Million-dollar honors college awaits approval
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The Kansas legislature recently passed a bill that will give Emporia State $1 million to start an Honors College. The bill is awaiting approval by Gov. Sam Brownback.
According to David Cordle, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, an Honors College would attempt to create special opportunities for the strongest academic students at the institution.
“For a long time here at ESU, we have had an honors program that has operated on a very small scale,” Cordle said. “It hasn’t involved large numbers of students. It hasn’t had a lot of resources behind it, so the amount and level of opportunities that we’ve been able to provide honors students has been limited.”
Gary Wyatt, associate dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said Brownback has cut taxes to try to stimulate the economy, so state revenue’s been lower than in the past.
“In the midst of the need to cut, that was one of things that was on the chopping block,” Wyatt said. “I think financial exigency was one of the main reasons that it has not been successful in the past.”
In order to receive an invitation to such a program, students would have to meet certain standards. The criteria for getting into the current honors program at ESU includes an ACT score of 26 or higher, or a high school or transfer GPA of 3.5 or higher.
“We often invite people with lower scores, and they do better when they get here, but the kind of student we want in the honors program or in an honors college, are just students in any area, who have a lot of initiative and a lot of creativity,” said William Clamurro, professor of Spanish and director of the honors program.
The idea for an honors college has been in the works since 2012. According to Clamurro, the honors college students could be majoring in everything from education to accounting, so no particular area would receive emphasis. It could also be used as a tool for recruitment.
“It’s seen as a program, a device, an idea that will give college that does it, or university, more visibility to attract better students,” Clamurro said.