Kent State raises GPA requirements for latin honors


GPA graphic

Karl Schneider

Kent State raised the minimum grade point average requirements for students who graduate with latin honors. The changes were approved four years ago, but this is the first semester the changes take effect.

According to Provost Todd Diacon, in past years students graduating with honors had to maintain a 3.3 GPA to graduate cum laude, 3.7 for magna cum laude and 3.8 for summa cum laude. During the past five years under these requirements, roughly 36 percent of each graduating class was graduating with honors.

Diacon estimates about 28 or 29 percent of the graduating class under the new GPA requirements will graduate with honors.

“Once we reach over 30 percent, we’re probably stretching the meaning of the term honors,” Diacon said.

The new requirement came through the efforts of the faculty senate, especially now-president Linda Williams.

Williams was a member of the faculty senate in 2012 and sat on the stage during the commencement ceremonies. She noticed a sea of people standing up when honors students were called upon. 

“To faculty, graduating with honors should mean something,” Williams said. “When the vast majority stands up, it kind of dilutes the honor notion of honors. 

Both Diacon and Williams thought Kent State’s 3.3 cum laude floor was low compared to other, comparable universities.

“I went and looked at about 12 universities,” Williams said. “Some in Michigan, the University of California system and I even looked at places like Harvard and Yale. The 3.5 (requirement) for cum laude was pretty regular.”

Some students graduating this semester, like senior engineering technology major Stephanie Watters, were still under the impression that the lower requirements applied to them.

Watters was unaware of the changes before meeting with her academic advisor for the required advising meetings. Once she was aware that she would no longer be making magna cum laude, she began sending emails to the university administration.

In an email to Melody Tankersly, interim dean for graduate studies, Watters voiced her concern, writing, “I had not seen anything about (the new requirements) all four years that I went to Kent. It would’ve been beneficial to the students if this would’ve been made easily noticeable on the Kent (State) website instead of in the fine print.”

Both Diacon and Williams stressed that the new GPA requirements have been in the academic catalog since the 2012 fall semester. This semester marks a full four years since the requirements were agreed upon by the faculty senate. Diacon stressed that the academic catalog each student is admitted into the university under is a contract between that student and Kent State.

“There’s a chunk of folks who would have gotten (honors) and now they’re not. But any semester we chose, there would have been students missing out,” Williams said. “No matter what, if we had done this in December, there would be a bunch of students griping about their friends graduating the past May.”

Diacon cited two reasons that drove the senate to make the changes to the honor requirements.

“Our 3.3 was lower than most Ohio universities,” Diacon said. “Most MAC Conferences start at 3.5 and we were out of step with other universities. Secondly, honors should indicate something that not everyone has achieved.” 

Latin honors are calculated using unadjusted GPA as opposed to a graduate’s final transcript, which has adjusted GPA, said Diacon. Unadjusted GPA is the result of every course a student has taken during his or her duration at Kent State. Even the Freshman Forgiveness policy states that all courses taken, even those repeated for a higher grade, will be calculated into institutional honors.

Karl Schneider is the administrative reporter for the Kent Stater. For more information contact him at[email protected]