Dr. Harris Named New Honors Program Director

Political Science Professor Dr. Douglas Harris is appointed the new director of Loyola’s Honors Program. Click here for PDF Copy

A common complaint among past and present students of the Honors Program at Loyola has been the lack of integration of the sciences, social sciences, and business in Honors, a primarily humanities-based program.  A new iteration of the Honors Program that is meant to be more interdisciplinary beyond the humanities will be implemented within the next few years.  (The Honors class of 2015 is scheduled to be the inaugural class for the new Honors Program.)  Honors has recently taken another step beyond the humanities with the appointment of its next director.  This new director is Dr. Douglas Harris, associate professor of political science, who was named to the position by Dr. Buckley, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Harris will become the first non-humanities faculty member to direct the Honors Program.  He is succeeding Dr. Nick Miller, associate professor of English, as well as Dr. Frank Cunningham, associate professor of philosophy, who has been serving as acting director this year during Dr. Miller’s time on sabbatical leave.  Dr. Harris has been a member of the Honors Executive Board and an assistant director of the Honors Program since 2008.  Besides the Honors Program, Dr. Harris has had positions in the Alpha faculty, as a core advisor, in the Dean of First-Year Students Advisory Committee, and in the Education for Life Committee.

Dr. Harris recently met with members of the Honors Program Student Council to discuss plans for next year.  The main point of the discussion was to figure out what is and what is not currently working with Honors.  The tone of the meeting indicated that Honors is currently in flux.  The current freshman class of 45 students was the smallest class in at least the past four years, and the plan for the incoming freshman class is to keep it as small as it currently is.  The current Honors Program is a sort of lame-duck program, so the lack of excitement among the last members of the old way is an unsurprising side effect of a transitional period.

Dr. Harris expressed excitement about his new position and made it clear that moments like these – meeting with Honors students and talking about Honors – are the moments he is looking forward to in his time as director.  He does not take the role of Honors Director until July 1, but he has already begun working on many of the tasks that he will have to officially work on in a few months.  These include the many administrative tasks that come with such a position.  Dr. Harris characterized these as the moments that he was not looking forward to as Honors Director – budget issues, working with students regarding scheduling conflicts, working with Admissions and other groups to make sure that notices regarding admissions and other Honors announcements are sent out correctly and in a timely fashion, and the many other headaches associated with Honors.  Despite these headaches, Dr. Harris’ principal outlook on his new position remains excitement.

Dr. Harris is inheriting the work of Dr. Miller during the latter’s time as Honors Director.  During his five-year stint in the position, Dr. Miller was one of the biggest champions of the new Honors Program.  He worked relentlessly with the Honors Program Board of Directors in designing the new program and ensuring its approval.  Even though Dr. Miller’s particular academic field is one of the humanities, he strongly advocated expanding Honors beyond the humanities, both for the sake of satisfying students’ wishes and because of his own personal academic philosophy.  When asked if Dr. Miller will remain with Honors in some sort of unofficial advisory role, Dr. Harris admitted that he might have to, though both he and Dr. Miller would like the new director to fully take the reins as soon as possible.

Helping Dr. Harris to secure a smooth transition into the new program will be the newly elected co-chairs of the Honors Program Student Council, rising senior Jen Nordmark and rising sophomore Maggie Tighe.  They are succeeding current senior Jeff Malone and current sophomore Amanda Malik.  Jen previously served as co-chair during her sophomore year, and her experience should prove to be invaluable.

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