To the editor:
The major issues concerning the Honors Program changes discussed in College Senate on March 20 and covered in The Lamron on March 29 are: (1) whether the changes in size and freshman-to-sophomore ratio are in the best interests of the students in the program or serve some other purpose; and (2) that these changes were mandated by the administration, without consultation with the students or the faculty or the prior and current directors of the program before making the decisions, when they should have been a matter for review and input by the Senate.
When the Honors Program was first proposed in 1986, all the features of the program (including the size and the inclusion of an equal number of sophomores and freshmen) had thorough Senate review, and some aspects were even modified on the basis of this review. Thus, changes in these aspects of the program should have been open to Senate review as well - but instead they were dictated by administrative fiat. Attempts to discuss these issues in the Honors Program Advisory Committee were squelched (it "had not been charged" with "deliberating these issues").
A letter of serious concerns about the possible negative effects of these changes, representing the views of Honors students (both current and alums), the past director of the program (for 18 years), and several faculty who had taught in the program, sent in October, was simply ignored and not even acknowledged. Relevant data regarding the freshman/sophomore ratio in the program (including the fact that the sophomores had generally outperformed the freshmen in the program, and that the sophomores had contributed a very valuable mentoring role) was given a pro forma response and then ignored. It has been claimed that the Honors Program is primarily a recruitment tool, yet in the original College and Senate discussion, retention of our best students was considered at least as important a goal.
Should matters that have been (and should have been) in the purview of the college community (and represented by Senate) be so readily given over to the whims of the administration? We could well be on a slippery slope to essentially having no voice in the most important matters affecting the college as a whole.