The UW Oshkosh Honors College will see its first round of graduates this semester since transitioning from the previous honors program, which some students credit to the man in charge.
Laurence Carlin has been a faculty member at UWO since 2000 and joined the Honors faculty in 2012. In addition to being the Dean of the Honors College, Carlin has lead study abroad trips to London since 2003.
The UWO Honors College began as a smaller honors program. Carlin said the switch to a college began about a year ago with discussions between various campus governance bodies.
“We had a structure set up where we were very close to college status, so naturally we began to have these conversations,” Carlin said.
Carlin said a consultant, who was recommended by our National from the The National Collegiate Honor Conference, met with various instructors and governance bodies and also observed the program, which led to the final decision to transition.
“As a result of that report and those deliberations and conversations we decided we would do this,” Carlin said. “We decided we were well positioned to make the leap to the Honors College.”
UWO senior Hannah Dunaway said she became a part of the college after wanting to continue the work ethic she had during her high school years.
“I realized my senior year that I was messing up and began putting my all into my classwork and found I actually enjoyed it,” Dunaway said. “When I came to college I continued that work ethic and at the end of my first semester received an invitation to join the Honors College.”
Dunaway said Carlin has been a huge part of her experience at UWO from helping build class schedules to having one-on-one conversations with her.
“He pushed me to do the honors thesis when at first I was very against it, and I’m incredibly grateful for his ability to see how much I am capable of even if I don’t,” Dunaway said. “He was a great mentor and professor to me throughout my entire time in the college, and I would 100 percent recommend getting to know him to anyone who is in the college.”
Carlin said he was put at the front of the switch, which included two major objectives for the honors system at UWO.
“Number one, we were going to expand the presence of honors education,” Carlin said. “Of course, it’s already in the College of Business, College of Education and the College of Nursing, but we were putting more courses in other departments across campus.”
The second task was to collaborate with the governing body of the honors system, the UWO Honors Council.
“The task here was to make sure we had the policies that would be needed and the curriculum requirements, which was slightly different during the transition,” Carlin said.
Carlin said he faced several obstacles during the transition, but one of the biggest was expanding the presence of honors education on campus.
“There were a lot of challenges trying to make sure that there were honors courses in other departments,” Carlin said. “Faculty members are very busy in this day and age, and they have commitments to their home curriculum. We want them to offer an additional course for honors in addition to their major and minor classes.”
Carlin said another obstacle was getting their word out to others, using multiple methods to spread their message.
“We were doing that through meetings, through people coming to visit us, high school students with their parents, through our special Honors Day, working with admissions, through marketing and social media blasts, all sorts of things,” Carlin said.
UWO junior Laura Burow said she became part of the Honors College to meet new people who shared the same interest in school as her.
“Being a part of the Honors College has helped me gain so many new friendships,” Burow said. “It helps that they are more into studying than going out every night, like we love to have fun, but we understand our schoolwork is important.”
Burow said Carlin has helped her stay focused and determined during the semester when she begins to feel worn out.
“He cares about each and every student in the program,” Burow said. “He wants to see us succeed and make sure we’re all right on the way to the final destination that is graduation.”
Carlin said there were two main reasons why his job meant so much to him; the first being the study abroad trips.
“Number one, we [had] an honors study abroad program for the past few years,” Carlin said. “Some of our students have never left the Midwest, and we work very hard to make it accessible for students. It just leaves this impact on their lives that I love to see.”
Carlin said another reason his position is so rewarding is being able to watch the progress of the students in his program from beginning to end.
“After going through the honors curriculum, the most rewarding part is to see how overjoyed they are and to hear them talk about how much they got out of this,” Carlin said. “They let us know that this meant a lot to them, this had a big impact on them and if they could, they would do it all over again, which makes all of this worth it to us.”