Former philosophy department chair and new LSA Honors program director Stephen Darwall introduced himself today in an e-mail to honors participants, introducing his new blog “The Director’s Page” where he pledges to ” … knit the Honors community together in all sorts of different ways to make for a more vibrant intellectual culture.” While I suppose it was only a matter of time before an administrator started a blog, I must admit Prof. Darwall’s new blog took me by surprise – hopefully he takes full advantage of it to communicate to students. As far as I know, History professor Juan Cole is the only other professor to maintain a blog – if you know of any others please let me know so that I can add them to the U-M blogs page.
Although I think his initial goal of trying to forge a more cohesive honors community a good start, I think there are two clear changes that should be made to the honors program:
1) The honors admissions criteria– simply a minimum GPA and SAT score – is flawed. If the University recently won a supreme court decision by arguing in part that test scores alone are not enough to determine admissions, why does the honors program do it? The honors program should put more effort in communicating to incoming students, trying to recruit intellectually curious people through a broad variety of criteria, including students’ geographic and economic backgrounds, race, academic interests, and activities.
2) Prof. Darwall should focus not exclusively on forging an honors community, but an intellectual community in general at Michigan. By limiting events and resources to LSA Honors participants, they leave out many students who have much to give, and, I think, make the honors program unnecessarily elitist. I believe the Perlman Honors Commons and events held there should be open to all students – providing academic resources to motivated students is one thing, but creating a space exclusively for honors students at the center of campus is another entirely.