The highly-touted Honors College at Texas A&M University-Commerce is doubling in size after merging with the smaller Regents Scholars Program and receiving increased funding.
This comes while reducing the number of full-time scholarships offered, however.
The Honor’s College was created in 2007 to expand “the honors curriculum and [establish] a residential learning community of honors scholars,” according to the university website. Honors scholars receive a scholarship that pays for 100 percent of all tuition.
In 2010, the Regents Scholar Program was created due to the overwhelming demand, as the Honors College only admitted 50 students each fall. The RSP admitted 25 students each year who received scholarships that paid for a sizable portion of their tuition. Students in the Regents program also traveled abroad for learning and enrichment opportunities during the summer after their Junior year.
In 2017, the Regents Scholar Program was moved back under the wing of the Honors College, and the two have been slowly merging since then. Dr. Ray Green, who is the Dean of Honors as well as a Professor of Psychology at A&M-Commerce, says that this latest change stems from a call to action by University President Dr. Mark Rudin.
“Dr. Rudin said he wanted the Honors College to expand,” Green said. “So now the Regents program is officially folded into the Honors College.”
With the merger, the Honors College will now accept 100 incoming freshman for each fall semester, ballooning to 400 in total students in the next few years. However, fewer students will get a full-ride to school, as only 25 100-percent scholarships are being awarded versus 75 50-percent scholarships.
Green said that the focus of the expanded Honors College will be altered, with three “Developmental Tracks” being offered to take. The tracks include the thesis track, which encapsulates the traditional Honors College experience; A track that involves a trip abroad, keeping the unique influence of the Regents Scholar Program, as well as a professional development track, where the Honors College pays departments on campus to hire honors students as workers, which Green said is the return of a program that had been in place previously.
Green stressed that these tracks are not mutually exclusive, and students are encouraged to take as many as they can.
The qualifications to be accepted into the Honors College remain the same. The college uses a rubric that can show students if they qualify for an interview. Points are awarded for class ranking, SAT and ACT test scores. Students that are the valedictorian or salutatorian of their class automatically have enough “points” to get an interview, while students lower down the order will have to have good tests scores to qualify.
Green said that he views the expansion as an “opportunity for a greater impact” on students.
Jennifer Hudson, the Director of the former Regents Scholar Program and the Quality Enhancement Plan, said that the merger helps put the RSP in a better place.
“The Regents Scholar Program always had a strong identity, but it seemed like it was hard to find a place for it,” Hudson said. “Now we can give more students better opportunities as well as the chance to graduate with honors.”
Applications for the Honors College for the fall 2020 semester will be available online at the university’s website later this week at tamuc.edu.