The Honors College is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive academic, co-curricular and cultural experience for all of our students. We are working to build holistic, short and long-term, structural solutions to support and foster the success of our diverse student body. Creating these opportunities and a framework to cultivate cultural competency will enable us in the Honors College to celebrate all of our students’ unique perspectives.
Our community is a cornerstone of the Honors College. Through our Living-Learning Community, Honors students have numerous opportunities to share their experiences and learn from one another. Our Affinity Groups provide space for students of color and LGBTQ+ students and allies to build strong connections with their peers while having fun, learning, and supporting each other.
Living in the residence halls, first-year students meet and live with students from all backgrounds. To facilitate a positive residential environment, all Honors and Lincoln Hall Resident Assistants receive multicultural training from the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Furthermore, events in the residence halls invite students to engage deeply with different perspectives. Two recent events included a viewing and discussion series of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix mini-series "When They See Us," and "Big Words," a lecture series that brings together faculty and staff from around WVU.
The Honors Learning Experience
Honors students engage with diverse perspectives in their HONR 102 Introduction to Honors course. In HONR 102, all Honors Foundations program students complete a diversity module which prepares students to become involved members of their new community. Additionally, through one-credit book study courses, study abroad trips and special topics classes taught by our faculty fellows, Honors Foundations students have the freedom to learn about many different identities, experiences, and ways of thinking.
Likewise, Honors EXCEL students begin examining the interactions between their own identities and perspectives and those of their stakeholders early, in their HONR 450 Project Development course. They continue that exploration throughout their experiential learning projects. Working together with peers from a variety of academic and cultural backgrounds, Honors EXCEL students learn from one another and build diverse ways of thinking into their projects. Through required out-of-class experiences, students engage with new ideas and skills as they grow as scholars.
We understand that faculty and staff set the tone for the Honors College student experience.
The Honors College faculty and staff participate in professional development activities focused on facilitating growth, learning, and fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment. Honors staff participate in professional development including, but not limited to, Safe Zone training and Anti-Racist and Gender Inclusivity Training offered by the LGBTQ+ Center.
Honors staff members regularly read and discuss books about diversity-related topics in order to build a common understanding of critical issues to inform our work in supporting Honors students.
Admissions and Recruiting
The Honors College is committed to providing access for all students with high potential who demonstrate the creativity, curiosity, grit and passion that make our students unique.
For the Fall 2021 admission cycle, the Honors College piloted a test-blind open application pathway available for any incoming first-year student who expresses interest in joining the Honors College, regardless of standardized test scores. Over several years, the application process will transition to become fully open and test-blind, eliminating the influence of the widely recognized bias found in standardized test scores on the selection of Honors students.
Through targeted recruiting efforts and key partnerships such as with the Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA), we are further working to attract diverse classes of students who have the potential to be leaders in our WVU community.
We also understand that not all students have the opportunity to join us in their first semester at WVU. Our second semester admission process does not depend on students’ high school academic records, instead allowing students to join the Honors Foundations program in their second semester at WVU based on their academic performance in their first semester at WVU.
Furthermore, any eligible WVU student can join the Honors EXCEL program during their junior year. The application uses a holistic approach based on students’ proposed project ideas, understanding of the project’s impact on the student’s academic path, and ability to connect the project to the university’s service mission.
In the Honors College, we know that our work is just beginning. We have started to lay the groundwork for continued growth and learning. Through a study commissioned from the College of Education and Human Services, we will be taking a deep dive into underrepresented students’ experiences of Honors to identify key opportunities for improvement.
We are also appointing personnel to focus more directly on Honors diversity initiatives. Our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce will play an important role in determining the future directions of our initiatives. Current Honors College VISTA Catherine Gooding is also working full-time on advancing our diversity goals, focusing especially on admission, communication and academics. Catherine can be reached at email@example.com.