USD is enforcing new changes with the safety and health of students in mind throughout campus, and the honors program has a new face to oversee those changes.
Melissa Berninger is the interim director of the honors program following the departure of former director Scott Breuninger, who now resides in Virginia. The decision on who the new director will be is expected to be made later this year Berninger said.
“In the short term, students should not expect any major changes to the curriculum,” Berninger said. “A number of students are involved in that (inclusive excellence committee), thinking about how honors deals with things like inclusive excellence and diversity.”
Berninger said honors classes have experienced the same changes that other programs experienced. Most classes are in a hybrid setting. One of the largest changes honors students are seeing is in the honors lounge.
“We have had to limit the occupancy of the honors lounge to seven students,” Berninger said. “That’s unfortunate, but its a small space and we can’t have it packed with students.”
Honors program coordinator Dallas Doane said he will miss the ability to chat with students in the lounge.
“That’s one of the bad things for me right now, because that’s when I got to go in and chat with the students,” Doane said. “It’s mainly going to be used for students who need to quick print something and then leave, so it will be a little different from years past where we had students who were there studying and chilling.”
Doane also said many of the programs that honors hosts throughout the year for their students will remain relatively unchanged, with the biggest change being the size of groups for the programs.
“We have about 40 (peer mentors) who have small groups, typically four to six mentees who were incoming first year students,” Doane said. “Some of the programming we did last year were some larger events. We added a larger event each week and now we’re kind of focusing in on a little bit more of the interpersonal relationships.”
The honors program had classes and programs adjust to new regulations for student safety, but Berninger said that students should not expect any long term changes to the program otherwise.