UK Honors sees decrease in numbers



The number of new students who entered the UK Honors Program this academic year was down compared to the 2008-09 academic year — but just as many people are still applying.

In 2008, 268 new students entered the Honors Program and in 2009, 222 new students entered, said Frank Ettensohn, director of the Honors Program. Ettensohn said the 46-person difference is not significant.

“In truth, these things do vary for all sorts of reasons that are not easily resolved,” Ettensohn said.

Ettensohn said several factors contribute to varying numbers from year to year. The program has admitted 456 out of 655 applicants for the 2010-2011 academic year so far, but those admitted to the program will not necessarily come here, he said.

Ettensohn said he has been the director of the Honors Program for about a year and a half and the current requirements were in place when he took the position. He said UK has not changed the standards recently because they are already higher than other universities’ standards, since UK is a flagship institution.

“We think our standards should be a little bit higher,” Ettensohn said.

Ettensohn said limited financial resources also have to do with keeping the standards where they are.

“We have limited resources, and that’s another issue if we lower the standards, we would probably not have the resources to provide the kind of opportunities to our honors students [that we do],” he said.

Art history sophomore Chelsea Brislin said she appreciates the kinds of opportunities available through the Honors Program.

Brislin applied to five schools: UK, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, Duke University and Centre College.

Brislin said she looked at the honors programs at the universities of Florida and Georgia, and they seemed to be equal to UK’s program in terms of quality of professors and content covered in classes, although Georgia seemed a little more organized because its program had been around longer.

The Honors Program does not have any major scholarships to offer incoming freshmen, but it grants money to students who participate in research projects and foreign travel to apply to their individual programs, Ettensohn said.

The research money comes from the university, and it has decreased substantially because of the rough economic time, he said.

In an e-mail sent to the Kernel, Ettensohn said the program received $26,000 in the 2007-08 academic year, $16,000 in the 2008-09 academic year and $10,000 in the current academic year.

Ettensohn said the decrease in research and travel money has led the program to raise money through the UK Office Development, the program’s newsletter, individual private donations and a yearly phonathon.

Still, Breslin said she believes the Honors Program is a great opportunity for students.

“In my opinion, it’s an opportunity as an incoming freshman to come in and sit down with … 20 of your peers and talk about these philosophies from a long time ago, and then kind of how it parallels with things that are going on today,” she said. “You don’t really get an opportunity like that outside of honors.”