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Letter: Troubled by changes in Honors Program

To the editor,

As former students of the Honors Program at UND, we were saddened to hear of the changes which have, from our perspective, dismantled the program we once knew. We are especially troubled by the new terminal degree requirement for Honors instructors.

We studied a wide variety of field-specific content during our time at UND and, while learning relevant information to our field was essential, the things we learned in Honors classes — process, engagement, and critical thinking, to name a few — were no less essential.

Some of us are researchers and have found that Honors classes prepared us to think about and execute the study of research questions better than many of our peers. Honors instructors and courses also taught us how to integrate knowledge across disciplines, a skill praised by researchers that now even influences grant decisions at the federal level. Some of us work in clinical settings, and have found that our Honors service work taught us how to effectively communicate and how to spot injustices within care systems.

We are all members of our communities and, thanks to the modeling of our Honors professors, acknowledge the value of participating in community discourse. In fact, perhaps that is why we are empowered to write this letter. During our Honors courses, we were consistently pushed to engage others with whom we disagreed, question our own beliefs, and pursue truth with intellectual integrity. It is impossible to measure the value of these skills, given their vitality to sustaining democracy.

Regardless of the reasoning for the recent decisions regarding the Honors Program, of which we are unaware, we are confident that the loss of the Honors Program as we knew it will decrease the value of the university, especially its ability to train students in the rare skills of critical thinking, respectful discourse, and integrating information.

Lastly, we would like to thank the Honors faculty for giving us an experience unlike any other at UND. You truly heightened our education experience, and your influence will be felt throughout our lives.

Jonathan Preszler, Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology, Washington State University (UND '14).

Alek Krumm, Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UND '15).

Michelle Sanders – PT, DPT, Reno, NV (UND ’15, ’18)

Bobbie Lentz – J.D. candidate, University of Arizona (UND ’16)

Kaylee Scott – M.D. candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison (UND ’16)

Zachary Selzler – M.D. candidate, Medical College of Wisconsin (UND ’15)

James Grossman – J.D. (UND ’13)

Alyssa Preszler – BSN, Gritman Medical Center, Moscow, ID (UND ’14)

Brooke Joppru – BSN, Regions Hospital, Minneapolis, MN (UND ’16)

Marlee Novak – M.D. candidate, University of Minnesota (UND ’15)

Brooke Lentz – M.D. candidate, University of North Dakota (UND ’15)

Jaford Burgad – Ph.D. candidate in Astrophysics, Ohio University (UND ’15)

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