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South Carolina Honors College

Dean's Letter: Fall 2020

Stones, spoons and another thing

Stacking stones and carving wooden spoons and spatulas, these are weekend pleasures I’ve recently discovered. Both involve just enough problems and problem solving to make success particularly satisfying. The stones fall down until you find just the right combination. An unexpected flaw or wormhole in the wood forces an adaptation. 

Although one might draw some possibly interesting analogies between being a college dean and carving spoons or stacking stones, at least one profound difference stands out — with spoons and stones, it’s easy to see what you’ve accomplished. There is something tangible to show for your efforts that you can see and touch. My work often seems a lot like throwing messages in bottles into the ocean or launching spacecraft on long-range missions or submitting poetry to the New Yorker. Was that presentation actually persuasive?  Was that advice given to a student really useful, or even clear? Was opening that new course really a good idea? Did I really need to promise to wax that other dean’s car every weekend in order to get those additional classes? 

Still, after a decade in this job, I can say without reservation, I like it even better than stones or spoons. It is a wonderful job. And every so often there is a tangible recognition we can point to  that confirms we’re doing something special here, that the most ambitious vision of our Honors College — supported so faithfully by donors, parents, administrators, faculty, staff and, most especially,  students — is actually being fulfilled. 

I’m speaking, as you may well have already heard, about the most recent rankings of honors colleges by Inside Honors 2020-2021, edited by John Willingham — the only evidence-based ranking of honors colleges. We were once again given the top ranking, a position we have had since 2012. Capstone was turned garnet to celebrate this “championship,” and even amongst the pandemic and turmoil, which rages on as I’m writing, our spirits were lifted and our determination to become even better was strengthened. 

This top ranking belongs to everyone who has supported us in any way. And, if you’ve read this far, it’s likely you’re a hardcore supporter of the Honors College, and for that I thank you. 

I hope you enjoy reading in this issue about a few of our amazing students and alumni.

Steven Lynn
Dean, South Carolina Honors College
Louise Fry Scudder Professor

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.