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Friday, September 29, 2023


Tak’aacute;cs questioned in forum

Sarolta Tak’aacute;cs, one of four candidates being considered for deanship of the Honors College said, if appointed to the position, she would improve the undergraduate program and promote research within the college.

Tak’aacute;cs, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program and professor of history at Rutgers University, was questioned by members of the campus community at an open forum on Tuesday in the Honors College Commons.

Tak’aacute;cs’ accomplishments include founding the specialized honors program at Rutgers in 2006 and uniting the University’s four separate honors colleges.

Mary Martin, an English and psychology junior, asked what changes Tak’aacute;cs envisioned for the college.

"The University could be more involved in research," Tak’aacute;cs said. "One of my main goals is to make the Undergraduate program better."

Some Honors College faculty expressed concerns that Tak’aacute;cs might not have enough interdisciplinary experience for the position. She assured Tuesday’s audience she has taught students from all disciplines.

"I’ve had engineering students in my class," she said. "When we write papers, I give them options."

She said she allows her students to write about a part of history that interests them.

"(Liberal arts) is overarching for every profession," Tak’aacute;cs said. "Students with a liberal arts education can think outside the box."

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the College of Engineering David Shattuck wanted to know how Tak’aacute;cs would respond to engineering professors who do not think foreign language is necessary for their students.

"I would try to find out why they felt that way," Tak’aacute;cs said. "Maybe it’s because the engineering schedule is so tight."

Tak’aacute;cs, who speaks several languages including German and French, said knowing a foreign language gives students an edge in their profession and makes them more cultured.

Tak’aacute;cs oversaw 1,400 students as Rutgers University Honors College Dean. University of Houston’s Honors College has a total of 1,100 honors students.

UH’s diversity is something Tak’aacute;cs said holds a lot of appeal for her.

"One thing I wished I could have improved upon at Rutgers was the diversity," she said. "Too few Latinas and Latinos and African Americans were involved in the program."

Tak’aacute;cs said she hopes to raise money for study abroad opportunities and purchasing textbooks for students.

"I want to bring donors into contact with students," she said. "I try to tell them the person’s story and let them know they’re changing lives."

Some UH students, however, are unsure if Tak’aacute;cs is the right candidate for the Honors College deanship.

Business sophomore Charlene Nguyen said her first choice for Honors College deanship is vying candidate and UH Honors College Executive Associate Dean William Monroe, who also serves as professor of English at the University.

"(Tak’aacute;cs) is really articulate and I like how she made her school better, but I don’t know if she’d be better than Dean Monroe," Nguyen said.

Political science and sociology junior Alex Ragsdale said she thought Tak’aacute;cs was too academic.

"She’s qualified," she said. "My ideal candidate would speak more about community involvement, particularly because of the way UH is and Houston is. She’s a little too academic and a little too scholarly."

Stuart Long, interim dean of the Honors College, took over the position following Ted Estess’ resignation from his 30-year tenure at the college, effective June 16.

Competing candidates Jerry Herron, dean of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College and professor of English at Wayne State University, John Kirby, Department of Classics chair and professor of classics at the University of Miami, and Monroe will speak at open forums from 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Tuesday, respectively, at the Honors College Commons.

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