Honors College reorganization and tuition cuts

Sent out yesterday:

Message on behalf of Jayanth Banavar and Karen Ford ~


Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Tuesday afternoon about our goals for the Clark Honors College and for the experience we want the students to have who call it their academic home.

The teaching and research you do every day have established the CHC as a premier honors college.  I want to thank you for that important work, your dedication to students, and your participation in the effort to shape the future of the honors college for years to come. 

As you know, for many months we have been discussing how best to serve our students. There have been lively conversations, feedback opportunities, data analyses, and thoughtful deliberations as we look to create an environment where our shared values can be of the greatest benefit to the student experience. 

As was announced last week, President Schill intends to recommend to the Board of Trustees a significant reduction in the CHC’s differential tuition. If approved, this reduction will make us more competitive with our peers from a pricing standpoint. It is now time for us to become more nimble and able to offer a greater diversity of options to our current and prospective students. This will make us even more competitive in the overall academic experience. 

As discussed, we will begin the work that will allow us to serve students optimally by responding to the shifting student base, diversifying the faculty, revising the curriculum, and establishing ways to encourage the UO’s most accomplished teachers outside of the CHC to share their talents with CHC students, and UO’s accomplished scholar-teachers inside of the CHC to share their talents with the wider UO.

While we know that change can create apprehension, we want to reiterate to you that our commitment to the very best qualities of the honors college will not change. We will continue to offer continuity of advising, rigorous and small classes, high academic standards, a close-knit academic community, and a dedication to student success.

To provide the best possible education for our students, we are eager to create an environment where the broader UO community can more readily embrace the CHC and its mission. And, like any unit on campus, we must be forward-thinking while also managing resources in an efficient, sustainable, and scalable manner.

In terms of next steps, we will:

·       Provide for the voluntary relocation of our tenure-track faculty to a disciplinary unit, effective July 1, 2018;

·       Recruit faculty from across UO to teach in the honors college to balance disciplinary representation, diversify faculty, and give accomplished UO instructors an opportunity to teach our high-achieving students;

·       Have faculty tenured in the honors college teach at least a course every other year in their home discipline(s), where they will have the opportunity to teach and advise graduate students;

·       Through the Institutional Hiring Plan, collaborate with the deans of the other schools and colleges to propose faculty positions that benefit both the CHC and the other schools and colleges;

·       Assemble the CHC Appointments Advisory Council with membership from the CHC and the UO to advise the dean on faculty appointments to the honors college; and

·       Evaluate all faculty assigned to the CHC with respect to their appointments in the CHC.

We recognize there are many questions, and there remain many details to work out. Your patience is very much appreciated through this process.

We are eager for the CHC to get started on this important initiative and are extremely excited by the possibilities it provides. Thank you for your work with Clark Honors College students and for your scholarly contributions to your fields, the CHC, and the UO. We look forward to working with you – and many other new partners – as we create the finest honors college experience in the nation.

Sincerely, Karen and Jayanth

Meanwhile tuition will increase for regular UO students. The Emerald has more about the HC here:

Incoming students at the Robert D. Clark Honors College typically look forward to having small class sizes, building relationships with professors and working with students who are academically driven.

But between the cost and the time commitment, the honors college may not be worth it for some students.

For freshman Avery Turner, it almost seemed like a punishment. Turner found herself paying $4,194 on top of regular tuition. Turner said that after working hard in high school, it was frustrating to pay more to work harder. She also said the college was slowing her down — without it, Avery could graduate in three years with a double major in psychology and political science.

Avery is not alone. Many other students agree with her sentiments and highlight a number of concerns with CHC at the University of Oregon. CHC can be expensive and doesn’t include enough science courses or fit with students’ heavy credit loads, leading many to ask the same question: Is the honors college worth it?


Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Honors College reorganization and tuition cuts

  1. Dog says:

    Some Dog Sense here

    I have taught about 25 classes in the HC over a 15 year period and have supervised (well loosely) about 22 HC theses. I have sensed the student perception of “Is the HC worth it” has changed significantly over the last few years – for the two reasons mentioned in the Emerald article:

    1) HC requirements do get in the way of some students (particularly science majors)

    2) The added cost, need to pay faculty like me on an Overload basis, has become significant. The UO should seek , and I think it is now, a better way to incentivize affiliated CHC faculty.

  2. Emeritus Splendissimus says:

    I have taught many courses in the HC over 28 years and witnessed several ‘re-orientations’ of the curriculum and of the staff. I have also served on countless thesis committees, many of them as the principal advisor.

    At first in 1980, the program was primarily focused on the lower division [often taught by regular departmental facutly] and on the thesis, the advanced classes being taught at the departmental level.

    While I am sympathetic to reasons why the HC would want more residential faculty, I am not convinced that the creation of parallel English or History or Whatever majors in the HC has optimized resources. Personally, I would have preferred to see more regular faculty rotate through the HC program and the faculty appointments be in depts rather than in the HC. So, too, have departmental honors programs often been neglected where they might have done much to complement and supplement what the HC offers.

    Finding the right balance between being ‘distinctive’ and ‘integrated’ poses challenges for the HC. I would like to believe that more could be done to promote the latter and that it can be done without sacrificing the former.

    • Dog says:

      Ultimately I think the move to pull it out of CAS (which then launches the reactionary College Scholars Program now defunct – but will be resurrected under the guise of “student success”) simply made residential HC faculty far more insular than they should have been which then operationally separated the HC from CAS and then a parallel curriculum was developed. Not efficient.

  3. Big Bad Duck says:

    I concur. It had become an imperium in imperio, a thing of itself which pulled many of us in on an as-needed basis without a real sense of the overall experience while expanding a notion of dual citizenship, worse, of second-class citizenship for faculty from outside who participated as if they were an ivy plant in the midst of our Idaho potato plantation.

  4. cheyney ryan says:

    I am out of the country and have not been involved in this discussion. However, I believe I have the longest faculty affiliation with the Honors College, having first taught there as an affiliated faculty in the fall of 1974. I have continued to teach one course there very since moving mainly to Oxford nine years ago.

    As an affiliated faculty all these decades, I can assure you that an Honors College of all affiliated faculty will not work. The HC only became a true community when it acquired its own faculty, for the simple reason that no one based in another dept will make it a priority. I didn’t. So, whatever else this reorganization does, it is hard to see how the HC will remain a “college” if what we mean by this is a vibrant educational environment.

    I actually asked my class last fall what they thought of the HC. Yes, there were complaints about cost,, etc. But I didnt hear anyone saying: “I think my education in the HC would be better if it was folded into the rest of the university–so that no one had idea WHAT the HC was.”

    I have a stake in this because for some years I have run human rights workshops at Oxford in which HC students participate. (One is happening in three weeks.) I always have confidence they will excel because I know how excellent the HC educational environment is. They know how to engage and challenge top faculty from Oxford and elsewhere based on the intense experience the HC provides them. None of this will remain if the HC becomes a grab-bag for faculty looking for a change of pace from their own departments.

    Surely the legitimate concerns can be addressed in some other way than essentially dissolving the HC–which these proposals seem to amount to.

    • Dog says:

      The words HC and “commodity” that you use do not go together – although that is how the HC is now being treated. Yes I think there should be a core faculty but one that is not so insular!

  5. cheyney ryan says:

    I’d like to add one or two more thoughts, if I may. Legitimate concerns are raised about the additional cost of the HC–though I note that in the Emerald article that only 15% of those who’ve left the HC cited this as the reason.

    But how is that extra cost is viewed? When I asked my HC students, several said this: “We were admitted to schools like Harvard and Stanford, but couldn’t afford them. The extra cost of the HC is worth it compared to that alternative–and we get a Harvard/Stanford quality education in the HC.” I had a long conversation with an administrator a few years ago that a main POINT of the HC was to keep students in Oregon that would otherwise go to more elite (hence expensive) institutions.

    It never made any sense to have the HC under CAS because so many of its students are in non-CAS majors. Dissolving its permanent faculty will not give all the affiliates first-class status; that wasn’t the case prior to expanding its permanent faculty. It will mean that EVERYONE who teaches for the HC will have second-class status, if only because the HC will become a second-class program, i.e. an after-thought to everyone involved in it except its director.

  6. Dog says:

    Who the hell wants “first class” status? As stated, I have taught
    in the HC for some time now – second-class or even last-class
    status is fine with me. Its the content of the courses that matters,
    not class …

  7. Oldtimer says:

    to be clear, the HC was created by the CAS faculty under former dean and namesake, Robert D. Clark.

  8. cheyney ryan says:

    The reference to second-class status is a response to “Big Bad Duck” above, who obviously cares about it very much indeed,

    The issue is not just the content of the courses. It is the HC as a community, which only coalesced when it acquired it own permanent faculty.

    Who created the HC is irrelevant. The question is whether it should continue its continued status as its own community, or be dissolved into the rest of the U of O. The statement from the provost says that the proposed reorganization will maintain the values it provides to students. I think this is nonsense.

    • Dog says:

      well bravo for interpreting Big Bad Duck – people with long baselines of associating with the HC have seen evolution.

      In my view

      a) the HC provides less value than it used to
      b) a lot of this ‘trouble’ started when the HC wanted to increase their enrollment (and dollars) at a time when HC resources
      were mostly fixed. Yes I know this is the UO way, but after some timescale, the effect is mostly detrimental.
      c) and yeah, fuck history, who needs to be informed by that!
      d) still waiting for the coalescence of CAS …

  9. Oldtimer says:

    Stupid me. I forgot that in the world of new World orders, history is irrelevant.

  10. Reverse honorific says:

    Congratulations, you have the honor of paying more!

  11. realworld says:

    My significant other hired a graduate of CHC knowing the rigor of the program despite the protestations from the committee that it wasn’t a brand name for Big Law. That student was one of the few that passed the CA Bar exam unlike her Ivy League candidates. Maybe it’s not a huge benefit if there are pathways to your career of choice with or without CHC. But if you need more chops for the work required of professional schools and knowing how to negotiate highly complex, billion dollar deals (or the crazy fierce job competition in big cities) … CHC does deliver. Electrical engineering at UCs see a massive dropout rate and it’s considered normal. They give people a chance but few can really work on that level without losing their minds. That’s where the grit comes in. Grit is knowing systems are flawed but you dig in anyway. I know a lot of massively successful people who came from humble beginnings. They weren’t smarter, they were just willing to work twice as hard and didn’t think they were owed something for showing up.