Honors Faculty Handbook

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Honors Program Fast Facts

Faculty Involvement in Honors

Funds available to enhance your Honors Course

Checklist for Planning your Next Honors Course

Items of Interest to Honors Faculty

Senior Projects

Honors Contracts

What makes an Honors Course an Honors Course?

Honors Program Academic Honesty Statement

Honors Faculty Member Policy

Honors Program Protocol Requirements

Characterstics of Honors Faculty


  • Established in 1961
  • Approximately 800 Central Michigan University students are currently enrolled in the Honors Program
  • Approximately 100 Honors courses are offered each year at CMU
  • The Honors Program oversees the Centralis Scholarship Program-CMU's highest academic scholarship. Each year 20 full-ride Centralis Scholarships are awarded to incoming freshmen in addition to 20 full-tuition Centralis Scholarships. The average GPA of recent winners is 3.98 and the ACT composite score ranges from 31-35.
  • Over 1,600 CMU Honors alumni stay in touch with the Honors Program through an active and participatory Honors Alumni Board and Honors Alumni Mentoring Program.
  • All Honors freshmen will have the opportunity to complete an Academic Planning Document by the end of his or her first semester at Central Michigan University.
  • Each Honors student must complete the following in order to graduate with CMU Honors Program recognition:

-22 credits of Honors coursework, at least 9 of
which must be at the 300 level or above

-6-8 credit cultural diversity requirement

-120 hours of community service

-Complete an Honors Senior Project


The Honors Program is successful when we have faculty in numerous disciplines across campus who contribute in significant ways to the success of the program. Faculty can participate in the Honors experience at CMU in a number of ways, including the following:
Teach a CMU Honors course

  • Advise a Senior Project
  • Sponsor an Honors Contract
  • Have Honors students assist you with your scholarship/research
  • Accompany an Honors student(s) to a professional conference
  • Serve on the Honors Council or Honors Committees
  • Participate in the Centralis Scholarship selection process
  • Attend Honors events (e.g. Graduation Receptions, Honors Speaker Events, & Honors Service Days)
  • Assist Honors freshmen with their Academic Planning Documents
  • Participate in Honors trips such as Honors courses with study abroad opportunities
  • Dine in the CMU residential restaurants with Honors students
  • Plan a community service project with Honors students
  • Be a guest speaker in an Honors class
  • Write an article for the award-winning Honor Bound newsletter
  • Encourage your high ability students to join the Honors Program before the end of their first year at CMU
Please contact the Honors Program office at 774-3902 if you are interested
in learning more about any of the above opportunities.


A main component of an Honors curriculum is that the classes be qualitatively different from non-Honors courses. Through Honors Senior Project tuition and vending monies, the Honors Program office is able to provide funds to assist you in enhancing your Honors course. Depending on the costs, sometimes we can fund the entire project, or sometimes just a portion. Here are a few examples of how you could structure your Honors course to make it qualitatively different:

---Plan a relevant field trip for your course.
For example, an Honors art class might go to the Detroit Institute of the Arts, or an Honors political science class might plan a day trip to the capitol. The Honors Program may be able to assist with transportation, tickets, etc., for such events.

---Take your students to a professional conference.
Often, Honors professors are aware of regional or national conferences related to their Honors course to which they can take their students. Often students are encouraged to present at these events. Depending on the timing and location, the event may be required for all students or optional for those students who choose to participate. The Honors Program may be in a position to assist with transportation, conference fees, etc.

---Bring a guest speaker to enhance your Honors course.
Invite a guest speaker to your Honors class. For example, an Honors journalism class could invite the editor of a major urban newspaper. An Honors English class could bring a Michigan poet to campus. An Honors Chemistry class could invite a scientist from Dow Chemical Corporation to speak. The Honors Program may assist with transportation costs and honorariums.

---Take your students to a campus play, music event, or other performance, either on or off campus.
The Honors Program may assist with ticket costs and transportation for these and other similar events.

---Invite your Honors class to your home for a meal.
This is a very popular Honors tradition. Honors students appreciate being invited to a professor's home for a meal. You could cook it all yourself, have it catered, order pizza, or even do potluck. Many professors hold such events at the beginning or end of the semester. The Honors Program may provide assistance with food for such events.

---Add a lab or field experience component to your course that will take place during spring break.
PES 300H: Wilderness Leadership Training is an example. Students hike the Appalachian Trail as part of this course, which also meets throughout the semester to discuss and develop leadership skills. The Honors Program has assisted with the fees associated with this class.

---Plan an out-of-country experience for your class.
In the past we have had Honors faculty take students to Mexico, Italy, England, Ireland and China as part of an Honors course.

---Take Honors students on an overnight or weekend retreat.
Michigan has numerous affordable and aesthetic campgrounds and retreat centers for this type of opportunity. The Honors Program may assist with transportation, lodging fees, etc. If you are interested please contact the Honors Program Director to discuss your needs in advance and provide a sample budget and other funding sources.

---Plan a week long summer Honors course the week after school ends in May.
Our best examples of this type of experience are the annual Honors courses taught at the CMU Biological Station on Beaver Island during the week immediately following spring graduation.


_____ Plan a class that is qualitatively different from a non-Honors section of the same class. Remember, Honors courses are not lecture courses.

_____ Seek funding from the Honors Program for appropriate out of classroom experiences that have added costs.

_____ Make use of complimentary meals offered to Honors faculty. Many professors build a group meal or two into their syllabus. Others prefer a one-on-one lunch with each of their students throughout the semester.

_____ Send the Honors Program a quality description of my course that will be published in the "Honors Course Description Guide." Does the description do a good job marketing the components of the course that set it apart from non-Honors sections of the same class? Does it detail special or unique aspects of the course such as trips, conferences, speakers, etc?

_____ Meet with the Honors Program Director in order to thoroughly understand the advantages and expectations for teaching an Honors course at CMU.

_____ Develop a new course for the Honors Program and create a master syllabus for such a course?


Access to the Dining Commons
The Honors Program has arranged for you to have a limited number of complimentary meals in any of the campus dining commons. Faculty use this opportunity to invite a student, a group of students, or even their entire class to enjoy a meal in the dining commons. This is a great way to get to know your students in an out-of-class setting. When you enter the dining commons you will simply give the "checker" your Campus ID card for them to swipe through the scanner. Students who live on campus can use their own meal cards. You can, however, use your meal card for students who live off-campus and have no meal plan. Just ask the checker to "swipe" your card "X" number of times, noting that these are not to be swiped as "guest" meals.

The Honors Announcer
Periodically the Honors community receives an e-newsletter called the Honors Announcer. The Announcer is filled with timely information about Honors Program events, policies, deadlines, and general points of interest. We ask that you read this e-newsletter and share the information with your Honors students either at the beginning or end of your Honors class. The e-newsletter will be sent to your cmich.edu email account. Please contact us at least two weeks in advance if you have announcements you would like us to consider including in the Honors Announcer.

Honors Professor of the Year Award
Each semester Honors students nominate Honors professors for the annual Honors Professor of the Year Award. A committee determines the winner and the award is presented at the Honors Graduation Ceremony in May. The faculty member's name is also engraved on a plaque which is displayed in Powers Hall.

Honors Course Description Guide
Each semester the Honors Program publishes a Course Description Guide of all Honors courses offered for the following semester. This document is published online at the same time the university course offerings booklet is distributed. Prior to publication, you will be asked to submit a detailed and creative paragraph or two describing your Honors course. This is your one chance to market your course! Specifically, students want to know 1) what makes your Honors course different from a non-Honors course, and 2) are there any special components of the class such as a field trip, speaker, retreat, performance etc.


  • The Honors Senior Project is the capstone Honors experience. It is a culmination of all the student has learned. It should be their "best work yet". There is an expectation that the quality is such that the end result be publishable in a professional journal or worthy of presentation at a professional conference. All Senior Projects are to be presented at CMU's SRCEE event or an alternative presentation forum approved by the Honors Program Director.
  • Advising a senior Honors Project is usually a two semester commitment: one semester to help the student draft his/her proposal, and another semester advising the project to completion.
  • Once the proposal has been approved by the Honors Program office, the student then enrolls in HON 499, entitled Honors Senior Project. Upon successful completion of the Honors Senior Project, $400 will be transferred to the faculty advisor's departmental (not personal) professional development fund for departmental professional development purposes.
  • Once the project is completed, you will submit a letter grade to the Director of the Honors Program who will submit the letter grade to the Registrar's office.
Please visit www.cmich.edu/honors to download the following detailed documents:

-Honors Senior Project Proposal Guidelines
-Honors Senior Project Advisor Information


While most Honors students complete their Honors requirements at CMU by taking special H-designated Honors courses (i.e. BIO 101H), there are times when students seek to complete their Honors requirements in a non-Honors course. This is called an Honors Contract. Here are some facts to know about Honors Contracts:

  • Contracts can only be arranged for courses at the 300 level or above.
  • The deadline is always the first day of the semester.
  • The faculty member must have approved Honors faculty status.
  • The student is responsible for 1) getting the Honors Contract form, 2) having an Honors approved faculty member sign it, and 3) returning it to the Honors Program office by the stated deadline.
  • The Honors faculty member monitors the additional work the student has agreed to complete.
  • As long as the student has 1) earned a B- or higher in the class and 2) has completed the additional work described in the contract, the faculty member will submit an "H" along with the student's letter grade to the Registrar's office at the end of the semester. (ex: the professor would submit a B-H instead of a B-).
  • The additional Honors work should demonstrate initiative beyond syllabus expectations, produce a tangible outcome beyond that completed by non-Honors students, and incorporate a process of extended inquiry and/or independent research.
  • Contractual activities might include but are not limited to: supplementary readings, reports, or projects; attendance at appropriate related educational activities; independent research or self-instruction; and/or classroom or professional presentations or performances.

A copy of the Honors Contract form can be obtained at www.cmich.edu/honors

The following excerpts were presented at the National Collegiate Honors Council in Chicago, Illinois, November 2003 by the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University.


There are many approaches to developing and teaching Honors courses. Fundamentally, however, Honors courses should be qualitatively different from non-Honors courses. In other words, they should be more challenging and demanding not by simply assigning more work, but by mining more educational value from the work that is assigned. An Honors course should be different in some, but not necessarily all, of the following ways:

  • approaching the material from an interesting or unconventional thematic perspective;
  • emphasizing written and oral communication skills;
  • emphasizing discussion and other interactive teaching/learning techniques that are generally unsuitable for larger undergraduate classes;
  • promoting learning outside the formal classroom setting (e.g., service projects);
  • encouraging creative expression and achievement;
  • fostering teamwork and collaboration;
  • applying theories and principles learned in class to "real-life" problems and situations;
  • exploring connections among various fields of study;
  • providing opportunities for independent research;
  • incorporating, where possible, opportunities for study away from campus;
  • providing opportunities for publication or public presentation of work;
  • developing assignments and exercises that require students to reconcile conflicting findings or to synthesize different points of view;
  • emphasizing the use of original or primary sources, as opposed to traditional textbooks and secondary readings.


Honors students agree to abide by the following statement on academic honesty:

As a member of the Honors Program at Central Michigan University, you are participating in a community of scholarship based on the values of honesty, respect, fairness, and responsibility.  You are expected to adhere to the CMU policies on academic integrity stipulated in the CMU Bulletin.  In all of your academic work, you must adhere to the highest standards of integrity.  You will not cheat, plagiarize, or receive or provide inappropriate assistance on any course activity for which a grade or credit is awarded.  Membership in the Honors Program is based on academic performance and all forms of cheating call into question the validity of a student's grades.  Participation in the CMU Honors Program is a privilege, and failure to adhere to standards of academic integrity may result in dismissal from the Honors Program.

Process for Violations of the Honors Program Academic Honest Statement:

A. Once the course instructor determines that a student has violated CMU's Policy of Academic Integrity (refer to Office Student's Rights and Responsibilities for documentation about this policy), then it is assumed that a violation of the Honors Program Academic Honest Policy has also occurred and the course instructor should notify the Director of the Honors Program within one week of learning of the alleged academic dishonesty.  The course instructor will provide the Honors Director with a copy of the coursework in question (i.e. paper, test, etc.), evidence of the academic dishonesty (i.e. cheat sheet, Turn-it-In materials, etc.), and any communication that the instructor has had with the student regarding the materials (i.e. emails, letters, etc.).

B. Within one week of learning a violation has occurred, the Director of the Honors Program will contact the student in writing and ask the student to make an appointment with the Honors Program Hearing Committeem (comprised of the Honors Director (or designee) and two additional individuals representing any of the following groups: Honors Staff, Honors Council, and/or Honors Faculty.  The student must set up the appointment with the Hearing Committee within one week of being contacted by the Director. 

C. At the hearing the Director will ask the student to respond to the allegations. The student will be given the opportunity to provide an explanation of what took place and the hearing committee will look at any supporting materials the student may have.  The Director will then present any evidence he/she has to the student. The student will then be excused from the meeting and the hearing committee will determine an appropriate sanction at that time. The Director will notify the student in writing within one week of the hearing about what sanctions, if any, will be enforced.  The student should keep in mind that the outcomes from the two separate processes could be very different.  For example, a professor could choose to fail the student for the paper but the student could still receive a passing grade for the course Because Honors students are held to a high ethical standard by the Honors Program, the Hearing Committee could strip Honors credit from the course and/or remove the student from the Honors Program. Conversely, the Honors Program might suspend the student from Honors while the Office of Student's Rights and Responsibilities might suspend them from the University.  Following is a list of possible sanctions a student might receive from the Honors Program Hearing Committee: 1) no action; 2) cancelling a student's priority registration benefit; 3) a loss of Honors credit for the course; 4) loss of Centralis Scholarship; 5) loss of Honors scholarships, awards, and funding; 6) asking the student to provide a written statement admitting their academic dishonesty and having that statement remain permanently in their Honors Program file; 7) suspension from the Honors Program; and 8) dismissal from the Honors Program.

Any appeal of this decision must be made in writing in a timely manner to the Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs stating the explicit basis for your appeal.  Upon receipt of such an appeal, the Vice-Provost will convene a panel of Honors faculty to review your appeal and the evidence of the hearing committee.  The Appeals Panel may affirm or modify the decision of the Hearing Committee, as well as reduce or increase the severity of the sanctions imposed by the hearing committee.


Benefits to Honors Faculty Members:
The primary benefit of Honors Faculty status is the opportunity to work with and mentor bright undergraduate students that are committed to intellectual growth and professional development. In support of the activities of Honors Faculty Members, several resources and incentives are provided to their departments:
Support for occasional dining opportunities for Honors Faculty Members and their students, as well as for other interested faculty.
Opportunities to supervise an Honors Senior project, which will result in additional funding to their department's professional development fund.
Opportunity to develop and offer new Honors courses not currently offered at CMU
Special invitations to Honors sponsored events.
Special invitations to Honors professional training opportunities.
Upon request, submit letters of support to document Honors teaching and involvement in Honors related professional development activities for reappointment, tenure, and promotion purposes.

Rationale for Honors Faculty Member designation:
The designation of Honors Faculty creates a recognized structure that clarifies the Honors Program's expectations of faculty who teach Honors Courses and complete Honors Contracts. The use of this designation provides guidance to department chairs in the assigning of Honors courses and creates a structured mechanism for faculty members to become formally involved with the Honors Program. This designation also benefits students in the Honors Program who are looking for faculty guidance or support for Honors related projects.

Responsibilities of an Honors Faculty Member:
All active Honors Faculty Members are expected to maintain annual involvement with Honors Program activities including any one of the following:
Teaching an Honors designated course
Supervising an Honors Senior Project or other undergraduate research with an Honors student
Supervising an Honors Contract
Attendance at an Honors professional development activity
Participating in an extracurricular activity with Honors students

I. Honors Faculty Member Status shall be conferred using the following criteria:

A. Status as Honors Faculty Member

         1.There shall be two types of faculty status
                 a. Full
                 b. Provisional

         2. Criteria for Honors Faculty Member Status shall be:
                 a. Basic requirements for initial recommendation:
(1) Be a regular member of the CMU faculty-tenured or tenure track
(2) Have prior teaching experience with evidence of effective student evaluations or other evidence of teaching excellence
(3) Have a demonstrated ability, experience, and/or written plan for the use of creative teaching methodologies beyond traditional lecture formats
                 b. Additional requirements for retaining Honors Faculty Status. Once attaining Honors Faculty Status, the faculty member must demonstrate the following in order to retain the status:
(1) Annual involvement with the Honors Program activities including any one or more of the following:
                         i. Teaching an Honors designated course
                         ii. Supervising an Honors Contract
                         iii. Attendance at an Honors professional development activity or Honors event
                         iv. Participating in an extracurricular activity with Honors students
(2) Provide evidence of continued dedication to the use of creative teaching methodologies
(3) Provide evidence of effective teaching in Honors courses as assessed by the HON or SOS course evaluations

                 c. Terms for Honors Faculty Full Members shall be five years.
                 d. Honors Activities Requiring Honors Faculty Full Member status
                               (1) Instructing Honors classes
                               (2) Supervising Honors Contracts

          3. Criteria for Provisional Honors Faculty Member status shall be:
                 a. Basic requirements for selection:
(1) Be a temporary faculty member of the CMU faculty with evidence of a long-term position
(2) Have a demonstrated ability, experience, and/or written plan for the use of creative teaching methodologies beyond traditional lecture methods
(3) Provide evidence of continued dedication to the use of creative teaching methodologies
(4) Provide evidence of effective teaching instruction at CMU or at a previous college or university
(5) Must have support from a department chair
                b. Additional requirements for renewing Provisional Honors Faculty Member status. Each Provisional Honors Faculty Member must demonstrate one or more of the following in order to obtain Full Member status in the following year:
(1) Annual involvement with the Honors Program activities including any one or more of the following:
                                  i. Teaching an Honors designated course
                                  ii. Supervising an Honors Contract
                                  iii. Attendance at an Honors professional development activity or other Honors event
                                  iv. Participating in an extracurricular activity with Honors students
(2) Provide evidence of continued dedication to the use of creative teaching methodologies
(3) Provide evidence of effective teaching in Honors courses as assessed by the HON or SOS course evaluations
                c. Terms for Provisional Honors Faculty member Status will be earned after the successful evaluation of HON teaching or project supervision
Honors Activities Requiring Provisional Honors Faculty Member Status
(1) Instructing Honors courses
(2) Supervising Honors Contracts

B. Procedures for Recommendation and Continuance
The following procedures for recommendation and continuance should be completed prior to the assignment of any faculty member to the teaching, advising, or advancement of Honors Program students. The Honors Program Director shall monitor adherence to the Honors Faculty Policy.
                1. Procedures for Recommendation
                                  a. FULL: Individual faculty members may apply for Honors Faculty member Status or department chairs may recommend a faculty member consistent with the criteria in Section I.A.

                                   b. PROVISIONAL: Department chairs, based on the criteria stated in Section I.A, shall submit the names and credentials of faculty members for Provisional Honors Faculty Member Status.
                                 c. Applications are subject to the approval of the Honors Program Director in consultation with members of the Honors Council
               2. Procedures for Continuance

                                 a. For reappointment to Honors Faculty member Status, a member must, within the preceding year, perform the activities of I.A.2.b or I.A.3.b.
                                 b. Each Honors Faculty Full Member will reapply for Honors Faculty Full Member Status every five years. Provisional Faculty Members will apply at the end of one year for Full Member Status.
                                c. Failure to reapply will result in the automatic removal of the faculty member from the list of Honors Faculty Members by the Honors Program.

C. Procedures for Discontinuance
                 1. Recommendations for continuance or discontinuance are in consultation with members of the Honors Council. Failure to meet any of the retention requirements of this policy shall be grounds for discontinuance of Honors Faculty Member Status and the benefits derived from such status.
                  2. Individual or departmental appeals of non-recommendation or discontinuance may be made to the Honors Council.

Procedures for the individual Honors Faculty Member application and review process will be adopted by the Honors Council pursuant to the language of this policy.

III. Nothing in this document shall supplant or otherwise be interpreted as a modification of the CMU-Faculty Association Agreement or any departmental bylaws.

This policy was revised per FA discussion and subsequent Honors Council approval on April 8, 2007.


For students accepted to the Honors Program on or after Fall 2009

All Honors students including the Centralis Scholarship recipients must complete each of the following Honors Protocol components if they desire to graduate with Honors Program distinction. Completion of the Honors Protocol will result in "Honors Program Graduate" being noted on the student's permanent transcript. The Honors Protocol requirements are as follows:

1. Complete at least 22 credits of Honors coursework before graduation from CMU, (in addition to HON 499), of which three credits must be HON 100 and 9 credits must be taken at the 300 level or above. Honors coursework is defined as HON classes, H-designated classes, and Honors Contracts successfully completed. Honors Contracts may be used to fulfill a maximum of 6 of these 22 credits, with the approval of the Honors Director.

2. To enhance exposure to cultural diversity (the study of a cultural aspect substantially different than one's own either in or outside the United States for college credit), complete a minimum of 6-8 credit hours of the following at the college level:

  • Foreign language courses
  • American Sign Language courses
  • Study Abroad Courses for college credit
  • Honors Cultural Diversity courses approved by the Honors Council

3. Participate in a university or community volunteer service project, completing 120 hours of volunteer service during one's four years at CMU.

4. Complete a Honors Senior Project and enroll in HON 499. The senior project involves research or a creative endeavor conducted with a faculty advisor from the student's major or minor discipline. Before beginning the senior project, students must complete an Honors Senior Project Proposal form outlining the goals of the project and have it signed by the faculty advisor. Students are encouraged to begin planning for the senior project during their junior or third year of study at CMU. The Senior Project Proposal is due two full semesters before the student plans to graduate (excluding summer semesters). The completed senior project and all other Protocol requirements are due at least one full semester before the student plans to graduate. Students are expected to present their project at the Student Research and Creative Endeavors Exhibition (SRCEE) the spring semester of their senior year.

NOTE: A student must maintain a cumulative CMU grade point average of 3.25 to remain active in and graduate from the Honors Program. Students are required to earn a grade of at least "B-" in all H, HON, or Honors Contract courses. An Honors course may not be counted in more than one of the four areas of the Protocol. For example, if a student takes ASL 101H the student must decide if he / she would like to count it in area one as an Honors course or in area two as a foreign language / diversity offering.



It is generally recognized that Honors instruction requires special skills. The Honors Council has identified the following characteristics as those important to Honors instructors.
Demonstrated competency as an educator

  • A sincere interest in one's activities as an educator
  • Demonstrated competence in one's field of specialization
  • A high level of enthusiasm for one's field of specialization
  • An obvious interest in students; be available to answer their questions
  • A significant degree of professional activity

In addition to the characteristics presented above, it is desired that Honors faculty demonstrate the ability and willingness to:

  • Work closely with Honors students in a small group atmosphere
  • Generate meaningful discussion that leads purposefully toward an objective
  • Encourage open dialogue and respect other's opinions
  • Solve pedagogical problems creatively and spontaneously
  • Be willing to explore alternatives to the traditional classroom approach
  • Communicate the implications of a subject for related disciplines and encourage students to think and conduct research across traditional boundaries
  • Speak and write effectively and require students to do the same
  • Guide students to the effective use of resources
  • Prepare students for the rigors of graduate school and professional careers
  • Be available outside the classroom as a continuing source of tutorial guidance and personal support
  • Encourage students to consider ethical implications of an academic discipline and moral obligations imposed by their own talent  

Central Michigan University Honors Program, Powers Hall 137, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859 
Phone: (989) 774-3902 www.cmich.edu/honors