Honors Program Director Steps Down

By HEATHER THIBAULT, Guest Writer

Professor Gerald Moran, who has run the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Honors Program for five years, is stepping down from the position.

The 42-year veteran of the university will continue teaching in UM-Dearborn’s history department, as well as various honors classes. Professor Scott DeGregorio, an associate professor of English, will take over on May 1, 2017.

The Honors Program challenges students with courses that require critical thinking. The classes are small, usually between 15 and 25, which allows students to interact with faculty more easily. The courses meet the Dearborn Discovery Core (DDC) requirements for UM-Dearborn.

Entry to the program is highly competitive. Students are contacted for an interview if they have at least a 3.5 GPA and a 25 ACT Composite score from high school. The program currently has 185 students, 25 of whom graduate this semester.

The Honors Program has had only two directors since its founding in 1981. Sid Bolkosky ran the operation from 1981 until April 2012. He died in June 2013. Michele Rushman, the Senior Administrative Assistant of the program, managed the program for six months before Moran stepped in and took the job. She, too, will retire after 37 years with the university.

She makes this program. She’s the soul,” Moran said of Rushman.

Professor Michael Rosano will continue with the Honors Program. He participates in group interviews of incoming students, which involves some 160 students a year. He’ll continue as he has, attending all open houses and advising of honors students. Rosano also teaches three Honors courses.

“I’ve done a lot,” Moran said, reflecting on his career. “I was hired as an assistant professor of history, and then I became an associate professor, and then a full professor 20-some years ago… one loses track of time.”

“I should say over the course of my career I was a visiting professor at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; I was a visiting professor at Michigan State, both for a year. And also a NEH Fellow at Northwestern University, and also at Princeton University, so you see people like me, you know, old goat Jerry Moran, you don’t really know who I am but I’ve been around and I’ve done quite a bit,” he said.

“I started teaching honors in the early 1990s. I invented the Four Trials course, and I started teaching that and other honors courses as well. In the meantime, I was chair of the department of social sciences for a total of four years, associate dean of the college for four years… I’ve done many, many things,” he said.

As for his future?

I’m moving back into faculty and will be picking up some American history classes, and I’ll continue to teach in honors”, Moran says. “So I’m not disappearing, I’m not going to be retiring, I’m simply leaving the director’s chair and moving back into teaching history.”

Moran says the future appears bright for honors.

“We are part of the College-Wide Program now which means our basic support structure is in the dean’s office,” he said. “I think that’s good because we’ll be getting representation in the College Executive Committee, which we didn’t have before, and I think our budget position will be strengthened, and I hope with the new support that honors will continue to grow.”

“We’re getting applicants from all sorts of regions of the country,” Moran said.  “Students from Hawaii, the Bahamas, Texas, Canada, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, Lebanon, Egypt, and more have all applied to the program.”

“I want it to grow. I want to have an Honors College. I want to expand opportunities for students. I want more students to be able take advantage of what I think is an extraordinary opportunity. I want to market it nationally. I want to market it internationally. I think we have a great opportunity here.” Moran said.

“The chancellor has always supported the Honors Program… His support is always critical; if it wasn’t for the chancellor we wouldn’t be an Honors Program,” he said.

“I’ve always felt that our mission at this institution was to deliver a very high quality education, that UM-Ann Arbor education, to the sons and daughter of the citizens of Michigan.”

Moran also addressed the rumors about the Honors Lounge moving.  

“The lounge is going to stay, but it’s not going to be the same, you’re not going to get the food, the coffee… you’re going have to do that yourself, if at all,” he said.

Moran has a bond with the students.

“I think he’s an amazing professor. We will very much miss him as director of the Honors Program,” said honors student Anastasey Manolatos, “But thankfully he’s remaining in the program, so it’s not completely all bad.”

Moran laughed and said, “I think the headline is… Honors Program alive and well and looks forward to a bright future, said Professor Moran.”