Dean's Letter - University of Houston
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Dean William Monroe

A Letter from the Dean

Welcome to the Honors College—a vibrant hub of engaging coursework, rich student life, community collaboration, and co-curricular programming at the University of Houston. From study abroad to undergraduate research, from the first-year Human Situation course to the senior honors thesis, students affiliating with the Honors College enjoy the benefits of a small undergraduate college while taking advantage of all that our Tier One research university has to offer.

Almost everyone knows by now that the University of Houston is a Tier One institution, which means that our research and graduate programs have been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation to be of the highest caliber. In addition to its Tier One status, the University and the Honors College have been recognized in a book by the Princeton Review called Colleges That Launch Careers. And in 2016, the Honors College was rated one of the top ten public honors programs in the nation by Public University Press, beating many prestigious flagship universities in the area of honors education. We are proud to be a leading honors institution, and I am extremely proud to serve as dean.

We believe that a top tier education happens not only in the classroom and the library. To have a transformative college experience, students want and need opportunities beyond the classroom: service-learning opportunities; academic, sports, and social clubs; study abroad experiences; mentored research opportunities; interdisciplinary minors and programs that enhance the skills needed for any profession; and support in applying for competitive scholarships, fellowships, and graduate school. Students find all this and more in the Honors College.

As part of a liberal education, all students in the Honors College at the University of Houston take a two-semester great books course called "The Human Situation" during their freshman year. This course is interdisciplinary, team-taught, and helps students hone their critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills, which will serve them in any course of study.

Minors including Creative Work, Energy and Sustainability, Leadership Studies, Medicine & Society, and the Phronesis Program in Politics and Ethics offer curricula tailored to a student’s area of interest. These minors provide interdisciplinary opportunities, allowing students to develop proficiencies in multiple fields, as well as upper-level, honors coursework that fulfills the requirements for graduation with curricular honors designations. In 2017, nearly 850 current students had declared an Honors College minor.

The Co-Curricular Program Collaborative (CPC) offers a comprehensive suite of mentored research opportunities, ePortfolio development, scholarship and fellowship advisement, and other service learning activities rivaling that of top private institutions.Through numerous curricular programs, students also have access to internships, study abroad, and experiential learning opportunities that complement the regular course of studies and give students a chance to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. Special lectures, reading groups, field trips, and personalized advising allow them to develop relationships with faculty members in their field. These programs are designed to increase student success, enhance the classroom experience, and prepare them for graduate study, professional school, and the job market.

In 2017, nearly 250 students conducted graduate level research through the Office of Undergraduate Research, working closely with a faculty member. Through the Office of Undergraduate Research, students are also guided through the process of applying for major awards such as the Rhodes, Fulbright, Goldwater, Marshall, and Truman Scholarship. In 2017, eighteen students were named finalists or recipients of these competitive awards. As a capstone to their degree, students may also undertake a senior honors thesis, which also qualifies them for “honors in major.” 

Outstanding academic work and leadership may be recognized by an invitation to membership in one of the honor societies administered through the Honors College—Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, or Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious honor society in the nation.

Students interested in giving back to the community may apply for membership in the UH Bonner Leaders Program, one of more than 80 programs nationwide offering developmental and meaningful service-learning opportunities for students. Others may wish to engage in policy debate about contemporary political issues through Model Arab League, Model G20, or Model United Nations. 

The Honors College also offers a diverse array of study abroad options, invaluable experiences that enhance a student’s curriculum and inspire new ways of thinking. Previous tripshave included Italy, Greece, France, Spain, the Galapagos Islands, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Israel. The Faber-Economon European Travel (F.E.E.T.) Scholarship provides Honors College students the chance to visit Europe without enrolling in classes or taking time off from school.

Of course, this presents just a selection of the numerous programs and opportunities available through the Honors College. Wherever their educational journey takes them, Honors students will have dedicated faculty and staff to mentor and guide them, to make sure that they are prepared to follow their best path, and one day, to lead.

Warm Regards,
William Monroe, Dean