Scholars Academy

Scholars Academy Members

If you are a student who has

  • A curiosity about the world and a desire to study it in the spirit of critical inquiry,
  • A passion for learning and challenging yourself academically,
  • A belief in the transforming power and practical uses of education,
  • An ability to work both independently and collaboratively with other students and with faculty,

Then the Lewis University Scholars Academy is for you.

Guiding Principles

The Scholars Academy is guided by the University Mission and by its four pillars.

  • Pillar I: Inquiry:  The Scholar engages in individual and collaborative inquiry.

  • Pillar II: Integration: The Scholar integrates inquiry across disciplines with career preparation.

  • Pillar III: Dialogue: The Scholar shares inquiry within a community of learners.

  • Pillar IV: Service: The Scholar serves the community through inquiry.


  • The Connections program consists of paired courses that enable you to satisfy some of your general-education requirements within the Scholars Academy.

  • In Connections, a literature course might be paired with a fine-arts course; a writing course might be paired with a course in theology, philosophy, or science.

  • The two courses are taught in consecutive time blocks, thus enabling the flexible use of class time. The instructors of the courses plan carefully to increase the connections between the courses.

  • If you are majoring in a physical science, consider the Physical Science Connections program.


  • Contracts are special projects completed in general-education courses and/or courses in the major.

  • Each contract provides an opportunity for you to pursue a special interest within the boundaries of the course, and to work closely with the instructor.

  • You are encouraged to take the initiative in defining the course project, and to find the intersection between the domain of the course and your own curiosity.

  • Although most contracts result in a formal academic paper, you are urged to consider poster presentations, performances, peer-teaching, and other options.

  • Since the inception of the program, more than 100 faculty members have offered contracts in over 200 courses. Thus, almost any course is a Scholars course.

Scholars Activities

  • “City-as-Text” experiences focus on the cultural and social variety of the Chicago region. You might learn about Chicago’s rich architectural history and explore its fascinating neighborhoods; attend exhibits such as the Toulouse-Lautrec show at the Art Institute; or be thrilled by a performance at Steppenwolf Theatre.

  • “Arts & Ideas” events feature presentations by Lewis faculty and outside speakers, and performances by the Music and Theatre Departments.

  • On-campus colloquia investigate stimulating ideas like creativity or topical issues like Facebook’s impact on university life.

  • Meetings of the Honors Council of the Illinois Region and the National Collegiate Honors Council allow you to meet and share your work with other honors students across the state and the nation.

  • Service-outreach programs and study-abroad experiences offer you additional opportunities for meaningful out-of-classroom learning experiences.

Levels of Distinction

You may aspire to either the Scholars Diploma or the Distinguished Scholars Diploma. Each level of distinction is defined by a set number of in-classroom and out-of-classroom learning experiences.

  • To achieve the Scholars Diploma, complete six in-classroom learning experiences: three in general-education courses, two in your major, and one capstone (a final project in your major). The general-education requirements may be met by contracts and/or Connections courses; the major requirements will be met by contracts.
  • To achieve the Distinguished Scholars Diploma, complete eight in-classroom learning experiences: four in general-education courses, three in your major, and one capstone (a final project in your major). The general-education requirements may be met by contracts and/or Connections courses; the major requirements will be met by contracts.
  • All program participants need to earn 30 units of activity credit, including one service-learning activity and one presentation. The Distinguished Scholars diploma requires 55 activities units.


As a member of the Scholars Academy, you are honored through recognition at college awards events, at the University’s graduation ceremonies, and on your final transcript.

The Administration of the Program

The program is administered by a Scholars Council made up of faculty, staff, and students. The Student Caucus advises the director and provides program support.

Admission to the Program

  • The process for admission is simple. In an essay of 400-500 words, describe an experience that in a powerful way changed your way of looking at the world. The experience might be in the form of a reading, a visit to an unfamiliar place, an encounter with a stimulating person, or a deep conversation with a good friend.

  • Please be sure that your name, campus or home address, and Student Identification Number appear at the upper-right-hand corner of the first page of the essay.

  • You can submit this essay at any time. Using conventional or electronic mail, send it to the Scholars Academy director.

    Dr. Marne Bailey
    Director, Scholars Academy 
    Lewis University #250
    One University Parkway
    Romeoville, IL 60446
    (815) 836-5395

Eligibility for and Continuation in the Program

  • If you are a first-year student, you are eligible for the Scholars Academy if you have a high-school GPA of 3.25 and a score of 24 or above on the ACT. First-year students who have a high-school GPA of 3.0 and an ACT of 21 or above may be provisionally admitted.
  • If you are a returning student or a transfer student, you are eligible for admission if you have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 after two semesters of college-level work

  • Once admitted, you remain a member if you maintain a 3.25 GPA and make satisfactory progress toward the completion of program requirements. Scholars should complete at least one in-classroom and one out-of-classroom learning experience each semester.

  • One audit meeting per year and a graduation exit interview with the director are required.

  • It is generally advisable that you have at least four semesters remaining at Lewis if you hope to complete the requirements. Thus, the program is open to transfer students who enter Lewis with a community college associates degree or fewer than 72 hours from one or more other colleges and universities.