OHIO Honors was initially scheduled to launch in the upcoming academic year, but the steering committee decided Monday to delay the program until fall 2018.
The steering committee wanted to solidify plans and staff for OHIO Honors before moving forward, Jeremy Webster, the Dean of Honors Tutorial College, said.
“We don’t want to set up a program that’s not going to benefit students,” he said. “Until we feel like we’re solid on curriculum and staff, we thought it was prudent to delay the program until 2018 just to make sure students are successful.”
Although housed in HTC, OHIO Honors will differ in many ways from the existing program. HTC offers 36 programs of study, such as chemistry and film. Students participating in OHIO Honors will remain in the college housing their major, but they will complete additional enrichment inside and outside of the classroom. When students graduate, they will have “OHIO Honors” on their transcript.
“The idea fundamentally is to create a university-wide honors program that students from each of the colleges could participate in,” Webster said. “The goal behind it is to create a series of enrichment that would augment students in meaningful ways.”
There will be three tracks students can choose from, Webster said, including research and creative activity, leadership and community engagement.
The program is still developing, and although Webster said he anticipates the work will be done by the end of Spring Semester, he said it would not give OHIO Honors enough turnaround time to have students participating in the fall. Students can either apply after being accepted to Ohio University, or potentially while they are freshmen or sophomores on campus. The logistics of application and acceptance are still being worked out.
“Partly, we felt we can’t move forward if we don’t really have a solid sense of … presenting it to students,” Webster said.
The program was officially approved through the University Curriculum Council in November 2015, according to a previous Post report.
The steering committee is currently working on finalizing curriculum and securing personnel.
“There needs to be at least one centralized advisor to help students keep records on classes and co-curricular activities they’re participating in,” Webster said. “At the moment, there’s not enough certainty about the budget for the coming year and how we’ll create that position.”
As the steering committee works to finalize the program and get it ready for fall 2018, an aura of mystery remains for students, even those in HTC.
“It’s weird, OU doesn’t have an honors program besides HTC, because HTC is small and no one really knows about it,” Jessica Hemmelgarn, a freshman studying biological sciences in HTC, said. “It would be a good thing for the college definitely, but it’s weird to have two honors side by side that are different things. It might confuse people.”
In fall 2015, there were about 270 students enrolled in HTC, according to the OU factbook.
The inclusiveness of all colleges within OHIO Honors is a great idea for all OU students to consider, Haley Appelmann, a freshman studying neuroscience in HTC, said.
“Just being in HTC so far, I’ve already been given so many opportunities,” Appelmann said. “This would be a better chance to give all students those opportunities and widen that scope.”
Originally published for The Post on Jan. 26, 2017.