I hope that visitors to the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College hear this often—“Tell me about yourself.” It’s a sentence that gets to the heart of the college’s mission to know a student’s hopes and dreams for their future and then to take those dreams seriously so that they might become reality. The Shackouls Honors College exists, as our founding dean Dr. Christopher Snyder says, “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 honored to serve as the Interim Dean of the Honors College, after over fifteen years of teaching and mentoring honor students at Mississippi State University. Located in Zacharias Village, a true residential college experience has developed in Griffis and Nunnelee halls over the past ten 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.
Our special Honors curriculum, called the Cursus Honorum, offers small seminars with common readings to students who want to read great books, discuss important ideas, and develop new and more powerful ways to think about the world around them. Honor students can choose to 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.
Those same students debating ideas in honor seminars with other students and faculty can also participate in the Shackouls Honors College 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 Office for Prestigious External Scholarships, where the university’s most accomplished undergraduates are mentored to compete for national fellowships such as the Rhodes Scholarship, the Fulbright Scholarship, or the Astronaut Scholarship.
As the Interim Dean of the Honors College, I invite you to join our community of student-leaders pushing the boundaries of what they thought possible for themselves before they arrived at Mississippi State University.