The University Honors Program is going places, and Andrea Radasanu is eager to lead the way.
Advancing from acting director to newly appointed director, Radasanu bursts with excitement about all the program has to offer students, especially when it comes to new opportunities for engagement.
She’s thrilled to officially lead the program, which offers specialized courses, advising, engaged learning opportunities and more for students to learn both in and out of the classroom.
“It’s always meant a lot to me to work really closely with students and build their individual experiences beyond what they would normally have, so this was a golden opportunity to do that at the university level in a setting that includes students from every single discipline and every single college at the university,” said Radasanu, Ph.D., a political science professor who was appointed acting director of University Honors in 2019.
“It really allows me to do things I’m passionate about at the university level.”
In her 15th year at NIU, Radasanu has always devoted much of her time to developing enriched academic and co-curricular programs for undergraduate students. She earned the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2012, and served as the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Political Science from 2012 to 2017.
Her role as University Honors director allows her to dedicate much of her time to student involvement, an area where she thrives.
“I’m delighted that Andrea has agreed to serve in this important role at NIU,” said Provost Beth Ingram, Ph.D. “For nearly 50 years, the Honors Program has supported a community of students who are eager to engage with faculty and each other in an enriched learning environment. I’m confident that this program will continue to grow and thrive under Andrea’s leadership.”
In an effort to continue drawing students who are driven, curious and committed to improving themselves—qualities reflected in areas like academic achievement, student involvement and leadership—University Honors moved to a holistic application review process.
Through the fall of 2020, entering freshmen interested in becoming part of the program can choose whether they want their test scores considered or not. Starting in the spring of 2021, the program won’t consider standardized test scores at all.
Along with implementing the new application review process, Radasanu has strived to enhance Honors Engaged.
Honors students earn points toward graduation by participating in co-curricular experiences, including career-related work opportunities, campus involvement, leadership roles, study abroad, community and civic volunteer roles, undergraduate research and artistry initiatives.
“We strive to find ways to help you build your resume, but also to grow as a human being while you’re here,” Radasanu said.
Among numerous opportunities, students are encouraged to check out alternative spring break options, volunteer, get involved in student clubs and take part internships and externships. Externships pair Honors students with alumni in the field for a week’s worth of mentoring and firsthand career exploration.
University Honors has enhanced its career-related offerings especially, and expanded civic engagement experiences are planned this fall, Radasanu said.
“We have a few other things up our sleeves,” she said. “The engagement piece is something we’ve worked hard to make great programming around, especially in the past year. Together with the fantastic Honors seminars and other enriching components of the curriculum, fellowship and research opportunities, Honors helps elevate and broaden the scope of students’ undergraduate experience.”