Times are changing for the Honors Program here at Jacksonville State University.
Last fall, Dr. Steven Whitton stepped down as the director of the program to return to the classroom full-time.
Whitton started the program about five years ago with the help of the Honors Board per request of Dr. Earl Wade. Throughout his years within the program, it expanded each year, which he hopes will continue to do under its new director.
Dr. Lori Owens, the new director, wants to continue this increase and get to know the members of the program on a personal basis. She has had interactions with a few of the students but would like to get to know them all.
She has also been the faculty advisor for the school debate team since 1999 and she is the advisor for pre-law. Owens is involved with many student-oriented programs and she likes helping and being around the students.
She said when her dean asked her if she would want to be the new director for the honors program she didn’t have to think twice about it.
Honors Program Coordinator Mrs. Janet Whitmore is very optimistic about Dr. Owens and the future of the program. Similar to Owens, Whitmore also cares about the students on a personal basis and wants to continue building relationships throughout the program.
Whitmore believes that Owens is going to be caring, will be there for the students and will continue to help keep the students motivated.
Whitmore also believes the members will really like Owens and that she will be a great help to the program.
Emily Smith, president of the program, is also on a similar path concerning the future of the program.
“I would like to see the program continue to grow, and it’s going to be up to us to get the Honors Program involved around campus,” Smith said.
She is very optimistic with the new director and is looking forward to meeting Owens. She personally wants a director that would be involved and that cares about the students. She feels Owens is great for the job.
Smith, a senior Elite Honors Scholar, has been involved with the program from the time she started at Jacksonville State; this will be her last year as a member of the program.
Within the past four years Jacksonville State University’s Honors Program has had a twenty percent increase in the number of honors classes filled. The program grew from 365 seats to 565 seats this fall.
“The goal is to keep this increase in the number of students moving up,” Owens explained. She has several projects that she plans to start working on soon. She mentioned creating a theme for the program, meshing the Honors Program and honors classes together even further, and several other ideas that she hopes will continue to help the program thrive.
JSU’s Honors Program has a bright future ahead, and it seems Owens is very optimistic about it all.