Honors College undergoes its first academic program review


    Since its inception in the fall of 2009, TCU’s Honors College has seen the number of its graduates more than double and the number of honors-dedicated faculty triple, thanks in part to the transition from an honors program to an honors college.

    In October 2006, a committee of faculty members and honors students convened to discuss the process of transforming the then-honors program into an honors college.

    The transformation would include the renovation of Milton Daniel Hall to house honors students, the relocation of the honors offices to Scharbauer Hall, an increase in the number of faculty solely dedicated to the Honors College and a revamping of honors curriculum and programming.

    The John V. Roach Honors College was inaugurated in November of 2009, and five years later the college is now in the midst of its first academic program review: a formative process that TCU requires for each academic department every five years.

    The first part of the academic program review is a self-study assessment in which subcommittees, made up of faculty and staff from every school and college on campus meet to discuss the various aspects of the Honors College.

    The subcommittees will be collecting data and writing on different topics like the Honors College’s mission, vision, curriculum, space in Scharbauer, and budget.

    The Honors College will celebrate its fifth anniversary this November, and the self-study process is giving honors faculty and staff members the opportunity to review the changes and improvements made since its inception in 2009.

    Acting dean of the Honors College and co-chair of the academic program review, Sarah Robbins, said the Honors College is looking to reflect on the its first few years while developing a plan for the future with the help of the self-study assessment process.

    “We’re beyond the launch period [of the College] now and are working toward being more developed and secure as an entity,” Robbins said. “This official moment of assessment will be very helpful in giving us a road map for the future.”

    Phil Hartman, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, is the other co-chair of the academic program review. Hartman said the goal of the assessment is to find areas where the Honors College can improve.

    Hartman said that the increase in the number of honors students at TCU in recent years has called for the subcommittees involved in the self-study to recognize areas in which the Honors College needs to expand.

    “It’s too early for specifics but increased faculty would be nice to have, increased space for the Honors College, and also increased financial resources—all of which would benefit [the honors] students,” Hartman said.

    Hartman, who has worked at TCU since 1981, also said he feels optimistic about the future of the Honors College because of the support from TCU’s Provost, Nowell Donovan, and Chancellor Victor Boschini.

    “I’m really pleased that we have a provost and a chancellor who value the Honors College and recognize its importance,” Hartman said.

    Lauren Nixon, a 2008 TCU graduate and former employee of the TCU Office of Admission, said she has also noticed the value of the Honors College.

    Nixon was one of 60 TCU students that graduated from the honors program in spring 2008, the semester before the honors program turned into the Honors College.

    Now the coordinator for the Honors College, Nixon said she watched the development from program to college very closely and that she is proud of the progress the Honors College has made.

    “It’s been awesome to see the growth in the number of honors students, the increased retention, the different programs that we’re able to offer, and the new faculty members that have joined the college,” Nixon said.

    Although individuals like Robbins, Hartman and Nixon will be highly involved with the self-study process this fall, the academic program assessment doesn’t end here.

    A set of four external reviewers will be arriving in March 2015 to provide a fresh look at the Honors College from outsiders’ perspectives, while presenting advice for the development of the college in the future.

    The four reviewers are Dr. Robert Spurrier from Oklahoma State University, Dr. Maria Frawley from George Washington University, Dr. Ritchie Kendall from the University of North Carolina, and Dr. Mark Jacobs from Arizona State University.

    The academic program review of the Honors College will conclude in May of 2015.

    With the information provided from the internal self-study this fall and the external review in the spring, the Honors College will prepare for its next five years on TCU’s campus.