Applications are being accepted for a new Honors College that will make its debut at Lander University with the start of the fall semester in September. The college is not a new building on the Lander campus but rather a program offering academically gifted students the opportunity to study in an environment unlike the typical college classroom experience.
Dr. Lillian Craton, program director, said, "Lander's Honors College will be a way for students with the same interests and values to share a sense of curiosity in small class settings." She described it as a multidisciplinary program that emphasizes active learning in small group seminars.
According to Lander president Dr. Daniel Ball, many students and faculty members asked for the new program. "Having this Honors College on our campus elevates our visibility and prestige as an educational institution but, more importantly, it provides another opportunity for our especially talented students to excel."
He applauded Craton for demonstrating a high level of commitment and creativity in her work at Lander. He said, "We are excited to be able to tap into those qualities as she leads this important initiative."
Students in the program would take one or two honors courses each semester. They must complete at least 15 hours of honors-level classes, most of which will satisfy general education requirements for any major. Other students can take honors classes, too, if space is available and with the permission of instructors.
The focus of the Honors College is international issues with an emphasis on fine arts, behavioral sciences, history, literature, mathematics, science, education, public affairs, and logic and analytical thought. It also offers a "breakaway" component encouraging academic travel and professional experiences. Craton said students can choose from among options that include study abroad; study away, but closer to home; internships; and directed independent research projects.
Another feature is The Global Scholars Program, which will select groups of exceptional Honors College students to spend a semester of study abroad, or a summer international study program relevant to each student's major, at no additional cost.
Craton said students who complete an Honors College curriculum dramatically increase their chances of being accepted into graduate school. "It's a sign to those schools that honors graduates have been seeking academic challenges."
She said graduates are also more competitive in the job market. "The academic travel experience is very attractive to employers."
Dr. DeWitt Stone, director of Lander's Study Abroad program, agrees. He said, "A major strength of our honors program is that the work of our students is subject to external evaluation when they spend a semester away from Lander. This signals to graduate schools and prospective employers that our students can compete in the larger world."
According to Stone, the new college represents another chapter in the evolution of Lander's honors and study abroad programs, which were merged into an Honors International Program in the late 1980s. He said it was the idea of then-Lander president Larry Jackson. His philosophy became the foundation for a pioneering honors curriculum requiring study abroad, which most other universities now strongly encourage as part of their honors programs.
Stone added that studying abroad or in a geographic area outside of the Southeastern U.S. broadens a student's perspectives as indicated by feedback from returning students.
Junior Haley Wilson, of Joanna, described her honors program experience at Lander as a springboard in her life. "We aren't a group of 'brainiacs' talking about things no one cares about. We discuss real issues as people with real insight." She added, "I've never felt so fulfilled in all aspects of who I am."
Lillian Craton completed an honors program as an undergraduate and described the experience as life changing. She said it enhanced her intellectual curiosity, which was one reason why she decided to become a professor. "It helped me mature as a person and helped me with graduate school to obtain my doctorate." Craton is an associate professor of English at Lander and teaches literature courses and freshman composition.
Admission to Lander's Honors College is open to new freshmen, current Lander students and transfer students who meet specific academic requirements. More details, including applications, are available at www.lander.edu/goto/honors. Information is also available by calling Lander's Office of Admissions at 864-388-8307.
Completed applications received by April 1 will receive priority consideration.