This past year was particularly exciting after a major facelift to the interior of the Honors House. All of our rooms, including offices, the classroom, library, hallway, computer room, and lounges, were painted, re-carpeted, and outfitted with furniture befitting a world-class honors program. When our students returned to campus, they were thrilled by the renovation, which provided additional study and relaxation space. We couldn’t be happier with the changes that were made and the impression that it leaves on potential students and visitors. I extend special appreciation to Anne Price who single-handedly packed up everything in the House prior to the summer renovation and subsequently arranged to have us moved back prior to the start of the semester.
We began the year with a new format for our New Student Orientation that we plan to continue into the future. During a delicious breakfast at the Illini Union, our new students had an opportunity to become acquainted with each other and the requirements of the Campus Honors Program while participating in round table discussions facilitated by returning student leaders. Dr. Steve Petruzzello, faculty member in the Honors Program treated students to a welcome lecture where they also heard from staff and members of the Honors Student Council. Later that evening they returned to the Honors House for a tour of the facility and a light dinner with music, popcorn, and cotton candy where they bonded with other students and faculty.
We had another successful year of events that included a special film premiere of As Far As the Eye Can See which was directed by former alumnus, David Franklin, who also provided students with a personal glimpse into the world of movie-making. Our annual Keith Kelroy Convocation Lecture featured Sonia Manzano, author of Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx and actress who played Maria on Sesame Street for 44 years where she received 15 Emmy Awards as a writer.
Our Living Learning Community continued to provide honors students with outstanding programming throughout the year, and several students participated in a trip to Rome which is highlighted in a special feature in the Annual. Given its popularity, we hope that we will be able to provide additional beds for incoming students in the future.
We recently returned from a trip to Peru where students, accompanied by Professor Helaine Silverman, Anne Price, and me, visited the ancient city of Cusco, climbed the stone terraces in Ollantaytambo, toured the city of Lima, and were treated to the spectacular beauty of Machu Picchu. Our students shared many laughs and made new memories while eating delightful Peruvian meals, riding on the bus from one location to another, and learning about the culture and history of the country from Dr. Silverman.
I was pleased that Anne Price agreed to assume the important role of Assistant Director. She has already done an amazing job of advising students, guiding the Honors Student Council, and meeting with new faculty. We welcome our new Office Manager, Tami Fazio, who has proven to be a quick study and wonderful addition to our amazing staff. Sadly, we will be saying farewell to Margaret Cupps who will be retiring after 23 years of service to the program. We congratulate Margaret on this transition but will deeply miss her friendly smile, sense of humor, dedication to the position, and institutional memory that is impossible to replace.
I look forward to another exciting year and invite you to visit the Honors House frequently.
Kim C. Graber, Ed.D.
Director, Campus Honors Program
Professor, Kinesiology and Community Health