English Professor Marisa Cull will teach an Honors course, King Arthur in Popular
Literature and Culture,
in spring 2014.
The Honors Program at Randolph-Macon College,
founded in 1982, offers students dynamic courses, challenging research opportunities,
and a caring community.
There are currently 212 students in R-MC’s Honors Program.
“Our program places great emphasis on the distinctiveness of the Honors courses,
which are capped at 15 students,” says Professor
Jack Trammell, director. “When we poll students about the program and ask
what makes the biggest impression on them, what repeatedly comes up are the unique
courses, and the concomitant interactions with Honors faculty.”
Philosophy Professor Benjamin Huff serves as assistant director of the program.
Between eight and ten Honors courses are offered each academic year.
“Students can spend time in a Zen Buddhist monastery; travel to Romania to chase
down the historical Dracula; rediscover King Arthur in popular culture all around
us; discern mathematical concepts in the fiber arts; or chase windmills beside Don
Quixote,” says Trammell of the breadth of subjects covered in Honors courses. “The
learning communities that evolve forge relationships that go on long after the class
is finished. Students come away with a deeper appreciation of how the liberal arts
is at its core an interdisciplinary endeavor, how rich and talented the Honors faculty
is, and with a heightened sense of the possibilities that fuels their intellectual
curiosity.” Spring 2014 Honors courses include Math and Fiber Art (Mathematics
Professor Eve Torrence), King
Arthur in Popular Literature and Culture (English
Professor Marisa Cull), and It’s About Time (Physics
Professor George Spagna).
Student Honors Association
The Student Honors Association (SHA)
is an essential part of the Honors Program. The SHA officers plan activities related
to intellectual and social growth and help establish a sense of unity and support.
This year’s officers are:
Alex Zizzi ’14 (president), Victoria Zimbro ’15
(vice president), Lucas Matuszewski ’15 (secretary), Marianna
Wills ’14 (senior rep), Sarah Fetzer ’14 (senior rep),
Jazmine Battle ’15 (junior rep), Heather Ramey ’15
Derek Dittmar ’16 (sophomore rep), and Cody Huber ’16
SHA activities include picnics, lectures, a trip to the Virginia Museum of Fine
Arts, bowling, movies, and study breaks (complete with milk and cookies). In addition,
R-MC will host the Fall Meeting for the Virginias Collegiate Honors Council, which
takes place November 1-2, 2013.
From Stars to Superstars
“When Honors freshmen come in, they are already stars—they had great high school
success, with enthusiastic teacher recommendations,” says Trammell. “But what I
often see happen is a new cycle of reinvention where they learn how to be excellent
college students, and steadily transform into upperclassmen who work side by side
with faculty conducting impressive research, leading organizations, contributing
to the local community, and then leaving to make a mark in the world. To see Honors
students succeed is terrific; to see what they do when they leave R-MC is even more
impressive.” Honors students are often
peer tutors and mentors, SURF (Schapiro
Undergraduate Research Fellowship) participants, and
student organization leaders.
One student can make an enormous difference, says Trammell, citing
Alyssa Warren ’13 as an excellent example. “She served
as a peer mentor at the same time that she reached the highest levels of achievement
working side by side with her faculty instructors conducting research and preparing
for medical school,” says Trammell. “The Honors Program is fueled by dynamic Honors
students like Alyssa.” Warren, a biology and
religious studies major, is the first
R-MC student accepted to Eastern Virginia Medical School through
R-MC’s joint BS-MD program with EVMS.
Admission to the Honors Program
Invitations to the Honors program are sent to entering freshmen who have a combined
SAT score of at least 1250 and who are graduating in the top 10% of their high school
class. Current Randolph-Macon students who have at least a 3.25 GPA are also eligible
to participate in the program.
Honors students can enroll in Honors courses, participate in other Honors Program
activities (such as presenting research at conferences), and progress toward completing
graduation recognition from the program, which requires them to take four courses
successfully and complete two departmental Honors credits.
Currently there are 50 students living in Honors housing, which includes the
Honors House and wings of
Andrews Hall and Conrad Hall.
“Honors students form a natural peer group who enjoy learning and are committed
to excellence, so we have been excited to be able to expand the residential side
of the program in the last few years,” says Huff. “When Andrews Hall was built,
we set aside a section there for freshmen. Then this past year, a group of freshmen
approached us about continuing that experience, so we are now in our first year
with the Upper-class Honors Hall.”
A Unique Program
“The uniqueness of our Honors Program is the quality and diversity of interactions
between students and their faculty mentor/instructors, in tandem with the peer relationships
they build through Honors housing, SHA events, and a shared value of pursuing the
life of the mind,” says Trammell. “It’s truly a wonderful program.”