The Current Outlook: From the Director of the Program & the President of Honors

Dr. Stephanie Madsen, Chair of the Psychology Department, claims to have the “best job on campus.” Not only does she get to oversee a good population of the student community as an advisor, but she interacts with many other faculty members, staff, and alumni in the McDaniel College community. Dr. Madsen loves “to connect with Honors Program alumni, which is what our Silver Anniversary is about.” Since she was named the new Director of the Honors Program, she has made it a priority to identify needs of the program and support students.


Dr. Madsen points out that the McDaniel community and staff has been very supportive of the changes to the Program. Using the National Collegiate Honors Council’s requirements as a guide, Dr. Madsen hopes to “build the strengths” and “refresh” the curriculum of the Program. In fact, she points to the Potz Assessment Grant that the NCHC gave the school to see how to make the program as successful as possible. She hopes that changes to the course offerings and different expectations of students achievement will help to “highlight the great work [students] are doing.”


Dr. Madsen wants McDaniel to have all of the “basic characteristics of a fully-developed Honors Program,” which includes extended library loans and Honors dormitories. New additions to Honors students’ perks that Dr. Madsen points to include “space to meet social and academic needs, so that’s our Room of Requirement” and “priority registration to accommodate Honors students’ busy schedules, major(s), and Honors requirements.”


If you want to say that Dr. Madsen has ‘what Honors can do for you’ covered, then Honors Club President Rhaelynn Givens has ‘what you can do for Honors.’


After having previously served on Executive Board as Liaison to the Program, Rhaelynn made the transition to President a smooth one. Her main goals for the Honors Club were stated from the onset of the semester, which included her desire to focus on re-channeling the often negative stigmas attached to students in Honors through good, old-fashioned hard work, and active participation in leadership positions on campus.

“As the president, I am working with the Exec Board to change the community service hours so that they work more to foster community within the program, and hopefully help to bridge the gap that exists between upper and underclassmen.” Furthermore, increased opportunities for community service (thanks in part to Service Coordinator Marisa Hrbal) will help the Honors Program connect more with the rest of the McDaniel campus.

“I would like to help promote positive attitudes towards the liberal education we earn, and also help students to realize that despite frustrating elements of any institution, the essence of education is valuable,” and while she knows some Program requirements do frustrate students, she says, “Students of Honors should remember why they were invited into the program in the first place, and act accordingly.”


But those worried about Honors becoming ‘all work and no play’ can rest assured that there is plenty of fun still to be had. Rhaelynn adds, “With the ideas of Catherine O’Keeffe, our lovely Events Coordinator, and other members, we are looking to hosting a Literary Masquerade which will be open to all campus next semester!”