During six years as dean and one year as interim dean, Bette L. Bottoms, Dean of the Honors College and Professor of Psychology, has led phenomenal growth and change in the Honors College, positioning it as a national leader in honors education and a campus model for student success. It is therefore with reluctance that I write to announce that she has decided to leave the dean position effective August 1 to continue her role as a faculty member.
Dean Bottoms has grown the college in size and in excellence. Under her leadership the Honors College staff has been strengthened considerably, and the budget has grown by 100%. Enrollment has increased nearly 30%, with freshman applications up by over 300%. Underrepresented minorities now make up 20% of the college and 30% of the freshman class, making the UIC Honors College one of the most diverse in the nation. Currently the Honors College student graduation rate is 88%, which is significantly higher than the campus average, and higher than the graduation rate of most of the universities in UIC’s aspirant comparison group. Each year, over half of honors freshmen say they would not have come to UIC if not for the Honors College.
Honors students now benefit from many academic enhancements instituted by Dean Bottoms. In recent years, the college strengthened its curriculum with new seminars, more diversified core course offerings, and a capstone thesis requirement for all seniors that has achieved a 90% to 95% completion rate. The college has engaged more faculty and graduate students in the undergraduate learning experience by growing the faculty fellows program to 350; by establishing an Honors Faculty Fellow grants program to increase the research opportunities available for students; by founding the Honors Postdoctoral Fellowship in Teaching and Mentoring to bring in new UIC Ph.D.s as faculty-in-residence; and by partnering with the Graduate College to create the Award for Graduate Student Mentoring of Undergraduates.
Dean Bottoms has also created valuable opportunities for students through her prolific fundraising. In the process of increasing scholarship fundraising, she secured the college’s largest-ever gift of $1 million in scholarships from the CME group; established the Wood Family Scholarship that provides a full four-year scholarship to a new student every two years; and created the $21,000 Sage Scholarships.
Dean Bottoms is nationally recognized as a leader in Honors Education, having been a founding member of the national organization Honors Education at Research Universities and founding co-editor of its new journal.
From 2009 to 2014, Dean Bottoms also served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs, responsible for coordinating the undergraduate experience across colleges and leading a number of units in the Provost’s Office supporting undergraduate success. Dean Bottoms chaired, with the Dean of Students, the massive effort to draft the UIC Student Success Plan, involving more than 200 faculty, staff and students. Many policies and initiatives proposed in that plan are now in operation, with many more under implementation. UIC achieved stature locally and nationally as a site of innovation and excellence with Dean Bottoms serving as the founding Executive Director of the Chicago Collaborative for Undergraduate Success and a leader in the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities Student Performance Strand. Among the many other initiatives that Dean Bottoms oversaw as vice provost were improvements in academic advising, greater involvement of undergraduates in faculty research, convening the departmental directors of undergraduate studies as a group for the first time in UIC history, opening the Undergraduate Success Center to provide supplemental resources to students, and coordinating units participating in Summer College transition programs for incoming freshmen.
During her nearly seven years of administrative service, Dean Bottoms published 32 journal articles and chapters, an edited book and 40 conference presentations, never pausing her research on child abuse, jury decision-making, and children’s eyewitness testimony. She has been PI of grants totaling nearly $700,000 on research on jury decision-making and student success, and she has advised four doctoral students and countless undergraduate research assistants. Her teaching and mentorship was recognized with the National Society of Collegiate Scholars Inspire Integrity Award and the UIC Graduate College Graduate Student Mentoring Award, adding to nine other teaching awards she has won since joining the faculty in 1992.
Dean Bottoms has been a visionary leader and a remarkable advocate for the Honors College and for all students. I am pleased that she will continue her career at UIC as an esteemed member of our faculty. An interim dean will be named later this summer. In the meanwhile, I hope you will join me in thanking Dean Bottoms for all that she has done and wishing her continued success as Professor of Psychology.
Eric A. Gislason
Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost