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Fall 2017 Welcome Letter from Professor Frawley

Dear University Honors Program students,

Welcome to the start of the 2017-18 academic year! I speak for the entire UHP faculty and staff in saying that we are delighted to have you, whether you are joining us as first-year students or are returning, and we are looking forward to a terrific year together.

We have a little news to report as the semester begins. Professor Mark Ralkowski will be on sabbatical this fall (we can’t wait to read his book!), and his courses will be taught this fall by the political theorist Professor Craig French. Professor Hammond will also be on leave this fall. Her courses will be taught by two biologists: Professor Robert Kambic and Professor Jelena Patrnogic. In addition, we welcome four new faculty fellows to the program this year: Professors Kim Gross, Alex Pyron, Fran Buntman, and Nicole Layser. Every year I have faculty new to the program tell me how impressed they are with our students and what a delight it is to teach for the UHP, and I know all 6 of these faculty are looking forward to meeting you in the classroom. We said our sad goodbyes to program officer Catherine Chandler a few weeks ago, wishing her well on her move to New England. Our search for a new program officer is underway. In the meantime, please be patient with Mary Rothemich, who is heroically handling many duties in the interim period!

In curricular news, we learned late last spring or early summer that our efforts to get the two Scientific Reasoning and Discovery courses taken by many freshmen approved to count for two general curricular requirements – oral communication and civic engagement and learning. We believe this will be super helpful to those of you taking those courses, both this year and in years to come.

I know a “welcome letter” isn’t a time to speechify or to demand too much of your time and attention, but I do want to say that I very much hope the academic year is rewarding for each and every one of you. Take responsibility for your learning – if something isn’t go well with a course, think through what you could do to make it better. Listen and learn from each other. My years of teaching honors seminars have taught me that you yourselves are our most valuable resource – you have much to offer and are generous with each other. I also hope you will get involved in Honors activities – they are a great way to feel more connected to the program and to each other.  Incoming first-year students, please make every effort to join us this Thursday, August 31st, 6-8pm in the Grand Ballroom in the Marvin Center, for the Welcome Dinner. Many of the faculty will be there, and it’s a great opportunity to begin getting to know one another.

We have a wide array of activities planned for all Honors students in the coming semester, so stay tuned to the Newsflash for details about our annual hike, our food-for-thought luncheons, trivia night, and the end of semester faculty-student dinner. Over the course of the year our faculty will be hosting some film screenings in the Club Room by way of introducing themselves to the community and having good conversation in a low-key atmosphere. In addition to these activities, we actively seek help from our students in developing new programming, whether for small or larger groups. Two years ago we launched a student programming board, with representatives from each year (and each campus) asked to help plan and host activities large and small, formal and informal, that appeal to students. We are looking for new representatives for this year’s board, so if you have a desire for a leadership role please let Eydie Costantino know right away (Eydie@gwu.edu). To help make the programming board successful, we will rely on all of you to be engaged and responsive when your representatives reach out. As always, our peer advisors are at the ready to help younger members of the UHP with any and all questions.  Lastly, I’d like to promote our undergraduate research program. All students should investigate our research assistant opportunities, whether for this semester or down the road. These are excellent ways to build close relationships with faculty and to gain invaluable experience for your lives after GWU.

My door (and inbox) is always open, should you desire to talk with me about any aspect of the Honors Program. I have regular “UHP Director Office Hours” (MVC office, Mondays at 11; FB office, Thursdays at 11:30); if these times don’t suit, just email me to make an appointment. All the very best to each and every one of you,

Maria Frawley