Search for a Renée Crown University Honors Program director expected to continue late into the semester

Kiran Ramsey | Senior Design Editor

The Renee Crown University Honors Program at Syracuse University has had an interim director since July 2016.

A committee composed of distinguished professors is searching for a new director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program at Syracuse University.

Though the search process is still in its early stages, the committee estimates they will have a decision by the end of this calendar year.

Civil and environmental engineering professor Chris Johnson has been the interim honors program director since July 2016. Stephen Kuusisto, the previous director, stepped down after a five-year term.

The director would oversee the honor program’s budget. The director also would teach in the honors program for the school or college in which they have tenure, according to the SU Office of Human Resources.

David Seaman, dean of SU libraries, said the search committee is seeking candidates with a distinguished record of academic achievement and a strong administrative background. Seaman also is the search committee chair.

“(Candidates should have) experience developing programs that ensure high-quality undergraduate engagement … and a talent for communicating excitement about a wide array of artistic and intellectual endeavors,” Seaman said.

The search committee is looking at director candidates both in the United States and internationally. Candidate information is confidential during the search process.

Johnson, the interim director, could end up permanently taking over the position.

“I don’t think I am ready to answer that question really,” Johnson said. “The search is just starting and I’ve seen the advertisement, and I am giving it some thought, but I haven’t committed one way or the other.”

Ramesh Raina, chair of the SU biology department and a member of the search committee, said he thinks Johnson will be a candidate.

During his time as interim director, Johnson performed an external review of the program. The National Collegiate Honors Council sent three representatives to inspect the curriculum, facilities and administration of the Renée Crown University Honors Program.

Johnson said the council gave the program feedback on what it was doing well and what could be improved.

“We’re trying to give the new director a sense of the program’s strengths that can be built upon … perhaps some of the things that could be improved on,” Johnson said.

Johnson also worked with the individual colleges on campus to make the honors curriculum more flexible with student coursework.

“I think it is one of the best jobs at the university,” Johnson said. “I feel very privileged to have been able to do it for a year and presumably another semester or two.”

Members of the honors program take honors courses — small, discussion-based classes — and must complete a capstone project before they leave SU. Raina said the program also offers faculty mentorship and tailored educational opportunities.

The Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising program is part of the honors college. CFSA offers help on scholarship and fellowship opportunities across the country.

“The Honors Program is unique because it is one of the premier undergraduate opportunities at Syracuse. (It) challenges intellectually curious students from every undergraduate major at Syracuse University,” Raina said.


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