Building an Honorable Society

Nearly a quarter of incoming first-years are members of the University Honors program.

Lydia Bowen, Reporter

Professor Susie Steinbach, department chair of the history department, welcomed this year’s new and returning Honors students. Steinbach delivered her speech to a sizable crowd gathered in the Kay Fredericks Ballroom in the Klas Center on Sept. 1.

“I hope you’re having a good start to your semester, and the start of the term is a great time to think about what you wanna do, this semester, this year, regarding Honors – which is to say, regarding you,” Steinbach said.“There might be pillars you’re excited to work on…there might be pillars that you’re intimidated by, or you’ve been avoiding, because you feel like you can’t wrap your head around Research, or you can’t figure out what Life-Long Learning is for you. Come talk to us,”

Readers who aren’t in Honors might be wondering: What is a pillar? 

The Honors program at Hamline is structured around four core pillars: Academics, Community Contribution, Research and Life-Long Learning. These act as essential categories for a student’s involvement at Hamline, allowing them to reflect on their experiences and recognize the results of their effort. Through the program, a student can prove to the institution, and themselves, that they have used their time as constructively as possible.

Further information about the program, including how to earn points in each category, is detailed in the only class offered exclusively for Honors students, Honors 1000.

There are 115 new Honors students this year, with 75 of those being Early Honors offers among the first-years, adding up to nearly a quarter of Fall 2022’s incoming population, according to multiple event speakers. 

On this topic, President Fayneese Miller spoke directly following Steinbach.

“That’s the largest group we’ve had. And you know why? … Because you’re just smart,” Miller said. “We expect a lot of you. But you won’t have to go on that journey alone. We’re gonna walk that journey with you.”

Students interviewed at the reception shared Miller’s sentiments on the community that the Honors program provides.

“Within the program, students are met with a lot of understanding,” said junior Molly Hauf. “I didn’t know there were going to be more [Honors students], but I welcome it, because I think it’s a program that can help people network, and it’s something that helps encourage research, too, which a lot of people aren’t fully aware of, all the different research opportunities that are at Hamline.”

While faculty were excited about the increase, they wanted to stress that Honors is about providing opportunity for students rather than dividing them.

“I think that the proportion thinking makes sense only if we think about Honors as being something that’s exclusive. I do not believe that an Honors program, or that Hamline should have any program that is exclusive and impermeable to other people…I would not object to 100% of our students being Honors students, though I recognize that not 100% of our students would want to,” said Marcela Kostihova, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“The Honors program invites a broader range of students,” said Samuel Imbo, philosophy professor and Honors council chair member. “So you don’t have to have done your best in high school, but we try to see, do you have the potential? What the number is saying to me is, we are giving the opportunity to a much larger number of people.”

Steinbach, who directs the Honors program, echoed this.

“We really strive to be a rigorous Honors program without being elitist. So to that end, for instance, we are eager and happy to have students come into Honors, who maybe don’t think of themselves as the Honors type,” she said. “It’s also really exciting that as Hamline becomes a test optional school, that our early honors offers are made in a more diverse and equitable way. And we’re all excited about that. Admissions is, I am, everybody is. It’s a great group.”