Honors college at UTC approved by trustees

Honors college at UTC approved by trustees

October 29th, 2011 by Perla Trevizo in News

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HONORS COLLEGE PROGRAMS

• Environmental sustainability -- A multidisciplinary focus on current environmental science along with the all of the social, political, and economic factors involved.

• Multinational business and finance -- A multicultural view of business development directed toward global competitiveness.

• STEM education -- A diverse cohort of math and science majors mentored to become future K-12 teachers.

• International scholars -- A mixed group of domestic and international students focused on international studies to enhance their respective majors and potential careers.

Source: UTC Honors College proposal

KNOXVILLE -- As part of its goal to become a top five public, master's university in the South, UTC will create an honors college with the goal of serving 10 percent of undergraduate students in a decade -- making it the first in the UT system.

The University of Tennessee board of trustees on Friday approved the creation of the college that will enroll its first group of students by the 2013 academic school year, UTC Chancellor Roger Brown said.

"We believe we have a dual mission in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, to provide access for higher education for families in Tennessee who may not have the best preparation, but in our opinion are deemed qualified to earn a college degree, [and] ... to serve the best prepared," Brown told the board of trustees Friday.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has had an honors program for 35 years and currently serves about 150 students, or 1.5 percent of UTC undergraduate students, according to school officials.

The honors college will emphasize individual development in leadership, personal and professional ethics, and creativity, according to UTC's proposal.

The college will be funded primarily with private money. In addition to the existing $6.5 million for the honors program, known as the Brock Scholars endowment, UTC already has raised $7 million to start the college. The goal is to raise $15 million, said Brown.

Raising $7 million demonstrates the college has generated excitement in the community, said UT trustee John Foy, from Chattanooga.

"It's an excellent move for UTC," he added as he made the motion to approve the creation of the college in the academic affairs and student success committee.

The honors college will increase the reputation of the university, eventually helping all students, not only those enrolled in the program, he said.

"As we have grown in enrollment, the preparation of students has risen in quality," said Brown.

The average ACT score is just below 23, the highest level in the university's history, and the high school grade point average has increased to 3.35, records show.

To reach the goal of serving 1,000 students, UTC will create multiple honors programs including environmental sustainability, STEM education and multinational business and finance.

But those plans may change, added Brown, because it will be up to the faculty to determine what programs benefit the students the most.

Along with the existing humanities-based honors program, Brown said a new honors program will be created every two years, with environmental sustainability being one of the first to be added.

A tentative budget of $125,000 per year is anticipated to start the program with 50 new honor students in year one. The first group of students is projected to graduate in 2016-17.

A dean for the college is expected to be hired by the spring of 2012, who will then begin to work with faculty task forces to create the honors programs, Brown said.