SAU Honors College

The SAU Honors College was founded in 2003 by Dr. David Rankin, president of SAU. Dr. Lynne Belcher served as founding director and recently retired from SAU. The Honors College seeks and admits qualified students who seek to pursue a serious academic program with equally gifted peers and committed teachers. Honors classes are small and provide academically enriching opportunities for students and the faculty who teach them. Currently, SAU enrolls over 175 honors students and graduates about 66% of admitees in four years or less. Anyone interested in applying to the Honors College or seeking further information should contact the director, Dr. Edward P. Kardas at or at 870 904-8897.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bassett Wins Physics Award

SAU's Hallman Scholarship winner and honors student Calla Bassett receiving award.

Calla Bassett won the only award given for physics (1st Place) at the recent meeting of the Arkansas Academy of Science held at UCA in Conway, AR. Her paper reported on radiation research performed with her adviser, Dr. Abdel Bachri at UAMS. Way to go Calla!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Casey O'Hara Going South

SAU Honors grad Casey O'Hara is on her way to Antarctica. Can't get much more South than that. She's on her way to conduct graduate school research.

Stay warm Casey!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Southern Arkansas and Appalachian State Travel to Cuba

The following document was submitted today for consideration in the 2017 NCHC Program. That meeting will be held in Atlanta in November.

Submitted to NCHC Meeting in Atlanta, November 2017
Cuba and Honors: Two Colleges Experience International Education
Edward Kardas, Southern Arkansas University
Joseph Gonzalez, Appalachian State University
Laura Nash, Southern Arkansas University
Paige Anderholm, Appalachian State University
Kenyon Jeffrey, Appalachian State University
Two professors and three students from two schools describe their experiences in traveling to Cuba. For SAU, traveling to Cuba required two week-long preparatory visits, attendance at an international conference in Havana, two 8-day tours with students, personal contact with Cuban officials, and overcoming much red tape. Speaking and writing Spanish well were important in many ways to ultimately getting permission to visit and to work with Cuban faculty and students for a week on their campus. The result was the creation of a large mural on their campus. The student from SAU traveled there during the third trip visiting several cities on the island. The short time spent there felt like several weeks, she said. She found Cuba beautiful, clear, and clean and noted that Cubans scrimped and saved for their cars, farms, and daily lives. She was struck on how much the Embargo had slowed progress. She wishes to return to continue learning about the unique experiences Cuba has to offer. ASU's visits were part of a course on Cuban culture (including music and dance). The first trip showed mixed results in that students treated it more like a vacation than a learning opportunity. Thus, changes were made during the subsequent trip (increasing academic rigor and recruiting serious participants). Those changes were successful and will be reported here. Students acted more like travelers, not tourists. They avoided the tourist sites, slept in private homes, and traveled in buses and taxis. They  reported that Cuba offered friendship, spectacle, music, dance, and food, but the language barrier was a challenge. At the same time, they realized their responsibility to act as ambassadors from a country many Cubans still viewed as an implacable enemy. The trip made them view themselves in new and more mature ways. 
General Session
Topic Areas
    International Education
    Honors Pedagogy
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Description for the conference program
Professors and students from two colleges describe the challenges, opportunities, and rewards of traveling to Cuba. Getting there requires overcoming much red tape and a working knowledge of Spanish. Cuba offers unique cultural, agricultural, historical, and artistic opportunities for Americans, especially for those who come as travelers not tourists.
If you have presented a similar session at NCHC or a related conference in the recent past, please indicate why the topic is relevant for presentation in 2017.
Submission Date
9th Mar 2017, 10:27am EST
Latest Update
9th Mar 2017, 11:49am EST
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Friday, March 3, 2017

SAU Honors College Founding

I found this old e-mail recently. It speaks to the founding of the SAU Honors College. Neat!

From: Donald Watt
Sent: Wednesday, December 4, 2002 3:47 PM
To: Ben Johnson; Betty McCollum; Bob Terry; Bradley Herzog; Cassandra Cooper; Claudell Woods; Dan Skelton; Dave Martinez; David Murphy; David Sixbey; Debi Rago; Donnis Taylor; Douglas Waterfield; E. Birmingham-Pokorny; Ed Kardas; Elizabeth Davis; Gina Bates; James Reppert; James Willis; Jan Duke; Jane Becnel; Japhet Makia; Joe Bates; John Cary; John Dudley; John Otey; Judith Vasser; Juping Wang; Kathleen Mallory; Kristin Larson; Linda Selman; Lynne Belcher; Margie Farris; Mark Fichter; Mary Thurlkill; Michel Hallot; Natalia Murphy; Paul Babbitt; Paul Shaver; Richard Ambler; Scotland Stout; Shannin Schroeder; Stacy Clanton; Steven Ochs; Tommy Milford; Yonghu Dai
Subject: Honors College - Programs

This afternoon at Deans' Council, I was asked by the VPAA to get input from LPA faculty regarding whether or not we would like to see and Honors College or Honors Programs at SAU.  I need this prior to next Wednesday's Deans' Council meeting.

Please give me your thoughts (brief or comprehensive) as to whether or not you would like to see SAU start:

An Honors College (more comprehensive program)

An Honors Programs (departmental honors)

Some other type of Honors opportunities.

Thanks for your help.  Good luck with finals!


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December Grads

From L to R: Cobyn Brakebill, Ehvan Johnson, Lauren (Clai) Morehead, Mattison Carter, Cody Mashburn, and Preston West. (Not pictured: Morgan Johnson)

The Honors College congratulates its seven graduates. All received their diplomas on Friday 9 December.

Dr. Deborah Wilson, chair of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department and 2016 Honor Professor gave the commencement speech. (View it here)

The Honors College is proud of all of its students but especially so of its latest crop of graduates. We know they will continue on to better and bigger things. Godspeed!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Lanoue Visits Honors Seminar

Dr. David Lanoue, Provost and VPAA, Southern Arkansas University

Dr. Lanoue became the first person to visit the 2016 Honors Seminar class today. He assumed the position of Provost and VPAA on 1 July 2016. Previously, he was Dean of Liberal Arts at Hawaii Pacific University.

He began his talk listing the many duties and responsibilities of his office. He is responsible for anything that falls under the label of "academic" at SAU. However, unlike the CEO of a business he is constrained by tradition, shared governance, and academic freedom, meaning that unlike a business leader he cannot rule by fiat. He noted that was a good thing.

He pointed out that his was a small office consisting of himself, Associate Provost David Crouse, and administrative assistant Keisha Crisp. He hoped that none in the audience would ever need deal with Dr. Crouse given that his main role is meting out discipline for academic dishonesty.

Next, Lanoue listed some of the duties of his office:

  • Academics
  • Meeting with Deans and Department Chairs
  • Meeting with the President and other Vice Presidents
  • Academic Personnel Issues
  • Coordinating Plans by Multiple Colleges
  • All Aspects of Student Success
  • Coordinating with Academic Support Units (Library, Graduate School, and the Registrar)
  • Re-Accreditation

Many of these topics will be covered by the Honors Seminar later in the semester.

Lanoue then described his professional life as a political scientist. He lamented describing himself as such to the public (especially to chatty airline passengers) because he argued that political scientists are not pundits but are often perceived as such. His interest in the science of politics.

He went on to discuss the history of polling, its methodology, and some of the statistical and probabilistic science behind it. He confessed that in the 2016 election he and some of his fellow political scientists have failed to stick to their science in analyzing Trump's successes in the Republican primaries. We should have followed the numbers, he said.

Polls work, he said. But, there can be problems including sampling error, rogue polls (those that, by chance, fall outside of the 95% confidence interval), and worst of all, bias. Sampling errors and rogue are easily cured by additional polling. Bias, however, is a different story.

The 1936 Literary Digest poll predicting the election of Alf Landon over FDR was one of the first examples of a biased poll. Unlike for sampling errors or rogue polls, once a bias is introduced it cannot be repaired by additional polling.

In the 1936 example the Literary Digest polled its subscribers by telephone. Unfortunately, most of those subscribers were Republicans. Thus, the poll missed the mark widely when FDR won in a landslide. He added that sources of bias include: non response, undercoverage, and lying.

He reminded the class that polls are snapshots. He illustrated that by the polls in a recent election in Hawaii. There, the incumbent was 18 points behind a few days before the election but lost by nearly twice as many points on election day. Independent voters, he said, made up their mind in the interval.

Modern pollsters have learned from the mistakes of the past and are much better at gauging public opinion. They also possess more useful models of voting behavior than in the past. He finished by showing the famous photo of Harry S Truman holding up the Chicago Tribune's headline: Dewey Defeats Truman. Of course, that did not happen. When all of the votes were counted, Truman won.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016 Entering Class

The 2016 Honors Class
The Honors College welcomes the 56 members of its class admitted in Fall 2016 and wish them a happy four years (or less) here at Southern Arkansas University.