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Honors college welcomes Dean Cooke

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Dr. Kathy Cooke will serve as the dean of USA’s honors college.

Dr. Kathy Cooke will serve as the dean of USA’s honors college.

Photo courtesy of Bob Lowry

Photo courtesy of Bob Lowry

Dr. Kathy Cooke will serve as the dean of USA’s honors college.

Sara Boone, Life Editor

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Dr. Kathy Cooke will serve as dean of USA’s newly created honors college.

Throughout the past year, USA has worked to create the college to accommodate the growing number of students who have shown interest in the honors program.

The honors college will act as an umbrella over the honors program and  track honors students.

This will allow more students to be involved in previously honors-exclusive opportunities such as courses, national competitions and conferences.

The honors college is set to be active this fall. Eighty-five freshmen were accepted. Forty-five are Whiddon Honors Scholars, which were previously honors program members.

The rest consist of two Mitchell College of Business Scholars, one Science Scholar and 37 Presidential Scholars.

The search for the dean lasted almost an entire school year with five candidates up for consideration.

Cooke said she was drawn to USA because of its strongly rooted identity, despite it being such a young university.

“There is such a strong honors program already with such a diverse population. It has the room to expand into this honors college,” says Cooke.

Cooke was the founding director of the honors program at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and worked with it for 12 years. From her experience there, she learned that a successful honors college focuses on bringing together the intellectually curious in a special way of sharing the love of knowledge, Cooke said.

Doug Marshall, assistant director of the honors program, hopes Cooke will bring new ideas to the table, as well as have respect for what is currently working for the honors program.

Cooke said she has a respect for the foundation that previous honors program director, Michael Doran, laid down, and that she would not have been able to come to USA to make this transition had it not been for all of the work that he put into it.

Marshall also hopes that the addition of the honors college will attract more students to USA.

“Too often, capable students who do not get into the honors program because of the strict cutoff do not come to South because they can get into an honors college somewhere else,” said Marshall.

Students in the honors college will be required to write a thesis like those in the honors program, but they will be able to take honors courses. They will be placed on separate tracks for each of their majors that will require them to take a different set of classes than non-honors students within their same major.

The objective is to help the students attain their goals without having to complete a thesis.

Rachel Short, senior speech and hearing sciences major and president of the honors college association, said she believes that Cooke will succeed.

“Dr. Cooke’s vision is drawn straight from two focus words: interdisciplinary and curiosity. I believe that if she is putting these two ideas at the forefront of her vision, our honors college can do nothing but grow not only in numbers but also in our sense of community,” said Short.

Cooke said she sees the addition of the college as a slow and thoughtful process, and plans to learn how the current honors program works in order to add a successful honors college. She will start her position as dean at the beginning of the fall semester.

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Honors college welcomes Dean Cooke