The Honor’s College has grown greatly over the last few years. This year, the college accepted 627 incoming freshmen, 100 more than the year before. But this growth presented the Honors college with a hard decision concerning funding. The Honors college either had to start taking fewer students in the coming years or implement a fee for honors students.
The fee had been on the mind of James Canning, Dean of the Honors College, for a while, so when his administrators came to him with the idea, Canning was an instant supporter. The Honors College settled on a $50 fee per semester, which is the cheapest Honors College fee at UMass Lowell.
The fee will cover everything from thesis expenditures of up to a $500, field trips, guest speakers, events, honors class, fellowships and scholarships.
With this fee, Canning and the Honors Colleges were enabled to develop courses they previously had no resources for. Two such courses include a Leadership For Life course and another course called the Science of Energy. Both classes will be accessible to all Honors College students.
“If all these people are coming,” said Canning explaining why he supported the fee, “how do I go to my administrators and ask for more money?”
In years prior, the Honors College would pool the funds for the cost associated with running the college from sponsors, other departments and asking the administration for the money. Previously, if a department with too few professors wanted to host an Honors course, they had to pay a professor to teach an overload, or they need to hire an adjunct professor to teach it.
“If you really think about it, non-Honors students were over-subsidizing Honors [students],” said Canning. That did not sit right with Canning, who believes that the University should be taking superb care of all students.
Canning coined the phrase “superb care” to describe the Honors College’s goal of providing its students with the resources such as they need and the enrichment opportunities. Canning felt that by having non-Honors students paying for a program with so many students, he was preventing those students from receiving the “superb care” they also deserve.
The Honors College did consider inviting fewer students to join the Honors Program, but that option did not sit well with Canning.
The average grade point average (GPA) of a freshman entering the honors college this year was 4.5. A fact that Canning is very proud of, but when he thought of cutting the admitted students, he knew that would mean taking only the students who have a GPA of 4.5 or higher.
Canning considers the student who had only had a GPA of 3.5 who wants to be a part of the Honors College. Canning acknowledges that the student worked hard and wants that student in the Honors College too.
“UMass Lowell is a great place because we give them a chance,” said Canning, “I want to give them a chance.”