Excellence. The ancient Greeks called it arete (ἀρετη̍), and applied it not just to athletes but to anyone pursuing their true potential, those trying to be the best that they can be. Chances are that, if you are an honors student or a potential honors student, you have been pursuing academic excellence for many years. The Shackouls Honors College exists to assist students in the pursuit of excellence, indeed in the pursuit of truth itself.
Through a generous gift from Judy and Bobby Shackouls in 2006, the University Honors Program at Mississippi State grew and transformed to become the Shackouls Honors College. I am proud to serve as the first Dean of the Honors College, a position I assumed in 2011. Located in Zacharias Village, a true residential college experience has developed in Griffis and Nunnelee halls over the past eight years. Classrooms, conference rooms, social spaces, courtyard, library, and computer lab complement our student residences. In the tradition of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, we are a residential college serving the intellectual and social needs of our outstanding honors students.
Most exciting (and important) is our new honors curriculum, the Cursus Honorum ("Path of Honors"). We offer small seminars with common readings to students in the first year of the program, and follow that with special topics and interdisciplinary courses in the fine arts, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and sciences. Our seminars have a maximum of 15 students in each section, while our lecture courses have no more than 25. For an even more intimate and intense experience, our students can take Oxbridge tutorials where 1-3 students meet with a faculty "tutor" each week to engage in conversation about the students' work. Those who prefer this style of student-centered learning can even take tutorials with Oxford University faculty during our Shackouls Summer Study in Oxford. Scholarships are available for this and many other study abroad experiences.
To further encourage the pursuit of truth in the disciplines, the Shackouls Honors College has an Undergraduate Research Program, which matches student researcher with faculty mentor and funds both summer and semester research projects. We help our students identify their research interests early on, sponsoring their travel and presentation at national and international conferences, and organize defenses for those students writing senior honors theses. The Honors College is also the home of the Distinguished Scholars Program, a mentor program for the university's top undergraduate scholarship recipients.
These are exciting times for the Honors College and for Mississippi State University. As we cheer on our beloved Bulldogs, and as we take "State Pride" in the many community service projects in which Mississippi State students are involved, we are reminded that the pursuit of excellence takes physical and moral courage, and builds character as well as intellect. It is this pursuit of truth, this quest for knowledge and wisdom, which truly defines an honors student.
May God bless your pursuit of excellence!
Christopher A. Snyder, Ph.D.
Professor of History and Dean
Shackouls Honors College