|December 7, 2000
New Honors director to be selected
By Valerie Banner
When University Scholars and Honors students return for the spring semester, they will find the Honors program run by someone new.
Dr. James Scanlon, university provost, will select a new director by the end of finals week based on recommendations by a search committee and Amy Cossentino, assistant director of program operations, Honors program.
Dr. Nathan Richey held the position of director until this school year when he became chair of the mathematics and statistics department. Dr. Ronald Shaklee, associate professor, geography, is currently the interim assistant director.
Shaklee and Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer, associate professor, geology, are the final candidates for this position.
Shaklee, Beiersdorfer and Dr. John Sarkissian, associate professor, foreign language and literature, spoke to students in the Honors program Thursday and Monday evenings outlining their expectations for the position. The committee for choosing a new director, chaired by Dr. Bill Jenkins, is comprised of three University Scholars and four faculty representatives.
Jenkins said the committee narrowed the pool of nine applicants to three who possessed “the best background and fit best what we were looking for,” he said.
The committee looked specifically at a set of nine criteria when interviewing the candidates. Shaklee and Beiersdorfer, who were recommended to the Provost’s office, were “the two who seemed to meet those qualities in the most abundance and were pretty well- rounded in all areas,” said Jenkins.
Cossentino said she would not comment on any of the candidates until she had the opportunity to complete separate interviews with them.
During the student interviews, each candidate promised to bring something unique to the Honors program.
Shaklee, who received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Kansas, said he would come into the position with realistic expectations.
“One of the disadvantages of being the interim acting director is I do know what the inside restrictions are,” he said.
Shaklee said the program needs to better meet the needs of the students, which includes offering Honors classes more frequently and more consistently.
“I can’t tell you that you have to take a certain number of Honors classes if we’re not offering them,” he said.
Shaklee said he would like to see the Honors students fulfilling a community service requirement, much like the Scholars do. He also suggested finding a way for all departments on campus to offer their own Honors programs.
Beiersdorfer, who received his bachelor’s degree from Queens College, City University of New York, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of California at Davis, said he has four goals for the Honors program. Three of them, including making internships and international opportunities available and having strong communication among honors students, are already being realized, he said.
Beiersdorfer, who had 10 years of experience as a disc jockey, said his other idea for the program is creating a second radio station on campus. He said he would like for this station to be run entirely by students and housed in Cafaro House. He said making the program more high profile would make new students more interested in the Honors program.
“I think my past levels of success should indicate that I’ll be successful here,” said Beiersdorfer.
Sarkissian, who received his doctorate from Duke University and his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, said the Honors program director has “an obligation to develop the students’ intellect to the full capacity.”
In order to do that, he said, he would like to see the university offer more Honors classes so Honors students could interact with each other more frequently. He also suggested implementing field trips to the opera or theater, which would be tied into Honors courses.
He also mentioned creating a newsletter in which alumni of the program would contribute. Sarkissian said the best way to recruit new students for the program is build it, so YSU can offer these students a strong Honors program.