Associate professor of English Dr. Amy Qualls has been chosen to serve a two year appointment as faculty fellow in the Honors College. Qualls has been a part of Harding’s faculty for 11 years, with several of those spent also teaching Honors Symposium over the summer.
“When the job description came out, one thing specifically caught my eye more than anything else, and it was this notion that the person who occupied that fellow position would mentor students — mentor them through their research, in their academic pursuits,” Qualls said. “That is something that I have long done, you know, informally for students across different disciplines.”
Qualls said she found the position a way to formalize what she was already doing, and she came into the application process with a lot of ideas about how to grow and improve the honors program.
The Honors College is committed to providing students with the right mentors and connecting them with scholars who could model for them what a strong, scholarly life looks like, Honors College assistant dean Dr. Jim Miller said. He said the faculty fellow is there to serve as a mentor to students in scholarly achievement, advise honors students with fellowship applications and help the Honors College continue to develop diversity.
“I think it’s important to diversify an honors college,” Qualls said. “I came into that application with a lot of ideas about what an honors college demographic might look like and how we could sharpen some of the processes that we have to serve students better.”
Diversity in this context, Honors College dean Dr. Kevin Kehl said, means they want to bring on students from a diverse academic selection. Part of that is accomplished by expanding the majors represented within the Honors College, and part of it is having faculty that can help serve the needs of the student body.
“We know that more than 50% of the student body is female,” Kehl said. “We want to serve the needs of a very large portion of the student body.”
Miller said Qualls was a proven scholar on campus, and she believed in the work the Honors College is doing as it related to the contributions students can make to the academic community, the scholarly community and the community of students.
“She’s committed to helping develop students in these ways, develop them in their leadership and in their service to others,” Miller said. “We are committed and excited about continuing to build on the legacy of the Honors College. We think adding these positions, specifically Dr. Qualls, [to] the scene is really gonna help us as we move forward into a really exciting future for honors.”
Qualls said that part of her hope was to get students who are already a part of the Honors College, whether they be new or about to graduate, to share what they would like to see happen or change so students who want to explore their disciplines can get more specialized attention.
“We have so many students that are officially admitted into the Honors College, but I think that they don’t really take advantage [of] what the Honors College could do and offer for them,” Qualls said. “I would hope that students begin to share their ideas with us.”