Westminster Creates Honors College, Appoints New Dean
Jun 28, 2017
SALT LAKE CITY—Westminster is pleased to announce the creation of a new Honors College for the institution. Beginning in the fall of 2017, the new college will welcome its inaugural cohort of 68 first-year Honors students. Dr. Richard Badenhausen, Westminster’s former Honors program director, has been named dean of the Honors College.
Westminster currently has 175 students in the Honors program from all majors across campus. The new college will allow the program to expand to 280 students over the next five years.
“Applications for recent incoming Honors classes have been surging, so we needed to find a way to accommodate that increased demand,” Badenhausen said. “Over its 30-year history, the Honors program has a proven track record of drawing high-achieving students to Westminster from around the country, and this fall’s entering cohort will be 60% larger than last year’s.”
The fall 2017 Honors cohort contains 10 students who were the valedictorians of their graduating high school classes.
With the creation of the new college, several new faculty and staff were added to support Honors, including a new assistant director of teaching and learning; a director of fellowship advising; an assistant director of honors and fellowship advising; and a writer-in-residence, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. State Department.
“Our new Honors College, which will eventually be supported by a $12-million endowment, is one of the most exciting opportunities at Westminster in many years,” Badenhausen added. “It will provide growth opportunities to bring in even more high-achieving students from around the country, offer enhanced programming through a new fellowship advising office, add new dedicated staff, offer a flexible curriculum of exciting seminars and eventually provide international experiences and dedicated scholarships.”
Honors program first-year students have historically had some of the highest retention rates on campus, averaging above 90%. The figures for the last two years include 95% (2015–16) and 97.5% (2014–15).
One of the primary causes of that strong engagement and community is that Westminster offers one of the “most comprehensive team-taught, interdisciplinary Honors curriculums in the country,” according to Dr. John Zubizarreta, director of the Honors program at Columbia College and 2010 CASE/Carnegie U.S. Professor of the Year.
As the new dean, Badenhausen brings a plethora of expertise in Honors education spanning more than two decades. He taught his first college class at the University of Michigan over 30 years ago and has served as Westminster’s Kim T. Adamson Chair for the past 16 years. He was recently elected vice president of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). In 2018, Badenhausen will become president of NCHC, the membership organization which consists of over 800 Honors programs and colleges around the country. He received this year’s NCHC Sam Schuman Award for Excellence at a Four-Year Institution, given to one national honors leader annually. In 2014, he was the winner of Westminster’s Gore Excellence in Teaching award and two-time winner of the Manford A. Shaw Publication Prize for his scholarship on T. S. Eliot.
For more information about the new Honors College, visit westminstercollege.edu/honors.