Message from the Dean
Message from the Dean
Our fall semester has proven yet again, to be one of triumph and inaugural events here at the Honors College. We kicked off our semester with a presentation by international author Mike Tidwell on his book, “Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast,” which led to our Month on the Coast series, challenging our students to consider our local environmental issues, and wrapped up with a trip to the Louisiana University Marine Consortium to see the issues first hand.
In its sixth year, our student led FOCUS (Focusing on College and Ultimate Success) program helped change the lives of both local high school students and Honors college students through service and leadership. This service continued through Honors College involvement in community projects like Community Bound Service Plunge, where our students worked as leaders in both the academic and local community.
Our students’ national success as Truman and USA Today award recipients continues to serve as a significant testament to the value of the collegiate Honors program and the enhancement such programs provide to an undergraduate degree.
And…in the tradition of LSU, I’m very proud to say our students are as competitive on the field as in the classroom, achieving an undefeated record in our intramural flag football league, heading to the playoffs at the end of the month!
As you can see, our Honors College students continue to prove that they are truly the best our state has to offer and they have the drive and determination to take the tools we give them and help make a difference in our state.
De’Veon Brown, Emily LaCour, Demarcus Gaines and Alonzo Shropshire work on drawing techniques at the 2009 FOCUS program. Photo courtesy of Ernie Ballard LSU Public Affairs
This year FOCUS (Focusing on College and Ultimate Success), our college seminar for high school students, began a successful sixth year at the Honors College. FOCUS is taught by LSU Honors College students who possess the skills necessary for guiding high school students on the path to college. The high school students selected for FOCUS excelled in high schools lacking strong emphasis and funding for science and the arts.
The Honors students participating in this program take on great responsibility. They are assigned to the teaching positions based on their talents and knowledge - meaning that they are responsible for the progress of the students.
Mark Dochterman, the advisor for FOCUS, says that the goal is to have a “college- prep aspect” to the program. He points out that even though students may have clear career goals, they don’t always put the “in- between things together.” By “in- between”, he means that they may not realize that steps need to be taken, such as college, to get where they want to go in life. FOCUS aims to encourage students to continue their education through college to achieve their personal goals and reach their potential. The program is made possible by the contributions of Shell Oil Company and BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana.
Community Bound Service Plunge
Honors college students helped spruce up 10 local schools. Photo courtesy of Ernie Ballard LSU Public Affairs
The annual Community Bound Service Plunge embarked on Baton Rouge this semester bolstered by several hundred Honors College students and faculty and staff. First-year students in the Honors College are strongly encouraged to do community service through Community Bound and other organizations, with the goal of instilling a sense of moral obligation to service and leadership in the community in the minds of the students.
In Community Bound, students worked with Honors classmates, faculty and staff to improve public schools in Baton Rouge. Granger Babcock, a professor in the Honors College, says that the primary theme for the freshman year is service. This is not only to allow students to engage in the improvement of the area, but offers a rewarding social experience. Babcock said, “Every year it keeps getting bigger. It helps the students have leadership roles in the community.” This program works hard to promote progress and a positive environment for the students.
Community Bound is sponsored by Volunteer LSU; LSU Community-University Partnership; Campus Life; the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership; Career Services; Honors College; African American Cultural Center and ARAMARK Facility Services.
Gateway to China
Honors College students outside a Buddhist temple in the city of Hangzhou.
Each year, twenty Honors students are selected to go on a three week, fully-funded learning tour of China. The program has enjoyed four successful years in the Honors College. China is one of the United States’ largest trading partners, and trades heavily with Louisiana in particular. Yet, the cultural, social, and political differences between the U.S. and China are immense. The Honors College trip aims to help students understand the different practices and culture of a country on the opposite side of the globe.
According to Granger Babcock, Honors College Associate Dean, “It is an amazing experience.” While visiting China, the Honors College partners with Tongji University offering students classes in such topics as Chinese history, calligraphy, the Mandarin language and tai chi. The group also spends time with Chinese students and business people striving to immerse themselves in the culture.
Honors Students Spend "A Month on the Coast"
Dr. Sherwood “Woody” Gagliano speaks as part of the Month on the Coast Speaker Series. Photo Courtesy of Martin McCallister
Before the 2009 incoming class of Honors Students pulled their first all-nighter, or before they even knew the best places to buy books, they were engaged in what has proven to be a semester long dialog about one of the most important issues facing the future of Louisiana, coastal erosion. As part of this year’s Honors Shared Read Program and the class HNRS 2000 students read Mike Tidwell’s book, “Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast,” and have been challenged to ask themselves and each other, “what has been done and what can be done to save Louisiana’s Coast?”
To help answer these questions, the Honors College sponsored the Month on the Coast Speaker Series, featuring weekly presentations of three wetlands researchers featured in Tidwell’s Bayou Farewell. The series included Dr. Sherwood “Woody” Gagliano, Dr. Denise Reed, and Kerry St. Pe. The events were held in the Lobby of East Laville Hall, home of the Honors House living learning community with over 75 students from all majors attending each week’s event.
Each speaker represented a range of professional experiences related to wetland research and each had varying views on the challenges facing the state. “Woody” Gagliano, the first scientist to formally document land loss in coastal Louisiana, equipped the Honors students with facts about the severity of the problem and outlined his proposed restoration plan, which includes a series of large divergences from the Mississippi River to rebuild land and restore the area’s natural salinity. Denise Reed, Interim Director of Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, encouraged students to look beyond catchy statistics used to sensationalize coastal land loss and seek out the complexities of coastal erosion. Reed emphasized that Louisiana doesn’t literally lose a football field of coast every half hour but that this process happens in a complex series of “fits and starts.” Kerry St. Pe, director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, diverged from Dr. Gagliano’s suggestions detailing his plan to force sediment through a large pipeline network to very specific areas that would garner the most benefit.
Students who attended the presentations indicated that they now see this issue in a different light and feel challenged by its complexity. Freshmen Andy Russell had this to say about his first experiences as an LSU Honors College student, “Before reading Bayou Farewell, I had never even heard of the problem. The Honors College speaker series, in addition to class discussions on the topic, has prompted me to action.”