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Tulane Honors Program

Friday, April 28, 2006

Why this job is great!

Today I am preparing to send out a student's application for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. This is what IT is all about folks:
It was a hot day in Mysore, India, the summer before my senior year of high school. I walked through the run-down entrance of a local school to help serve lunch to its underprivileged students. The headmistress told us how excited the children had been anticipating our arrival. These were poor village children who would faint during morning prayers because they had not eaten in days. When we walked back outside, we saw that the children had lined up their steel plates on the concrete floor and were eagerly awaiting their meal. As I was helping serve their food, my eyes met those of one of the little girls. She smiled timidly and I smiled back. As I did, I saw her face light up and I could feel my heart melt. In that instant I felt as though my entire outlook on life had changed. These kids had next to nothing at home. Yet day after day they continued to come to school, their hunger-starved but smiling faces eager to learn. I realized then just how much I took for granted. Though most of them had lived less than half as long as I had, they possessed a strength that I could not even begin to grasp. Sometimes wisdom can come from the most unexpected places. One girl’s smile, a smile tested by more hardships than I could ever imagine, has given me the motivation to devote my life to help whomever I can, however I can. I have those kids to thank for opening my eyes to the true meaning of determination, for in their strength, they possess a courage most of us will never understand.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Honors Thesis Defense

Many of our seniors are now defending their theses. Congratulations to you all! A couple of quick points that will make the administrative process go more smoothly.

At your defense be sure to:
  1. Bring a copy of your final title page on 100% cotton, white paper so that all your examiners can sign it (and save you from running around later).

  2. Have your 3rd reader bring the Oral Exam form back to the Honors office (105 Hébert Hall). We must have this form in order to certify you for graduation! The form can be found here, it is inside the folder.

A bit of advice. Be professional and take this seriously, but don't get too uptight! So wear nice clothes (that you are comfortable in), get some decent sleep before hand, and greet each professor with respect. Usually you will provide a brief summary of your research and conclusions. Be ready to provide the summary and answer their questions honestly and directly. If you do not know something simply admit it! Finally, try and enjoy the process. We are all proud of you and glad to be a part of the crowning achievement of your college career.

Congratulations seniors!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

This is your brain on plagiarism.

Just don't do it! The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports on three cases of plagiarism. My favorite comes from a Harvard student who was found to have used text from another novel. The author of the Chronicle's news brief has a deft touch in reporting the author's (and agent's) response:

Meanwhile, the Harvard University sophomore accused of lifting material for her debut novel from a 2001 novel, apologized on Monday, and her publisher said it was investigating, The Boston Globe reported. The student’s euphemistic explanation: “I may have internalized” words from the other novel, and “any phrasing similarities” were “completely unintentional and unconscious.”

Her agent even topped that: “As a former teenager myself, I recall that spongelike ability to take popular culture and incorporate it into your own lexicon.”

Moral of the story? Don't plagiarize! Ever. It will not only cost you that class, it will also keep you from law school or med school, and make you the topic of humor on obscure academic blogs.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Honors Banquet

Last night we had our Honors Banquet. I think it went very well! Thanks to everyone who came, especially all the faculty! We recognized our Senior Scholars, those students who not only are graduating with University Honors (magna or summa) but were chosen by the faculty of their department as deserving top honors. All our University Honors students received their blue and green honors cords to be worn at graduation.

We honored Dr. W. David Clinton, Jr. with our awards for Exceptional Service. Dr. Clinton has done so much to support our students and the Program itself. When I arrived on the Honors scene 3 years ago Dr. Clinton was quick to step in and help me with programming, reading applications, and (of course) supervising theses.
One student wrote
Professor Clinton is a man of the highest standards and the utmost respect for students...Under his tutelage one can be assured of substantial instruction. His standards are high, so that an A in a Clinton class is a rare jewel, purchased with only the most excellent work. ...He has great respect and servant-heartedness for his students as a teacher and an advisor.

Unfortunately for us, but in a promotion for Dr. Clinton, he will be leaving for Baylor University next fall. Good luck and we will miss you!

Our Honors Professor of the Year is Dr. David Mullin of Cell & Molecular Biology. Dr. Mullin has also been a tremendous support to students, as one wrote, "past, present, and future." In the spring Dr. Mullin can often be found eating lunch at Bruff with prospective students. He, like Dr. Clinton, has supervised almost innumerable theses.
A student wrote:
I knew that molecular biology would be an interesting class on the first day, when Dr. Mullin walked in carrying a bamboo stick taller than himself--and he's not short. The stick, I soon learned, served several purposes; it was a pointer, an aiming device when he was directing a question toward a particular student, and a means of getting the class' attention, because what makes a class quiet down quicker than a giant bamboo stick slamming onto a desk? The class didn't disappoint, either. ...Dr. Mullin's class challenged me to think, to really get to understand the class material so that I could properly complete the homework amd exam questions. In his class, I learned more than the basics of transcription and translation; I learned how to interpret experiments and think critically about data, essential skills for a scientist.

Dr. Mullin has promised to bring back his "Science of Fermentation" class next year and even do a Round Table on the topic. (I will leave it up to you, dear reader, to determine what topics are covered in the syllabus.)
(Sorry for the fuzzy picture.)

Congratulations to all of you!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Utah school books the wrong Jon Stewart

Don'tcha hate it when this happens?

OGDEN, Utah -- An embarrassed charter school has discovered it booked the wrong Jon Stewart for its annual gala. The DaVinci Academy thought it had made a deal with comedian Jon Stewart, star of 'The Daily Show' and host of this year's Academy Awards, to appear next week.

Maybe we should make sure we have the right Clinton and Bush.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

What is Tulane's Honors Program About?

I am thrilled that so many of you have IM'd me with questions about Tulane Honors Program! I am happy to chat with you, but since many of you have the same question, I have posted my PowerPoint presentation about our Program in web format. Please feel free to look over the information and by all means, IM or email if you have any more questions!

UPDATE: I fixed a few visual items with the PPT/Web page, but some of the images will still look funky and Windows IE may still warn you not to trust it (because MS PowerPoint saves it to web format that uses scripts). So! Here is the new and improved movie version! Just pause it when you get to something you would like to read more carefully.