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 nearly 170 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.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Honors College Report: January 29, 2014

Honors College Report
January 29, 2014

Activities and News:
  • Several honors students are preparing submissions to the Southern Regional Honors Council meeting that will be held in Savannah in March.
  • The annual meeting of the SAU Honors Council will be Sunday, February 9 from 2 to 3 pm in Reynolds 205. Honors students who have traveled over the last year will present brief accounts of their trips, purpose, and what they learned.
  • Currently, 28 honors students have applied for May 2014 graduation, a record number!
  • Lera Black, using data compiled by Rachel Wetherington, has created a new poster showing where SAU Honors College students come from. (see below)
  • Deana Hughes and Hayden Kopplin were recently named to Who's Who Among Students at American Colleges and Universities.
  • The honors general psychology class is being taught using iPads and an app developed by This is a pilot project by the company and SAU is one of several schools selected by them to evaluate this method of teaching. selected the Honors College because of its universal distribution of iPads to its students. The other schools are:
Cambria-Rowe Business College at Clemson University,
Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University,  
Texas Southern University,
University of California at Irvine,
University of California at San Diego,
University of San Francisco,
University of Southern California's: Viterbi School of Engineering, Rossier School of Education, and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

  • SAU Faculty are teaching a record number of full honors and contract honors courses during the Spring 2014 semester (81 courses and 206 students).
  • See: for a nice description of what Honors education is all about. The author, Nancy West, argues that Honors Colleges provide a "third place" for honors students. She describes such places as "environments, separate from work and home, which people visit frequently and voluntarily. Examples include coffeehouses, cafes, salons, and the Internet. Although they vary wildly in look and feel, third places share certain fundamental traits. They act as social levelers, discounting class status as a marker of social significance. Their mood is playful; their atmosphere is warm and friendly. They promote group creativity and lively conversation. Most important, they serve as anchors of a community, fostering broad and less scripted interactions than those we have at home or our regular workplaces.
  • Dr. Kardas will attend two meetings soon. The first will be at the State Capitol next Monday. The Joint Legislative Committee on Education is hearing testimony from the Honors Deans of UCA and UA-Fayetteville. The second will be the board meeting and co-chairs meeting of the National Collegiate Honors Council in Omaha at the end of February.  
  • Poster by Lera Black, data by Rachel Wetherington

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Where Our Students Come From

Here is our latest poster; it was created by honors student Lera Black. The data for the poster was collected by honors student Rachel Wetherington.

The poster shows where our 152 students come from. Arkansas and Texas are the leading states. We are also proud of worldwide reach.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Students in NOLA for NCHC 2013

Thanks to Deana Hughes, here are two shots of SAU Honors College students visiting New Orleans for the 2013 meeting of the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Above, in the nearly obligatory tourist pose at New Orlean's St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square  are (L to R) Subir Shakya, Deana Hughes, Joy Tan, Taylor Duke, and Taryn Sorsby.

Above, brother and sister (L to R) Zachary and Hali Pinson display opposite reactions to a loan of a Cajun music CD. Can you guess who wanted to listen to it all the way home?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Honors Education

            Since becoming director in 2009 I have developed a much more sophisticated understanding of honors education.

            My vision for honors revolves around several axes. The first is enthusiasm for learning. Honors students and faculty must share the excitement that comes from learning about the past and extending that knowledge ever forward. There is no place in honors for a 9 to 5 mentality or a cookbook approach to learning. The second is some kind of demonstrable intelligence. I quickly learned that my bias toward higher ACT scores and GPAs was not fully predictive of honors success. My first honors class quickly taught me that lesson. I found no difference in the ACT scores of those who met our retention standard (GPA 3.25 ≥ 3.25) and those who did not. Thus, Dr. Deborah Wilson and I began to search for and report on non-cognitive predictors of honors success. As Sternberg has found, there is much more to intelligence than what is emphasized in typical academic settings. Honors should be more open to finding and selecting atypically intelligent students. Third is diversity, broadly defined. To me, diversity extends beyond race or gender. It should encompass and reflect the make up of the world as a whole. True honors education must attempt to explain the entirety of the human condition and to do so without the usual blinders so commonly found. Here, of course, is where extramural education fits into the honors equation. Extramural education could include foreign and domestic travel, internships, or other nontraditional types of learning experiences. Finally, honors students should be respectful. They should respect the opportunity being provided for them and not just accept it as a privilege of their status. They should respect, and learn, from the past. All too often, students and scholars from all disciplines fail to realize the depth and breadth of the knowledge they have inherited from their intellectual ancestors. They should respect the new. Honors students or faculty should not be blissfully unaware of the ever-changing world around them. Culture and technology are never static and neither should be honors education. 

            The ideal formula for honors is to recruit the best possible students, to introduce them to honors education right from the beginning, to publicize the opportunities available, to support them in their efforts, to expect the maximum from them academically, to graduate them, and to make them lifelong supporters of their Honors College.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Honors Enrollment by College

Here are the latest SAU Honors College enrollment figures by College:

College          Honors           Regular         %honors
CoB                 24                   407                 5.90
CoE                 9                      489                 1.84
LPA                 38                   602                 6.31
S&T                77                   1019               7.56
ALL                 152                 2517               6.04

CoB = Business, CoE = Education, LPA = Liberal & Performing Arts, S&T = Science & Tech

Notice that the Honors College now enrolls 6% or more of all the students in three out of the four colleges. So, an obvious place for internal expansion is the College of Education. 

Soon, these numbers should grow as the Honors 2 + 2 program kicks in. Our two current partners, SAU Tech and College of the Ouachitas, already report enrolling 18 students. The Honors College is in discussion with three other two-years colleges so, eventually, Honors 2 + 2 enrollment could account for as many as 30 new students per year.

Finally, the Honors College has May graduation applications for 28 students thus far, a record number.