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SLU to Host AJCU Honors Conference in 2022

The 2022 AJCU Honors Conference will be hosted on campus in the popular event's return to an in-person format after a two-year break due to COVID-19. The conference brings together faculty, staff, and students from across the AJCU honors network.

One of the highlights of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) conference year is set to return in 2022. The AJCU Honors Conference, which is hosted annually on the campus of a member institution, has been cancelled the last two years due to COVID-19 concerns (Loyola Marymount University in 2020 and Regis University in 2021). The return to an in-person conference will take place at Saint Louis University in April 2022.

“The AJCU Honors Conference is a highlight in the academic year for the network of honors directors at Jesuit colleges and universities,” said Robert Pampel, Ph.D., director of the SLU Honors Program and the Chair of the AJCU Honors Conference. He added, “We’ve been waiting three years to host the conference and are excited to showcase SLU as we all return to in-person events and the strong community that defines the AJCU honors network.”

Last year, in lieu of the face-to-face conference, Pampel and his colleagues at fellow AJCU institutions hosted a series of virtual “AJCU Honors Conversations” via Zoom on hot topics in honors education (“The Purpose [and Future] of Honors Education,” “Racial Justice in Honors,” and “Mental Health and Wellness in Honors”). “The virtual events last year provided a nice reminder of the ties that bind honors students and faculty across the AJCU network,” Pampel said, “but we’re eager to return to our face-to-face conference next April.”

The annual conference is designed to promote discussion and share best practices surrounding honors education at Jesuit institutions. It is unique among the other AJCU-sponsored events in that students are integral participants in the planning and execution of the event. The last time SLU participated in the conference, honors student Megan Doehner (‘22) reflected on the power of the experience:

“Before AJCU, I had just seen my membership in the honors program as just another box to check or title to put on my resume—I hadn't fully digested that I have an identity as an honors student, and also a responsibility to uphold and embrace my place in the honors program, taking advantage of the many opportunities with which it presents me. The Honors Program is not just about taking harder classes or writing longer papers, it is about completely embracing the Jesuit mission and truly digging deeper into our education—asking about not only what we are learning, but how we can take the blessing of our education and use it to serve the world around us.”

Inspired by the AJCU's commitment to racial justice, this year's conference is titled “Racial Justice and the Common Good in Honors Education” and will invite honors directors, students, faculty and staff to think collectively about the challenges, opportunities and imperatives related to bringing racial justice to the forefront of our practice. With guest speakers, faculty and student breakout sessions, and a racial justice examen, this year’s conference promises to be a thought-provoking event that positions honors educators as leaders in the movement towards equity and inclusion.

The Honors Program at Saint Louis University, established in 1938, engages intellectually curious and academically successful students in a community oriented towards the Jesuit ideals of holistic learning, academic rigor, and community engagement. Through a combination of individually tailored curricula, experiential learning opportunities, and developmental guidance and mentorship, the Honors Program prepares students to become citizens who engage in the process of inquiry and apply their knowledge in service to society.