The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 09, 1999, Page 2, Image 2

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    Program revels in rigor
HUNUKS from page 1
“I was drawn to the program
because of the one-on-one treatment it
offers,” Minert said. “I wanted to be
challenged by personal professor
instruction, as well as rigorous course
Recruitment for the honors program
begins with a database of more than
30,000 high school juniors and seniors,
ranked and identified by their PS AT and
ACT scores.
About 85 percent of UNEs incom
ing class is recruited from Nebraska,
while the remaining 15 percent is pre
dominantly recruited from Iowa, South
Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri,
Kansas and Colorado, Stelzer said.
By using an elimination process that
looks at a student’s GPA, test scores,
class ranking, leadership skills and
school and community involvement,
Stelzer said the honors applicant pool is
narrowed down to about 1,000-1,500
students.In 1997-98 there were 1,094
prospective honors program students,
and in 1998-99 there were 1,124 stu
There are currently about 1,350
honors program prospects for the 1999
2000 academic year.
Stelzer said students are first con
tacted during the fall semester and com
munication between the university and
the student continues through their
The attention I received was
tremendous,” said Katie Hart, a fresh
man Spanish and education major.
“Everyone made me feel welcome.”
Hart said many methods of recruit
ment, including mailings, e-mail and
phone campaigns, as well as social gath
erings, receptions and campus tours,
convinced her to come to UNL.
Stelzer said every potential honors
program student receives one-on-one
“Establishing a relationship with
our prospective students is key,” Stelzer
said. “We try to let them know and expe
rience what campus life is like.”
Final acceptance into the honors
program is based on a review of the stu
dent’s application, including an essay.
All applications are screened by a
the honors program faculty committee.
“A lot of diversity is what we are
looking for and want,” Stelzer said.
“Students learn from other students’
backgrounds and experiences.”
Upholding high standards
Admission to the honors program is
becoming more strict every year.
“I’m very pleased that there is a
heightened awareness about our acade
mic culture,” UNL Chancellor James
Moeser said. “Our honors program fits
the definition of academic rigor.”
Three years ago, according to the
1995-96 undergraduate bulletin, honors
program admission required students to
have an ACT composite score in the
upper 20s or higher, and be in the top 25
percent of their graduating class.
Now, honors program students are
averaging a 30.7 ACT score, and are
graduating from the top 10 percent of
their class, Stelzer said.
More than 80 percent of the students
recruited graduated in the top 12 per
cent of their class, she said.
Although the same recruiting stan
dards used in 1995-96 are still being
used, Stelzer said “the application
I— ■
Honors requ
raised to me<
Senior staff writer
The standards are high and
requirements tough, but when it
comes to pursuing academic excel
lence, some Uhiversity of Nebraska
Lincoln honors program students and
professors don’t mind.
“Membership in the honors pro
gram brings both benefits and obliga
tions,” said music history professor
Peter Lefferts. “The obligations are
real, and on account of them the hon
ors program will not be the best
choice for every academic high
Last year, the honors program
decided to restructure its require
ments, requesting more work and
higher academic achievement from
its students.
“Our requirements were below
national standards,” said Honors
Program Director Patrice Berger. “We
needed to make some changes.”
Honors students who were admit
ted to the program in the fall of 1998
were required to take at least one hon
ors class each semester.
They must also complete at least
24 honors credit hours with grades of
B or better during their entire college
career, Berger said.
This is a six-credit increase from
the old requirements, which require
honors students admitted to the pro
gram before 1998 to complete 18
honors credit hours with a grade of B
or better, as well as complete at least
one honors course both inside and
it the mark
outside their majors.
Under the new requirements,
first- and second-year honors pro
gram students must complete 15 hon
ors credit hours in die first 64 hours of
their college coursework and at least
six honors credit hours each year.
During their third and fourth years
in the program, students must com
plete at least three honors credit hours
each year.
All honors program students are
required to maintain a cumulative 3.5
GPA and be a full-time UNL student.
“I don’t think die requirements are
too difficult,” said Katie Hart, a fresh
man Spanish and education major. “I
think some students, like honors stu
dents, need a different level of expec
Leflferts agreed, but said the acad
emic obligations of the honors pro
gram are not as easy to pursue in
every college, department or degree
“This circumstance is a natural
reflection of innate differences across
campus and means that there is no
one, uniform, honors program experi
ence for every student,” he said.
Berger said to make sure each
new honors student is in compliance
with all program requirements, stu
dents are asked to file a statement of
academic interest, which focuses on
education and professional goals, and
a memorandum of study, which iden
tifies a student’s primary research
“Our goal is to keep students on
the right track,” Berger said. “We
want them all to be successful.”
process is becoming highly competi
Berger agreed.
“Our standards have increased
because national standards have
increased,” Berger said. “Students
nationwide, including Nebraska stu
dents, are faring better in high school
than past years.”
Stelzer said she expected the student
ACT score average to plateau at 31 in
the next two years. Students will contin
ue to be recruited from the top quartile
of their graduating class, she said
Scott Hornyak, president of the
Honors Board, a group of elected stu
dents who serve as liaisons between
honors program students, professors
and administration, said he was glad to
see honors program standards increas-2
“If the program is to continue grow
ing, we don’t need to lower our stan
dards,” said Homyak, a junior actuarial
science major. “We are already getting
top-quality people. Why change that?”
All students can apply
Every year about 400 students are
admitted to the UNL honors program.
The majority are incoming freshmen,
but some are upperclassmen.
“Access to the honors program is
fairly open to anyone,” Berger said.
“Students just need to apply.”
Candace Cain, a junior middle
school education major, was not admit
ted to the honors program her freshman
year but considered reapplying last fall.
“I see the honors program as a real
ly good way to gain a good education in
a small, focused community,” said Cain,
who lives in Neihardt Residence Hall,
an honors-focused housing unit “I was
upset I didn’t get in, but I’ve managed.”
Berger said those students who are
not admitted or who do not wish to be in
the honors program but still want a rig
orous learning environment can still
learn alongside honors students.
Non-honors students can request to
take an honors course or receive permis
sion from the instructor or the honors
program, Berger said
“I did it, and I would say if a student
wants to take an honors class, more
power to them,” Cain said “It was a ftm
Stelzer said it is the honors pro
gram’s goal to promote academic excel
lence at UNL. V
“Our goal is to advertise the honors
program and its availability to every
one,” Stelzer said. “No one should be
Upperclassman applications to the
honors program can be found in the
Honors Program Office, 118 Neihardt
Residence Hall.
“The stimulation of academic rigor
is apparent in all honors program stu
dents,” Stelzer said “It’s a neat environ
ment that all university students should
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Diversity projects fiSnded
to promote open discussion
By Veronica Daehn
Staff writer
Establishing dialogue on campus
was the main focus of a subcommit
tee designated to fund university
diversity projects.
In a grant provided by the Senior
Vice Chancellor for Academic
Affairs Diversity Enhancement Fund,
10 projects received funding this
Teresita Aguilar, chairwoman of
the subcommittee of the Faculty
Liaison Task Force on Diversity, said
30 proposals were received.
“We were looking at what could
happen right now on campus,”
Aguilar said. “We also looked at the
people that could be served, and
chose activities that could be open to
all students.”
One of those activities, “How to
be an Ally for Students of Color
Without Being a Person of Color,”
will take place today from 1:30 to
4:30 p.m. in the Nebraska Union
Heritage Room.
This session will provide discus
sion about several topics including
racially motivated incidents, campus
climate and ways to increase under
standing of diversity issues among
Aguilar said the main criteria in
deciding which activities to fund
were if the activities would promote
dialogue, if they wouldn’t extend
beyond one year and if they would
promote a campus climate of equali
Associate Vice Chancellor for
Academic Affairs Evelyn Jacobson
said other projects chosen for fund
ing include the Voices of the People
series and the No Limits Conference
that was held last week.
A research project titled “What
Do We Know? Examining Ethnic and
Gender Biases of University Faculty
and Students” is also being paid for,
as well as the production of a manual
by the Teaching and Learning Center
to address issues of campus climate.
Limited funding made the num
I’m hoping those
reactions will offer
suggestions. ..."
Teresita Aguilar
chairwoman of diversity subcommittee
ber of proposals that were accepted
small, Aguilar said.
Some proposals centered on
recruitment, she said, but couldn’t be
funded because of the timeline.
The fund is a one-time deal and
provides money for one year only.
However, Aguilar said she hopes
the university will continue to pro
vide money next year.
“If the university is committed to
diversity, there needs to be funding,”
she said.
The subcommittee designated to
choose which projects deserve fund
ing was made up of three faculty
members, one staff member and one
Aguilar said a process similar to
one she had used before was used in
the selection process.
Each proposal was graded based
on set criteria, she said, and then they
were discussed and eliminated from
While one of the most important
goals of the activities is to promote
dialogue among issues, Aguilar said
she’s not sure if that goal is being
She blamed the structure of the
activities for the lack of lasting dia
“You need time to mull over
ideas,” she said. “That would take at
least a four-hour block of time.”
Aguilar said she hopes the prob
lem will surface in evaluations at the
end of the year.
“I’m hoping those reactions will
offer suggestions,” she said. “That’s
how you make change. The plus is,
though, that they’re actually talking
about these topics.”
Hopkins gets maximum
sentence in plea bargain
HOPKINS from page 1
As part of tfie plea agreement,
Hopkins waived his attorney-client
privilege, which made it possible for
Helvie to testify.
In his sentencing order,
Lancaster County District Court
" Judge Paul Merritt Jr. said Hopkins
deserved the maximum sentence for
his crime.
“The court finds that imprison
ment of the defendant is necessary
because a lesser sentence would
depreciate the seriousness of the
defendant’s crime and promote disre
spect for the law,” Merritt wrote.
Hopkins and his lawyer brokered
a plea agreement with prosecutors to
reduce die charges against hinj from
first-degree murder to manslaughter
in exchange for his testimony against
But prosecutors did not know the
details of the crime when they
entered the plea agreement.
Hopkins told the story of a pre
meditated murder that he planned
and carried out.
Galligo testified that he fled as
soon as he saw the stabbing begin,
but did not report it for more than
two years because he was terrified of
Prosecutors had the option to
revoke Hopkins’ plea agreement and
charge him with first-degree murder
if they determined he had lied on the
The state allowed Hopkins’ sen
tence to commence unhindered
Vrtiska pushes for Peru
PERU from page 1 _
ty of the small southeastern Nebraska
Vrtiska said that support is there
for the college, and recent economic
projects have put southeast Nebraska
on the rebound.
Vrtiska’s passion for Peru stems
horn his desire to maintain die college
and its distinctive population.
About 40 percent of Peru students
don’t meet the University of
Nebraska’s minimum ACT score of
18. And nontraditional students such
as parents or full-time workers make
up a significant portion of Peru stu
On top of that, said Carrol Krause,
executive director of the Nebraska
State College System, Peru produces
a hot commodity in Nebraska right
“Peru is a supplier of teachers to
the state and we have a shortage,” he
Leonard Skov, interim Peru presi
dent, said the Legislature needs to
trust that Peru will improve, and Peru
needs the state’s backing.
“It’s kind of like a mutual agree
ment that we will trust each other.”