January 20, 2016
Dear friends of Honors,
What a busy and productive 2015-16 academic year we are having in the John V. Roach Honors College. It’s a great pleasure to bring you this update on some of our most recent activities and to invite you to join us on campus and online during the spring term for more exciting connections.
Highlights of the fall 2015 term included the launch of our first-ever tenure track search for the College. Ably leading this endeavor is Honors Faculty Fellow Darren Middleton, assisted by colleagues from departments all across campus and two energetic student committee members. With TCU in the planning stages for a brand new medical school in partnership with UNT’s Health Science Center, focusing this search in Science Studies has been an obvious goal. As undergraduate Honors student Bailey Shepherd pointed out in a recent story about her “insider” look at this search process, this exciting development is an important sign of the Honors College’s growth and its commitment to interdisciplinary learning that addresses real-world social needs
Although our “people growth” pattern is creating challenges for us on the space front, we’re eager to welcome even more new faculty in the fall of 2016. Professor Stacy Landreth-Grau of the Neeley School of Business is chairing a second search team set to tap two additional faculty members for one-year appointments as interdisciplinary lecturers. Three faculty members already at TCU will be joining us part-time through the generosity of their home Colleges as the second round of Honors Faculty Fellows. A recently revamped version of that program enables these colleagues to continue working in their home departments while also giving some of their teaching and service to Honors. As our stellar inaugural Fellows, Darren Middleton and Beata Jones, return to their home units, we look forward to their continued collaborations with us on several fronts. Meanwhile, we are thrilled indeed to welcome Professors Mark Dennis (Department of Religion), Suki John (School for Classical & Contemporary Dance), and Peter Szok (Department of History and Geography) to their four-semester terms. As Fellows, they will teach one course per semester in Honors, provide service on various projects and committees, and develop a leadership legacy enhancing the future of the College.
Along with these additional faculty members, several important personnel gains on the staff side have come to us this fall as a result of our 2014-15 self-study and external review. One new academic advisor (Marie Martinez) is already in place, and we’re completing the hiring process for the fourth, bringing our student-to-advisor load in line with nationally recommended ratios. With the recent addition of Assistant to the Dean Lynn Herrera, we’re also better positioned now for continuing our push to improve communications with all our stakeholders and develop new friend-raising initiatives, such as our upcoming “Taste of Honors” event on September 22, 2016. (Keep an eye on the website for more information about that occasion in the weeks ahead.)
In both curriculum and co-curriculum, we’re exploring, innovating, and expanding our profile on campus and beyond. A new Dean’s Leadership Team is providing opportunities for first-year students to help improve our support systems for the transitions from high school to college. Collaborative courses and events involving diverse campus and community partnerships are enriching our work. One pathway supporting ongoing curriculum enrichment is our new community-building mini-grant program, an innovation led by the Honors budget committee that includes students, faculty, and staff, under the ever-visionary leadership of Honors Coordinator Lauren Nixon.
In all facets of our programming, our dedicated Board of Visitors continues to provide invaluable leadership. Students completing an upper-division Honors thesis or creative project can now apply for competitive small-grant funding to support their work, thanks to generous donations garnered by our BOV team. As students whose projects were funded by the first-ever cluster of grants complete their work this spring, we look forward to additional fundraising for this important initiative. To help current Honors students at all stages of progress through TCU’s Honors experience have a chance to learn from compelling role models, another BOV committee has launched a Founders Award program; each year’s winner will be invited to campus to share a personal success story certain to inspire us.
If you’d like to be inspired by the many success stories emerging every day in the John V. Roach Honors College, I hope you’ll come to visit us soon. Take part in what’s sure to be a rousing Honors Convocation on April 7, when you can hear from our much-anticipated guest speaker Barbara Makeda Blake Hannah. Visit a class. Plan to attend some or all of the Honors Week Boller Award finalist presentations on Tuesday, April 5, he between 1:00 and 6:00 p.m. in the TCU Debate Chamber of Scharbauer Hall. And stay in touch via the “News and Events” section of our website, while following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Hoping to see you soon,
Sarah Ruffing Robbins