Honors Program opens new chapter at Knoll Residential Center

· 3 min read

Honors Program opens new chapter at Knoll Residential Center

Knoll
Craig Chandler | University Communication
Chancellor Ronnie Green helps Emma Barnes, a sophomore Honors student at Nebraska, move in to Knoll Residential Center. This is the program's first year in the space.

After 28 years in Neihardt Hall, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Honors Program has settled into a new home in the Knoll Residential Center.

The move signals a new, modern beginning for the program, which is welcoming its largest-ever cohort of 642 freshmen to campus.

“Moving our offices, classrooms and student housing to Knoll reflects the Honors Program’s growing momentum,” said Patrice McMahon, director of the Honors Program. “This 21st-century space will allow us to cultivate a more robust honors community, as well as support innovative student programs that we’ll be implementing over the next year.”

Video: Chancellor Ronnie Green takes part in Honors student move-in at Knoll.

The program’s new digs in Knoll will feature a renovated pavilion area, three state-of-the-art classrooms, a café offering local, healthy treats like Goldenrod Pastries and a “commuter kitchen” for students who live off-campus. Over 440 of the program’s students are living in the residence hall, a marked increase from previous academic years at Neihardt.

“We hope that Knoll will become more of a destination — an interactive place where students can eat lunch, grab a coffee and be more connected with their peers,” McMahon said.

That need for connectedness was one of the main reasons the program moved this August. Previously, honors students at Nebraska were spread across eight different dorms on campus. McMahon says that while many students lived in Neihardt during their first year at the university, by their sophomore year, they were leaving to find more updated apartment-style accommodations elsewhere.

“It’s definitely bittersweet, because honors has been in Neihardt for so long. It’s a building with a lot of history and memories attached to it. However, I think most students are now welcoming this change,” McMahon said. “We’ve had almost double the number of students returning to Knoll in their second year than we did in Neihardt, as well as a waiting list for this upcoming year.”

This fall, nearly 85% of students living in Knoll are members of the university's Honors Program.

Additional changes to the Honors Program include the introduction of student-designed academic tracks for subjects like community service and environmental studies. The program will also provide students with the opportunity to take more one and zero-credit classes, encouraging experimental and work-based learning.

“We're really shaking up the Honors Program. It's not about having to take more classes or harder classes," McMahon said. "Instead, we want students to develop important professional development skills, take unique courses that introduce them to things they’re passionate about and feel like they’re a part of a cohesive community.

“Our new headquarters in Knoll is going to help us transform honors life at Nebraska.”