The honors program will be under the new leadership of Western geology professor Scott Linneman starting in January 2016.
The current director, George Mariz, is retiring after 40 years, but has agreed to stay through fall 2015 to bridge the gap.
“[I am] excited, honored and daunted,” he said. “I’m going to be following in the footsteps of George Mariz, who has done a fantastic job running the program for a long time.”
Some of his plans for the program include recruiting students and advising current students. Diversifying the student body within the honors program is part of his plans to recruit more students.
He wants the level of diversity within the honors program to reflect the diversity and the diversifying process of Western as a whole. This includes first- and second-generation students, racial diversity and people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, he said.
“I served for a year with him on the honors board,” senior honors student Claire Tyler said. “I think he’s very well qualified, and I look forward to having him as the director.”
Linneman has been teaching at Western since 2000. Though he has been on sabbatical since winter of this year, his duties at Western include teaching in the geology department and the science education department. He assists with training future teachers of science, he said.
Linneman understands the program well from a faculty perspective, Brent Carbajal, Western provost and vice president for academic affairs said.
“His experience and passion and the fact that he is so well aware of the administrative ins and outs, but also the academic program realities of honors sets him apart as a leader,” Carbajal said.
The first task that Linneman hopes to accomplish as the honors program director is to conduct a program review to see where the program is.
“He will be building on a very strong foundation left by professor George Mariz,” Carbajal said. “I think when you have such a strong foundation, it’s good to take time to study what the strengths and opportunities are, and I think professor Linneman will do that.”
Linneman will talk to students, alumni and faculty to find out if the honors program is the right size, if it serves the Western community well and if any changes in the curriculum need to happen, he said.
“We attract students to the Western honors program from all over the country, and we want to be able to continue to do that,” he said.
Linneman was chosen for the position because of his excellent record as a mentor and teacher, his program ideas and vision and his commitment to the liberal arts and sciences, Carbajal said.
Linneman was named 2013 Washington Professor of the Year by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. This award is given to teachers who show extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching, according to the Carnegie Foundation website.
Linneman has won many other awards, such as Washington state’s Higher Education Science Teacher of the Year in 2011 by the Washington Science Teachers Association. To be nominated for this award, teachers must show enthusiasm and excitement for teaching science, effective delivery of scientific content and processes and promotion of science education beyond the classroom, according to the Washington State Teachers Association website.
Linneman is currently on his sabbatical to write a textbook for Pearson Publishing, he said.
There will be a reception to celebrate George Mariz’s retirement from 4-6 p.m. Friday, May 15, in the Wilson Library Reading Room.