Honors Department


PLEASE NOTE: Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page.

If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

 The Western Presidential Honors Scholarship

The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation, are elite scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community.  Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program. 

Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.  In addition, all continuing Honors students may apply for Presidential Honors Scholarships.  The following information provides due dates, criteria, and how to prepare your application. 

Incoming Applicants:

Eligible candidates should have a high school, transfer, or Western Colorado University grade point average of, at minimum, 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.   Candidates must also demonstrate leadership qualities or experience and a commitment to intellectual inquiry and academic challenge.

Incoming candidates should submit the following:

  • A cover letter explaining why you want to be a part of Western's Honors Program and what you think the value is in being a part of the Honors Program;
  • Two sealed letters of recommendation from teachers, guidance counselors, professors or academic advisors which address the student’s accomplishments and suitability for a college Honors Program;
  • A copy of your most recent educational transcript;
  • A resume of your qualifications, accomplishments, service, extra-curricular activities;
  • Any other documentation that would be helpful in evaluating you as a candidate for this Scholarship.

Applications are DUE POSTMARKED BY DECEMBER 7th of the year of application and should be submitted to:

Western Colorado University Honors Program
Dr. Kelsey L. Bennett, Honors Director
The Presidential Honors Scholarship Program
Taylor Hall 110A
Western Colorado University
Gunnison CO 81231

Continuing Applicants (current Western Honors students):

Note that continuing Honors students do not need to have been awarded a previous Presidential Honors Scholarship to apply. 

Continuing candidates should compile and submit the following in one packet, hard copy:

  • A copy of the student's most current Western transcript (minimum 3.5 GPA required);
  • A letter addressed to the Western Colorado University Foundation Scholarship Program Committee containing the following:

a) the student's plan for completing the Honors Program;
b) evidence of Honors leadership abilities through planning and participating in Honors extracurricular activities;

  • One sealed letter of recommendation from a professor or academic advisor which addresses the student's accomplishments and suitability for a Presidential Honors Scholarship.​

Applications for continuing Honors students are DUE BY MARCH 12 of the year of application and should be submitted in hard copy to the Honors Program Director, Taylor Hall 110A. It is the applicant's responsibility to verify that the hard-copy application has been received. 

The Western Colorado University Foundation Scholarship Program Committee will make selections within a few weeks of the closing deadline. Notification of award recipients will follow shortly thereafter.

Western's Honors Program welcomes students seeking academic excellence with special housing, priority registration and special programs.

While Honors students receive encouragement to form their own tribe of special learners, they are very much a part of all the communities that make up Western.

The Western Colorado University Honors Program provides enhanced and challenging academic programming to a carefully selected group of highly motivated and accomplished students from all disciplines who have performed well academically in high school or at Western Colorado University.

Small class size, extensive interaction among peers and teachers, experiences outside the traditional classroom, and interdisciplinary approaches to education are all features of the program.

Honors Program Goals

"The Good"

While scholars may debate the "Form of the Good", the Honors Program at Western sees it as deeply connected to the  purpose and values of a Liberal Arts and Science education. We seek to create opportunities for our students to develop into virtuous, knowledgeable and articulate citizens for whom the pursuit of knowledge is integral to human development.

Citizenship and Community

We seek to create elite learners without elitism and a cohort of students who learn to develop the deep connection between higher education and citizenship within a supportive academic community.  Our community members are highly motivated students, faculty and staff who share an intellectual curiosity about the world around them.


Honors courses are designed to promote cross discipline exploration and discovery. You will find students and faculty of a multitude of majors and interests in Honors classes providing an extremely fertile and complex environment for discussion and analysis.

Risk Taking and Autonomy

While our program demands high academic achievement, it does not mean that our students play it safe academically. Honors at Western encourages students to take the initiative in the ownership of their educational experience.  Honors courses present students with opportunities to think for themselves free from internal or external constraints on intellectual inquiry. We encourage students to take the initiative in their own education and support them in developing the resiliency needed when stepping out of one's academic comfort zone.

Social Intelligence

It is not enough to be the "smartest one in the room" if you lack the intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence to communicate your ideas and listen to the ideas of others.  Our program and its educational opportunities encourages students to develop the capacity to negotiate and navigate complex social and intellectual environments so Honors students are not just "the smartest ones in the room' but the most effective communicators and collaborators in the room.

Program Benefits

Honors students have the opportunity to become a part of a scholarly community consisting of faculty and students committed to the pursuit of intellectual inquiry, creativity, and academic excellence. Benefits of membership in the Western Colorado University Honors Program also include automatic eligibility for Honors classes, use of the Honors Center and Computer Lab in Taylor Hall, participation in activities organized by the Honors Student Advisory Board, priority registration and special recognition at graduation. Have questions? Contact a student currently in the Honors Program.

Admission Requirements

  • Invitations to the Honors Program are extended to high school students who have achieved a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or who have successfully completed International Baccalaureate programs. First or second-year Western students who have a minimum overall 3.3 grade point average may also apply.  Upper-division students are considered on an individual basis.
  • The Honors Program test score requirements are 25 ACT or 1190 SAT.
  • Exceptions are occasionally made.  An overall grade point average higher than 3.5 may counterbalance a slightly lower test score.
  • Transfer students with 24 or fewer credits are invited to join Honors if they have achieved a minimum overall 3.3 college grade point average as well as fulfilled the high school GPA and test score requirements.  Transfer students with 24 or more credits and a minimum overall 3.3 college grade point average are considered on an individual basis.
  • Continuation in the program is based on maintaining an overall grade point average of 3.0.  Graduation from the program requires a grade point average of 3.3 and completion of program requirements.   Honors students who complete the 21 credit Honors curriculum with a minimum 3.3 overall grade point average are recognized at graduation.

Program Requirements

  • Honors students are expected to complete a minimum of 21 credit hours of Honors courses.  Continuation in the program is based on maintaining an overall grade point average of 3.0.  Graduation from the program requires an overall grade point average of 3.3.
  • The 21 credits of Honors courses are built into the 120 credit hours required to graduate from Western.
  • Students are also strongly recommended to take a minimum of one Honors course per academic year to remain in good standing.

National Organizations

Western Colorado University is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, the Western Regional Honors Council and the Rocky Mountain Honors Council.



Kelsey L. Bennett headshot
Honors Program Director
B.A., Saint John's College, Santa Fe, Ph.D., University of Denver
Phone: 970.943.7021
Office Location: Taylor Hall Honors Center 110A
Brian Bernhardt headshot
Assistant Professor of Politics and Government
B.A., James Madison University, M.A., University Colorado at Boulder , Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder
Phone: 970.943.3025
Office Location: Kelley 205
Al Caniff headshot
Professor of Art
B.F.A., M.A., M.F.A., Western Michigan University; , Ed.M., Nazareth College, , Ph.D., Canbourne University.
Phone: 970.943.3083
Office Location: Quigley Hall 234
Jody Coleman headshot
Lecturer in English
B.A. Idaho University, M.A. Western State College, Ph.D. University of Nebraska
Phone: 970.943.7013
Office Location: Taylor Hall 208B
David W. Marchetti headshot
Professor of Geology
B.A., State University of New York, College at Geneseo; M.S., Ph.D., University of Utah.
Phone: 970.943.2367
Office Location: Hurst Hall 224