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University Honors Program

NISG and Honors Connect

Posted on February 17, 2012

It is Northern Iowa Student Government election time again!  The crazy two weeks in February when you can’t even walk through the Union without getting pieces of paper, buttons, and even candy shoved into your hand from one of the Student Body President or Vice President hopefuls.  Chris Miller already pointed out the importance of Campbell Hall in these elections on the blog, noting that Campbell is the most active residence hall and votes in large numbers. Three of the last 4 winning tickets have had a Campbell connection.

It’s worth noting that perhaps the two most active houses in Campbell, Rainbow and Panther Den, are the male and female Honors clusters.  Looking further, we see a trend of Honors students in NISG positions.  Jake Rudy, 2009-2010 Student Body Vice President, current President Spencer Walrath and Vice President Ian Goldsmith, current Director of Public Relations Morgan Johnson, and candidates KaLeigh White, Jordan Bancroft-Smithe, and Beth Monnier all have a place in the University Honors Program.

President Walrath credits much of his current involvement to Honors Program, noting that “junior year I took the Honors Idea of a University course and became intensely interested in the inner workings of UNI”.  He also stated that the Honors Student Advisory Board (HSAB) was the first student group he joined on campus, and that it launched his involvement in other organizations.  Walrath gives great credit to the effect of planning things like the Last Blast (formerly known as the Honors Ball) and volunteer efforts through HSAB: “The experience that I gained …was essential to leading NISG”.

Former Vice President Rudy believes that “the Honors program allows students to meet and engage with students from every background … it prepares prospective student leaders to work with a student body that has interests and needs as diverse as the UNI campus is.”  Rudy also noted that a majority of the campaign team that worked with Adam Haselhuhn and himself were Honors students, which reinforces the idea of Honors students’ high level of involvement.  A large portion of Spencer and Ian’s campaign team were also Honors students.  Rudy chose the Peer Leader program as his favorite experience in the Honors program because of several lasting relationships he built.

Looking at this, it’s interesting to think about the effect the Honors Program can have on NISG.  Does having an Honors connection give you an advantage because of the high degree of involvement from Honors students, or from the increased preparation in leadership it provides?  It seems as though the Honors Cottage is a great place  to find many of our student leaders in one place, from senators to executive members of clubs to the Student Body President and Vice President.  Will this trend continue this year?  Will the Honors candidates use their connections and experiences from the program to their advantage?

I know that I’m proud to be a part of an organization that creates so many student leaders on campus.  I wish the best to all candidates in this election, and I hope that they will all use the experiences they’ve had so far, whether in the Honors Program or elsewhere, to prove to us all that they have what it takes to lead at UNI.  I encourage all students, Honors and otherwise, to stay informed on this election, and to vote.

Reduce Your Waste: A Competition

Posted on February 7, 2012

Do you use a reusable water bottle at Café on the Way and Dashes? You might want to. From Feb. 6 to Feb. 17, a competition between Dashes and Cafe on the Way will encourage students to reduce their waste from the to-go centers and challenge them to think differently about recycling. The competition is a part of the sophomore Presidential Scholar Think Tank project on sustainability. “Our goal for our Think Tank project is to reduce the amount of waste on campus and do that in a positive way so students are excited about it and can see the benefits of it,” said Beth Monnier, a sophomore English and economics major and member of the Think Tank group. Students who bring their own cup to Dashes or Café on the Way will be eligible to enter their name in a drawing for a prize. A scoreboard outside each of the dining facilities will indicate how many students used their own cup out of the total meals purchased for the day. The dining facility with the highest percentage of students using reusable cups at the end of the competition will win, and the student whose name is drawn from that facility's raffle will win the grand prize. The prizes include gift certificates, an iPod, and a 16GB iPad, so start using your reusable bottle today!

Wanted: Volunteers

Posted on February 7, 2012

Looking for a new organization to join? Looking to help out in the community? Check out Volunteer Tuesdays! This group organized by the Student Leadership Center and the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley makes volunteering in the community easy. Each week UNI students meet at Maucker Union to take off on the “Volunteer Bus” for a new adventure. Students can choose to volunteer from 2-5 or 5-8 each Tuesday.

                Students go to a different location in the Waterloo/ Cedar Falls area every Tuesday. Upcoming places to volunteer at are the Northeast Iowa Foodbank, the Grout Museum, and staying on campus to make tie blankets for Stork’s Nest. By volunteering students can gain understanding on an issue they may never have thought of. For me, I recently helped out with Green Iowa AmeriCorps. I learned how to put up weather strips on a door with a power tool and how to fill in cracks in walls with a cocking gun. I not only learned a new skill, but I helped make someone’s home ready for winter!  Sometimes it is good to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Volunteer Tuesdays provides various activities that allow anyone to step outside their normal sphere of influence.

                Volunteering can add to a resume, make yourself feel good for helping someone in need, and be a great blessing to the people helped. Get plugged in. Try something new in 2012. Meet new people. Get friends to go with you. Make a difference in you, in your community.  Sign up at  to reserve a spot for next Tuesday!

Freshmen Presidential Scholars Visit UNI Steam Plant

Posted on February 6, 2012

Do you ever think about how we get all the power needed to run the UNI campus? On Thursday, February 2, the freshmen presidential scholars explored the source of this power, as they toured the UNI Steam Plant. The tour was part of this semester’s presidential seminar about earth resources. Throughout the course of the semester, the students will be visiting four different destinations. A goal of the course is to learn more about how we use the limited supply of resources found on our planet. The steam plant was a particularly interesting destination, as students got to experience the production of power from coal firsthand. Other points of interest from the tour included visiting the roof and underground passageways.

If you’d like to get a sampling of what was learned, here are some interesting facts about the UNI Steal Plant!

  • The plant operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • 40.5% of power for the UNI campus is produced here. The other 59.5% is purchased from Cedar Falls Utilities.
  • In 2010, the plant produced 763,748,000 pounds of steam.
  • The plant consumed 25,939 tons of coal, or 1,037 semi-truck loads, as well as 11.921 tons of petroleum coke and 7,746 gallons of #2 fuel oil.
  • The estimated replacement value of the UNI Steam Plant is $65,000,000.

Lunch & Learn with Professor Brod

Posted on January 24, 2012

On Wednesday, February 1st at noon the Honors Student Advisory Board will be hosting a Lunch & Learn with Professor Harry Brod. Dr. Brod is a Professor of Philosophy & Humanities here at UNI, and is widely recognized as a founding figure in the field of men’s studies. He has published in professional journals in the fields of philosophy, women's, men's and gender studies, sociology, psychology, social science, education, and law.  He has presented to professional audiences in most of the above fields as well as in cultural studies, American studies, Jewish studies, history, political science, student affairs, and various interdisciplinary associations. If you are interested, please email Ben McCarty (

February 1st is also Dr. Brod’s birthday, so help him celebrate by coming to Lunch & Learn!

Trick-or-Eat: Fun for a Good Cause

Posted on November 9, 2011

Many college students miss the days where they could dress up in outrageous costumes and go door-to-door receiving food and candy. However, this Halloween, Honors Student Advisory Board members did just that, while simultaneously helping a good cause. The project, called Trick-Or-Eat, involved trick-or-treating to receive donations of nonperishable food items. These items were gathered and then donated to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

One week before the collection date, members delivered fliers to houses notifying them of the project, and requesting that they put food out to help those in need. Members of HSAB then came together to collect the food from the neighborhood.

This created a service environment unlike any other. The unique combination of holiday fun, local awareness, and assistance for a good cause led to an awesome opportunity. “There are not too many other community service projects that allow you to dress up in costume and trick or treat, while assisting the local community,” said Bryce Wehling, HSAB Outreach Coordinator.

Residents of the houses visited were incredibly supportive of the project. Many had food already sitting out or ready for collection. Those who did not quickly raided their kitchen cupboards to donate canned goods for the cause. Even President Ben Allen and Pat Allen donated items to benefit the project.

“Many people were really gracious and excited about the project, and even if they weren’t aware of it, most people wanted to help out anyway,” said Kelly Cunningham.  “I had so much fun because of the lovely people.”

The project was definitely successful as well as fun. A total of 433 lbs. of canned food were collected, which exceeds the amount collected each of the previous years by a significant margin. “This project was a huge success thanks to the high number of participants,” said Wehling.

Participants also enjoyed the chance to learn more about the Cedar Falls community, which they have not experienced through their classroom opportunities at UNI. “I feel like being on the college campus all day, every day just puts us in a bubble and we don’t necessarily feel connected to the community,” said Cunningham. “This was such a good way to make a difference as well as feel connected.”

 “I think this project might have been my favorite thing I’ve done at UNI so far”, said Grace Lau. “I loved that I got to get out into the Cedar Falls community…I had an amazing experience.

The Annual Honor's Hayride: A Night to Remember

Posted on November 9, 2011

What Honors event transforms horses, hay, and a tire swing into a night never to be forgotten? The Honors Student Advisory Board’s annual Honors Hayride of course! A time-honored tradition, the annual Honors Hayride brings together students from both within and without the Honors Program for a night of socializing, merriment, and s’mores. This year’s hayride was held on the night of Thursday, October 27. 

Students met in the parking lot west of Gilchrest at 6:30 and carpooled to the Heritage Farm southwest of Hudson. Situated amongst vast harvested fields of corn and beans, Heritage Farm provided the Honors students with a fun and unique setting where college worries fade away. Students spend the evening hanging out with their friends and perhaps making new ones. The main attraction of the night was the renowned hayride. Pulled by strong draft horses, wagons full of students ventured out into the nearby woods. Murmurs of appreciation for the natural beauty of the darkened woods were only matched by shouts of excitement as the horses pulled the students over streams and over sudden hills and valleys. The students even glimpsed the occasional cow.

When the students returned to the farm, they had their choice of the farm’s hayloft equipped with a tire swing, bonfire, hay bales, and a corn maze. After partaking of apple cider, s’mores, or hot cocoa, everyone returned to campus safely. The night was a smashing success, with this year's participants reaching 70 students. With this kind of attendance, the Honors Hayride will surely stay one of the most popular of all the Honors Student Advisory Board’s events in the years to come.

Honors Students “Make a Difference” Around Campus

Posted on November 9, 2011

The fourth Saturday in October is national Make a Difference Day, on which millions of Americans set aside time to help others. On October 22, UNI students gathered at Maucker Union to participate in this day of volunteering. Applause goes out to all who showed up because almost double the participants from last year volunteered their time! The Honors Program is proud of the large number of student who representing the program on this day.

The Volunteer Center of the Cedar Valley and the Student Leadership Center did a great job organizing this event and getting everyone pumped up for the day.  To get everyone awake and ready for a morning of work, the day was started with a large game of rock-paper-scissors. With a good attitude and good company, the volunteers set out for work.

The original plan involved cleaning up trash along the Cedar Valley trails. Because the trails were very well kept already, students made a difference right here on campus. A group of almost one hundred students helped alleviate the work that the maintenance crews have to do to keep our campus clean, safe and beautiful. Participants spent their Saturday morning picking up rocks in the field west of the UNI-Dome. It would seem as though picking up rocks would be a simple enough job, but there were several truckloads of rocks to remove. Clearing this area was important because plans are in place for the grounds to become a soccer field. 

To break up the work, students busted out in the Interlude dance to add some excitement to the morning.  After all the work was done, students were provided with a catered lunch in Maucker Union. Those who participated leave with the satisfaction of knowing they helped make an impact in the world around them. The work that 100 students did in only a few hours saved the university around $3,000 in labor work! Thanks to all of the Honors students who volunteered their time!

Freshman Presidential Scholar’s Sustainability Forum

Posted on April 21, 2011

After an inspiring semester long seminar entitled “Visioning a Sustainable World” with Professor Bill Stigliani, the freshman presidential scholars put on a public forum outlining their vision for a sustainable world in 2050. The event took place at 7 pm on April 19th at the Center For Energy and Environmental Education. It was preceded by a poster viewing session displaying the various “action to enhance sustainability” projects the scholars did throughout the semester. Projects varied from going vegetarian for a month to dorm recycling and energy reduction initiatives. The students worked very hard to complete these projects and learned a great deal about reducing their individual carbon footprints.

As for the actual forum, the class of scholars was divided into five groups of four, and then assigned an area of sustainability to research and prepare a vision for. The Energy group investigated promising renewable energy sources such as solar and geothermal. The Business group stressed the importance of considering the environment along with social and financial factors when making decisions. The Cities group transported the audience to the majestic and eco friendly “Greensville”, a model for future sustainable cities. The Agriculture group compared conventional and organic farming. Last but not least, the Ecosystems group explored ways to preserve and restore our Earth’s resources and precious biodiversity.

Overall attendance at the event was good and the students did an excellent job presenting. It was hoped that the audience would gain a sense of how important our Earth truly is and what a perilous state it is currently in. Attendees were also given ways that they could help as individuals and as a society. Congratulations to the twenty freshman presidential scholars on a job well done and good luck to them all in the future as they strive to continue making our community more sustainable.

Casual Convo About Casual Sex

Posted on April 21, 2011

Sex is something that draws discussion and interest from a great many of people, especially college students.  In order to promote heavy discussion, the Honors Student Advisory Board (HSAB) hosted an event entitled Casual Convo About Casual Sex on Tuesday, April 5 in the Maucker Union Ballroom.  Gary Gute, an associate professor of human services, and Susan Hill, an associate professor of philosophy and world religions, jointly facilitated a discussion about casual sex preempted by a quick lecture by each.  Gute, an instructor for a human and sexualities course which at various times has been called ‘Porn in the Morn’ and ‘Afternoon Delight’ by his students, presented the impact of casual sex on relationships while Hill, who teaches a religions and sexualities course, presented the religious side of the discussion.

 “It was great to have such a large turn-out at the event.  I guess sex does sell!  Beyond that, I was impressed with many of the insightful questions and comments,” commented Jessica Moon, the honors advisor.  “People had fun with the topic, but it was clear the discussion was also thought-provoking.”

“I thought the presentation was very informational, especially the religion and sex part,” offered Kate Sibenaller, a member of the committee responsible for putting on the discussion. “I was interested in how Dr. Hill ranked religions according to their acceptance of sex, and hearing why they were ordered like that.”

Sibenaller, a sophomore English teaching major, also thought the discussion went very well.  She mentioned that everyone really got into it and seemed to be genuinely interested in learning more.

After the event, Gute commented that he was very impressed with the large turnout and the immense amount of participation in the discussion.  He added that a great variety of perspectives were also given.

With sixty-five guests signed in and all the seats filled, look more from HSAB in the way of similar events in the future.