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The Cormier Scholars

Gina Caldwell Associate Editor

The Cormier ScholarsThe Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars, a program that blends the former Honors Program and Cormier Citizen Scholars Program, was officially launched in January 2009. The Longwood Board of Visitors approved the renaming during its September 2008 meeting.

The establishment of the Cormier Honors College is a singular accomplishment for Longwood," said Dr. Geoffrey Orth, director of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars. "Its endowment will allow us to attract outstanding students drawn to careers in public service, broadly defined, who exhibit both an unusual level of intellectual curiosity and an openness to other cultures, reinforced through study abroad.

Their research will prepare them for graduate study and their chosen professions. We fully expect the students in our Honors College to be leaders within and beyond the classroom."

Dr. Orth has directed the honors program since 2001. Dr. Alix Fink, associate professor of biology, is assistant director of the Cormier Honors College.

The Cormier Center for Citizen Scholars was founded as a scholarship program within the Honors Program. In June 2004, the Longwood Board of Visitors adopted a resolution renaming the former Center for Citizen Scholars, a component of Longwood’s first comprehensive campaign that was conceived and designed by the Cormiers. The Board cited the Cormiers’ unselfish donation of time, energy, and enthusiasm to the successful campaign; their commitment to academic excellence; and their personal campaign commitment designated for The Center for Citizen Scholars as reasons for renaming the center.

Longwood President Patricia Cormier said, "The Cormier Honors College is the star that illuminates all of Longwood’s best attributes as an institution of higher learning. It provides an opportunity for our most capable students to participate in a learning-centered environment that is second-to-none. It not only introduces students to multi- and interdisciplinary courses, but also exposes them to in-depth community service, study abroad programs, and undergraduate research at the highest levels."

Open to all eligible Longwood students, the Cormier Honors College meets the needs of academically gifted and talented undergraduate students through a distinctive living-learning community that links intellectual growth with the practice of citizenship. More than 230 students representing approximately 5 percent of Longwood’s undergraduate student body are enrolled in the Honors College. Incoming students are offered admission to the Cormier Honors College based on a review of their high school records, including an unweighted average of their core academic courses; a profile of college-level coursework, especially through Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate; and SAT/ACT scores. Approximately 45 freshmen are enrolled in the Honors College.

The majority of first- and second-year Honors students choose to live in Wheeler Hall, a newly renovated building that is dedicated primarily to the Cormier Honors College. Located in the heart of campus, the three-story residence hall provides suite-style living arrangements, modern amenities, contemporary study rooms, communal study lounges, and an outdoor terrace area with patio furniture. An Honors College classroom on the first floor brings Honors College class meetings directly into the community. 

Students accepted to the Cormier Honors College benefit from a thriving living-learning environment within the larger university setting; smaller class sizes; extensive faculty-student interaction; opportunities for independent and advanced research; and emphasis on learning opportunities outside the classroom through cultural events, conferences, field trips, and international study.

Madison Stevens, ’09, earned a bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. As a freshman she entered the Honors Program as a Cormier Citizen Scholar, an award that provides $5,500 per year for four years. Cormier Citizen Scholars, like all other Honors students, complete eight honors courses and they complete additional requirements for a faculty mentored research project and a study abroad experience. Stevens plans to enter medical school or graduate school to study biochemistry or genetics. 

Honor StudentsBeing in the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars places you in a small group of elite students, creating many excellent academic opportunities," said Stevens. "Because of my research experience and leadership roles on campus and on the women’s soccer team, I applied to and was chosen to participate in the Research Experience for Undergraduate students at Clemson University. As part of my research, I worked with students from North Carolina State University and Clemson to complete a research project on breast cancer and leukemia cell lines. My skill set and qualifications were the same as those students from the larger universities."

Longwood offers several types of Honors courses, including Honors sections of traditional courses and team-taught interdisciplinary courses. Longwood seniors may participate in the Senior Honors Research Program, which enables capable students to study intensively a subject of choice, thereby becoming acquainted with methods of research, organization of materials, and the presentation of results in a scholarly manner. 

Longwood’s Honors Program was inaugurated in 1930 and modified in 1983 as the Arts and Sciences Honors Program with 20 entering students.

Related Story: Four Cormier Scholars Featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education