2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Sep 19, 2020  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Van D. & Barbara B. Fishback Honors College

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Rebecca Bott-Knutson, Dean
Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College
Honors Hall 119, Box 2705A


Rebecca Bott-Knutson, Dean; Committee Members: Rosie Nold (College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences), Barb Kleinjan (College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), Greg Peterson (College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), Valerie Albert (College of Education & Human Sciences), Ross Abraham (Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering), Robert Fourney (Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering), Madhav Nepal (College of Natural Sciences), Fathi Halaweish (College of Natural Sciences), Robin Brown (College of Nursing), Omathanu Perumal (College of Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions), and Matthew Badura (Wintrode Student Success Center).


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 Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College at South Dakota State University is to provide talented, motivated students with a personalized, engaging, distinctive academic and enrichment experience that will position them for success as lifelong learners and leaders.


We will provide the rigor, opportunity, and community necessary to equip our graduates with the skills and ethic to go into the world reaching under-served audiences, elevating those around them, and using their gifts in service of others.

We serve as an engine of opportunity to elevate, enrich, and enliven the student experience at South Dakota State University.

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, the Honors College values and encourages diverse, collaborative academic pursuits, including arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, science, engineering, 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: The 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: The 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: The 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.  Honors faculty are leaders in research and the scholarship of teaching and learning whose experiences are shared on campus, nationally, and internationally.
  • Ethics and integrity: The values of 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 academic and co-curricular experiences for undergraduate students.

Facilities & 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 & 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, Honors students can be found in athletic teams, musical ensembles, student government, research laboratories, and faith-based organizations, among others. In addition, special Honors student engagement opportunities include the Honors College Student Organization, Honors conferences, and the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. Annual Honors events include a Hike and Read Retreat, Faculty Potluck, Town Hall, Convocation, and Medallion Ceremony. Students and faculty are also actively engaged in regional and national Honors organizations.

  • Honors College Student Organization (HCSO): HCSO is the club for Honors 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 (UMHC): UMHC 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 (NCHC): NCHC is the national organization for Honors programs and colleges across the country. 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. The annual NCHC conference is attended by thousands of Honors students and faculty, including representatives from SDSU.
  • Leadership Development Programming: The 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 and summer leadership development and systems dynamics workshops. Honors students also serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate courses and help plan Honors events and programs.
  • Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity: The 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 (URSCAD) each spring, as well as 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: The Honors College coordinates SDSU’s Campus/Community Common Read program. Recent selections include Wrecked, How Does it Feel to be a Problem, and Boy Meets Depression. Honors also organizes the university’s largest lectureship, the Griffith Honors Forum Lecture, which in recent years has featured the author of the Common Read book or an associated speaker.
  • Honors College Convocation: A celebration of all things Honors, Convocation is 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. Students who have completed their Honors general education requirements are also recognized.
  • What’s Next?: This event series invites Honors students to explore various academic, career, or service opportunities as they begin to imagine their path after graduation.
  • Honors Literary Circle: The Honors “lit circle” engages students and faculty in discussion around an important work of literature. The group gathers a few times throughout the semester for food, fellowship, and discussions of the chosen text.


The Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College is a single administrative unit, which collaborates with other 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 Faculty Committee, Dean’s Student Advisory Council, and Dean’s Development Advisory Council.


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