Front row from left: Jessica Shirmer, Genieve Lebeau, Andrea Winter and Dr. Carolyn Thompson. Back row from left: Robin Connaly, Jeremy Engelskirshen, Mareen Baisley, Barbara Jacobson and Nate Humphrey.
With 69 scholars already enrolled and 22 new recruits expected this fall, UNC Pembroke's University Honors College (UHC) is making its mark on campus.
The newest class of recruits - the Class of 2007 - will be the third for the new Honors College, which is producing some of the university's top scholars and leaders.
Several Honors College members distinguished themselves recently. Blake Tyner published a book on local history. And, Barbara Jacobson was the recipient of the university's top leadership and community service award last year.
"Many of our students have distinguished themselves inside and outside of the university community," Dr. Thompson said. "This is what being an honors college is all about. We want to create a community of scholars that will enhance the scholarship of the entire university."
"It's also about forming a cohort that works together to challenge each other and the university as a whole," she said. "It's working."
UNCP has set aggressive goals for the Honors College for the next five years, Dr. Thompson said.
"We will have about 200 outstanding scholars in the college by the year 2008," she said. "Freshmen enrolling in the Honors College in 2008 will have average SAT scores near 1,200 and graduate having taken many honors courses for their general education requirements."
During the 2002-2003 academic year, the Honors College curriculum consisted of eight courses. Five more honors courses will come on line in 2003-2004.
The average GPA of the current UHC scholars is 3.6, and 60 percent of the 22 incoming freshmen have SAT scores above 1150. In the program's first three years, only 10 percent of the students admitted to the Honors College have failed to maintain the 3.0 GPA required to remain in the College.
The UHC is taking an active role in the state, regional and national Collegiate Honors Councils (CHC). Last year, UNCP hosted the annual state meeting, and five UHC members traveled to Salt Lake City to participate in the national CHC meeting. Students will travel this fall to Chicago for the national meeting, where they will meet with honors students from across the country.
Dr. Thompson believes that the foundation for meeting the UHC's lofty goals is firmly in place, but there are some major challenges.
Fundraising is a major issue because state aid for honors programs is limited. Higher participation by minorities and athletes is also a top priority.
"I would like to thank Jefferson Pilot and (local agent) Gene Hall for their generous support," Dr. Thompson said. "More support is needed for a variety of enrichment programs."
Challenges aside, Dr. Thompson said it's been fun.
"It's great," she said. "I really do enjoy these kids. They are a diverse group."
For more information about the University Honors College, call 910.521.6841.