UO makes changes to departmental honors

UO has decided to change departmental honors requirements.

If you are an honors-bound student majoring in business, general social sciences, romance languages or chemistry, your requirement for departmental honors just got harder.

The University of Oregon has updated its requirements for awarding honors to eliminate solely GPA-based departmental honors at the university and now requires a research thesis alongside a strong GPA.

After an extensive review of honors awards at the university, the Honors Task Force presented a report to the University Senate that catalyzed changes to come in departmental and Latin honors at UO.

The university will eliminate all departmental honors that are based solely on GPA and will standardize Latin honors to be equal across all terms. Also, the registrar’s website will host a main document defining what honors are and how each major can achieve them to be clearer for students.

These changes will not affect seniors graduating this spring.

According to Frances White, professor of anthropology and co-chair of the Academic Council, these changes are aimed to make achieving honors fair across the board at the university.

“You’re basically giving honors to a group of students that haven’t done a thesis – haven’t done all the extra work and research that a thesis-based route student would have,” White said. “They could have the same GPA, but one of them has done way more to get honors than the other has.”

Departmental honors are awarded within a department of study, such as the Lundquist Business School or the College of Arts and Sciences.

According to the report from the Honors Task Force, among the 37 majors that offer departmental honors, eight of them have GPA requirements only.

The Senate also passed changes to Latin honors at the university to make them more equal across all terms. In the past, Latin honors were awarded to the top 10 percent, 5 percent and 3 percent of the graduating class each term.

This led to inconsistencies between students graduating in different terms. According to Julia Pomerenk, assistant vice president for enrollment management and university registrar, over the course of a five-year period, the average GPA for receiving Latin honors was lower in the summer than it was in other terms.

“Depending on the GPA of the students who are graduating at the same time you are, that might vary. It does vary,” Pomerenk said.

This means if you had a GPA of 3.63 when you graduated, you would have received Latin honors if you graduated in the summer quarter but would have not received them if you graduated in the spring quarter.

The university registrar is working on a solution to make earning honors equal across the entire year so that the GPA requirement does not change within the academic year.

The Honors Task Force was convened by former Provost Scott Coltrane last year to analyze the state of honors at the university, according to White. The task force presented a report to the Senate last June that called on the academic council to propose changes to the Senate.

The Academic Council presented these changes to the Senate based off of the Honors Task Force report, which the Senate later passed on April 11.

Changes to the Clark Honors College were also proposed; however, the CHC is restructuring itself and will address these changes in their remodel, according to White.

“It’s unfair between the students. The goal is to make honors fair,” White said.