The Outstanding Scholars program should be a hallmark of the UWindsor experience, says provost Leo Groarke.
The program offers top high school graduates beginning post-secondary study an honorarium in exchange for work on academic research projects.
“It is unique to the University of Windsor,” Dr. Groarke told a reception Tuesday for faculty members who have taken on mentoring roles with Outstanding Scholars. “What is special is that it gives students the most precious thing—individualized attention. The program provides students with the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor.”
Math professor Ron Barron has mentored participants since the program’s inception in 2002.
“It gives me a chance to take these students out of the classroom,” he says. He has assigned his protégés “sub-problems” connected to his research. “To me, it is really a good experience.”
He relates the story of a third-year student who was uncertain about his future following graduation.
“As part of his placement with me, he got his name on a conference paper and joined me for the drive to the conference,” Barron recalls. “All the way up there, we talked about how undecided he was. But on the way home, he told me he was going to grad school—just from that one experience.”
Chemistry professor Tricia Carmichael has 11 Outstanding Scholars working in her research lab right now. She says they make a valuable contribution.
“My lab really runs with these students,” she says. “I pair them up with graduate students to tackle specific tasks. They know they are doing real work.”
And, she adds, four of her current graduate assistants are former Outstanding Scholars.
Vice-provost, students and international, Clayton Smith called on the experienced mentors to encourage their fellow faculty members to take on the role. The program, which had been limited to particular programs, will expand to all first-entry undergraduate programs by September 2013. Find more information on the Outstanding Scholars website.