G.E. Honors program on hold as low enrollment, classes reviewed

Daily Sundial

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For more than 10 years, the General Education Honors program provided students with a grade point average over 3.5 more challenging course work and a potentially boosted GPA through classes taught in various departments.

This year, however, no G.E. Honors program courses will be offered, as the future of the program is being re-evaluated. G.E. Honors courses will be offered again in Fall 2006, according to officials in Academic Affairs, following this re-evaluation.

“This is just a stage in the evolution of the program,” said Robert Danes, director of the G.E. Honors program.

Danes is working with a committee of faculty members on ways to redesign the program and eventually present it to Harold Hellenbrand, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Danes said.

“Clearly, what needed to be changed was the amount of students enrolling into the program,” said Cheryl Spector, English professor and director of the Freshman Seminar.

Administrators said G.E. Honors students could not fill the scheduled amount of classes, making it difficult for the university to justify spend so much money on the program. What the program needed is better recruitment and more publicity, Spector said.

“The problem also showed that while there weren’t so many students enrolling in the G.E. Honors courses, there would be twice as many in other courses,” Danes said.

This has become a costly program for departments, as they try to make their money go as far as possible, he said.

Patrick Nichelson, chair of the Religious Studies Department, said his department used to offer many classes in the G.E. Honors program, but he said it was never easy to offer them because they were consistently low enrolled.

“Whatever we do comes out of the department’s budget,” he said. “It became quite a stretch because we got no compensation for the modestly enrolled classes.”

Danes also said that the committee is trying to solve all of these problems and in addition create a more comprehensive program that will offer more subjects.

“We like to showcase the students’ talents through this program,” Spector said.

The problem is not that there are not enough students that qualify for the program, but rather the recruitment of students and letting them know that the G.E. Honors program exists, Spector said.

Admission into the program is based on the GPA of the student. High school students are required to have a 3.7 GPA, and continuing or transfer students need a 3.5 GPA or the recommendation of a faculty member to be accepted into the program.

The courses offered by the program satisfy the required G.E. areas, but each course completed receives a special designation on the transcripts of the student.

Upon graduation, students in the program who fulfill the requirements are also awarded a certificate.

The G.E. Honors program is not a standardized one on every college campus. Some campuses choose to create an honors college, but that probably will not occur at CSUN, Danes said. It is best to operate the program through various departments.

Danes said many students have expressed concern about the future of the G.E. Honors program. While he has tried to respond to all of them, he said he wants them to know that the committee is trying to fix the problem.

“We are willing to take risks through our ideas,” Spector said. “Now the next step is to make decisions.”

Ariana Rodriguez can be reached at ariana.rodriguez@csun.edu.