With the calendar turning the page into a new academic year, Limestone University’s Honors Program has now officially transitioned into an Honors College.
The Board of Trustees voted back in October of 2020 for Limestone’s rigorous Honors Program to evolve into an Honors College at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year on July 1.
“The Honors College is an important step forward from the Honors Program that initiated nearly 40 years ago,” said Honors College Dean Dr. Jonathan Sarnoff, a Professor of History. “Our Honors College students engage in high-impact practices, such as service and research, while cultivating academic and social bonds with each other in a close-knit learning community. The goal is to eventually have 100-125 students in the Limestone Honors College who will continue to enhance the University’s visibility and academic reputation.”
The free exchange of ideas and the opportunity to learn from one another in small classes taught by expert faculty makes the Honors College experience even more rich and meaningful, Sarnoff added. Honors Colleges tend to feature smaller class sizes, access to more seminar-style classes, closer student-professor relations, along with a yearly financial stipend, priority registration, and the opportunity to be part of a special honors community. Honors Collee students are generally able to participate in numerous activities and obtain leadership and research opportunities on campus.
The mission of the Limestone Honors College is to provide academically gifted students with a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum and an engaging learning community that equips them with the knowledge, creativity, and adaptability to thrive and lead.
“We are not of the mindset that being in the Honors College is ‘harder’ – but it is different,” Sarnoff noted. “For example, in a regular public speaking class, you might give speeches in class to your fellow students. However, in our Honors advanced public speaking class, you might give a speech in a different forum – perhaps in an online setting or to a local civic organization.”
In an effort to enhance the learning community beyond the classroom, one of the major new incentives to be accepted into the Limestone Honors College is the opportunity to live in Honors housing now located on campus in Ball Residence Hall, receiving a single room at the regular double room rate.
In the near future, Limestone’s Honors College students will also have access to exclusive academic space on campus that will include computers and other improved technology. A special social space is also being developed where Honors students can gather together in support of academic, social, and cultural growth.
Additional research presentation opportunities are also being expanded, for those who qualify. That will enable Limestone’s Honors College students the opportunity to attend the Southern Regional Honors Council or the National Collegiate Honors Council conventions where they will meet and collaborate with similar students from across the country. Study abroad programs are being considered for future Honors College students.
Limestone Provost Dr. Monica Baloga noted that the University started looking into the transition to an Honors College in order to provide more learning opportunities for students as the program continues to grow and evolve.
“Our discussions around the idea of initiating an Honors College brought us to the conclusion that we can provide a setting to develop a community of learners that ultimately will help our University attract and retain highly-motivated students looking to challenge themselves even more,” Baloga said. “We are seeking academically ambitious students who are interested in academic rigor beyond the standard college experience. While the academic expectations are certainly higher, being a part of our Honors College will also come with the extra benefits, such as the new Honors housing that they will enjoy with similarly driven students.”
The University’s current 50-plus Honors College students now come from all around the United States, as well as internationally from countries such as Canada, Germany, and Zimbabwe.
Sarnoff noted that Limestone’s Honors College students enter into a community of students, faculty, and administrators committed to the shared ideals of academic excellence, leadership, intellectual curiosity, and mutual respect. They are able to defend and critique ideas, recognize and demonstrate the value of service-learning, identify complex problems and evaluate solutions, analyze and interpret advanced primary and secondary texts, develop a research design and execute research independently or with faculty, and implement leadership principles in everyday life.
Criteria used for selection in Limestone’s Honors College includes SAT and ACT scores, rank in class, the nature of courses taken in high school, and grade-point average. For more information about eligibility and requirements, visit www.limestone.edu/honors-college.
More details about the added benefits of Limestone’s Honors College will be announced as they are developed.
Limestone’s Honors Program was established in the fall of 1983 by Dr. Tom Thomson, a former Professor of History.
“My good friend and former colleague Dr. Tom Thomson founded the Honors Program in the early 1980's,” Sarnoff said. “I see the establishment of the Honors College not just as a result of the growth of Limestone University over the past few years, but as the end product of Dr. Thomson’s loving stewardship over the Honors Program for almost three decades.”