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Dominican University of California Unveils New Honors Program

Dominican University of California has revised its 15-year-old Honors Program to offer an enriched curriculum that emphasizes interdisciplinary seminars, colloquia, and independent study. The new Honors Program — The Scholar in the World— embraces the four Dominican ideals of study, service, community, and reflection while offering undergraduate students opportunities for research under faculty mentors and the chance to enroll in graduate courses.


“The Scholar in the World promotes holistic development of scholars with global perspectives,” says Honors Program Director Jayati Ghosh. “Honors seminars involve students in active learning, challenging them to make the four ideals of Dominican’s Honors Program their own and become creative learners, critical thinkers, and responsible citizens of the world.”

Dominican’s Honors Program follows standards set by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Dr. Ghosh has received a three-year appointment to serve as a member of NCHC’s Small College Committee and has been invited, along with co-Director Sister Patricia Dougherty, O.P., to present information about Dominican’s Honors Program at NCHC’s 2005 annual meeting in St. Louis.

The new curriculum encourages continuity within the Honors Program. “Previously honors students were not always in the same class together at the same time and I felt it was very important to change our structure to keep the community of honors students together,” says Ghosh. This community of scholars will be able to participate in an Honors Center for study and in an Honors Club to promote campus events. Honors students also will serve as peer mentors, further strengthening the bond of a community of scholars.

Dominican’s Honors Program continues to grow in popularity. “Our program has grown quite a lot in recent years, along with the overall quality of the students entering Dominican,” says Ghosh. “We are seeing students with higher GPAs and higher SAT scores applying to enter the Honors Program.” While a few years ago the program was accepting about 10 new students per year, the 2004-2005 freshman class topped 30 students.

Both Ghosh and Sister Patricia serve as honors advisors. All Honors Program students will meet with their honors advisor—as well as their major advisor— throughout the program. “Advising is a major factor for us,” notes Ghosh. “Our goal is for all students who get into the Honors Program to graduate from the University with honors.”

To graduate from the Honors Program, an incoming freshman must successfully complete two honors seminar during the first year, two during the sophomore year, three during the junior year, and one during the senior year. Other requirements include a portfolio, a senior thesis or project, and multicultural or international experience. Transfer students are expected to complete a portion of this requirement depending on their entrance to Dominican. For the non-traditional students, the Pathways honors program consists mainly of honors contracts between the student and a faculty mentor but may also include honors seminars.

Undergraduate research is a key component of the Honors Program, and the senior honors seminar will teach students about publication and formal presentation of their work. This year 15 honors students from Dominican presented research papers at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research.


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