Academic journal article Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council

Establishing a Latin American University Honors Program: The Case of Campus Monterrey, Tecnologico De Monterrey, Mexico

Academic journal article Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council

Establishing a Latin American University Honors Program: The Case of Campus Monterrey, Tecnologico De Monterrey, Mexico

Article excerpt

HISTORY IN BRIEF

The university honors program of Campus Monterrey, Tecnologico de Monterrey, evolved from the international degree program that was first offered in the spring semester of 2002. Originally six programs were offered in the School of Business and School of Engineering:

* BA Business Administration

* BA Financial Management

* BA Finance and Accounting

* BA Marketing

* BA International Business

* BS Industrial and Systems Engineering

Once introduced, the international degree program received such a good response from the student community that, in the following semesters, the number of programs available in an international version increased from six to eleven across new areas of engineering, computer science, and humanities and social sciences. Since then, the number of academic programs with an international component has been increasing steadily. Today, thirty-nine bachelor's programs are available in this modality.

When first established, the international degree program had the following requirements:

* high school GPA, TOEFL score, and admission test score;

* completion of 33% of the curriculum in a foreign language;

* completion of additional credit, equivalent to an extra course, in either a foreign language or intercultural topics; and

* a mandatory year abroad (two semesters).

As the program matured, the requirement that 33% of the curriculum be taken in a foreign language was modified. Rather than focusing on the language of the classes, we wanted to assure the best quality of our classes regardless of the language of instruction, so we started offering classes exclusively to students in the international degree program and staffing the classes with outstanding professors on campus. In the spring of 2008, we started calling these classes "honors." A requirement of the program then became completion of at least twenty classes (approximately a third of the curriculum) either in a foreign language or in the honors format. Another change was that, rather than optionally studying a language as part of their intercultural electives, students were required to dedicate at least three out of their intercultural electives to the study of a foreign language. The international degree program successfully graduated its first cohort in the fall of 2005. As of December 2010, five hundred students have graduated with twenty-eight different bachelor degrees in the international degree program format.

HOW WE BECAME AN HONORS PROGRAM

Students participating in the international degree program possessed and maintained a higher level of academic standards than the non-international-degree-program students. Therefore, we wanted our international degree program to be recognized as a fully developed university honors program. We believed that offering an honors program on our campus would provide additional growth opportunities for students who have outstanding academic records and who have the potential and motivation to reach higher academic and extracurricular goals. We contacted the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) and became both institutional and professional members, participating in different activities organized by the NCHC: national conferences in Philadelphia (2007), Denver (2008); and Washington, D.C. (2009). We participated in the Assessment and Site Visitors workshop offered by NCHC in 2010. In August 2010, we invited Rosalie Otero from the University of New Mexico to visit our campus and review our program. During her visit, Otero met with students, professors, and the directors, and she visited the university facilities. After her visit, Otero made several recommendations for transforming our international degree program into a fully developed university honors program. These recommendations included:

* establishing an honors program office;

* appointing a full-time honors director, reporting to the office of the provost;

* developing strategic and annual plans;

* acquiring visible institutional support (staff, space, budget); and

* establishing faculty, student, and advisory boards for the honors program. …

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