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What Is the Honors Program?

by Nicole Cortino

Photo via greensburg.pitt.edu.

The Honors Program began this semester. The program is an opportunity for students to go beyond the typical expectations within a class or campus service activity to enrich their education while earning special recognition for their achievements. Many faculty, such as Dr. William Pamerleau, professor of philosophy; Dr. Sheila Confer, director of the Academic Village and instructor of theatre arts and first year studies; Dr. Frank Wilson, assistant vice president for academic affairs; and Dr. John Prellwitz, associate professor of communication and humanities division chair, have helped organize the program and advise students who are involved.

How Do You Become an Honors Student?

Students can apply online here in the fall if they meet the requirements, which are maintaining a 3.5 cumulative GPA and completing at least one enrichment activity per academic year.

What is an Enrichment Activity?

Enrichment activities come in many different forms. A student can create their own or join an existing project. There are in-class projects and community projects.

In-class projects are meant to enrich one’s education, possibly engaging the rest of the classroom, within a course’s curriculum. Examples of in-class projects include writing a report based on a favorite chapter of the course and presenting additional information to expand upon the course’s curriculum.

Community-based activities are projects that enrich a student’s involvement within the Pitt-Greensburg campus community, often engaging others as well. Examples of community projects include helping the Blackburn Center and preparing freshmen for the transition from completely online to in-person classes.

How Do You Earn Honors Recognition?

Students can earn their recognition and honors designation in multiple ways. It is important to remember all requirements must be fulfilled and/or maintained in order to stay in the program.

  • A list of courses where professors are willing to allow any student to present a project idea that goes beyond the course’s curriculum can be found on the school website. If a student is considering taking a class on the list, they can let that professor know and fill out an enrichment project form along with the instructor. Once the project is complete, and the student earns at least a B in the class, the student can earn the honors designated credit for the course.
  • Students can reach out to professors individually with a proposal of a project for courses outside of the list. However, the professor is not required to approve it. Students are encouraged to communicate with the professor when deciding on a project based on the course’s curriculum.
  • Students can join or form their own enrichment project that provides service to the Pitt-Greensburg or Westmoreland community.

What are the Benefits of the Honors Program?

  • Students are able to go beyond the average expectations to demonstrate their diligence and academic talents.
  • Students are able to create their own projects, initiate networking systems, and develop strong professional relationships with faculty on campus.
  • Students earn honors recognition at graduation.
  • Students are provided the option to stay in the Academic Villages.

To gain more insight into the program’s first semester, The Insider spoke with Dr. Pamerleau about his experience and what his students are working on.

by Alaina Goldberg and Nicole Cortino

Where did the idea for the program originate?

“One of the reasons why we suggested a service project is because the Honors College director in Oakland had suggested it. I try to stay out of the Canvas discussions, I want to allow for the students to do their own thing,” Dr. Pamerleau said. “I’m glad that what we’ve accomplished is turning a proposed idea from a couple of years ago into an Honors Program that is up and running.”

How did you feel starting the program halfway through an academic year in the middle of the pandemic?

“By starting halfway through the year, it is a ‘pilot program’ so it’s okay if not all the bugs are worked out. That will helps us to start strong with a new academic year. It’s a new program so there are not as many faculty who are willing to volunteer classes.” Dr. Pamerleau said. “However, many professors have accepted individual student requests because some professors prefer working with a couple of students at a time. Far more professors have said yes to individual requests than having their course open on the website.”

Can students continue their enrichment projects throughout their time at Pitt-Greensburg?

“If you enter as a freshman or sophomore, you can continue the same enrichment project throughout your academic career. Once you graduate, other students in the program may also continue the project that you started. You have the opportunity to make the project your own throughout your career,” Dr. Pamerleau said.

How will the program impact the future of the Pitt-Greensburg community?

“We are working with the admissions department right now, but we are hoping it will recruit incoming students,” Dr. Pamerleau said. “If you are on the fence about UPG, the fact that you could get in and be in the honors program may be an incentive to get more students to come. I’m excited to see students making connections with high school students, promoting our program and campus.”

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