Batten Honors College to attract top scholars

The Honors and Scholars Program currently known by students is soon to be no more as President Scott D. Miller announced the establishment of the Batten Honors College in his State of the College Address delivered on Aug. 23, 2016. The college is due to be established in 2017. It will take a total of four years for the Honors College to be fully developed.

The Batten Honors College will provide an engaging and academically rigorous experience to some of Virginia Wesleyan College’s brightest students. Leadership, co-curricular events, real world experiences and service learning are among the ideals that will be at the heart of the Batten Honors College.

According to Miller’s address, chemistry professor and head of the chemistry department Dr. Joyce Easter has been named the college’s first dean. The school has received guidance from Dr. David Black in the planning process for the honors college. Black is a member of the President’s special council, served as a college president for an extensive period of time and is credited with establishing Eastern University’s Templeton Honors College.

Among the students in the Honors College will be 80 full-scholarship students known as Batten Fellows. Twenty Batten Fellows will be admitted each year. Batten Fellows, along with  students in the Honors and Scholars Program, will be housed in Village IV, soon to become the Batten Honors Village. According to Vice President of Enrollment Services David Waggoner, Batten Fellows will additionally be offered fully-funded study-away experiences during the winter or summer session of their junior year.

Waggoner also mentioned that Enrollment Services has been kept busy promoting the honors college to high school students as well as guidance counselors.

“Students who have been very successful academically in high school want to know that they will be challenged when they get to college,” Waggoner said.

Waggoner described the program as being extremely selective and only looking for students that score between a 1300 and 1400 on their SATs. Students will additionally be required to provide a resume and personal essay. The college will not be open to current students but will be in the years to come. This is due to the fact that only freshman-level courses will be offered initially, with higher-level courses to be added in consecutive years. Sophomore-level courses will be added in 2018, junior-level courses in 2019 and senior-level courses in 2020.

Dr. Joyce Easter, dean of the Batten Honors College, said her hope for the college is that all students will be given the foundation to become leaders in their designated fields and impact the world. Easter also said that the primary difference between the current Honors and Scholars Program and the Batten Honors College will be that more similar experiences will be offered in the Batten Honors College. The Honors College will additionally have a curriculum of its own. The current plan is for it to have two to three freshman seminars with groups of 12 to 20 students in each.

Ashley Kline

(Photo: Janice Marshall-Pittman | Courtesy)