By virtue of an approval vote by the Board of Trustees on Friday, Oct. 30, Limestone University’s rigorous Honors Program will transition into an Honors College prior to the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.
At the recommendation of Limestone’s Provost Dr. Monica Baloga and Honors Program Director Dr. Jonathan Sarnoff, the University’s Board of Trustees Committee voted unanimously to approve the transition from an Honors Program to an Honors College.
“The Honors College is an important step forward from the Honors Program that Dr. Tom Thomson initiated nearly 40 years ago,” said Sarnoff, a Professor of History. “Our Honors students will be engaging 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 will make 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 Program, soon to be Honors College, is ‘harder’ – but it is different,” Sarnoff said. “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.”
The name change from Honors Program to Honors College will be official on July 1, 2021.
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 will be the opportunity to live in Honors housing to be located on campus in Ball Residence Hall, receiving a single room at the regular double room rate. The housing for Honors students is also expected to include many upgrades compared to a traditional room.
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 will also be 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 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.
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 noted. “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.”
Limestone’s current Honors Program has 57 members, and Sarnoff expects that number to more than double in the coming years. The University’s Honors 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 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 Program 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 Thomson, a former Professor of History.
The Honors College name and accompanying logo will be official on July 1, 2021.