Torrey Honors Institute now Torrey Honors College

The new name hopes to better reflect a growing program in academic and professional circles.

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Courtesy of Biola University

Ashley Grams and Lacey Patrick

After 25 years of serving students at Biola, the Torrey Honors Institute has transitioned into Torrey Honors College. The terminology change was announced via email on Sept. 30, though Torrey students were informed last week.

A GROWING PROGRAM

This is the first college formed within Biola and will still be housed under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Beginning with only 36 students in 1996, the now-college makes up 10% of the undergrad population. In addition, 1,500 alumni bear the name of Torrey Honors on their resume, according to Associate Director of Torrey Honors College Fred Sanders.

“It immediately doubled in size and just kept going from there, so we’ve had waves of growth and expansion over the years,” Sanders said. “We are now at something like 400 students enrolled, and those students are getting 52 units each from us as all of their humanity based general education and their Bible units.”

WHY THE CHANGE?

For several years, Director of Torrey Honors College Paul Spears felt Torrey was classified under the wrong name. Sanders and faculty members echoed similar beliefs, as they feel Torrey accomplishes more than just additional research through their program. Associate professor of Torrey Honors College Jane Kim agreed with the change and added that such will allow Torrey to be better represented as a program.

“‘Institute’ can tend to evoke an idea of a research center or think tank, but we’re really a learning community that values undergraduates reading and discussing great books together alongside faculty mentors, so ‘college’ may better reflect who we are and what we do, as well as allow us more scope for potential future growth,” Kim said via email.

Spears elaborated on the fact that many prospective students rely on online investigation to find colleges and universities. Students who are researching honors colleges have struggled to locate Torrey as a program relevant to their needs because of its title. However, with the use of “honors college,” Spears and Sanders hope Torrey will be more accessible via search engines. 

“We don’t believe that very single human should go to Torrey, but we want every single human that would be interested in it to hear about it,” Spears said. “So the optimization of a search engine is just a big deal for us.” 

Additionally, in the statement made Sept. 30 via email, university President Barry Corey confirmed that the term “honors college” is “more common in American higher education” and “better represents the degree of Torrey’s academic rigor and student preparation.”

STICKING TO THE MISSION

Torrey continues to grow in numbers, and though the program has become a college, directors and professors alike hope to continue sticking by their mission statement which says, “to [form] leaders through the study of the master works of Western civilization, with a special emphasis on the Bible and Christian authors.” 

Sanders wants Torrey to be seen for what it truly is. He explained that behind the mission statement, there is a clear picture of what Torrey classes and groups look like.

“A set of academic friends from a diversity of backgrounds, guided by a team of professors, and all focused on a great book,” Sanders said. “Everything flows from that: our hundreds of Torrey Honors alum are an extension of that as they influence their workplaces.”

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