As Loras graduates receive their diplomas at the commencement ceremony this spring, ten will wear purple stoles, signifying their completion of the Loras College Honors program requirements. These ten students will also represent the Honors Program’s thirtieth graduating class.
Since the Honors program was launched in the early 1990s, 420 graduates have completed the program requirements. The first class of twelve graduates received their diplomas in 1995. In the subsequent decades, classes ranged from only two graduates in 2003 to twenty-four in the class of 2019. Since its inception, six faculty members have directed the program, and many more faculty and staff have supported its curriculum through teaching and mentoring.
In 2013, the program was re-envisioned with an emphasis on student-led research, cultural competency, and community-based learning. Dr. Erin VanLaningham directed the program through the implementation of this new model. In 2016, her work in the program was recognized by Iowa Campus Compact, where she received the Emerging Innovation Award.
In spring 2022 and 2023, Loras Honors students presented at the Upper Midwest Regional Honors Conference at South Dakota State and Des Moines Area Community College. Loras will host the UMHC annual meeting this spring, inviting more than two hundred honors students, faculty, and support staff from colleges and universities across the Midwest to our campus. This year’s theme, “Passion Meets Purpose,” will invite discussion on vocation and service to the common good, topics central to the mission and identity of Loras College.
“The Loras College Honors program offers a unique opportunity for academically high-achieving students to build professional skills like group leadership and project management. Through its emphasis on community-based learning, the program also encourages students to work with professionals both on campus and in the larger community in their efforts to make a real impact on behalf of the common good,” says Jacob Kohlhaas, PhD, director of the Loras College Honors program.