Honors College status goes up, as enrollment goes down


Photo by Christian Ayers

Cori Santucci

The Hicks Honors College’s enrollment rates are down, despite recently advancing from a program to a college.

The college changed its admissions system in 2015 so that every student had to apply to the college to be considered. In the past, students with any type of Presidential Scholarship were automatically accepted into the college regardless of any interest in the community.

The change was designed to create a greater culture of students who are specifically interested in Honors, and resulted in a 2016 class of 154 students, rather than the usual 200.

“I’d rather that we admit a smaller amount, and they graduate, than a larger amount that doesn’t graduate,” said Jeff Michelmen, associate dean of the Honors College.

Last year, the rate of students who graduated from the Honors College with honors was only at around 25 percent, and this year it is expected to be at 40 percent.

The college has an ultimate goal to foster dedicated students that graduate from the university with honors and take pride in being a part of the Honors College, which is largely funded by a donation made by Anna and David Hicks.

The Hicks committed to a $7 million donation for the endowment of the college in October of 2015. Of this amount, about $280,000 is used exclusively for scholarships annually.

Two-thirds — or $185,000 — of that scholarship money is dedicated to study abroad scholarships, while the rest of the money is used to keep students engaged as they matriculate through the college.

“They can get a grant for $2,000 that supports working on research with a faculty member,” Michelmen said. “It could count for expenses to go to a conference, or lab supplies, or a stipend for the student.”

Michelmen said that by the end of summer 2017, about 20 students within the college will have received funding from the Hicks Endowment.

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