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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
Honorable Intentions
The Cardinal of Westwood
The Littlest Bruin
Sensing the Future
Dershowitz, For the Defense
Bruin Walk

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Winter 2003
Honorable Intentions
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Robert Goldberg
"I get very bright kids. I get the chance to try out new courses, new teaching
methods, new intellectual directions. It's a wonderful laboratory with outstanding, bright students."
— Professor Robert B. Goldberg

The seeds of Honors Programs were sown in the late '70s when Eugen Weber, then dean of the College of Letters & Science (now known as the UCLA College), and his colleagues developed a lower-division program for gifted first-year and sophomore students that offered interdisciplinary classes with specific honors coursework. By the '80s, there were about 250 students enrolled in the program, says G. Jennifer Wilson, assistant vice provost for Honors.

Students then, as they are now, were high achievers who usually planned on earning advanced degrees, Wilson says. They were keenly aware of how tough the competition was, and they knew that honors would give them an edge when applying for graduate programs.

The same is true of Honors Programs students today. "They want the best out of their education," Wilson says. "They want to have as rich an experience as possible."

The highly competitive program is designed "to nurture the whole student academically, socially, emotionally and intellectually," according to Honors literature. To qualify, entering freshmen need at least a 1380 SAT or 31 ACT with a 3.9 weighted GPA, or they must be in the top 3 percent of their graduating class. Transfer students need a 3.5 GPA, and continuing UCLA students must have a 3.5 GPA on 12 graded UCLA units, plus the ability to complete the program in an appropriate amount of time.

Students in the program come from diverse ethnic, socioeconomic and academic backgrounds, and that creates "a very exciting intellectual environment," says Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Robert B. Goldberg, who teaches an Honors course on genetic engineering in medicine, agriculture and law. "I get very bright kids. I get the chance to try out new courses, new teaching methods, new intellectual directions. It's a wonderful laboratory with outstanding, bright students. It's very novel from an educational point of view."

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