Tag Archives: Liberal Arts Honors

Aggies Commit to Practicing Personal and Social Responsibility

An op-ed piece by Marvin Krislov and Stephen S. Volk in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Apr. 7, 2014) titled “College is Still for Creating Citizens,” highlights a crucial role played by the undergraduate education in crafting leaders who are thoughtful about “what kind of life might be meaningful, productive and rewarding.” This is a concept which dates (at least) to Aristotle and up through the history of civic participation in the United States. Krislov & Volk demonstrate that a broad set of competencies key to a liberal education—and which are reflected in the TAMU Undergraduate Learning Outcomes—remain in high value and demand relative to job-specific skills.

Among these competencies, the TAMU Undergraduate Outcomes lists the practice of personal and social responsibility, including ethical leadership, the application of rational decision-making to ethical dilemmas, awareness and attention to the consequences of one’s actions, and engaging in civic activity. The University Honors Program encourages our students to practice personal and social responsibility by considering how their values, goals, and talents intersect, and making intentional choices to pursue careers that allow them to make significant contributions in the areas they care about most.

Victoria Easton '15, 2014 Udall Scholar
Victoria Easton ’15, 2014 Udall Scholar

One student who exemplifies this commitment to practicing personal and social responsibility is Victoria Easton ’15 from Tomball, TX, who recently graduated with a double major in history and philosophy. In addition to participating in the University Honors Program, Liberal Arts Honors, and the Cornerstone Learning Community, Easton was an officer for FREE, an anti-trafficking organization, and was the founder and president of the American Indian Student Association. Easton was also a National Merit Scholar and President’s Endowed Scholarship recipient, and was awarded the History Undergraduate Scholarly Activities Grant to support her independent research.

The University Honors Program encourages our students to practice personal and social responsibility by considering how their values, goals, and talents intersect, and making intentional choices to pursue careers that allow them to make significant contributions in the areas they care about most.

Easton said that she decided to start the American Indian Student Organization because, while Texas A&M is a diverse institution, she found, “no place for Native students to build connections with one another or promote the role of the distinguished Native alumni in our university’s history.” Easton found that her cultural heritage and professional interests intersect in an important way. Describing an internship with the Center to End the Trafficking and Exploitation of Children (CTEC), she noted that ads aimed at exploiting women used, “Indian heritage as effective selling point.” This experience has helped push Easton into exploring the issue of exploitation and violence against women in Native American communities.

In 2014 Easton was selected for the prestigious Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Scholarship, which annually awards 50 scholarships to students pursuing careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Easton was selected based on her work studying historical notions of law, justice, and gender in Muscogee communities and plans to complete a senior thesis on the topic next spring through the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Easton’s research mentor, Dr. Angela Hudson, noted that it is rare to see a student combine their civic commitments and scholarly interests as well as Easton has. “In combining these concerns [violence and exploitation of Native women], she has crafted a career trajectory that is not only reflective of her scholarly work but also demonstrates her commitment to engaged community activism, with a maturity and confidence rare in students of her age.” After attending law school, Easton plans a career advocating for human trafficking and domestic abuse victims.

Advertisements

Dr. Donald J. Curtis, Jr. Selected for 2015 Director’s Award

The Director’s Award for Outstanding Service to Honors Programs was created in 2010 to recognize significant contribution to and support of the efforts of the University Honors Program on campus.

The 2015 recipient of the Director’s Award is Dr. Donald J. Curtis, Jr.

Dr. Don Curtis, 2015 Director's Award Recipient
Dr. Don Curtis, 2015 Director’s Award Recipient

Honors and Undergraduate Research thanks Dr. Curtis for his unending support of University Honors and Honors education at Texas A&M in general. His dedication to and high standards for the Cornerstone Honors Program in the Liberal Arts as well as his willingness to give of his time and energy to mentor colleagues across campus in the art of Honors is greatly appreciated. Dr. Curtis also provided critical insights and suggestions as we revised University Honors and developed the Common Honors Information page and Common Honors Application. His close personal attention to the College of Liberal Arts Honors Program enabled many students to have enriching educational and personal experiences while at Texas A&M.

Bio
Dr. Don Curtis currently serves as the Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Public Health Studies in the Texas A&M Health Science Center, a position he has held since March 2015.

Dr. Curtis has been at Texas A&M since 1993 and previously served as Honors Programs Coordinator in what was then the Office of Honors Programs and Academic Scholarships, Director of Undergraduate Student Services for the College of Liberal Arts, and Assistant Dean for High Impact Programs in Liberal Arts.

He has undergraduate degrees in biological science and history from the University of Nebraska and an MA in military history from NU  as well.

Dr. Curtis received his doctorate from Texas A&M University in 2000 with a specialty in American Military and Diplomatic History.  He is the author of Hard Times Come Again No More:  General William S. Graves and the American Military Intervention in Siberia 1918-1920.  Dr. Curtis has authored several articles in military history and the applications of  honors programs and learning communities in higher education.

Dr. Curtis was named the Wells Fargo Faculty Mentor of the Year in 2014 and was a 2013 Fish Camp Namesake.  He is a past President of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society at Texas A&M and has served as a University Scholars Faulty Mentor.

Dr. Curtis has been married to his wife Kari for sixteen years.  They have a nine year old son, Ben, a lab/hound mix and an antisocial cat.

Our warm congratulations and well-deserved thanks go to Dr. Curtis for his strong support of Honors. We will be presenting the Director’s Award to Dr. Curtis at the HUR Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, May 14, 2015. For a list of previous recipients, visit the TAMU HUR Faculty Awards page.

 

Former Student Spotlight: Katie Reed

Dr. Katie Reed ’07 was a double major in sociology and Spanish and an active member of the Honors community while an undergraduate at Texas A&M. She was an officer with the Honors Invitational Peer (HIP) Leader organization and the Summer Honors Invitational Program (SHIP) program that they helped to put on each year to attract high-achieving students to Texas A&M. She was also a member of the Cornerstone Liberal Arts Honors program. After graduation, Reed earned a PhD in educational theory and policy from Penn State. Currently, she is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M.

Dr. Katie Reed, '07
Dr. Katie Reed, ’07

 Among the several traits that we work to develop in Honors students are a capacity to think critically about events going on around them and the courage to become civically engaged. This article is Dr. Reed’s response to Glenn Harlan Reynolds’ “Catcalling a two-way street” published by USA Today on November 3, 2014. It is a wonderful example of an Honors Former Student demonstrating traits such as passion, commitment, and willingness to take a risk for the purpose of the greater good.

Reynolds’ Catcalling Response Disingenuous, Cheap

By Dr. Katie Reed –

In his opinion column discussing the video of street harassment, Reynolds defends the mens’ behavior by arguing that white feminists should not impose their values on catcallers and that women should, essentially, buck up and shut up.

He begins by making a disingenuous multiculturalist argument that Black and Latino men just have a different way of interacting with women.  White feminist women label it harassment, but for the Black and Latino men, it’s “just saying hello.” My suspicion is that Reynolds would not accept that standard of reasoning in any other setting, and to my knowledge there is no precedent for defending oneself from sexual harassment claims by saying “that’s just my way; I’m Black.” Suggesting these are cultural differences also has the demeaning implication that Black and Latina women are ok with being harassed because “it’s just the way” of Black and Latino men. Oh shucks, well I guess “(Black and Latino) Boys will be (Black and Latino) boys!”

His multiculturalist argument is disingenuous because Reynolds does not normally take a line of reasoning that goes, “diversity should be respected, including diversity in standards of moral or ethical behavior; therefore, I cannot apply my ideas of morality to situations where people of other racial/ethnic/socioeconomic backgrounds are involved.” Taken to the extreme, this line of thinking leads us to “men in India have different ideas of what constitutes ‘appropriate intersexual behavior’, so who am I to say they shouldn’t gang rape women?” It’s nonsense to imply that there is so much gray area in what constitutes respectful behavior that this is a po-tay-to/po-tah-to issue.

Reynolds also asks all the wrong questions.  Questions such as “Are women so delicate?” exacerbate the issue by putting the burden back on women to deal with men’s bad behavior. They distract from the real question: Why is it ok for men to behave this way?

Reynolds implies that women are trying to have it both ways by asking to be able to participate freely and fully in the public and professional spheres, and then whining when men talk to us in those spheres. The problem is that the first condition has not been met–women are not free to participate as equals in the public sphere because we’re still reduced to sexual objects that exist for the pleasure and at the discretion of men.

[Yes, yes, I know women and men are different in important ways. But our ability to give birth, love of chocolate, and inclination to talk about our feelings have no bearing on whether we should be able to walk down the street without being bothered.]

I reject the argument that the men in the video are “just saying hello” and have neutral intentions, and again, I think Reynolds is insincere to say so. They were not asking the woman in the video for the time or asking her thoughts on the midterm elections. Their comments were sexual in nature and come from men’s thinking that women owe men their attention and should feel excited to receive men’s attention any time it is given.

By bringing up Emmett Till, Mr. Reynolds is guilty of the same rhetorical ploys he accuses the video makers of: scoring cheap points. No reasonable person is calling for the lynching of any men in the video or of men who catcall. To imply that women’s asking not to be harassed while walking down the street is comparable to Emmett Till’s murder is absurd and disrespectful.

It’s true that these men are within their rights to speak in public, but I tend to think people should not exercise the right to be a jerk so often. I am not in favor of making street harassment illegal. I’m in favor of teaching boys that it is not acceptable to ask strangers who are women to perform on command (“smile more!”). I’m in favor of teaching boys what an appropriate compliment is and how and when to deliver it. After all, this will save me the trouble of learning to take a compliment.

An abridged version of Reed’s response was published by USA Today at http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/11/09/catcalling-women-harassment-your-say/18775217/.

We love to share news and success stories from our Honors Former Students! If you have something to share with our current, former, and prospective students and their families, please contact honors@tamu.edu.

HSC Presents Faculty Mentor Award to Dr. Don Curtis

The Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award recognizes and rewards Honors faculty members whose dedication and
commitment to excellence in education is truly outstanding.
These faculty members encourage a spirit of inquiry in their students, are thoughtful teachers, and exhibit the strongest desire to train a new generation of thinkers and creators. This award is of special significance because recipients are nominated and selected by Honors Students.

2014 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Plaque
2014 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Plaque

The 2014 recipient of the Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award, presented by Honors Student Council, is Dr. Donald J. Curtis, Jr.

Dr. Curtis was nominated by Honors Student Travis Askew. In the nomination statement, Askew writes:

Dr. Don Curtis is a man who truly cares for all the students within the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M. He is the Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts and the head of Liberal Arts Honors. Additionally, he is the head of the Cornerstone Liberal Arts Honors Program, which he puts a majority of his time into maturing. His goal with Cornerstone Program is to take some of the greatest students the Liberal Arts College has to offer and turn them into great critical thinkers and leaders. He teaches his students how to think critically and gives them the opportunity to gain international experience. In everything he does, it is truly evident that he cares for his students. He makes himself completely available to his students, whether they have important questions, or just need to talk: he is always there for his students. Furthermore, he truly cares for the development and advancement of his students inside and outside of the classroom. He doesn’t make his classes easy. He gives his students challenging assignments that take them outside of their comfort zone so that they will grow and be better prepared for the challenges that life and college will throw at them in the future. Dr. Curtis goes above and beyond the call of duty. He takes being an instructor and an adviser to whole new level and leaves a lasting, positive impact on all the students who have the privilege to spend any amount of time with him.

The distinction also comes with a $1000 monetary award. To see a list of previous awardees, visit the TAMU HUR Faculty Awards page.

HSC President Kathryn Kudlaty presents the 2014 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award to Dr. Don Curtis
HSC President Kathryn Kudlaty presents the 2014 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award to Dr. Don Curtis

Bio

Dr. Don Curtis, 2014 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor
Dr. Don Curtis, 2014 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor

Dr.  Don Curtis is Assistant Dean for High Impact Programs for the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. He is also a visiting assistant professor of American History and Director of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. Dr. Curtis is Director of the Cornerstone Program Honors Learning Community, a group of some of the best and brightest Liberal Arts majors at Texas A&M

Dr. Curtis received his doctorate from Texas A&M University in 2000 with a specialty in American Military and Diplomatic History. He has been at Texas A&M since 1993 and has previously served as Honors Program Coordinator for the University and Director of Undergraduate Student Services for the College of Liberal Arts. He has undergraduate degrees in Biological Science and History from the University of Nebraska and an MA in Military History from NU as well.

He is the author of Hard Times Come Again No More: General William S. Graves and the American Military Intervention in Siberia 1918-1920. Dr. Curtis has also authored several articles in military history and the applications of honors programs and learning communities in higher education.

Dr. Curtis had the honor of being a Fish Camp namesake in 2013 and was a TEDx TAMU speaker in 2014.

Dr. Curtis has been married to his wife Kari for fifteen years. They have an eight year old son, Ben, a lab/hound mix dog and a 100% antisocial cat.