Columbus State announces creation of Honors College

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 21, 2014 

When the fall 2014 semester begins, Columbus State University expects to open its fifth college, an Honors College, designed to broaden opportunities for gifted students. CSU officials announced their plans in a news release and during a luncheon Friday.

“We need to provide that extra effort to our highest-achieving students, and we can do it through a college,” mathematics professor Cindy Ticknor, who has been leading CSU’s Honors Program since 2009, said in the release.

The current four colleges at CSU are Arts, Business and Computer Science, Education and Health Professions, and Letters and Sciences.

“The tremendous increase in interest and numbers in our Honors Program reflects our faculty’s commitment to attracting and supporting the brightest of students,” CSU provost and vice president for academic affairs Tom Hackett said in the release. “Establishing an Honors College is the next step in this commitment to student research and creative endeavors.”

Enrollment in CSU’s nearly 100 honors courses has increased 182 percent since fall 2009, according to the release. Combined with the 45 percent reduction in state funding for CSU since then, the Honors Program has relied on private support from the Tower Society, whose members donate at least $1,000 annually, the release said. CSU officials also credit the Faculty Senate’s endorsement of the Honors College.

Hackett named Ticknor the college’s interim dean.

“Creating the college also funds more opportunities for honors classes and seminars that they’re taking to excel,” Ticknor said. “By becoming a college and attracting more students and more resources for those students, we’re able to offer a greater variety of coursework.”

An Honors Academy will serve gifted dual-enrollment students, those enrolled in CSU courses while finishing high school. Some from as far away as Atlanta already are taking honors courses at CSU on a trial basis.

“Some may choose to stay here and make CSU their first choice,” Ticknor said. “They’re studying with experts in their fields, and that’s a big difference in culture as you move from high school to college. With this academy, we’re going to be able to help the highest-achieving students go beyond what they can get from their high school experience.”

Ticknor offered an example of the tangible impact the Honors College can make: “If students get into a national competition,” she said, “there should not be a question about funding their travel to compete because they’re working hard to make that happen.”

The requirements to be admitted into the Honors College will mirror those already in place in the Honors Program, the release said:

• Minimum high school grade-point average of 3.5.

• Combined SAT score in math and reading of at least 1,200 with a minimum of 550 on each subsection or an ACT composite score of 26.

• No college-prep curriculum deficiencies preventing regular admission to CSU.

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