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Latin Honors in effect

The Mills College faculty voted on March 26 in favor of implementing Latin Honors, a status system which recognizes academic achievements by honoring graduating students in the top 15 percent of their graduating class.

According to Maja Sidzinska, ASMC’s Academic Affairs Chair, two drafts of the Academic Affairs Committee’s Latin Honors proposal were submitted to the Faculty Executive Committee. After some adjustments to the final version of the proposal, the Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, Professor Barbara Li Santi, brought the proposal up for a full faculty vote.

Starting this spring, qualifying graduating students will be awarded one of the following honors: Summa Cum Laude (top 1 percent), Magna Cum Laude (top 5 percent, behind Summa Cum Laude) or Cum Laude (remainder of students in the top 15 percent).

The honors status will not be announced at Commencement, but will be printed on the awarded students’ diplomas.

According to Sadzinska, Latin Honors will be based on overall GPA and will not displace departmental honors, which are based on a student’s GPA within her major.

“The push to get Latin Honors implemented at Mills arose from a conversation I had with a fellow student who expressed dismay that a competitive school such as Mills College did not award Latin Honors,” Sidzinska said in an April 23 e-mail.

“In addition, the results of the Academics at Mills College Survey, which was publicized through the student-news list serve in the fall semester of 2011, showed that many students desired more acknowledgement for their academic achievements and more visibility for their academic work.”

After researching Latin Honors at other institutions, Sidzinska performed a statistical analysis of grade point averages of Mills’s graduating classes of 2009, 2010 and 2011 to determine the appropriate criteria for awarding Latin Honors at Mills.

While the criteria for determining which students receive Latin Honors varies among universities, at Mills a student must fall within the top 15 percent of her graduating class based on cumulative GPA from all classes taken at Mills.

“A special thank you is due to Jaia Orient, an Economics and International Relations double major, who helped perform the statistical analysis of Mills alumnae’s grades to help determine appropriate thresholds for Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude honors,” Sidzinska said, “as well as to Professor and Faculty Executive Committee Chair, Barbara Li Santi, for facilitating the faculty discussion and vote on the proposal.”

Sandra Greer, Provost and Dean of the Faculty, is excited to see Latin Honors being implemented at the College.

“Forever after,” Greer said, “a Mills graduate can put ‘summa cum laude’ or ‘magna cum laude’ or ‘cum laude’ on her resume, where it will indicate to the world the high quality of her academic work at Mills.”