Honors Program Highs
Sixteen years look good on the Bentley Honors Program. Most recently, honors students gained a full floor of dedicated living space on campus, while the program’s newsletter earned a first-place ranking among similar publications nationwide.
Invitations to the Honors Program go out to the top 8 to 10 percent of each year’s freshman class. Participants complete at least eight honors-level courses as well as a substantial capstone project, guided by a faculty adviser. Students are drawn to the program for many reasons, including small classes taught in a seminar format, access to research funding and fellowships, and avenues for career networking and internships.
Support by United Technologies Corp. has been a key factor in the program’s growth. Awarded in 2013, the UTC grant of $250,000 funds student research and two signature gatherings: the welcome dinner held each fall and the annual spring conference where students present their capstone projects. Those events build a valuable sense of community among honors students, says Professor of Economics Aaron Jackson, who has directed the program since 2012.
“The company’s support is even more crucial in helping us strengthen research opportunities,” he says, noting significant increases in the quality of and interest in research by students since the partnership began. “UTC has been integral in helping us challenge honors students to the highest degree, while providing unique and rewarding learning opportunities.”
Incoming freshmen now have an additional way to bond: living on a designated floor of Slade Hall. After a successful trial in 2014-2015, the specialty living community has doubled in size and added a study room.
The Honors Program gained national attention in 2015 for its biannual newsletter, Columnas. The four-year-old publication won first place in a competition sponsored by the National Collegiate
Honors Council Publications Board. Columnas is written and edited primarily by honors students.
Jennifer Wright ’16 is an Honors Program student who serves as a social media specialist in Bentley’s Marketing and Communication Department.
by Mary K. Pratt
A sampling of research underway by honors students. Faculty member Jeff Gulati coordinates the projects in his role as associate director of the Honors Program.
An exercise enthusiast, Kerriann Fitzgerald is tapping that interest in fitness for her capstone project. Her research explores whether doctors talk with patients about nutrition, whether those discussions affect a patient’s satisfaction with the doctor, and whether the conversations on nutrition influence the patient’s daily choices. Fitzgerald is one of two honors students to receive a fellowship funded by United Technologies Corp. The $1,000 grant is enabling her to survey 500 patients and create a poster to accompany her findings. “This really strengthens the statistical, analytical and math skills I developed here, and helps me apply them in a real-life setting.”
While pursuing a major in Actuarial Studies, Maria Clarice Chua has not abandoned a long-time passion for writing. Her capstone is a memoir about what it means to be an American woman of Filipino descent. Literature courses at Bentley, notably the Asian-American Immigrant Experience, suggested her project choice. “Identity is not just something set in stone,” Chua says. “There’s something fluid in it, something that’s partially constructed by yourself and partially by people around you. I was inspired by that concept.”
Human behavior studies have found that deception is a natural part of the human experience. “I thought it would be interesting to learn if technology can detect, in real time, whether someone is being deceitful,” explains Stephanie Keller, who received a United Technologies Corp. fellowship for the research. She’s now digging through data and studies that use computers, to find non-verbal cues. “I think it’s possible that optical sensors, high-speed cameras and computer algorithms could be used, in a quick screening process, to identify individuals that should be questioned further.”
Urban Revival: An Examination into the Potential Effects of the Green Line Extension on the City of Somerville
The course Urban and Regional Economics showed Thomas Jantz how city infrastructure influences economic development. His capstone project digs deeper into the topic, exploring how Somerville, Mass., would fare if the Green Line rail system extends into the city of 79,000 residents. He is examining the impact of other such expansion projects on property values, employment rates and educational achievement levels in their cities, as well reviewing city of Somerville data. The data will enable Jantz to project three separate growth trajectories for the city should the Green Line expand into Somerville.
Barking up the Wrong Tree: Unaccredited Investors and Equity Crowdfunding
Private startups will soon be able to sell equity to the general public, that is, unaccredited individuals who won’t have to meet traditional federal standards meant to protect their assets. “This hasn’t been allowed in the 100 years of the Securities Act. It’s groundbreaking — and potentially disruptive,” says Caroline Ryng. She is examining the potential merits and pitfalls, starting with a review of scholarly articles on the strengths and weaknesses of the federal law that allows equity crowdfunding. Her work also includes interviewing startup CEOs, angel investors, venture capitalists and the intermediaries who run crowdfunding sites, to tease out whether this policy shift will help or hurt everyday investors.
Is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator Really Suited for Business?
Inspired by a semester in Italy, Tim Ramsey planned to study how business cultures vary among countries and which personality types are best suited for each. But in preparing to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment for the work, he discovered that many consider the tool deeply flawed. Ramsey shifted gears to test the merits of MBTI. “I took it 10 times with seven different results,” says Ramsey. He plans to administer the MBTI and another assessment test to 20 students, then record their thoughts on the results. Finally, he will examine the accuracy of alternative tests that may be better suited to the business world.
Mary K. Pratt writes on business and other topics for publications including The Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal and Computerworld.