By MAYA PAGE
(TEANECK) – The University Honors Program on the Metropolitan Campus is one of the many organizations FDU offers, but only one of two honors programs on the campus. Students may not be aware of the program, as there are only 216 members, or less than four percent of the approximate 6,000 undergraduate students.
To enter the program, students must have a 3.2 GPA, graduate with a 3.5 GPA and complete an honors thesis.
Dr. M. Patricia Warunek has been the Program Director for 47 years, dating back to when it was a four- year Tri-Campus Honors Program that included Teaneck, Madison and Rutherford campuses.
However, recent changes in the running of the program have resulted in students raising the question, “What is happening with the honors
In an interview with The Equinox, Dr. Warunek discussed some challenges the program is facing.
Last April, the Honor’s Program assistant left. Since then, Dr. Warunek has had to manage the program on her own without support.
Dr. Warunek said she has her hands full, not only as the program director, but also as a full-time faculty member teaching biology and nursing.
There are three students who help in the Honors o ce, but there is still a strong need for a professional secretary.
Dr. Warunek said it is essential for there to be a full-time assistant in order to keep the office open and be more accessible to students.
“To date, my efforts to upgrade the current position from a part-time to a full-time one have not been successful,” she said.
She has already completed a position description for a replacement, but the process has been
held up because there is currently a hiring freeze on the Metropolitan Campus. The Honors Program cannot post the position description for potential employers, and the role will remain vacant until approved by Human Resources. There is no time frame for when the freeze will end, Warunek said.
Although this issue has posed difficulties, Dr. Warunek is determined to make the best out of the situation. She said she spent two months reorganizing the record system, finding the correct phone numbers and emails of students, and obtaining up-to-date records.
It took a lot of work, but she said she feels like it has made the system more efficient and has had positive results.
Looking toward the future, Dr. Warunek wants to work on improved communication and developing a stronger honors community. The unused room in the Honors office will be turned into a comfortable place for honors students to meet, study or have lunch. She also brought up the possibility of establishing a mentoring program for inductees.
Dr. Warunek reflected on her days in college and described how new inductees were assigned a big sister or brother to watch over them, be a friend and answer any questions, much like they have in Greek organizations.
Dr. Warunek also has the idea of creating a student board and a faculty/mentor board. A student board would be used to hear from the honors students on what social or cultural events members are interested in would help strengthen the community, she said.
She is currently working on a new platform for an updated website, and has plans to become social- media-friendly by creating a Facebook page.
Despite the challenges of maintaining regular contact with students, planning events and working without an assistant, Dr. Warunek said she is very hopeful and excited for the future of the program. On Wednesday Nov. 1, 80 students will be inducted into the University Honors Program during the Annual Fall 2017 Campus Executive Honors Reception.