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House Renovation Creates Inviting Space for Honors Program

honors house-179A bright red door on the front porch of 1524 Compton Avenue welcomes visitors into a unique space on Belmont’s campus, the recently renovated home of the University’s Honors program.

The Honors program moved from Fidelity Hall into the house in 2006. Built in 1920 and purchased by Belmont in the mid-’90s, the building long served as a residence for junior and senior women. This past summer an honors student’s parents generously donated the funds to renovate the somewhat dated rooms with the goal to make the house more of a home, creating a community-minded space that would better serve the program.

Dr. Jonathan Thorndike, professor and chair of the Honors program, said, “The renovation has made the house more beautiful, more contemporary and more inviting for students and faculty. They have been using it more for study space and for gathering for lunch on the front porch besides for classes.  The renovation helped build community and make the students and faculty feel like the university values our space.”

Janie Townsend, a sophomore music business major from Pflugerville, Texas, added, “The renovation makes the Honors House an even more pleasant environment to spend time in, whether for social or academic purposes. It also makes the house sufficiently less creepy. Which is a perk.”

Honors HouseIn addition to paint, new artwork and lamps, the renovation also included new furniture in several rooms, a significant update to the kitchen and the addition of railings, tables and chairs to both the front and back porches. For a program that hovers around 180 students total, the porches are a particularly positive update as they provide additional gathering space for students throughout the day as well as for program events.

Belmont’s Honors program offers an accelerated, interdisciplinary core curriculum that bolsters a community of scholars through small classes taught by dedicated faculty. Approximately 50 freshmen are accepted into the program each year, and students can design their own major. In addition, honors students choose between four different tracks, each of which culminates with a major team project, work of original scholarship or significant artistic work:

* The Scholarship Track in the Humanities and Social Sciences
* The Scholarship Track in the Sciences and Mathematics
* The Artists’ Studio Track
* The Project LEAD Track

Thorndike added, “We get to work with the best students in the university, and it is an honor to teach and advise the Honors Students. They are full of energy and ideas, highly motivated, and they want to make a difference in the world.  They are fun to be around and they have a sense of humor when things don’t always go right.  We have small classes that make it easy to get to know them as unique individuals.”

As an honors student, Townsend agrees that the program’s close-knit community adds a great deal to her overall Belmont experience. “The most rewarding and simultaneously the most encouraging thing about being in Honors is that I’m guaranteed time with a constant group of really swell, hilarious people. Having people to explore the rigors of academia with makes life much, much happier.”

Current honors students’ projects demonstrate a diverse field of interests from a thesis on Affirmative Action in University Admissions to an exploration of the marketing of Broadway musicals to the development of iPhone apps using the intersection of studies in computer science and art. For more information, visit www.belmont.edu/honors.

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