Honors College will give students new opportunities to achieve their full potential
Private support for the new program is key to WSU’s efforts to grow and elevate its academic profile
Derick Holmes, a senior at Southeast High School in Wichita, is in the first class of Honors College students at Wichita State. He's shown here near the construction site for Shocker Hall, which will have a section assigned to Honors College students.
When the University of Wichita established an Honors Program in 1957, it became one of the first universities in the country to recognize that bright, motivated students want an academic experience that helps them perform at the highest levels.
Now, Wichita State has revitalized that program as an Honors College that emphasizes the benefits of students living together in a learning community. Freshmen Honors students will live in an Honors wing of Shocker Hall, the new residence facility due to be completed next fall.
“Honors students ... want to be at the heart of campus life. They want to work with faculty across disciplines and be part of an engaged intellectual community.”
- Kimberly Engber
“These are students who want to network with other students who understand their level of ambition and the pressure that often comes with it,” said Kimberly Engber, director of the Emory Lindquist Honors Program. “They’re driven by ideals, they want to make an impact and they want the kind of environment that can nurture both of those.”
WSU President John Bardo identified the creation of an Honors College as a priority for Wichita State. The focus of the Honors College, Engber said, will be on small seminar-style classes, interdisciplinary inquiry and experience-based learning that emphasizes study abroad, internships and undergraduate research opportunities.
All freshmen are considered for merit-based scholarships under Bardo’s new scholarship program aimed at recruiting high-achieving students and helping Wichita State grow. Those who join the Honors College are eligible for an additional scholarship.
The WSU Honors College will have its own fundraising priorities, said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation.
“Private support for the Honors College will help create a premier learning community for high-achieving students while enhancing the academic reputation of Wichita State.” King said.
Opportunities for donors who want to support promising students and promote the Honors College mission include:
- Endowed scholarships
- Assistance to help Honors College students live in Shocker Hall
- Faculty fellowships supporting special research and teaching projects
- Funding to support study abroad programs and research exploration
As private support for merit-based scholarships grows, university funds become available to recruit other meritorious students, said Anthony Vizzini, WSU vice president for academic affairs.
“Private funds will allow us to increase the academic profile of our students as well as recruit students who help fulfill our mission in other important ways,” he said.
Ideally, the Honors College at Wichita State will help promote a campus culture that values innovation, experimentation and collaboration, Engber said. It should offer personalized advising and mentoring for students who want to prepare for emerging fields, graduate study and competitive national fellowships. Students will choose from among Honors courses and interdisciplinary tracks such as leadership or creativity to graduate with “University Honors” distinction.
So far, about 80 incoming freshmen have joined the Honors College for fall 2014.
If you would like to help WSU be its best, please contact Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president for planned and annual giving, at 316-978-3804 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.