The Committee on Honors assigns a representative to act as the non-voting moderator during the oral examination. Sitting members of the Committee on Honors serve as Honors Committee representatives. Other members of the Lawrence University community may also be asked to serve as Honors Committee representatives. The Honors Committee representative reports the results of the examination to the Committee on Honors prior to its last meeting. The Committee on Honors reviews the recommendations of each examining committee and submits its recommendations for Honors in Independent Study to the faculty for final approval.
The Oral Examination
The primary role of the Honors Committee representative at the oral exam is to conduct the exam and to ensure all of the guidelines are followed.
The Honors Committee representative:
- asks the student and advisor before the exam begins if there will be a summary. In the sciences, it is customary for the student to present a brief summary of the project (typically no longer than 15 minutes). Students from other disciplines may or may not present a summary, depending on the recommendation of the advisor.
- calls the examination to order when all members of the examining committee and the student are present and asks the student to present the summary, if applicable
- opens the floor to questions from the examining committee members after the summary. The faculty advisor typically does not begin the questioning. As a courtesy to the non-voting member of the examining committee, the Honors Committee representative may also ask questions but allows the examining committee to ask the majority of the questions. Although circumstances vary, the examination of the candidate typically lasts no longer than one to one and a half hours.
- excuses the student from the room when the examination draws to a close
- outlines the procedures to be followed in the examining committee's deliberations
- distributes the "Criteria for Honors in Independent Study" and instructs the Examining Committee members to review the criteria for cum laude
- ensures that all of the relevant criteria for determining honors are addressed during the discussion. Examining committee members must be reminded that to be awarded honors the thesis, project, and oral examination must meet all of the standards listed in the "Criteria for Honors" sheet.
- takes notes during this discussion for the report to the Honors Committee
- solicits an initial recommendation from one of the examining committee members other than the project advisor as to whether or not the project should be awarded honors
- calls the matter to a vote, polling each of the voting members of the committee after the discussion of whether honors should be awarded reaches a consensus or an impasse and records the vote tally
- directs the committee's attention to the criteria for magna cum laude and summa cum laude and solicits opinions from the voting members of the committee other than the advisor if the majority of the committee votes that honors should be awarded
- again solicits recommendations for awarding higher level of honors and tallies the vote
- adjourns the meeting after a consensus has been reached on the level of honors
- writes a brief report for the Honors Committee
Procedures for Handling Dissenting Opinions
On occasion, members of the examining committee may not agree upon the awarding of honors/no honors or the degree of honors to be awarded. Such dissent may be handled in one of two ways:
- The dissenting member of the committee, while unable to support the decision of the other members of the committee, may not disagree so strongly as to challenge the decision. In this instance, the inability of the committee members to come to a mutual decision should be indicated in the report submitted by the student's adviser to the Committee on Honors.
- The dissenting member of the committee may vigorously disagree with the decision, believing that inappropriate standards were applied or that incorrect evaluations were made in judging the project. In this situation, the dissenting member submits a written statement to the Committee on Honors, challenging the legitimacy of the decision and, in effect, requesting the Committee to reconsider the decision. The student's adviser should also include information concerning the disagreement in the report sent to the Committee on Honors.
In either instance, all members of the examining committee will sign the adviser's report to the Committee and the signature page which will later be attached to the library copy of the paper.
The Committee on Honors representative will also include a brief summary of the dissent in his/her report to the Committee.