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 continues to serve as a faculty member and advisor. 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 162 honors students and graduated 12 in 2012-2013. 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.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Honors College Report

Honors College Report
April 17, 2014

  • In May the Honors College will graduate 27 students, a record number! In December, nine more students are scheduled to graduate.
  • The Honors College currently has Honors 2 + 2 articulation agreements with College of the Ouachitas and SAU Tech. Discussions with SACC will commence soon. The Honors 2 + 2 program establishes an Honors Program at each two-year school so that their students can transfer honors hours to SAU and earn membership in the Honors College receive an honors degree from SAU.
  • Lilli Hill presented SAU's first honors thesis titled: 'The Problem That Has No Name,' and Advent of Daddy: American family life in the 1950s and its portrayal in science-fiction movies. Dr. Ben Johnson supervised her thesis. See: for more information.
  • Rachel Wetherington traveled to the Southern Regional Honors Council meeting in Savannah and presented her poster: Sources and correlations of stress in undergraduate students. She performed that research under the supervision of Dr. Chrisanne Christensen. See: for more information.
  • The SAU Honors Council met on February 6, 2014. Students who have benefitted from extramural experiences related how their off campus trips added to their honors education. See: for more information.
  • Honors College graduate Chris Harris has been accepted to the Terrorism Studies Program at St. Andrews University.
  • Taylor Mills recently won an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grant from North Carolina State University's Summer Research Experience in Integrative Molecular Plant Systems. It provides a stipend of $5000, on-campus housing, $100 per week to help defray meal expenses and travel expenses.
  • Hallman Scholarship winner Taylor McNeel recently spent a week in South Africa studying their agricultural methods along with economic and social issues. See for more information.
  • SAU was graced by a visit by Dr.Bill Seay (SSC 1960). Seay is a retired psychology professor from LSU and was the first dean of their Honors College. See: for more information.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wetherington Presents Poster at SRHC

Rachel Wetherington stands alongside her poster at SRHC 2014 in Savannah

By Rachel Wetherington:

            On March 27-29, I traveled to Savannah, Georgia to attend and present at the Southern Regional Honors Council conference thanks to funding from the SAU Foundation, Trey Berry, and the Honors College. The first event at the conference was a City as Text. I went with a group of two others and explored the City Market in Savannah. Other groups explored different parts of Savannah. It was a very interesting and engaging way to learn about this historic city. It was also an opportunity to talk to other attendees and to learn about their colleges and honors programs. There was also a riverboat dinner cruise included with the conference, which included a tour of a historical Fort Jackson.
            Another aspect of the conference was student presentations. I was able to listen to nine student presentations on a variety of topics including human trafficking, space exploration, millennials in the business world, reactive attachment disorder, synesthesia, and others. They were all very informative and interesting, and each student seemed to be very knowledgeable about his or her topic.
            My presentation was a poster presentation. The title of my research was “Sources and correlations of stress in undergraduate students.” It was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Chrisanne Christensen. The original purpose for the research was to examine the impact of the recession on undergraduate students close to graduation, but a literature review showed other possible sources for stress in this population. Therefore, a questionnaire was created using a modified version of the Inventory of College Students’ Recent Life Experiences along with three original items. Results showed that having too much to do as well as concerns about the future were top sources of stress. Additionally, some demographic characteristics, such as parental educational attainment and ethnicity, were significantly correlated with higher levels of stress. The research was very interesting to me. Further research I might conduct might include a comparison of stress levels of honors and non-honors students using a much larger sample for generalizability. I received a great response from people who came up to me and my poster; one professor wanted me to share my research with him so he could use it as an example for his students.
            The SRHC conference was an overall success. It was a great opportunity to share my research as well as to network with other honors individuals and to explore Savannah. I saw what I did right and what I needed to improve on in future poster presentations. I also had the opportunity to learn presentation skills and information about various topics from other student presenters. I hope to be able to present at another conference again soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hill Presents First Honors Thesis

Advisor Ben Johnson and Thesis Author Lillee Hill pose in front of 1950s Sci Fi movie posters

Today marked a momentous first for the SAU Honors College. Senior Lillee Hill completed and presented the first honors thesis. It was titled:
Juvenile Delinquency, 'The Problem That Has No Name,’ and Advent of Daddy: American family life in the 1950s and its portrayal in science-fiction movies

Hill's thesis examined sex roles in America as portrayed through the lens of 1950s sci fi movies. Her main point was that Hollywood changed the roles of men from "Father" to "Daddy" following World War II. Hollywood also worked hard to re-establish traditional roles for women as well. In essence, moving Rosie the Riveter back into the home and out of the workplace.

During the presentation, Hill showed several clips from old movies to reinforce her arguments.

Hill's thesis will be available in the Honor College office and in the SAU Library.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Honors Council Meets

 SAU Honors Council, Honors Committee, and students. From L to R (all rows) Pablo Bacon, Taylor McNeel, Tim Wise, Rachel Wetherington, Michelle Beavers, Ed Kardas, Taylor Duke, Casey O'Hara, Greg Jetton, Addison Ochs, Kara O'Neal, Todd Connelly, Taylor Mills, Erma Brown, Subir Shakya, Deborah Wilson, and  Erma Brown's grandson.

The SAU Honors Council met on Sunday, February 6, 2014 for its annual business meeting. Honors students presented information on the extramural experiences they had participated in over the last year.

Terence Lee spoke of his time in London participating in acting workshops and appearing in plays. Subir Shakya told of his NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates grant at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Addison Ochs, Casey O'Hara, and Kara O'Neal spoke of their saltwater aquarium construction project. Taylor McNeel related the details of her trip to South Africa. Michelle Beavers told of her experiences with a NASA research grant and the time she spent in Mississippi learning about marine biology.

Rachel Wetherington described her time working as an intern at the FBI field office in Dallas. Deana Hughes, Joy Tan, and Taylor Duke discussed their trip to New Orleans to attend the annual meeting of the National Collegiate Honors Council where all were on the program.

Finally, Taylor Mills revealed that she was the recipient of another NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates grant. This one at North Carolina State University.

One of the goals of the SAU Honors College is to promote extramural education. Thanks to recent contribution by donors to the SAU Foundation that goal has become much more reachable.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bill Seay visits Honors College

Bill Seay, Southern State College ('60) in Nelson Hall

The Honors College was graced by a visit by SSC (now SAU) grad Bill Seay: he graduated in 1960. He came to Magnolia from Lake Hamilton High School. He earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Harry Harlow. From Wisconsin he went to LSU where he worked 40 years until his retirement.

I first crossed paths with him at LSU where I graduated with my PhD in 1978. Interestingly, from there I too went to Wisconsin but to Milwaukee, not Madison. From Milwaukee I came to SAU in 1980 and have been here since. I still have a few years to go before I make my 40 years here, God willing.

Another similarity between us is that Seay was the first Dean of the LSU Honors College. Here I am the second director of the SAU Honors College.

Seay was in town on family business and we arranged for a short visit. We ate at the Caf and then walked over to the Honors Office and Lounge in Nelson Hall. We spent a lot of time talking about how much had changed at SAU while how much had remained the same.

Seay's high school graduation class numbered 27 students. He speculated that had he attended LSU or Arkansas back then he would not have had the same career. He spoke of the hours he had spent in Calvin Wetzig's office trying to conquer the mysteries of calculus. There is a similarity between then and now. SAU faculty still spend much time face-to-face with their students. At another school (both then and now) students might be lucky to see a grad assistant instead.

Seay said SSC prepared him for the rigors of the University of Wisconsin. The time he spent here polished him sufficiently enough to succeed at one of the top (then and now) psychology graduate programs in the world.

I noted that SAU was still fulfilling the same role but that time had taken us from high school classes of 27 to classes of 600. It has also taken us from students who knew little beyond their immediate environment to students who were now world wide travelers, on the virtual web at least. Still, SAU and the Honors College continue to serve as a gentle incubator to our students preparing them for the wider world beyond.

I showed Seay the PhotoShopped picture of last year's graduating class (we had to resort to such trickery because of rain; students graduated in two separate ceremonies). He asked what those graduates were doing now. All of them, I told him, were either in graduate school, professional school, or taking the first steps in their chosen careers.

We had had a good visit. I was nice to connect again. I'm sure the same kind of meetings will be taking place between Honors College graduates in the future. I hope they remember how they were when they first showed up at our gates and how much being at SAU helped them become what they became.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Taylor Mills awarded an REU at North Carolina State University

Taylor Mills

Congratulations are in order for SAU Honors College student Taylor Mills. She has been awarded an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grant from North Carolina State University's Summer Research Experience in Integrative Molecular Plant Systems.

The grant provides the following benefits:

Stipend: A stipend of $5000 from May 26-Aug 1, for 40 hours of research per week as well as your participation in other activities.

Room: Covers the cost of on-campus housing if you choose to stay in the provided campus apartments (highly recommended).

Board: Students will receive $100 per week to help defray meal expenses.

Travel Expenses:

We will book and pay for your flight if you choose to fly to NC State University (for out-of-state participants). You will be responsible for other travel costs including baggage fees and transportation to/from airport.

Way to go Taylor

Monday, February 3, 2014

2013 Honors Poster: Honors 2 + 2

For its 2013-14 poster the SAU Honors College chose to highlight its Honors 2 + 2 program which seeks to create articulation pathways between nearby two-year colleges and SAU. Thus far SAU Tech and the College of the Ouachitas have signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs). Soon, we hope to ink more MOUs with Cossatot Community College and South Arkansas Community College. Each school will have its own Honors Program with an equivalent first course, Honors Seminar. That course will provide all honors students with the same introduction to honors while also teaching them how to study and manage their time.

The Honors 2 + 2 program will allow junior level transfer students to join the SAU Honors College and to transfer their honors hours earned at their two-year colleges.