New Honors College a milestone

Since 1981, the UB honors program has been welcoming academically outstanding students to campus, offering them a rigorous curriculum, access to advanced educational opportunities, and special recognition and privileges.

The founding of UB’s new Honors College in October 2007 continues this tradition, while offering honors students more opportunity to take advantage of the university’s intellectual resources via a full-fledged, four-year curriculum and a broader worldview. Indeed, the new Honors College reflects an intensive campus effort to provide all UB undergraduates with enriching learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom. It also underscores the university’s success in attracting some of the brightest students in the nation.

“Honors students typically are very intellectually curious and ambitious,” says Josephine Capuana, administrative director of the University Honors College, who helped establish what was the first formal honors program in the State University of New York system. “Our goal is to provide students with life-changing experiences that will define their time at UB and, perhaps, will set them on a course they’ll follow for the rest of their lives.”

Over the past 26 years, the former honors program has grown from 20 students in 1981 to 316 new honors students from 12 states and four foreign countries who were admitted in fall 2007. A total of 1,040 are currently enrolled as UB honors students. Among the first-year honors students now at UB, 34 were either high school valedictorian or salutatorian with 1370 their mean SAT score.

“Our new honors curriculum encourages in-depth scholarly research and greater global awareness,” says Clyde “Kipp” Herreid, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and honors academic director since early in the program’s history. “The goal is for students to develop breadth in their understanding of the world’s problems.”

Under the new curriculum, Herreid explains, students are required to pursue six of 11 “honors experiences,” ranging from research projects and studying abroad to internships and completing a thesis project. A first-year colloquium requires that students volunteer in the community. Participation in honors seminars provides background on such timely and classical topics as literature and war, conflicts in science, the legal system and ancient African civilizations. Students must fulfill their honors requirements in addition to completing academic requirements in their chosen major.

“The new Honors College is the old wonderful program in more attractive packaging,” says Diane Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English, who has taught many honors seminars over the years and serves on the Honors Council. “It’s a terrific program with superb leadership, and it will grow and thrive and be more attractive for recruiting with its new name.”

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