NMU Honors Program adopts new curriculum

Robyn Goodman

After more than two years of discussion and voting by the administration and faculty, the honors program at NMU has been changed to make it more efficient.

Terry Delpier, chair of the honors board, was part of the committee that helped develop the new curriculum, which was approved last year.

“The goal was to develop a program that more students would be able to complete, and to have courses that met the liberal studies requirements,” Delpier said.

In the new curriculum, the honors students take four courses over the first four terms, which fulfills almost all of their liberal studies requirements, said David Wood, interim director of the honors program. This permits students to complete their liberals studies in the first year and then move on to their major courses. The old curriculum included additional coursework, such as an extra fine arts course that has been eliminated.

The new curriculum started during the Fall 2010 semester, and the honors board will be monitoring students’ reactions and feedback.

The new curriculum is leaner and more user-friendly for students and faculty, Wood said. The original honors program was put into operation in the fall of 1998.

“The honors program offers a way for talented, driven students to earn liberal studies credit in small, discussion-oriented classes by the very best faculty teaching here,” Wood said.

After the first two years, students can tailor their honors coursework to their specific majors through course “honorizations,” which is working one-on-one with faculty to develop projects that will help them transition into graduate school or the working world, Wood said.

The honors program is not an academic major, but substitutes specially-designed courses for most of the liberal studies and university-wide graduation requirements. The main advantage of being in the honors program is that when students graduate they will have the full honors designation printed on their transcript.

The program offers many experiences outside of the classroom, including domestic and international travel. The program has taken students to the Milwaukee Symphony and theaters in

Minneapolis and Chicago, and academic trips to Ottawa and Stratford, Canada, and Vaxjo, Sweden have also been offered to honors students.

Students also attend the National Collegiate Honors Conference every year to present their research, Wood said.

“This year, the program has a lively and active bunch of honors students,” Wood said.

Morgan Raether, a second year student in the honors program, was part of the Honors Student Organization which allowed students to give their opinions about the honors program.

“The first year students that I have talked to have not found the load to be too much as some of the second year students felt last year,” Raether said.

She said she chose to be in the program because it sounded like a good opportunity that would look good on a transcript and allow her to take challenging classes with students who want a challenge, too.

“I’ve liked my honors program experience so far,” Raether said. “It has been challenging and enriching.”

In order to qualify for the Honors Program, a student must have at least a 3.5 grade point average, a score of 27 or higher on the ACT.