New numbers show honors program racial diversity up to almost 40 percent

John Buckley Hall is one of the honors dorms on campus. This year's freshman honors class has a total racial diversity of almost 40 percent. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

The newest freshman honors class is 10 percent more diverse than the year before, bringing the total racial diversity up to almost 40 percent.

Since the fall of 2013, honors student diversity increased more than 15 percent – from 23.38 percent to 39.20 percent.

517 honors freshman joined the university this fall, according to statistics provided by Stephanie Reitz, university spokesperson.

Jennifer Lease Butts, the Assistant Vice Provost for Enrichment Programs and the Director of the Honors Program, said that diversity has been a very important issue for her and the program in general.

“This is something I’ve been connected to for years,” Lease Butts said. “Our program is not responsible for incoming honors freshman, that responsibility lies with the admissions office. However, we have worked with them to improve diversity rates with holistic review criteria, and that’s reflected in this new data.”

Beyond diversity, a large portion of the incoming freshman hail from Connecticut. About 70 percent of the freshman are Connecticut residents, compared to 64 percent of the overall program.

Hartford, Glastonbury, Mansfield, New Haven and Farmington sent significant numbers of students to the UConn Honors Program.

Since 2011, the honors program has increased by about 25 percent, said Lease Butts.

Adam Kuegler, a seventh-semester political science student, has been in the honors program since his freshman year. Kuegler is also a student board of trustees member and is an active member of the honors program, with a particular interest in the Special Program in Law.

“I’ve definitely seen the honors program expand since I got here,” Kuegler said. “When I got here the Special Program in Law was a relatively new program. They are making efforts to make the honors program more student-centered.”

Kuegler was also a multicultural diversity senator when he was a sophomore.

“I’ve always valued diversity as a big part of my education here at UConn. Interacting with different people has impacted my growth here,” Kuegler said. “Diversity is a part of how we learn and how we grow – it’s beneficial to everyone. I value all kinds of diversity, whether it’s how people look or where they are from.”

Lease Butts said that the new data reflects overall goals of a comprehensive education for students.

“Our students come from all campuses, schools and majors. It’s important that our program reflects diversity in every sense of the word.”

Matthew McKenna, a first-semester biomedical engineering student, said he joined the honors program because it gives a more personal learning experience.

“Honors classes are smaller than general classes, and I’ve always found that I learn better in small classes more than large classes,” McKenna said. “So far, the honors program has impressed me. There are a lot of honors specific resources that I didn’t know about before coming here, and these resources provide a great support system for honors students.”

The average SAT scores for the last two years remained about the same, averaging about 170 points above the average UConn freshman.

Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at