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Latin Honors

Faculty Senate Subcommittee on Latin Honors

The approved plan for granting academic honors is as follows:

Latin Honors will be awarded on the basis of the following grade point averages:

  • Cum Laude: 3.600-3.799
  • Magna Cum Laude: 3.800-3.899
  • Summa Cum Laude: 3.900-4.000 plus successful completion of the Summa Oral Exam (see criteria below)

  • For all levels of Honors, the number of P/N credits allowed will be restricted to 8 credits where the student elects to take the Pass/No Credit grading option (i.e. a course is not counted toward this maximum when it is only offered as P/N by the department).
  • Departments should, in the context of this change, examine their grade distributions and discuss the fit between their grading practices and the standards of the University; such considerations should be part of the annual department assessment.
  • Transfer students who qualify for Latin Honors must have 56 traditionally graded credits at Augsburg.

Guidelines for the Summa Oral Examination

Students who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.900 or higher are eligible to take an oral examination in order to graduate Summa Cum Laude (With Highest Honors). Students must have completed 56 traditionally graded credits at Augsburg with no more than 8 elective P/N credits. Upon successful completion of the oral examination, the student will earn the designation Summa Cum Laude. Students who choose not to take the examination, or who do not pass the examination, will be granted the designation Magna Cum Laude.

Please note that these guidelines allow for a re-examination should the first examination not be judged “approved” by a unanimous vote of the committee.

The purpose of this experience is to provide the graduating student with the opportunity, both orally and in writing, to demonstrate his or her ability to think in a sophisticated way about a question that should reflect his or her education both in the major and in general education. This signature aspect of the Summa distinction is consistent with our mission and Vision 2004 and should build upon the reflection and work completed in the keystone course. We see this process as one that helps ensure that our Summa graduates represent our academically strongest students across all programs.

Arranging the Examination

Every student eligible for Summa Cum Laude honors who has filled out an application for graduation will be informed by the Office of the Academic Affairs, near the beginning of the student’s final term, that he or she is a possible candidate for graduation as Summa Cum Laude.

The student has the responsibility to arrange a Summa examination, in consultation with the chair of the major department and faculty advisor, and to notify the Dean of the schedule according to the timeline specified in the letter of invitation. The deadline for completing the examination will be given in a letter accompanying these guidelines.

The chair or advisor, in consultation with the student, shall then appoint an oral examination committee of at least three faculty members, one of whom shall be from the student’s major department. The examiners shall represent at least three departments and at least two academic divisions of the undergraduate program.

The Dean or his/her designate will also be invited. Sensitivity to scheduling for AU and Rochester students is expected and some examinations may be held in the evening.

Departmental Honors is a separate program of distinction in the major and is not part of the Summa examination. A student may of course also choose to do Departmental Honors.

The faculty member from the student’s major department shall act as chair of the examination committee.

A student with multiple majors shall designate one of the majors as the major department for purposes of this examination. Accommodations for students in the CLASS program will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Conducting the Examination

The Summa Oral Examination shall last at least one hour but not more than two hours.

Each year the Academic Dean, in consultation with others, shall determine 2 or 3 questions related to our mission and Vision 2004 from which the student will select one. The student, in consultation with the chair of the committee, should take the initiative in determining which question to select, and conveying that information to the other examiners.

The student should then prepare a five-page paper on the chosen question, integrating the student’s major field with the liberal arts and with the areas represented by the examiners. This will be sent by the student to the examiners at least one week prior to the examination date. This essay will become the focus of the examination. The oral examination should center on the question selected so that continuity can be maintained throughout the discussion.

Each of the examiners shall take the lead in formulating the questions about the essay or presentation and in guiding the discussion. However, all of the examiners should feel free to enter the conversation at any time.

The examiners’ questions should emphasize the basic or fundamental ideas of a discipline together with their more important implications and their relationships with concepts in other disciplines; they should not be concerned primarily with the material of some particular course. Questions which would lead the student to make use of the methodology and insights of various disciplines would be especially appropriate. The student should not, as a rule, be penalized for failing to recall specific items of information.

When the examination has been concluded, and the student has left the room, the examiners shall discuss the student’s performance, keeping in mind the criteria listed below. After this discussion, each of the examiners shall indicate, on the appropriate form, the examiner’s own evaluation of the total examination. Each examiner will evaluate the student’s performance as “approved” or “not approved.”

If the committee does not unanimously judge the student’s performance to be at the level of quality expected, the chair of the committee will meet with the student to ascertain whether the student wishes a re-examination, to discuss the problems with the student’s performance in the first examination, and to offer suggestions for an improved performance on the re-examination. If a re-examination is held, the same format chosen by the student would be used, and the membership of the committee would remain the same. If the committee does not unanimously judge the student’s performance to be satisfactory after the re-examination, or if the student elects not to be examined a second time, each member of the examination committee shall submit a separate written evaluation of the student’s performance on the examination for the student’s file.

The chair of the committee will inform the student of the committee’s decision within 24 hours.

Criteria for Judging the Student’s Performance in the Oral Examination

  • The student expresses thoughts clearly.
  • The student demonstrates facility with abstract ideas.
  • The student is able to follow the course of an argument intelligently and to develop a position plausibly and coherently.
  • The student is able to defend a point of view under questioning; the student is also sufficiently flexible to accommodate valid points made by others.
  • The student is able to utilize some of the principal concepts or theories of his or her major discipline in responding to questions.
  • The student extemporaneously brings to bear ideas or themes from the liberal arts to the questions posed in the examination.
  • The student is able to engage in an exchange of ideas with members of the committee rather than simply responding to questions.
  • The student is reflective and thoughtful in responding to questions.
  • The student uses acceptable grammar and syntax both orally and in writing.