Dear Honors Alumni Friends,
Now that we have become the Clarkson Honors Program & School, there are changes ahead. Some Honors students have worried about the changes, wondering if I would become too busy by heading both The School and the Honors Program, if the cultures of the two organizations aren’t too different to work well together, and if the merger didn’t signal a diminished University commitment to the Honors Program. Let me immediately set aside the third concern, in fact, the University’s commitment is stronger than ever.
The first concern is one that I have thought about a great deal as well, and it was further brought home to me by a present that one of the seniors gave me at graduation this year—one of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. The statue now sits on my back desk as a reminder not to become too busy or to lose the day-to-day enjoyment of interactions with students, also as reminder not to forget to fill the cookie tins! Of course, I know that Honors veterans will immediately let me know about this last regard. The pitfalls of busyness will be of most concern over this next year, as we get the new organization underway. But after that, they should subside, and we will begin to reap benefits, as for example, a full-time community affairs and development person that The School and Honors will share. With this person in place, I am expecting to have an extended vacation next summer, including a trip to the Galapagos Islands with a friend.
One of the great pleasures of the last five years has been working closely with Hayley Shen. By the way, all twenty-seven seniors did finish their theses this year—quite a way for Hayley to finish up her service. For some time, I had been thinking about how we in the Honors Program could acknowledge her service and tried various ideas out on her over the course of the year, including a thesis award in her honor. But honoring Hayley is and is not easy. She took the initiative and funded a thesis award herself (she had previously paid for a research stipend for one of our summer researchers)! She and I are still in negotiation about whether we can call it the Shen award or not. As an aside, Justin Slaby (Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering) and Chris Smalt (Computer Engineering) are the first recipients of this award.
You alums have proved equally generous this year. We received $6,500 in donations from Honors alumni this year and are using the money to support summer research students, of which we have a record number (38). One of the projects we are supporting is a three-person, self-proposed thesis project. Zack Schilling (Computer Engineering), Will Chiaravalle (Computer Engineering) and Matt Lanahan (Electrical Engineering) are building a robotic vehicle that can navigate campus pathways and roadways at high speed (http://havac.badcharacter.com). The tips about internships and jobs, assistance with our graduate school and fellowship applicants, and help with our orientation and the Career Fairs also provides great benefits to current Honors students.
When I next write you, the program will have entered its second decade, and no doubt there will more changes, surprises, and pleasures to report.
Summertime good wishes to you all,
P.S. Marcia, who is pinch hitting in the office these days and helping with this newsletter, says hi.