SHU's Thomas More Honors Program Launches Honors-Only Residential Space for Students

News Story: September 1, 2011

Sacred Heart University’s Thomas More Honors Program will be experimenting with its own version of utopia as its elite freshmen  begin to move into their private honors-only floor in Roncalli Hall this semester. This is the first time the University has offered a specially-designed dorm floor to the freshmen who are taking part in the honors program and the goal is to create a type of living and learning environment for these students. The honors program is named after Saint Thomas More who was a lawyer, philosopher, author and statesman, the ultimate Renaissance man - exactly the type of students SHU tries to help create.

Students in the program are Sacred Heart’s best of the best. This year’s incoming freshmen were invited into the very competitive program if they met the following requirements: have a GPA of 3.8 or higher, must be ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, have taken a large number of college level or honors classes and whose SAT verbal and quantitative scores total 1200 or higher.

50 honors students have moved into the dorm and are not only surrounded by great minds, but also living in a state-of-the-art multimedia learning experience. The University recently renovated the study and lounge spaces on the third floor of Roncalli Hall, which now contain updated media equipment, a media:scape® collaborative computer workstation, and new furniture for use in co-curricular and social activities. 

Not only will this dorm be a place where students have access to all sorts of interactive learning tools but it will also be a place where members of the faculty can meet with them informally to either work on class projects, discuss community service ideas or even share with them advice in terms of their profession. According to Dr. Suzanne Deschenes, director of the Honors Program and associate professor of Biology at SHU, “the goal of the new floor is to create a comfortable study environment and a place where [faculty] can engage [the students].” She also explained that some of the professors involved with the honors curriculum might take the classroom experience even further and offer an extended classroom discussion or group projects in the dorm as well. 

Faculty and residential advisers will also participate in a series of dinner and movie nights on the honors floor throughout the year called “Life, the Universe and Reel Food.” In that program, students meet with professors to watch films that not only capture the students’ attention but also help facilitate a healthy academic discussion. Deschenes said, “What we really want to do is to get the students to know the professors and faculty on a different level but also to create an experience that goes beyond the classroom.”

Members of the honors program will also have the opportunity to travel to several cultural events throughout their years at Sacred Heart such as taking trips to museums, theatres and other performances throughout New York City, Boston and even abroad.

The overall goal of the new living and learning program, Deschenes said, is for the incoming honors freshmen to see the world as a place where so much can be done, a place where students are not tied down, a place where students can become academically, socially and culturally successful. “What we are really hoping is that our students will see [Thomas More] as an exemplar.  We want them to be everything that they can while holding on to their principles,” she said.