A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Honor Thy College

By Mason Spirit contributor on October 7, 2009

Beginning this academic year, Mason is rolling out a new program for its star students. The Honors College will transform the university’s Honors Program in General Education from one that had a heavy emphasis on the humanities and social sciences into one that comfortably encompasses students from every major across the university.

Dr. Harold Geller writes on a whiteboard

Astronomy professor Harold Geller, MAIS ’92, DA ’05, with Honors students at the observatory.

Zofia Burr, an English professor and former director of the Honors Program, is the college’s dean, and Kathleen Alligood, a math professor, is the associate dean.

“The Honors College will provide a framework to highlight and coordinate the university’s programs for high-achieving students,” says Linda Schwartzstein, vice provost for academic affairs. “This initiative will enable the university to enhance existing programs and develop more opportunities for our students.

“We are fortunate that Zofia Burr and Kathleen Alligood have agreed to provide the leadership of this important project for the university.”

The new college will envelop three other existing programs:

  • The University Scholars Program, a four-year, undergraduate merit-based scholarship program
  • The Postgraduate Fellowships and Scholarships Program, which guides Mason undergraduates and recent graduates through the application process
  • The Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program, which funds students working with faculty mentors on original research or a creative project

Although the new dean and associate dean don’t foresee the program growing in curricular offerings or enrollment (about 500 students are in the program), they envision additional programming to keep students involved in a “full and supported academic experience” once students have finished their general course requirements. They also anticipate opening the college to previously unrecognized students who demonstrate academic excellence in their first years, whether at Mason or as transfer students.

“I would like to see the program and the students be more visible and contribute more to the university,” Burr adds.

For more information on the
Honors College, visit the web site at honorscollege.gmu.edu.

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