Millersville University Honors Program Review
March 9-11, 1999
Report by William P. Mech, Ph.D.
The Honors Program provided the reviewer with a well-organized and comprehensive set of information about MU and its Honors Program prior to the visit. This information included a page of "Issues and Questions to be addressed by Honors College Consultant" that covered: Issues related to the "college" concept, Issues related to funding Issues related to curriculum, Issues related to impact, and What haven't we asked that we should have asked?
The University Honors Program Committee carefully and fully scheduled the three-day visit. The consultant had very candid and productive conversations with representative group of administrators, faculty and students. These discussions complemented the written materials and also permitted the consultant to crosscheck several important perceptions that lead to the recommendations contained within this report.
Millersville University has a well-deserved reputation for teaching undergraduates. Providing the campus atmosphere and resources to attract and retain very good undergraduates appears to be a high priority. The proposal for an Honors College that originated from a committee of the Faculty Senate and that has administrative support comes at a good time. The proposal coincides with the change of Honors leadership, the preparation of the institutional self-study, the availability of office space, the possible restructuring of scholarship distribution, and the Noel-Levitz enrollment management report.
The advantages of an Honors College relative to an Honors Program also appear to coincide with the stated objectives of the university. Fortunately, the Millersville University Honors Program has been successful and highly regarded by its students for many years. "I would not have come to Millersville University were it not for the Honors Program," said one outstanding student. Dr. John Osborne has given much of his professional career to teaching, mentoring and advising Honors students, and the program owes him for its success. The next phase will, in any case, require greater support and resources just to maintain the current level. It is unlikely that anyone else would accept this assignment without this commitment, so the alternative will likely be to terminate Honors at Millersville University. Only marginally greater resources will certainly be required to move to the proposed Honors College status.
What are the advantages of having an Honors College? The successful implementation of an Honors College will give Honors education a more central, visible and coherent position within the university. It will improve the recruitment efforts of the entire university; attracting top students also has the significant second-tier effect of bringing along those good students influenced by the choices of the best students whose judgements they respect. This raises the quality of students for the entire university. The presence of an Honors College is attractive for development purposes, too. This draws much-needed gifts into the university.
Honors might also serve the university as a coordinating center for the prestige scholarships, for codifying student research and travel funds and providing more consistency across departmental honors. The university might make more effective use of limited scholarship funds by clearly formulating and implement an institution-wide plan, and clearly this should involve Honors. As a kind of educational laboratory within the university, Honors can lead the way in promoting undergraduate research, field trips, study abroad, and theses from which the whole campus benefits.