US-17/18-15: Revisions on Criteria for receiving Departmental Honors

Date of Notice: February 27, 2018

Current Status: Notice Given

Motion Type: Legislation

Sponsor: Academic Council


Motion

Section I

1.1 Whereas: The Honors Task Force report, June 6, 2017, were presented to the Senate (June 9, 2017) and reviewed and discussed by Academic Council (February 27, 2018), and

1.2 Whereas: the Honors Task Force made a series of recommendations (appended), and

1.3 Whereas: these recommendations can be divided into those that can be addressed immediately (see 2.1 through 2.3), and others that require more preparation (see 2.4 onwards).

Section II

2.1 BE IT THEREFORE MOVED that GPA-only based routes to departmental honors be eliminated effective Fall 2019, and

2.2 BE IT THEREFORE MOVED that GPA levels for earning Latin honors be standardized so that they are the same across the quarters of a given academic year effective Fall 2018, and

2.3 BE IT THEREFORE MOVED a short document, hosted on the Registrar’s website, summarizing the existence and requirements of honors opportunities across campus will be centrally maintained for the University community and be made available to advisors, other support staff, and recruiters, and

2.4 BE IT THEREFORE MOVED that the Academic Council engage relevant committees and councils to develop  broad summary language that articulates the principles guiding the purpose of departmental honors programs. This summary should then be reviewed and approved by the appropriate Senate committees and councils by the Senate, with advice from the appropriate Senate committees and councils.

2.5 BE IT THEREFORE MOVED that the Office of the Provost work with colleges and departments that do not currently have an option to earn departmental honors to explore whether such a program would be appropriate as a way to better serve top performing students in their programs, and if appropriate to aid in the development of an honors program. that the Academic Council engage relevant committees and councils to develop guidelines to help articulate Clark Honors College honors and departmental honors thesis programs, including the use of a single project to count towards honors under both sets of guidelines. These guidelines will then be reviewed and approved by the Senate, with advice from the appropriate Senate Committees and councils.

2.6 BE IT THEREFORE MOVED that the Office of the Provost work with departments to charge them with maintaining a transparent means of communicating accurate information about their honors programs. At a minimum, this should include published details of the existence and requirements for departmental honors on departmental or college websites and in the portion of the UO Catalog dedicated to their academic unit.

2.7 BE IT THEREFORE MOVED that the Office of the Provost give consideration on how to address recommendations 7 through 10 from the Appendix.

Appendix

Recommendations of the Honors Task Force:

  1. The HTF recommends that the University develop broad summary language that articulates the principles guiding the purpose of departmental honors programs. The HTF believes this language should connect departmental honors to the research mission (broadly defined) of the University.
  2. The HTF recommends that GPA-only based routes to departmental honors should be eliminated.
  3. The HTF recommends that colleges and departments that do not currently have an option to earn departmental honors explore whether such a program would be appropriate as a way to better serve top performing students in their programs.
  4. The HTF recommends that all colleges and departments maintain a transparent means of communicating accurate information about their honors programs. At a minimum, this should include published details of the existence and requirements for departmental honors on departmental or college websites and in the portion of the UO Catalog dedicated to their academic unit. The UO Catalog contains summary information listing the existence of honors programs, but the HTF found cases where an honors opportunity is included in this list, but no information about the requirements of this program were included elsewhere in the Catalog or on the relevant department website. Additionally, all units offering honors programs should evaluate whether they are effectively communicating the existence of these programs to students, faculty and staff.
  5. The HTF recommends that a short document summarizing the existence and requirements of honors opportunities across campus should be centrally maintained for the University community and be made available to advisors, other support staff, and recruiters. This document might contain similar information as is found in Appendix B of the Honors Task Force report. This document should prominently display the summary language developed in response to recommendation #1 above.
  6. The HTF recommends that the GPA levels for earning Latin honors be standardized so that it is the same across the quarters of a given academic year.
  7. The HTF recommends against the development of alternative pathways to CHC Honors, or alternative designations of honors.
  8. The HTF recommends that CHC enrollment be grown only if adequate resources can be devoted to maintaining the academic experience currently being offered to CHC students. These resources would include support for new faculty who are substantially or fully involved in the CHC in order to maintain class sizes in the honors general education curriculum, out of class support and advising, and support for thesis development. In establishing priorities, careful attention should be given to the field interests of students accounting for enrollment growth. Resources would also be needed to support faculty outside the CHC who take on the additional thesis advising responsibilities coming along with CHC enrollment growth. Without adequate additional resources, it would be better for the CHC to remain its current size.
  9. The HTF recommends that efforts to support top scholars at the UO be expanded and strengthened. Focus should be given to programs that: A. Foster undergraduate research opportunities broadly defined, which includes both scholarship and other creative activities. B. Promote engagement with the research mission of the University across the curriculum and across levels (freshman to senior). C. Facilitate connections among top scholars around campus, both inside and out of the CHC. These efforts are important to differentiate UO as an R1 university that provides a rich experience integrating both teaching and research. It is also very important for recruiting top performing high school student to campus.
  10. The HTF recommends the development of a mechanism for coordinating honors opportunities at UO. The Task Force discussed but did not come to consensus on the precise nature of such a mechanism, whether it would entail a stand-alone University level Honors Council (HC), working in collaboration with the Undergraduate Council; whether it would be an expression of the Undergraduate Council, or whether it would take some other form. The Task Force recommends that any such effort be jointly responsible to the Senate and Provost’s Office, and that the CHC Dean would play a key role in any such body.

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