A Brief History of The Honors College
The initial impetus for establishing the Honors College at the University at Albany originated in the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2003, that College initiated a Strategic Plan focusing, in part, on the recruitment, retention, and advancement of undergraduate students. The number one recommendation of that plan was the formation of an Honors College to provide a “small college experience” for students by fostering and encouraging the creation of closely-knit cohorts of like-minded, motivated students. The Honors College was also envisioned as a vehicle to increase faculty-student interaction early in a student’s tenure at the University.
Under the leadership of Dean Joan Wick-Pelletier and Associate Dean Jeanette Altarriba, the College assembled a Task Force of distinguished teachers, faculty members, and scholars whose mission it was to propose guidelines for the development of an Honors College. The group was charged with designing and creating new, innovative programs of study that would challenge the brightest students in the College while raising the bar on excellence across the entire institution. After meeting for the better part of 2004, the Task Force presented a set of recommendations and action steps setting out the essential components of a thriving and vibrant honors program. The recommendations included curricular suggestions, benefits to be accrued by honors students, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and events, and structural suggestions for administering the Honors College.
This roadmap to success in the development of an Honors College was subsequently shared with then President Kermit L. Hall and Provost Susan V. Herbst. They, in turn, inspired by the work of the Task Force and the goals of the College of Arts and Sciences, established an Honors College that was University-wide and modeled upon the efforts and input from the College of Arts and Sciences. The result of these efforts from University faculty members, staff, students, and administrators across the campus is a comprehensive, effective, and visible construct that welcomed its first student members during the Fall 2006 semester.