Going forward, the possibilities are indeed unlimited. In addition to new and innovative programming for students in the Honors College, a number of strategic goals will explicitly aim to benefit the entire university. These include expanding the number of students at PNW doing research thesis cross listing experiential learning courses that include travel to other parts of the United States or the world. The College will also look to partner with and support more organizations in the community. Outreach to area schools in the form of tutoring, mentoring and college preparatory is but one example. The overarching goal is to play a role in the economic and cultural revitalization of the Northwest Indiana region.
While some of these new initiatives will take time to develop, others are closer on the horizon. With oversight of student research for the entire university, Honors will now coordinate undergraduate research grants and work with the PNW Research Board to plan “Discovery Days” each spring. While volunteering in the community has been a staple of Honors education over the years, providing service opportunities to all PNW students, through an annual volunteer fair and other means, will now be part of our mission. Student leadership will receive more attention with the new chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) on campus. An internationally recognized leadership honors society, ODK will be housed in Honors and be open to qualified graduate students as well as juniors and seniors at PNW.
ResearchUndergraduate research will be a priority for the Honors College going forward. In addition to its newfound oversight of the Student Research Office, Dean John Rowan envisions a research center whose functions will include the production of an undergraduate research journal, consultation services for regional partners, and faculty development. Another new initiative is the Honors Research Thesis options for non-Honors students at PNW. Juniors who are not members of the Honors College, but are in good academic standing, will be able to submit a proposal to do an Honors Research Thesis in their major and thereby become an affiliated member of the Honors community.
Both on campus and in the Northwest Indiana community, the Honors College has a long history of lending its assistance to a variety of worthy causes. Over the years, students have worked with the United Way, the NWI Food Bank, Opportunity Enterprises, the American Red Cross, the Humane Society, and many other organizations.
The College will continue to grow its university-wide coordination of outreach activities, with an eye towards establishing a Center for Civic Engagement and Service that will connect PNW students with volunteer opportunities in the region.
One of the largest service events each year is the regional Science Olympiad competition. Hundreds of students from dozens of middle and high schools in Northwest Indiana come to campus, hoping to qualify for the state tournament. The plan is for the Honors College to host the state event at Purdue Northwest in the near future.
Honors College student Abdul Ali (right), a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, assists middle schoolers from Forest Ridge Academy at the Hovercraft event. This year, the Honors College will add to its list of university-wide initiatives with its oversight of the Academic Super Bowl competitions for high school students in Porter and La Porte counties.