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Honors College at UNM to offer bachelor’s degree

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The University of New Mexico’s new Honors College got a boost Monday when regents approved a bachelor of arts degree for the program.

University officials hope an honors college, which was launched more than a year ago, will help attract more high-achieving high school students, raise UNM’s profile and help keep New Mexicans who leave for out-of-state college here.

Regents unanimously approved the degree at a meeting Monday, the first for new regent Suzanne Quillen, of Las Cruces, and student regent Heidi Overton, a second-year medical student.

The degree will require a minimum 128 credit hours, 36 of which have to be honors courses.

Until now, UNM’s honors program was relatively small in scope and did not offer degrees. That is changing as the university launches a full college, which includes a dean, full-time faculty and, potentially, student residences.

“(The new degree) is a very structured, specifically interdisciplinary degree that has competency-based learning outcomes as opposed to disciplinary-based outcomes,” said Catherine Krause, who is acting dean for the honors college.

Students in the college will work with a degree committee to develop a course of study. Their curriculum will include 12 credit hours of a non-English language, courses that focus on globalization and an interdisciplinary honors thesis.

Krause said she has been actively recruiting high school students and has already seen some response.

“I’m writing to those students and contacting them and encouraging them to come, Krause told regents.

“As a result, we’ve seen a much higher interest, even before you all have approved (the new degree).”

UNM hopes to recruit students who ranked in the top 10 percent of their class or scored a 30 or higher on the ACT. Currently, only about 20 percent of UNM students finished in the top 10 percent and about 28 percent scored a 30 or higher on the ACT.

UNM President Bob Frank said the honors college is “one of the most important initiatives we have.”

Krause said the college is a work in progress, and UNM needs to convince students that “this really is the destination university that will meet their needs.”

Regents last month approved a new bachelor’s degree in Chicana and Chicano studies.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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