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “But the big thing it does is gives students something very specific and unusual to talk about in job interviews. It makes them unique,” he said.

Being a member of the new Honors College “will make my education more select and distinguished than the general student body,” Whitaker said.

Brittany Ripley, a freshman in biology, researched institutions with honors colleges. When she learned the U was changing its Honors Program to a college, that helped sway her decision to attend the U, she said.

“The Honors College offers some challenging classes, but also opens up opportunities for the future — like graduate school and a better career,” she said. “I was really excited that (the faculty is) backing the program and the college.”

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