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Honors program receives $10 million donation

Emma Driscoll | Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Beginning next fall, the Arts and Letters and Science Honors Program will become the Glynn Family Honors Program – the result of a $10 million donation from 1962 graduate John Glynn and his family.

The donation, announced in July, will help pay for more research opportunities abroad, and students accepted into the program for the Fall 2007 semester will be called Glynn scholars.

“[The endowment] is going to be used primarily to obviously keep the number of students [admitted to the Honors Program each year] at 100 and is also to fund summer research opportunities at places like Oxford, Cambridge, and the Sorbonne,” said Arts and Letters Honors Program Director C.F. Delaney.

The Honors Program is designed “to provide a more intense academic experience for students who are inclined and capable of taking advantage of it,” Delaney said.

When it began in 1983, the program had 40 students and the number has been increasing since then, Delaney said.

“At the moment, it’s 50 Science [students] and 50 Arts and Letters [students], and that is the plan for the indefinite future – we’re sort of maxed out at that number,” Delaney said.

Delaney said students interested in doing advanced work in both the humanities and the sciences are often attracted to the Honors Program, since “Notre Dame is peculiar in that there is no College of Arts and Sciences,” Delaney said.

Students receive invitations to apply for the Honors Program during the admissions process, and there is no formal essay application.

“The admissions office just sends me a folder of the top applicants and I select from those,” Delaney said.

Once invited, students indicate that they are interested and “almost all” students that enter the Honors Program remain in it, he said.

While the classes are no doubt challenging, Delaney is confident that students admitted to the Honors Program will be successful.

“Basically, the students we pick are capable of doing the additional work,” Delaney said.

Many Honors students choose a major in both the College of Science and the College of Arts and Letters, Delaney said.

The Honors Program is unique because the curriculum consists of “small, writing intensive seminars” for all University requirements, Delaney said. Honors students also have the opportunity to take Honors electives, and at the end of their senior year, they must complete a major project. Arts and Letters Honors students complete an Honors Thesis, and Science Honors students must complete an Honors Research project.

Senior Honors math and physics major Tony Bendinelli said students undergoing the Honors Research process choose an advisor and have weekly meetings to track progress. Some students begin their research as early as sophomore year, he said.

The time commitment might be significant, but ultimately it’s up to the student how much time he or she will invest in their classes,

“I don’t feel I would spend any more time doing the work for the Honors Program than for any other course,” Bendinelli said.

The Arts and Letters Honors Program offers trips to Chicago to experience museums, theater, music, and dance, according to the Program’s website.

“The best part is the opportunities,” sophomore Honors student Claire McGathey said. “Very few of my friends had heads of departments that could write them [recommendations] at the end of the first semester of their freshman year.”

The Glynn family has four children, two of which have already graduated from Notre Dame. John Glynn is founder and president of Glynn Capital Management in Menlo Park, Calif. He has served on the Arts and Letters Advisory Council at Notre Dame since 1998.