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King University News :: Is the Honors Program Right for You?

The Jack E. Snider Honors program at King College was launched in 2005 with the mission to foster academic excellence, joyful inquiry, and strong camaraderie. At the core, King sought to develop a learning community in which outstanding students would have the opportunity to take specialized course work and to grow into future leaders benefitting not only the college but the world at large. The ideal honors fellow would graduate King College as an engaged and reflective citizen.

With the Snider Honors Program, King is able to put top-ranked students on the front line, in the avant-garde, of contemporary studies and new research, said Dr. Mark Dollar, director of the SHP and professor of English. They are, without doubt, major assets to King College and help affirm its mission and vision.

Honors students examine how their studies have a global impact in the 21st century, regardless of their major. Implicit in this idea, says Dollar, is a shift from provincial mindsets focused on one's own home town and one's own identity to looking outward and understanding oneself in relationship to a wider cultural context. We wanted to complicate provincialism for our students and urge them to become more cosmopolitan, more aware of their positions as global citizens.

New honors students are eligible for the annual $1,000 Honors Scholar Award for every year they maintain a 3.0 GPA, remain active in the honors program, and continue making progress towards completion of the 18-credit hour requirement. Students who enter as freshmen and continue in the honors program receive an extra $1,000 to study at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria after their junior year.

All honors students are also eligible to participate in a major domestic trip every year, which the College partially subsidizes. Every even numbered year students travel to New York City; during the odd numbered years they travel to various other locations. Last year, honors students travelled to Montreal, Canada. They are planning on San Francisco or Chicago for 2013.

In May 2012, our first junior class under the scholarship program will be attending the Salzburg Global Seminar, said Dollar. It's wonderful for me to see these students come in as freshman, to have that promise out there on the horizon, and now to realize it as we complete a preparatory course for the Salzburg trip. The program is set up for college students - to teach them about global citizenship and how to go back to their campuses and create further awareness among their peers.

Our students have been preparing for this experience for three years, so, in many ways, they know the global debates and how complex they can be, continued Dollar. In the prep course, we are reviewing some major issues we know that the Salzburg faculty will hit upon, such as the confluence of race, gender, and faith on global human rights, education, and healthcare.

In an honors student's senior year, he or she will complete the Senior Honors Project with faculty supervision. This project can either be in the student's declared major or can involve other disciplines in which the student has an interest. Upon completion of all program requirements, the graduating senior earns the title of Snider Honors Fellow, receives a certificate of achievement, and wears the SHP medallion around his or her neck during commencement. The graduates' transcripts for prospective employers and graduate schools will indicate all coursework taken at the honors level and their status as Snider Honors Fellows.

Beginning in fall 2012, freshmen entering the Honors program will be separated into STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) and non-STEM student groups. Students will take advanced courses in composition and science, as well as the Honors Seminar, the main course that is offered as part of the honors program.

The Honors Seminar is the focal point of what we do, and is interdisciplinary in nature, said Dollar. The topics change every semester and are geared around global citizenship, contemporary philosophies, the state of the church, and contemporary culture. The first Honors Seminar I taught, 'Postmodernism, Pop Culture, and Christianity,' examined the philosophy of postmodernism and how it influences many diverse modes of inquiry.

Other Honors Seminar topics have included The Post-American World, which examined the relative decline of American influence and power, the rise of China and India, and how that affects Americans' national identity; The Emergent Church Movement, which studied the trend in American Protestantism to focus more on justice and works than on orthodox dogmas; An Introduction to Islam in the Modern World, which looked at Muslim belief and practice from theological, historical, and political viewpoints; and The New Atheism Movement, which considered the latest rise of atheism as a popular trend in culture and examined it from a variety of different angles and opinions. The Honors Seminar for spring 2012, The Cube and the Cathedral, questions why church attendance has decreased dramatically in Europe over the last 20 to 30 years and the lessons to be learned for American expressions of Christianity.

Our guiding verse for the Honors program is Matthew 10:16, Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves, said Dollar. The verse reminds us to be wise, understanding how the world works – to recognize the good the bad and the ugly – but choose to be a blessing to the world, working towards the common good for all people. These students are our future leaders. What do we want them to perceive before they go out and hold those positions of responsibility? We need to help them realize that their talents and gifts come with an obligation to God and society.

The first director of the Honors program was Dr. Craig McDonald, professor of English for King. With a monetary gift from Jack Snider, a former residence on King's main campus was renovated and turned into the Jack E. Snider Honors Center. The late Dr. Snider was recognized throughout the region as a fervent advocate of education and model of civic service. He joined King College in 1955 and over five decades faithfully served in a number of titles including registrar, director of admissions, director of financial aid, director of alumni affairs, professor of education, head of the education department, and senior vice president.

In 2009, Dollar, took over as director of the Honors program. The administration initially desired a shift from a focus on the humanities to include a wider variety of disciplines. A substantive travel component was also added, along with the new core implemented at the same time for the entire college. The focus of the program is now centered on the external awareness of cultures, politics, and economics, or what is referred to commonly as global citizenship.

For more information on the Jack E. Snider Honors program, visit or contact Dr. Mark Dollar at or 423.652.4872.