The administration of $400,000-a-year president Elliot Hirshman over at San Diego State University, widely known as one of America’s biggest sex, drugs, and party schools, is spending major money to obtain a more refined experience for a select few. “San Diego State University has identified the development and growth of honors as a major campus priority in order to attract and support more high-achieving students across the university,” says a job notice for a new associate director of University Honors posted last week on the school’s website. High schoolers aspiring to the program must have grade point average of 3.70 or above or SAT score of 1200 or above. SDSU students’ GPAs must be 3.5 or higher, according to the website.
Once they pass muster, students in the program are segregated from their less honored classmates by living in the Honors Residential College in Maya Hall, according to the site. “This policy was designed to ensure an exceptional undergraduate experience for honors students at San Diego State University. Students living in the Honors Residential College will have the unique advantage of experiencing a small, intellectually and socially vibrant liberal arts environment, while enjoying access to all the resources of a large research university.” Another coveted benefit for those who make the cut at the overcrowded school: smaller class sizes. “The number of students who may enroll in an Honors course is limited to no more than 20 individuals. Although the university average classroom enrollment is 42 people per class, that is not necessarily the case for General Education classes, many of which are held in large lecture halls seating 80 to 300 people.”
The well-appointed V.I.P. lounge at the library is also touted. “Enrolled Honors students have exclusive access to the private Darlene Gould Davies Honors Study Room in the main Library. The private study room is a great place to study between classes, hold a group project meeting or spend quiet time doing research. [Unlike the public areas of the library, you will not have to compete for study space with thousands of other students.]”
The new employee, who will assist honors program chief Stacey Sinclair, “will plan and implement recruitment events and coordinate with other campus programs to admit high achieving students into the university and into honors; advise and mentor high achieving students; organize and promote new opportunities for leadership, service, research and international experiences that allow for multiple points of entry into honors; and assist the Director of the University Honors Program and program staff in a range of operational and strategic tasks.” Sinclair made $99,800 in 2012, according to an online database of state salaries kept by the Sacramento Bee. According to her SDSU profile, “One of Stacey’s primary interests is international travel. She has traveled extensively throughout the world.” No salary for the new position is listed. Sinclair did not respond to a message left on her office voicemail.