Oklahoma Christian University will open a new housing option this fall specifically for honors students. The remodeled Honors House at Reba-Davisson Hall offers highly talented students the opportunity to live in a community dedicated to equipping Christian students for the pursuit of academic excellence.
In creating this living environment for honors students, Dr. Scott LaMascus, director of the honors program, hopes to break down the boundaries between classrooms and dormitories. The dorm will feature a hall mentor who is a Christian scholar, such as an honors alumnus or alumna, or an advanced student who would teach the orientation course for the honors program. This will integrate housing with academics, which will ensure a smooth transition to the honors curriculum and a successful first year at Oklahoma Christian. The new dorm will also feature resident mentors who are successful junior or senior honors students.
“The new Honors House at Reba Davisson will be an environment designed to provide a Christ-centered, dynamic learning environment focused on relationships for young leaders who are eager to make the most of their undergraduate experiences,” said Scott LaMascus, director of the honors program at Oklahoma Christian. “The physical renovations are going to be very nice, but the intangible value to students is really what we’re offering; a chance to spend more of their time here in an environment where iron sharpens iron.”
The east wing of the remodeled dorm will be for male students, while female students will be housed in the west wing of the building. The rules for the house and facilities will be organized in consultation with the honors advisory council to create a living-learning community for academic success. Honors students have been conducting focus groups on campus to help learn how housing might be integrated to engage and enhance students’ learning.
“In talking to both upper and underclassmen, the honors students are excited about honors housing because it offers them unique amenities such as study rooms, individualized tutoring, as well as spaces for fun and relaxation,” said Cady Haas, an English major and president of the honors advisory council. “Students gain the added benefits that will help in study, but they will not lose the fun and interactive part of dorm life on our campus.”
The honors program at Oklahoma Christian is a thriving community of academic achievers. According to LaMascus, the average ACT score for honors students is 31, and more than a quarter of these students are National Merit Scholars. Admission is highly selective, but not solely exam-based. The program, which has more than 100 students, seeks leaders and is truly interdisciplinary, with every college and department represented. The program is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, which encourages the development of honors housing.
“The Council is quite explicit in its recommendations for housing options for honors students across the nation,” LaMascus said. “These should be places where academic achievers find a community designed specifically to enhance excellence in academics and all university activities. This new space communicates Oklahoma Christian’s dynamic dedication to our many outstanding students. We are offering a new housing option that is intentional about banishing any notion that dorms are a retreat from learning.”
Oklahoma Christian will welcome two new cohorts of honors students in the fall. These will be the first students admitted into honors housing, with current honors students filling the remaining spaces. Current high school students interested in applying to the honors program and housing at Oklahoma Christian can apply online at www.oc.edu/honors.
“Student Life is excited to work with the honors advisory council to establish the criteria and expectations for this new housing format,” said Neil Arter, dean of student life at Oklahoma Christian. “It is our experience that students will hold each other to a higher standard. It’s not our goal to separate the honors students from the rest of the student body. Instead, we hope to create an environment for honors students to have an even greater impact on our campus.”
Renovations are expected to be completed over the summer, according to Jay Jones, vice president of operations at Oklahoma Christian.
“The new Honors House will receive upgrades to the mechanical system, restrooms, furniture and the hall mentor’s living space,” said Jones. “Students will enjoy an upgraded facility featuring study rooms, a seminar space for holding classes as well as a student activity room with kitchen facilities and an outdoor patio.”
About The OC Honors Program and Summer Academy
The honors program at Oklahoma Christian includes more than 100 students and continues to grow each year. Accomplished alumni have gone on to attain professional degrees in business, law and medicine, and many others have received scholarships to prestigious doctorate and postdoctorate programs across the United States. The program also operates a summer honors academy for outstanding high school students from across the nation. More information is available at www.oc.edu/honors.
The Honors Summer Academy is an annual, seven-day college experience that encourages the pursuit of excellence by gifted and talented students finishing their freshman through junior years of high school. By the end of the program, students will have developed the confidence to continue their academic trajectory of excellence, link academics to their faith and demonstrate the impact of experiential learning in academic and in service activity. Each participant may earn two hours of university credit each summer.