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From the College of Natural Sciences
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CNS Honors Today

CNS Honors Today

Dear CNS Honors alumni:

When the Dean's Scholars program was created in 1983, the 5,900 undergraduates in the College of Natural Sciences accounted for 16% of the 37,000 at the University of Texas. Today, the college's 10,700 undergraduates make up 26% of the university's 40,800.

The growth in the number of students with STEM majors is only one reason why CNS now has three college Honors programs. Science majors have diverse goals, and the college has tried to honor that diversity. Students admitted to Dean's Scholars today are focused on careers in science research. In 2010, the Health Science Scholars program was created for students committed to service and to careers in medicine. And in 2013, the Polymathic Scholars program was created for science majors invested in interdisciplinary research within and beyond the sciences.

Another reason we've established three programs instead of simply increasing the number of Dean's Scholars is to foster community. Like the Dean's Scholars program, HSS and Polymathic are small, admitting no more than 50 students per year. And, like their peers in Dean's Scholars, the students are extraordinary.

This year, 3,400 high school students representing 42 states and 18 countries applied to CNS Honors. That's roughly twice as many applications as the university's oldest honors program, Plan II, received.

To manage admissions, advising, and program-specific instruction, the college created the Center for CNS Honors & Scholarships in 2013. Our goals for each of these programs remain what they have always been for Dean's Scholars: To bring together conspicuously talented students of science, to connect them to the university's world-class faculty and resources, and, perhaps most significantly, to connect them to each other. Time and again, graduates have told me that what they've most appreciated in CNS Honors is the community of peers. They help each other thrive.

And when they leave the 40 Acres, they continue to thrive. This year, we will begin featuring their accomplishments – your accomplishments – on our new alumni news page. On that front, I am delighted to announce that Dean Paul Goldbart has invited Dr. Toyin Falola, Dean's Scholars graduate from 2007, to serve on the College's Advisory Council. Dr. Falola was the keynote speaker at this year's Aspire Awards Banquet.

All students admitted to CNS Honors have many options for college. Despite the university's deserved reputation for value, we continue to lose many, particularly the underrepresented and those from lower-SES families, to private universities that use higher tuitions to underwrite scholarships for their top applicants. Our long-range goal is to compete financially with these schools as well as we do academically. The state's best science students belong at the state's flagship university.

I hope you will take a few minutes to read what's happening in Dean's Scholars, HSS and Polymathic, and to complete our survey. And I particularly hope that you are able to attend the CNS Honors Thesis Symposium and alumni reception on Friday, May 3. We want to strengthen the ties between alumni and our current students. In the meantime, please feel free to write or call me if you have any comments, requests or suggestions.

Madison Searle
Director, CNS Honors & Scholarships

Dean's Scholars Alumni Letter
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Friday, 23 April 2021

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