University of Wyoming Honors House

Built in 1940, the University of Wyoming Honors House sits on the corner of 15th and Fraternity Row and is a living option offered to honors students. Boomerang file photo

The University of Wyoming launched an internal search last week for the next honors program director — a position that could evolve into an honors college dean if the UW Board of Trustees approves that change when it meets next week.

The university hopes to grow the current honors program, headed by a director, into a full-fledged college, headed by a dean, as a way to draw in high-performing high school students from across and outside the state, said Kate Miller, UW provost and vice principal of academic affairs.

“Strong students from those places will be attracted to the university with the opportunity to have this enhanced educational experience,” she said.

In addition to attracting prospective students away from competitors, the honors college would give more UW students an opportunity to participate in honors, Miller said.

One of the new dean’s responsibilities would be overseeing the creation of college-specific honors tracks. This would make it easier for students in majors such as business or health sciences to add an honors minor, Miller said.

“Part of the reason those majors don’t (seek an honors minor) is because their curriculum is so set,” she said. “Now those colleges will be able to stand up an honors curriculum in the college that’s more focused on, say, business or health sciences.”

Steven Barrett, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of electrical and computer engineering, will chair the search committee for the next leader of the honors program.

The committee of faculty, staff and students will work with a board subcommittee to accept applications, conduct interviews and narrow the pool of candidates to a few finalists, Barrett said.

A plan to transition from honors program to honors college was presented to the Board of Trustees in April. The board will vote on the transition next week during its meeting. If the board does not approve the transition plan, the committee will continue to search for an honors program director.

“We’re not jumping the gun ahead of the trustees,” Barrett said. “We’re just looking for that leader and hopefully they’ll be the dean of the honors college.”

Miller said she is hopeful the board will approve the plan for an honors college.

“They were very positive and receptive to it,” she said.

Unlike the concurrent searches for vice president of student affairs and vice president of research and economic development, this search will not look externally for applicants.

“This is an internal search, so it’s folks that are already here at UW,” Barrett said. “I feel very confident that there’s lots of very, very good people out there that would be a great fit for this position.”

Barrett said within a few days of the search starting, he had already heard from a few applicants interested in the position.

The Board of Trustees is scheduled to consider the program during its next meeting, May 10-12.

The committee is tasked with providing finalists to the provost by July 1.

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