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William Monroe, Dean of The Honors College

Dr. William Monroe, longtime executive associate dean of The Honors College, was named the College’s permanent dean on January 20, 2009. Monroe takes over the post from Dr. Ted Estess, the College’s founding dean, who retired from that role at the end of the 2008 academic year. “The Honors College exists to provide undergraduate students with an intimate, intellectually dynamic environment,” Monroe said. “I look forward to working with our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to develop new ways to build this outstanding community.” 

Monroe is already developing several initiatives that promise to strengthen The Honors College and improve its visibility at the University and throughout the Houston area. 

On the curriculum front, he has partnered with College faculty to develop upper-division programs that complement the lower-division honors core courses, including the Human Situation sequence, American history, and government. Among these are the Medicine & Society Program, which is designed for students who plan to pursue a career in healthcare, and Phronesis, a program in politics and ethics that should particularly appeal to students considering law school and public administration. 

Also new is the Center for Creative Work program, which is aimed at students of all majors who want to enhance their knowledge and experience of the history, theory, and practice of the fine arts. During spring break this past year, Honors College students traveled to Artesian Lakes outside Cleveland, Texas for a weeklong creative workshop as part of the Writers and Their Regions course. The students met bi-weekly and discussed the literature of East Texas (such as William Goyen’s House of Breath and Mary Karr’s The Liars Club) during the semester and used that literature as a window into East Texas culture. At the retreat, everyone pursued individual creative projects by day and then gathered by moonlight to discuss their work and eat—food for mind and body!

Expanding the College’s faculty and student roster is another goal of the new dean. All students at the University who are conducting mentored undergraduate research projects will be extended invitations to join the College, while the College will establish affiliations with roughly 25 of the university’s top faculty members through the proposed Society of Fellows of The Honors College.

The College will also seek greater visibility under Monroe’s leadership. New efforts to market The Honors College will elucidate its central role in helping the University achieve Tier One status while increasing awareness of the College throughout the city and state. 

One such effort is the new Honors in the Schools program, which places Honors students, faculty, and alumni in school settings in partnership with teachers and counselors. Those participating in the program will tell the story of The Honors College and present its benefits to some of the area’s most promising high school students.