From left, Nebraska senators, Tom Hansen, Dennis Utter and Tom Carlson tour the newly renovated Men’s Hall. Honors Program students, including sophomore, Taylor Franzen, say Men’s Hall is a drastic improvement to Honors Program housing. UNK’s new deans, Dr. Joe Oravecz, dean of student affairs, and Dr. John LaDuke, dean of natural and social sciences, gave the senators a tour of recently renovated buildings at UNK to show how funds have been utilized.
The UNK Honors Program is bursting at the seams with a slew of new freshmen, but nobody’s complaining here. The record-setting enrollment was set by the 166 freshmen, who will join the Honors Program this fall.
“Last year we had 145 freshmen in the Honors Program, and before that we had averaged 135 Honors freshmen per year,” said Dr. Gary Davis, UNK Honors Program director. “The 166 students is the largest freshmen class ever for the Honors Program since it began in 1980.”
According to Davis, incoming freshmen students must have a minimum ACT composite score of 26, be in the top 25 percent of their senior class and complete an application form to be accepted to the Honors Program. Currently enrolled UNK students must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and complete an application form.
The Honors Program has more than new freshmen, but a new place to house them. Newly renovated Men’s Hall is now an all-honors residence hall. Honors students were housed in Stout Hall before Men’s Hall renovations were completed.
“Men’s Hall can house up to 128 students, whereas Stout only housed 75 students,” Davis said. “By housing all the Honors students together we are creating community, building stronger bonds and friendships within the Honors Program.”
Mark Grimes, from Raymond, graduated from UNK in May with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He is now in his first year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law but has fond memories of the program. “I lived in Stout Hall my sophomore year with the other Honors students,” Grimes said. “There was special camaraderie among Honors students, and the environment was conducive to learning.”
Becky Berven, a junior elementary education major from Grand Island has been in the Honors Program for three years. She was a Community Advisor for Honors students in Stout Hall her sophomore year and is now a Community Advisor in Men’s Hall.
“Having the Honors students under one roof is great way to create connections,” Berven said. “A lot of the freshmen cling together in any hall just because they have that in common. When all the Honors students live in the same place that just creates another thing we have in common,” she said. “It also helps the freshmen meet upperclassmen and ask any questions they have about the Honors Program or general topics.”
The Honors Program can offer many opportunities and benefits to students who are in the program including early class registration, two academic advisors and international exchange programs.
“The Honors Program gave me a lot of opportunities, including the chance to go to Europe for a semester,” Grimes said. “I was the first UNK student to attend Roosevelt Academy in the Netherlands, and I was sent through the UNK Honors Exchange Program.”
Students in the program take Honors courses and complete senior projects in their field of study. “The Honors classes have the same qualities as other classes, but the quality of the students in the classes made the learning environment better,” Grimes said. “The students took the work seriously, as well as their education seriously.” “As a senior in the honors program I had to complete a senior project,” he said. “I did an analysis of the government program ‘Cash for Clunkers’ and my work was published in the UNK Undergraduate Research Journal.”
The Honors Program has a very friendly and family feel about it. The students all know each other, have classes together, live in the same residence halls and attend the honors events together. “As a an honors student I’ve had a lot experiences, because there have been so many weekends when people stick around, and we watch a Husker game or hang out in a room and watch movies. We’ve even gotten 20-30 people together to play games like Apples to Apples or Catch Phrase. It's just fun!”
“There is a great esprit de corps among other honors students and leadership from the Honors Student Adviser Board,” Dr. Davis said.
“Before I graduated in May, I attended the spring Honors Banquet,” Grimes said. “It was a way for the Honors Program to send us seniors off, and we received gifts and special recognition. As I was leaving UNK it was really nice to know that more people than just my family were proud of me for what I accomplished at UNK.”
The Honors Programs welcomes the new freshmen to an existing “family” of honors students. The 166 freshmen will join more than 550 current UNK honor students.
Grimes’ advice for the new freshmen, “They should take advantage of the Honors Programs opportunities. The ice cream socials are great places to meet people, and the exchange program with the Netherlands is great opportunity to study abroad.”
Do you qualify for the honors program?
Admission to the Honors Program at UNK is by invitation only. Students are selected based on outstanding academic and creative accomplishments and a proven record of leadership. The minimum qualifications required for the Honors Program are:
First-time freshmen: an ACT score of 26 and above, a high school transcript that ranks them in the top 25 percent of their class, a written essay, and two academic letters of recommendation.
Current students: 12 completed credits hours, a grade point average of at least 3.5, a written essay, and a successful interview with the Honors Program Committee.
Information from www.unk.edu/honors
“More people are wanting to come to college to pursue their future careers. The Honors Program is a good way to make your resume stand out.”
Taylor Franzen, sophomore
Agri business major, Wallace
“The Honors Program has provided a community atmosphere where I could succeed. It puts like-minded people together in the same environment, so they can strive to do their best.”
Scott Seeba, graduate student
Student affairs and counseling, Bellevue