2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
    May 26, 2024  
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College

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SDSU student

Rebecca Bott, Interim Dean
Honors Hall 119, SHON Box 2705A
E-mail: rebecca.bott@sdstate.edu


Rebecca Bott, Interim Dean; Committee Members: Ross Abraham (ENG), Matthew Badura (UC), David Cartrette (A&S), Leda Cempellin (A&S), Robert Fourney (ENG), Linda Herrick (NUR), and Omathanu Perumal (PHA)


The Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College at South Dakota State University provides talented motivated students in any major with an enriched, personalized curricular pathway and experiential learning opportunities which allow them to maximize their learning at South Dakota State University.



  • The mission of SDSU’s Honors College is to provide talented, motivated students with a personalized, engaging, distinctive academic and enrichment educational experience that positions them for success as lifelong learners and leaders.


  • Through the quality and diversity of its students, faculty, curricula and programs, the Honors College is a positive, dynamic, innovative, ‘value added’ presence in the South Dakota State University community.   We attract, retain, and provide extraordinary educational experiences for the best and brightest students of the region.

Guiding Values

  • Academic quality:  The Honors College represents the university’s highest academic ideals.  Honors students practice higher order thinking skills in rigorous academic environments, guided by passionate, committed teachers and scholars, and characterized by excellence in pedagogy and mentoring.
  • Collaboration, integration and coordination:  The Honors College engages in strong, trusting relationships with partners on and off campus, including academic colleges and departments, the Office of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs units (e.g. Admissions, Residential Life, Registration and Records, Scholarship Services), and off-campus units such as employers and agencies. 
  • Diverse perspectives and multidisciplinary approaches:   The Honors College values, embraces and supports diversity in all its forms.  By encompassing diverse people, cultures, disciplines, ideas and experiences, the Honors student’s education is enhanced.  With a classic interpretation of the role of the university and a campus-wide presence, Honors College values and encourages diverse, collaborative academic pursuits, including arts and humanities, social sciences, mathematics, science and engineering, and professional fields such as agriculture, nursing and pharmacy.
  • Engagement, service and leadership development:  The Honors College fosters and supports well-rounded educational approaches that develop whole persons and empowered citizens.  Opportunities for student involvement on campus and in the community, in addition to targeted leadership development and service learning experiences are encouraged. 
  • Community:  Honors College develops and maintains respectful, caring, trusting collegial relationships between faculty and staff members, students, administrators and community partners.  These relationships are characterized by transparency, integrity, openness, dialog, growth, accountability, kindness and mutual support.
  • Innovation and experimentation:  Honors College provides leadership and support for wise risk-taking and creative, progressive, responsive approaches to teaching, learning, student development, and scholarly pursuits.  We assess what we learn and leverage this lessons in a spirit of constant program improvement.
  • Global perspectives:   Honors students and faculty demonstrate global awareness and cross cultural competence.  These perspectives are infused throughout the Honors curriculum and fostered through development and participation in international travel/study/work/service programs.
  • Broader view:  Honors College benefits from looking outside the organization.  Through involvement in regional, national and international organizations and by promoting participation in nationally and internationally recognized fellowship, internship and scholarship programs, rich new perspectives are developed that enhance the scholarly life and academic experience of our faculty and students. 
  • Research, scholarship and creative activities:  Through successful completion of Honors coursework and independent study projects, Honors students are exposed to the scholarly life, taste the excitement of discovery, and are well prepared for advanced study.  Faculty who guide and support these experiences are recognized and rewarded.  Honors faculty are leaders in research and the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Their experiences are shared on campus, regionally, nationally and internationally.
  • Ethics and integrity are prized in the Honors College.  Students and faculty strive to give honor, and to be honorable human beings.

Strategic Intent

  • The strategic intent of the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College is to be nationally-recognized, locally relevant, accessible Honors College that is recognized for excellence on campus, in the region and across the nation as providers of a world class undergraduate academic and co-curricular experience.

Facilities and Services

The Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College is headquartered in Honors Hall. Facilities include Dean’s Office/Administrative suite, conference room, and student library in addition to residential accommodations for 200 Honors College students. The Hall is also home to the Honors College classroom, a basement community building space, outdoor courtyard, and kitchens, group study rooms and lounges on each wing of the hall. Honors Hall is the hub of academic and enrichment programming for Honors College students and faculty.

Student Support and Engagement Opportunities

The Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College encourages its students to engage as leaders in all aspects of campus and community life. Indeed, they can be found on athletic teams, in musical ensembles, student government, research laboratories, and faith-based organizations, among others. In addition, special Fishback Honors College student engagement opportunities include the Honors College Student Organization, Honors Hall Government, and Dean’s Student Advisory Council. Annual events include a Hike and Read Retreat, Faculty Potluck, Town Hall Meeting, Convocation, Quiz Bowl, Talent Show, Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Day, and Medallion Ceremony. Students and faculty are also actively engaged in regional and national Honors organizations.

  • Honors College Student Organization is a club for Honors College students from every major, and is a great way to build community with other Honors students and faculty.  Activities include social and service programs and providing student leadership to important Honors College activities.
  • Upper Midwest Honors Council is comprised of Honors Colleges and programs throughout the region.  The Council holds an annual meeting each spring at a member-host university.  South Dakota State University attends each year and engages students and faculty in sharing their classroom, research and program ideas and accomplishments with the Honors community across the region.
  • National Collegiate Honors Council is the national organization for Honors programs and colleges across the country; it even included international members.  The mission of NCHC is To support and enhance the community of educational institutions, professionals, and students who participate in collegiate Honors education around the world. More than 1200 members represent two year and four year public and private institutions in the United states and beyond.  The annual NCHC conference is attended by thousands of Honors students and faculty.  SDSU representatives attend and participate; it is a wonderful venue through which to learn, network and share ideas for personal, professional and programmatic development.
  • Leadership Development Programming.  Honors College helps to coordinate the LEADSTATE program, a leadership development program for college sophomores focused on strengths-based leadership, service and the social change model for leadership development.  In addition, Honors sponsors colloquia on leadership, leadership development and systems dynamics workshops.
  • Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity.  Honors College helps to coordinate undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity across campus.  This includes organizing the annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Day each spring, and coordinating selection for campus-wide undergraduate research fellowships and the Schultz-Werth paper competition, both of which award students thousands of dollars each year.
  • Common Read and Griffith Honors Forum Lecture.  Honors College coordinates SDSU’s campus common reading program. Recent selections include The Heart and the Fist (Greitens); The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time.  Honors also organizes the university’s largest lectureship, the Griffith Honors Forum Lecture, which in recent years has featured the central character of the common read.
  • Honors College Convocation.  A celebration of all things Honors held during the spring of each academic year.  The program includes a reception, speaker and awards program honoring excellence in student and faculty service and achievement across a variety of categories.  Dean’s List, 4.0 honor roll are recognized.  Students who have completed their Honors College general education requirements in the preceding academic year are presented with the Honors College pin.
  • Hike and Read Retreat. A kickoff to the school year and welcome event for first-year Honors College students, the hike and read involves faculty and students reading a common book or article, and traveling to the Oak Lake Field Station for a day of hiking, reading, canoeing and fun. 


The Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College is a single administrative unit, which collaborates with other college Deans, Department Heads, and Student Affairs offices across campus to serve its students and fulfill its mission. The College is guided through the collaborative leadership of the Dean and shared governance structures including the Honors College committee, Honors faculty, Dean’s Student Advisory Council and Dean’s Development Advisory Council.


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