New director prompts changes to Falcon Scholars and Honors Program
October 3, 2014
The Falcon Scholars and Honors Programs have a new face and a new space.
On Sept. 2, of this year, the programs were linked and given a space devoted to students as a giant step forward to promote and utilize the benefits of both of them.
Also this year, Kathleen Hunzer was made the director of the Falcon Scholars and Honors Program, to create a constituent for participants and potential future participants.
The Falcon Scholars Program is a high-achieving scholarship program for high school students that come to UW-River Falls. Candidates for the program have a composite ACT score of 25 or higher and are in the top 10 percent of their class. Then, of that selection, there is an essay portion followed by an interview process.
The Admissions office is the judge and jury for applicants; however, now that Hunzer is director of the program, she said that she will take a more active role in the selection process.
Once selected, students receive $1,000 per year for four years. In addition, in the students’ junior or senior year, they will receive a supplemental $2,000 to use towards global connections experience, undergraduate research or scholarly and creative activity—also known as URSCA.
The Honors Program is open to incoming freshmen that have a composite ACT of 27 or higher or students in the top 10 percent of their class. Existing students and transfer students are also eligible to join the program, with a requirement of having a GPA of 3.3 or higher.
The Honors Program is 18 honors credits. There are two minimum credit program requirements.
“There is a misnomer on campus that only classes that start with HON count as honors classes, and that is just not true,” Hunzer said. “There are other classes and programs that count towards honors credits as well.”
The programs are now located in 139 Hagestad Hall. It is very spacious and has lots of amenities: cable access television, games, student computers and a student kitchen.
The more directed and easily accessed program office is designed to create a comfortable and educationally stimulating environment for students.
“This is the first time in a long, long time where the Honors students have a place to come, and now the Falcon Scholars can join, too,” Hunzer said.
The new space and set up for the program came from groups of university faculty, staff and students known as the “Idea and Innovation Incubators” in the summer of 2013.
Special Assistant to the Chancellor Blake Fry said that the task force was asked to look at the Falcon Scholars and Honors Program to determine how they could make it a better program for the students that are in it, and how can they make it a more effective recruitment tool for new students.
Another benefit of the space is that it creates an environment for students in the program to connect with each other.
“One of the complaints students had before was that they didn’t feel like they connected to other people in either of the programs,” Hunzer said.
These complaints were taken into account when discussing the potential changes. Falcon Scholar and Honors student, Rachel Moliter, said that she has enjoyed her experience with both programs and would recommend that prospective students try it out.
“Falcon Scholars made it possible for me to go to Japan for cheap; $2,000 out of my pocket,” Molitor said. And as for the new space, Moliter said that she is impressed with it.