Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is experiencing growth in more ways than one for the 2023-24 academic year. In addition to the largest freshman class in many years, EKU Honors welcomed the largest class of first-year honors students in the program’s history. The 130 incoming first-year honors students surpassed the program’s previous peak of 125 in 2014. Additionally, four EKU transfer students joining honors brings the total incoming group to 134 students this fall.
“EKU is growing, and we’re proud to see our honors program reach this historic milestone,” said EKU President Dr. David McFaddin. “Since its founding in 1988, EKU Honors has built a reputation for providing exceptional educational opportunities for the university’s high-achieving students. The dedicated faculty and staff of the honors program are an integral reason why so many students are interested in joining, and I appreciate their commitment to these outstanding students.”
EKU Honors provides opportunities for students to experience more challenging and in-depth academics. Through the honors program, students complete 18-25 hours of creative and innovative honors courses in small class sizes. Additionally, EKU Honors’ $2.5-million endowment aids in student research, travel and study abroad opportunities.
“EKU Honors is a vital resource for our campus community as a whole. For decades it has remained an innovation hub for EKU faculty,” said Dr. David Coleman, EKU Honors executive director. “Many faculty come to honors to try out new ideas in teaching and learning. They then take the things they learned in honors back to teaching in their home disciplines.”
EKU Honors comes with many perks for fully enrolled students: a one-time $500 scholarship; priority registration for classes; grant scholarships to help fund study abroad; the option to live in the EKU Honors Living Learning Community (LLC); use of the Honors Study Lounge near honors classrooms and extended library checkout privileges.
Ximena Patiño Enríquez, an honors senior double majoring in Spanish and nursing, received the highly competitive Benjamin Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Spain during the summer of 2022. She then received the EKU Honors Trailblazer Grant to study abroad in Costa Rica this past summer.
“As a first-generation student, I never thought I would study abroad—especially not twice,” said Patiño Enríquez. “Because of the skills strengthened by the courses in the honors program, along with the support in becoming a well-rounded student, I was a strong competitor for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The support from this nationally competitive scholarship made studying abroad a reality for me. Once I learned about the Honors Trailblazer Grant, which is a scholarship used to support honors students’ study abroad trips, I knew my dream of going to Costa Rica and completing the requirements for my Spanish major was realistic.”
Patiño Enríquez is among several honors students who have received scholarships, presented at professional conferences and gained national recognition. Two honors students have received the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Student of the Year award, and since 1990, more than 1,100 students from EKU Honors have made academic presentations at the annual NCHC conference.
“The benefits of EKU Honors are limitless,” said Patiño Enríquez. “I have had the opportunity to take creative, discussion-based courses to replace any general education requirements. I have traveled to different cities and states to present research I am passionate about at professional conferences. I have been able to strengthen my critical thinking skills, practice professionalism and develop relationships with staff and students that form a close-knit community.”
Coleman credits the program’s growing numbers to the students, faculty and staff “who have built a very special scholarly community driven by a spirit of creativity, innovation and service.” He said, “The word is out: EKU Honors is a terrific place to learn and grow.”
Coleman will be inducted as a fellow of the NCHC during its annual conference in Chicago this November. The NCHC gives the honor of being named fellow to those who have made extraordinary contributions to honors education through leadership in national, regional and state-level honors organizations while providing exemplary leadership on their home campuses. In its 60-year history, the NCHC has only named 81 fellows.
EKU Honors is currently accepting applications for Fall 2024. With nationally renowned faculty who are experts in their fields, students receive a quality education, mentorship and study abroad opportunities to enhance their academic experience.