08:47 AM

Mari Nicholson-Preuss to Lead New UHD Honors Program

mari nicholson preussThe University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) this week named Mari Nicholson-Preuss, Ph.D., director of its new undergraduate Honors Program, set to launch in the fall 2014 semester.

As director of the UHD Honors Program, she will convene and lead an Honors Council, composed of faculty members from across all disciplines at the University, and work closely with Chris Birchak, Ph.D., dean of University College - home of the Honors Program - to actively recruit incoming honors students and strengthen UHD's affiliation with the National Collegiate Honors Council and Great Plains Honors Council.

In September 2012, UHD charged Nicholson-Preuss with guiding the development of the Honors Program, and she chaired the committee that established its standards for admissions and drafted the program proposal approved by the University Curriculum Committee. She became interim director of the Honors Program in January 2013, and has since worked to create more opportunities for UHD's existing cohorts of "honors eligible" students. She successfully petitioned for chapters of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and Golden Key International Honor Society at UHD and serves as advisors for both organizations.

"Truly successful students benefit fully from their university experience by seizing every opportunity they are given to grow as scholars, citizens and critical thinkers," said Nicholson-Preuss. "Experience has taught me that sometimes even the most gifted student does not recognize the opportunities that are available. As the director of the University Honors Program, I see my role as helping connect high-ability students with the opportunities that will enable them to make the most of their undergraduate education. I am committed to the students at UHD and passionate about helping them make the most out of every major opportunity."

The mission of the UHD Honors Program is to provide academically gifted undergraduates with an enriched student-centered educational experience. Participants will benefit from faculty-mentor relationships, undergraduate research, study abroad and service experiences, small classes and an innovative curriculum. Honors students will be encouraged to engage in special projects that involve working one-on-one with faculty members in their majors and receive honors credit for completing prearranged honors coursework within the context of regular academic courses.

In addition to the specialized attention honors students will receive, Birchak notes that, "Honors-designated courses will challenge students intellectually, engage them in a community of learners and foster creative leadership."

Nicholson-Preuss first joined UHD as an adjunct professor of history in 2005, a position she held for six years, before becoming a history learning strategies instructor in 2011. In this role, she worked with full-time and adjunct faculty members at the University to infuse AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) learning strategies into history courses to improve both student performance and the quality of instruction in traditional barrier courses.

Prior to joining UHD, Nicholson-Preuss was a social studies teacher at Houston's High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, where she served as faculty advisor for the school's National Honor Society and taught advanced placement courses in geography and history for seven years.

Nicholson-Preuss received a doctoral degree in the history of medicine from the University of Houston, and a master's degree in the history of medicine and bachelor's degree in history and English from Texas Tech University.