Honors program in talks

By CiaraShook

Provost and Senior Vice President Steve Kapelke recognizes students’ increasing preparedness for college, and wants Columbia to meet the challenges.

Kapelke presented recommendations to the College Council for an honors program at the monthly meeting Nov. 6 in the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. According to a statement provided by Kapelke, evidence indicates that a greater number of Columbia’s current and prospective students desire more creative and intellectual incitement and selection than are offered through the standard curriculum.

“It’s absolutely time for an honors program at Columbia College Chicago,” Kapelke said. “We have more and more students at every level, who increasingly seek greater challenges and more opportunities, more choices in their educational program.”

Kapelke said the most important aspect of the program is recruitment and retention. According to Kapelke, one of Columbia’s greatest hurdles in recruiting and retaining is the lack of prospects to have something such as an honors program to enhance or enlarge students’ educational options.

“I’d never recommend we put a program in place simply to increase retention,” Kapelke said. “Recruitment and retention will be a natural outgrowth of the implementation of this program.”

Tao Huang, assistant professor for Art and Design, said she sees the proposal as an open choice to students, faculty and department chairs.

“Every department, if they are so willing, can make it jumbo jet out of this, or they can make a helicopter,” Huang said.

“This is creating a higher goal for everybody, not just the students, but also the faculty to reach.”

Though the proposal was endorsed by the College Council and received mostly positive responses, members advised further adjustments and review to the proposal.

Louis Silverstein, distinguished professor of Humanities, History and Social Sciences, said he supports the program, but is concerned with balancing diversity within it.

“I have a monoculture classroom with very few minority students, very few low-income students,” Silverstein said. “How will you balance it?”

Kapelke said underprepared students who start in developmental programs have the opportunity to enter the

proposed honors program.

“The last thing we want is to have something that is divisive rather than inclusive,” Kapelke said. “My experience in developmental programs is that given the nature and quality of our developmental programs, a lot of the students who come in underprepared—whether minority or white—will ultimately qualify for the honors program.”