By Kim Sleeper
Concordia will introduce its first honors program, the Luke Scholars Program, during the 2019-20 school year.
The Luke Scholars Program came out of the 2020 strategic plan for the university, which began in 2015. The Board of Regents recognized the benefits of offering such a program on Concordia’s campus, as most colleges in the United States have honors programs.
The university has started to reach out to potential students and incoming freshmen whose profiles or applications suggest they would do well with advanced classes. This may include current high school students who are taking dual credit courses or are vigorous in their studies.
Consideration for admission into Luke Scholars is not only based on GPA, unlike Concordia’s academic scholarships. The honors program will have an additional application on top of the standardized application for Concordia and will include several essays related to the program and the purpose of education.
Dr. John Hink, assistant professor of history and director of the Luke Scholars Program, said the program “(wants) students of high ability and great will,” as well as those who possess grit. The official Luke Scholars page on Concordia’s website states the program is for “disciplined, contemplative, and motivated students.”
The Luke Scholars Program will be 18 credit hours including one introductory course, three seminars and six credit hours dedicated to a capstone project. Many of the available seminars will count for general education requirements. There are currently six approved seminars lined up for students to choose from which reflect the expertise of professors from several disciplines. Course topics range from using Shakespeare as a lens for looking at the human condition to in-depth studies of the city of Jerusalem.
“Sometimes you’re in a class and you get off a tangential conversation, and you can’t pursue that because of the limits of the course,” Hink said. “What if the course was about the tangential conversation?”
Students will receive a number of tangible benefits from being in the program including money for research, study abroad scholarships, and access to the Luke Scholars Library in Jesse Hall. The library, though a place with books and other resources, is intended to cultivate community amongst the students in the program.
However, the honors program also emphasizes the intangible benefits of being part of the community: the pursuit of learning and the personal growth that the program’s creators hope will come as a result.
“There are tangible benefits in this program,…but what I hope this is, is an opportunity for students to really be pushed and to push themselves,” Hink said.
For more information on the Luke Scholars Program, visit its page on Concordia’s website.