May 28, 2004
Contact: Gordon Ovenshine: 724-738-4854;
SLIPPERY ROCK UNIVERSITY’S GROWING
HONORS PROGRAM GETS BIOLOGIST AS NEW DIRECTOR
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock
University’s Honors Program has grown seven-fold. It now
offers optional honors housing, 30 scholarships a year, independent
study options that one student used to write a children’s
book, job networking, as well as travel opportunities to Italy,
England, Costa Rica and Ireland.
And a new director to keep the momentum going,
Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Steven Strain. A professor
at SRU for eight years, Strain holds a doctorate in microbiology
from Oregon State University.
SRU’s program has grown from 34 to 318
students, reflecting a trend toward increased enrollment of
academically gifted students. While honors programs at many
universities focus solely on liberal studies, SRU offers courses in
math and science, Strain said.
“The honors program is an important
component of the university,” he said. “It provides an
opportunity for students who want to go a little further with their
education. These are talented people who want to do more than the
Another distinctive component is the honors
contract. Participants take a regular, non-honors course in
their major and contract with a professor to do a project related
to course content but which "moves the student substantially beyond
the parameters of the course" to allow them to master an area in
their discipline, Strain said.
contract is typically the equivalent of a 20-page paper. If
they complete it successfully, they earn three honors
credits. Last semester, student Carly Dobbins-Bucklad wrote a
children’s book on wetland conservation as a contract project
and is working to publish it.
Students may also opt for the “Great Books
Course” where they study a classic work of literature and
then travel to the author’s home country.
Additionally, 10 to 12 students make
presentations at national and regional honors conferences each. Two
students are also selected every year to participate in the
Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Honors
students with SAT scores of 1100 or higher who graduated in the top
10 percent of their high school class may join the program.
Participants complete 21 hours of honors coursework to graduate
with an honors certificate.