This past fall we launched our highly desired and long anticipated Honors Program. I believe we are well on our way to having a nationally recognized program which will attract some of the very best and brightest—truly gifted—students to UT Tyler. A successful honors program is an essential element of this University’s vision:
The University of Texas at Tyler will be nationally recognized as a destination university for high-ability, flagship-capable students. We will be the premier public university in Texas focusing on excellence in undergraduate education by offering challenging academic programs and an exciting, personal university experience with smaller classes, service opportunities and a residential, park-like campus that encourages learning.
UT Tyler faced many hurdles as the University began its effort to establish its distinctive Honors Program, not the least of which was the need for scholarship funding. We want to thank the several dedicated donors who have stepped forward thus far for listening and understanding the major benefits of this program to UT Tyler and to the community. Of course, we need more such scholarships in order to fully establish the program. Our goal is to have $10 million in scholarship endowments to support this program and we are half way to our goal!
I couldn’t be more proud of the 20 exceptional students we attracted for our inaugural program. These future leaders are branding our Honors Program and UT Tyler as well. The research is in—we know that when you attract the “cream-of-the-crop” students, several hundred additional, truly excellent students will follow them.
The Honors Program will not only attract the most capable students, it will also help us recruit outstanding faculty members, like Dr. Paul Streufert, who serves as the Honors Program director. We anticipate world-class scholars becoming part of UT Tyler because of the excellence and opportunities associated with the Honors Program.
UT Tyler’s Honors Program has a number of unique elements. We interview all applicants and are looking for well-rounded students, those who have—or those in whom we believe we can cultivate and develop—the “brains,” communications skills, character and personal motivation that will make them the leaders in their professions and in our community and state. These are the people we believe will make the breakthroughs and lead the organizations that will make a difference in East Texas, drawing knowledge industries to our region and raising standards of living and the overall quality of life for all.
These students are mentored by a number of faculty members and benefit from smaller classes with top professors who team-teach very challenging coursework. The program provides opportunities for independent learning and emphasizes faculty/student research opportunities.
In addition, students receive substantial academic scholarships, are given personalized academic advising, are encouraged to create academic majors that include interdisciplinary study, are given opportunities to meet and interact with distinguished guest speakers, have the opportunity to study abroad, and can access special study and research areas set aside for them.
This is just the beginning. We care about these students—they are precious assets for this university and for everyone in our region and across the nation. Our ultimate goal is to allow the current program to grow into an Honors College that will be recognized across the nation for Inspiring Excellence. We have three residential honors houses already planned, as well as state-of-the-art labs and classrooms. The opportunity to name this future, fully fledged honors college still exists.