Checking in with Batten Scholars

With the conclusion of the fall semester and the recent Batten Honors College Competition, evaluation of how the Batten Honors College has developed throughout its inaugural semester was imperative. During the course of two weeks, plans have been set forth to expand the Batten Honors College with the addition of new students for the incoming class of freshman.

President Scott D. Miller welcomed the first cohort of the Batten Honors College during the fall of 2017. Collectively, the students recorded a grade point average of 4.03. The group was comprised of 40 students split into two groups, the Batten Fellows who received full scholarships and Shumadine Scholars who received two-thirds scholarships.

On Feb. 2, President Miller released the Fall 2017 President’s and Dean’s List.

“The 40 in the fall semester had a cumulative grade point average of 3.8, with a low of 3.53 and a high of 4.0. In particular, the first semester has been really good because they have had a number of service and leadership activities outside the classroom,” said Miller.

The chosen students were proposed to have met three different criteria presented by the Honors College: interest in the environment, leadership and globalization. Along with the three criteria, the students had to have at least a 3.75 GPA and 1275 on the SAT.

“One of the things that we did when we transitioned from an Honors Program to an Honors College was create a core curriculum for the Honors College,” said Joyce Easter, Dean of the Batten Honors College.

While not every single student in the Batten Honors College was able to recover a 4.0 GPA during the fall semester, there are other aspirations that will be put into place to reinforce the program’s intended mission. The students will be offered opportunities to study abroad, unique academic courses, and interdisciplinary seminars centered around globalization, multiple perspectives and leadership.

“Over a four-year period, the goal is to have 150 to 160 students in the Batten Honors College,” Miller said. “We will continue to strengthen the Batten Honors College. The idea is that they will not only get the typical education that every student at Virginia Wesleyan gets, but there will be values added to the degree.”

“One of the things that I was trying to do as we developed the Honors College was something that was lacking in our former program. This idea of a scholarly community,” Easter said. “There were certain things that we intentionally included in what we designed in the Honor’s College to purposely try to create that community. What we didn’t expect is for them to start building that community during the competition.”

According to Easter, the honors competition allows students to get acclimated to the campus environment, and the students that they will potentially be living and engaging in courses with. It is an opportunity for the students to determine if Virginia Wesleyan University is a “good fit for them”.

“I’m happy to see the next cohort come in and expand the program,”freshman Batten Honors student Andrew Taylor said. “I feel the program thus far has been a new experience and continues to enlighten me.”

President Miller said that more programs to further the education of students in the Honors College will arise as they progress. An agreement was recently signed with the University of Virginia that will allow at least one student each year from the Honors College to receive an annual scholarship from the university to complete a Master of Public Policy program.

“I am really pleased with how well everything has gone so far. When you design something you have this image in your mind of how things are going to go and you have this sort of anxiety of whether it will be a success or not. And I have been really pleased by our progress to this date,” Easter said.

“There is one thing to have a vision and a dream of what the program will be like, but as you each year bring in a new cohort and add to the size of it there are other things you can add… and as the Batten Honors College grows and matures you’ll see more offerings to those students as well,” Miller said.

Amanda Archer