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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU establishes New Mexico's Honors College

New Mexico State University has established the state's first Honors College to provide an enriching environment for academically talented and motivated students.

ill allow us to bring an experience to NMSU that has only been available at elite, expensive schools," said William Eamon, director of the Honors Program that started in 1965 and is transitioning into a college this fall. "An Honors College will strengthen the academic profile of NMSU by attracting a diverse group of top high school and transfer students from across the state and region."

"The primary goal is to enhance NMSU's undergraduate experience and maintain NMSU as the university of choice for New Mexicans," Eamon said. "We believe, and the experience of other honors colleges has shown, that creating an honors college will attract greater numbers of academically talented students. Increasing this population of students will not only raise the quality of classroom education, but will have a positive effect on student retention."

The Honors College will not offer a degree. It will supplement the degrees offered by the universities six academic colleges by awarding various levels of honors distinction -- core honors, university honors and distinction in university honors -- to students who complete the prescribed honors track.

As the curriculum of the Honors College develops it will consist of about 30 hours of Honors courses, including a final project or thesis. Honors courses are enriched general education courses taught in a seminar format by the university's most outstanding teaching faculty, Eamon said.

Other components of NMSU's Honors College are the Crimson and Centennial Scholars programs and the Office of National Scholarships and International Education, formerly the Fellowships Office. Under the Honors College structure, this office will be expanded to include oversight of a number of international educational opportunities and initiatives, Eamon said.

"It will seek to unlock major external funding opportunities for students wishing to pursue graduate or professional school in the United States or abroad," Eamon said.

In addition to its curriculum, the Honors College will include a residential component -- the Honors Living and Learning Community. An honors residence hall will be created this fall with the intent of linking in-class and out-of-class learning experiences for honors students.

"It will be a place where honors students live among a community of excellent students with outstanding academic records who are interested in getting the most out of the opportunities offered to them," Eamon said. "It will also be a place for social and extracurricular activities."

Crimson Scholar Residential Mentors will live in the Honors Living and Learning Community and promote academic success of the entire student body by tutoring and mentoring residence hall students.

"Mentors will help raise academic awareness and contribute to overall student success by sharing study skills and knowledge through peer tutoring," Eamon said.

The anticipated enrollment for the Honors College this fall is more than 150 students and enrollment is expected to grow within the first five years to 600 students, Eamon said.

Eamon said NMSU is following the trend of successful honors colleges in the Southwest. Arizona State University established its honors college in 1988. From 1988 to 1999, enrollment increased from 800 to more than 2,600 students majoring in all disciplines. The University of Arizona Honors College was created in 1994 and now has about 2,670 students participating. Texas Tech University and Oklahoma State University also have honors colleges that have experienced rapid growth, Eamon said.