By Katherine Tavarez
The Honors Program began in 1963. As the Pioneer reported on Nov. 3, 2015, the Honors Program became the Honors College in fall 2015. There are currently 200 undergraduates, of all majors, in the year-old college.
Honors students have unique opportunities such as small, seminar-style classes, mentorships, Merit Fellowship programs and scholarship opportunities. The offices recently moved from the second floor of Humanities to the second floor of Winnick house, also referred to as “the mansion” on the hill.
Joan Digby, a professor in the English department, has been the director of the Honors Program since the late 1970s. “I never got bored, I love it, I still love it, ” Digby said.
As director, Digby works with an advisory council and serves as a general advisor to all students in the program. All incoming freshmen and transfer students accepted into the program must have a high school average of 89 and above, including combined math and verbal SAT scores ranging approximately around 600.
Four-year honors students are required to take 30 credits, and three-year participants 18 credits within their major. Juniors/seniors need a 3.4 GPA to join, following 12 credits (if they don’t enroll their freshmen year).
Each student in the honors college is required to go to five merit events per term. Merit events are held by the students/faculty, called the “honors advisory board.” They usually plan a variety of seminars, group discussions, community service, and music and theatre plays honors students attend for merit. The events are open and free for everyone.
The Honors College requires students to write a thesis involving research in their area during their senior year. “For a lot of people that is the key for them, a lot of the students in the Honors College leave either writing a book or documenting it,” Digby said. Most honors students, prior to graduation usually have done research in their field of study and are much more prepared.
Digby, and her husband, John Digby, run a small press called Prehensile Pencil Publications, The Feral Press. They welcome all students who want to write or are interested in publishing. The publications are purchased by university libraries and small press collectors. All of the publications are illustrated by artists working in black and white media.
According to Digby, many of the students from the honors college end up getting some of their own work published, which gives them something to show at job interviews.
“The Honors College is wonderful and diverse. Dr. Digby is a wonderful professor. I highly recommend the Honors College,” said Ilana Leviton, a sophomore English major and member of the Honors College. “It is mainly for students who really want to put that extra effort into getting that A and getting that B. The honors college is also reasonable if you’re struggling.”
Digby’s office is on the second floor of the Winnick House. Her doors are open for anyone interested in finding out more about the Honors College as well as the courses she teaches, such as “The Horse in Literature and Perspectives in World Literature.”
Honors college students are also eligible for special scholarships that help make college more affordable. To learn more, visit www.liu. edu/post/honors