The requirements for graduation with distinction, also known as Latin honors, will change beginning with the class of 2012. Previously, the university had planned to implement the changes for May 2011 commencement.
The new requirements will be based on class rank in each academic division, according to Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs John Skillings. Class rank in the College of Arts and Sciences will be further divided by Humanities, Social Science and Natural science. Miami University has decided to change the requirements to make the Latin honors system fairer to all students, Skillings said.
“There is different grading criteria in different academic divisions so it would be fairer for students to be ranked by class rank instead of grades,” Skillings said.
Currently, students receiving a bachelor’s degree must have a 3.5 GPA to graduate cum laude, a 3.75 GPA to graduate magna cum laude and a 3.9 GPA to graduate summa cum laude. With the new requirements, the Latin honors will be based on percentages, according to Skillings. Students with a GPA in the top 2 percent of their academic division will graduate summa cum laude. The next 5 percent of students will graduate magna cum laude and the next 10 percent will graduate cum laude, according to Skillings.
University Senate decided to change the requirements for graduation with distinction in 2007, but decided to wait and implement the new changes for the class of 2012, according to Skillings.
“There was a recommendation that we renew the Latin honors for May graduation, but the requirement wasn’t in the Student Handbook for the class of 2011,” Skillings said. “In fairness to the students we decided to delay for a year.”
Summer 2011 the office of the registrar will calculate the average GPA in each division and post the results on their website so students can see about what GPA they need to aim for in order to graduate with distinction, Skillings said.
The change in requirements will affect the regional Miami campuses as well, according to Skillings.
Caleb Picou, electrical engineering and engineering management major, said he is glad the new requirement will be in place by the time he graduates.
“Engineering majors usually have some of the lower GPAs because of the rigor of the curriculum,” Picou said. “This is a good scale to go by because the top people in the field will still get the highest honors.”
The new requirements may also motivate students in rigorous majors, according to Picou.
“Grades mean a lot to people and knowing that they can have a GPA lower than a 4.0 and still receive honors might motivate students with average GPAs,” Picou said.
Junior Blair Donahue said she thought the new requirements will make graduation with distinction fairer.
“I think one of the best things they did in deciding this was separating by schools because it’s definitely harder to get a high GPA in some schools,” Donahue said.
The work the office of the registrar will do to calculate average GPA’s in each division will be helpful to students, according to Donahue.
“With the requirement not based in GPA anymore it may be harder for students to gauge where they are going into graduation,” Donahue said.