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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 19, 2006

UI First-year Honors Class Sets New Record

This fall's largest first-year class in University of Iowa history includes 642 honors students, or just over 15 percent of the class, a new record unto itself, said UI Executive Vice President and Provost Michael J. Hogan.

"It's very gratifying to see so many academically well-prepared students choosing Iowa," Hogan said. "These students have a lot of choice about how and where to pursue their education, and a lot of expectations of the university they choose. And they choose to study at one of the top public research universities in the country. They're saying Iowa has what they want and need in order to meet their goals."

Incoming first-year students may be admitted directly into the University Honors Program if they enter the university with an admissions index score (the sum of class rank as a percentile and double the ACT score) of 148 and above. The program gives students access to small, intellectually rigorous courses, and helps them pursue opportunities to work with faculty on research, artistic creation, service learning and other activities.

Hogan credited a number of recent initiatives to strengthen the Honors Program for helping to attract the larger number of honors students.

In early 2004, the Honors Program and the UI's Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development moved into the new Blank Honors Center (BHC) on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway, making the UI the first school in the nation to offer under one roof programs, services, and support for academically gifted and talented students all the way from kindergarten through college. The BHC features an Honors Student Center, superb seminar and meeting rooms for honors classes and activities, an atrium for hosting student conferences and presentations, permanent and rotating works of art throughout the building, a computer lab and research library, and casual space for conversation, including a sun porch.

At the beginning of last academic year, administrative oversight of the program was moved from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to the Office of the Provost, making it a truly university-wide program. Professor John Nelson, a UI professor of political science and a founder of the UI's Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry, was named director.

The University Honors House in Daum Hall is now the official residence facility for many honors students. The Honors House connects directly to the BHC by skywalk, and features the Honors Learning Community, which offers special lectures, lunches, debates, tours, cultural events and the "Daum Prom."

Honors students this fall can choose from an array of brand new learning opportunities, including:

-- The Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates provides several programs to match students with professors and to fund their research. Recently, the Honors Program showcased honors students' work by staging a Research in the Capitol day and a Spring Undergraduate Research Forum, among other events.

-- The Honors Program has initiated honors seminars for first-year students, to complement its seminars for more advanced students. The new seminars let students begin their campus experience in small groups that work with professors on their current inquiries. This fall's offerings include, for example, "Supreme Court Cases That Changed Everything," "Copyright, Media, and Culture," "Scientific Speculation on Life in the Universe" and debates over "Assisted Reproduction," "Doing Well and Doing Good" and "The Nature of Excellence."

-- The new Honors Legislative Research Service, co-sponsored with the Department of Political Science, engages a dozen honors students in writing policy papers for use by the Iowa Legislature.

-- The Honors Program is launching extensive honors programs for experiential learning and peer advising. Two programs already scheduled are a fall Expo for Learning by Doing, created in collaboration with the Office of Student Life, and a new Commendation Ceremony to celebrate distinguished early records of honors coursework by Iowa students.

Hogan also credits the energetic work of the Honors Program staff for the growth in the program this year.

"I particularly want to thank Director John Nelson and Assistant Director Bob Kirby for their leadership," Hogan said.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: John Nelson, 319-335-1685,; Writer: Kris Yows