News from NCHC | April 2017

In This Issue...


From the President
From the ED – What's the Point?
Online Guide
Research Monograph Call
From the President Elect - Advocacy
Condolences to Our Colleagues


2017 Conference News
Registration Details
Awards & Scholarships Now Open


Honors Advising Institute
New Directors Institute
PITP: Bryce Canyon Directors Retreat
Program Reviewer Training

President's Post

Dear NCHC Friends and Colleagues:

Greetings as the end of the academic year barrels down on us. Hope you're staying abreast.

The NCHC Board of Directors will meet next on June 22-23. The Executive Committee and Mary Beth Rathe, NCHC Executive Director, have been working on the agenda for that summer meeting, details on which you'll see below. Also, preparations for the 2017 NCHC Atlanta Conference are moving along, and the excitement is beginning to build for what is our major event of the year.


  • The Board will be considering multiple proposed changes to the NCHC Bylaws and Standing Orders. These proposed changes have been authored by our Parliamentarian, George Mariz, and our new Executive Director, Mary Beth Rathe, from feedback they have gotten from the NCHC staff and Board members. Most of the proposed changes will be simple updates of antiquated information. There will be, however, changes that are intended to improve processes and address new concerns.
  • Mary Beth Rathe and the Board will review the patterns of NCHC membership, both new and renewals, with the goal of increasing our membership. Membership dues are NCHC's second major source of revenue, and our membership has leveled off in recent years. Yet, according to a recent study that Rick Scott and Tricia Smith did, there are about 1,600 honors programs and colleges in the United States. Of that number, about half, 800, are NCHC members. That means there is still room to grow our membership. Our potential solution, at least in my opinion, is to figure out how to reach and make the 800 honors programs and colleges who are not NCHC members aware of us and the benefits of membership.
  • The Board, as is typical for its summer meeting, will spend time on strategic planning. At the 2015 summer board meeting as part of strategic planning the Board formulated our three current strategic priorities: research, professional development, and advocacy. At last year's summer board meeting (2016) the Board decided to continue work on these three priorities rather than changing direction or adding anything new. This year the Board will consider whether we have sufficiently developed and operationalized our three strategic priorities and are ready to move to new areas.
  • The Board will hear several reports from both ad hoc and standing committees, many of which will come with recommendations for action. The Research Committee (standing) will update the Board on NCHC research initiatives as well as those proposed. The newly formed Advocacy Committee (standing) will do the same for advocacy initiatives. The Professional Development Committee (standing) will make recommendations on professional development for honors education – specifically, the type and manner of implementation the NCHC should offer. The ad hoc Committee on Tiered Membership (ad hoc) will make recommendations on tailoring membership fees to different types of institutions. It will also make recommendations on requirements for NCHC membership. The ad hoc Committee on American Honors (ad hoc) will report on its investigation, which was spurred by complaints made against American Honors.


This year's NCHC conference director, Naomi Yavneh, NCHC President Elect, has some exciting and unique events planned.

The conference plenary speaker is Bryan Stevenson, a criminal justice lawyer, an ardent social justice activist, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at the New York University School of Law. I had the luck to hear Mr. Stevenson speak (at my university), and I guarantee you that you will be both stunned by his findings on criminal justice and inspired by his message. He's also a superb speaker. For a sample of just how moving he can be, see his TED talk.

There will be multiple workshops and sessions relating to national scholarships and fellowships, sessions related to managing information for your Honors program, and a pre-conference workshop on international trips/study abroad in Honors. Useful stuff! There will also be joint museum tours on Friday night at the highly rated National Center for Civil and Human Rights with attendees from the conference of our sister honors education org, the National Association of African-American Honors Program (NAAAHP). Admission to the museum is free for conference attendees, and we will have exclusive access to the museum on Friday evening.

All for this month. More updates on current NCHC happenings in my May post.

These posts are intended to keep you informed on selected issues and decisions that your leadership is facing and making. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at I'm happy to get your feedback and respond to questions.

The best of Spring to you,

Art L. Spisak
President, National Collegiate Honors Council
Director, University of Iowa Honors Program

From the Executive Director: What's the Point?

What's the point? So many issues in higher education have hit the media lately that it may seem like honors is the proverbial tree falling in a forest. Can anyone hear us?

Shifts in funding. Loss of scholarships. Reduction of staff. Policy changes. Social trials. It's all overwhelming and frustrating. But because we're honors, it is in our very nature to seek answers and identify alternatives.

In a word, it can also be invigorating.

Over five decades ago, a group of individuals sought like-minded colleagues with a shared passion for honors and a desire to collaborate, to research and to innovate. The conversation flowed from classroom to the new organization and back to other classrooms, as individuals found value in the sharing of syllabi, best practices and solutions to shared campus situations.

Today's NCHC members have inherited a legacy of inquisitive pedagogy that developed into signature programs like Honors Semesters and City as Text TM. NCHC leaders leveraged the value of experiencing travel and classroom adventures to develop a collaboration with the National Park System and created Partners in the Park.

Words like interdisciplinary and creativity and inclusivity punctuated board meetings and conference sessions. Concepts that honors directors and students recognize as integral to intellectual development – experiential learning, personalized instruction, communities of excellence—have been adapted throughout institutions.

NCHC members can be proud of the vision and work that's been done and to the impact honors has had on so many learners across the nation and abroad.

But here comes the new challenge: what happens next in honors and higher education? How do NCHC members and leaders take on the shifting culture and ever-changing dynamics of communication and employment trends? What developing concepts exist that can be questioned, researched, piloted and published to address issues of recruiting, advising and mentoring students embracing the honors college outcomes?

This summer, the NCHC Board of Directors will be discussing strategies for continuing the organization's work in the areas of professional development, research and advocacy. I encourage you to reach out to any of them and share your thoughts on the future. What direction do you see is needed for ongoing work in higher education?

In the NCHC office, staff continues its work on membership outreach, as well as research compilation and analysis of recent survey data. Conference proposals are under consideration, and plans are underway to execute an annual conference with many opportunities to share ideas and learn from each other. And although it's only April, work will soon begin on the budget requests for 2018's work, so your service and engagement on each of NCHC committees will allow for a more accurate picture of what we can do together.

NCHC is an organization more than 50 years old and nearly 900 institutions strong: we need to make sure everyone hears the tree falling and knows what it means to the forest.

That's our point.

NCHC Online Guide: Are You In?

If you're trying to recruit the best and brightest students to your honors program or college, make sure your profile is up-to-date in the NCHC Online Guide! The only comprehensive listing of all honors programs and colleges in the country, the NCHC Online Guide is a useful tool for students when considering their options for honors education in their area. As a member of NCHC, your institution is entitled to a Featured Listing! Spell out all the benefits of your program, including honors scholarships and special experiences.

If you've had a change of directors, grown from a program to a college, or had any other big developments in the last year, now is the time to review and update your entry. Click here for complete instructions and claim your listing today!

Monograph Call for Proposals

Research on the Benefits (Value Added) of Honors Program Participation
Deadline for Submissions: May 1, 2017

Direct Submissions and Inquiries to: Dr. Jerry Herron,

At this time, we invite submission of proposals for an upcoming volume featuring new empirical research exploring the value added of honors program experience, to be published in the National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series in 2018.

Click here for the complete details!

Join the NCHC Advocacy Committee

These are somewhat trying times in higher education. Would you like to be a voice for Honors?

As an organization, NCHC has almost 900 member institutions of all shapes and types. More generally, the honors community represents nearly 1,600 institutions; about 700 deans and directors; close to 13,000 faculty members and other honors professionals; and over 350,000 honors students. Accordingly, we are poised to play an important role in the conversation regarding higher education in this country, particularly with respect to access, equity and excellence. In this context, advocacy is a significant component of the NCHC mission, requiring the identification of strategic priorities, and the development and implementation of an action plan, including the identification of collaborative partnerships.

At our winter meeting, the NCHC board voted to create a standing committee to address advocacy from the perspective of external relations and development in three important ways:

1) Advocacy to the broader community, including government and legislative bodies, regarding what Honors is (and what it is not), the varieties of Honors education, what role Honors programs and colleges play in the higher education landscape, etc.;

2) Advocacy to the broader community, and particularly government and legislative bodies, regarding issues in higher education that have an impact on Honors students;

3) Advocacy regarding the organization to individuals, foundations and other funding entities

The Advocacy Committee will be charged with:

  • Making recommendations to the Board and Executive Director regarding strategic direction for external relations and advocacy efforts, and for setting policy regarding advocacy for the organization;
  • In conjunction with the ED and the Executive Committee, taking a leadership role in advocacy efforts;
  • Making recommendations to the board regarding retention of government relations specialists and partnerships with other professional or academic organizations or working with professional governmental relations specialists.

Composition of the Advocacy Committee:

In its first year, the AC would be composed of no more than 8 members, to facilitate a timely development of initial strategic and policy recommendations; in this first year, the Committee would also be charged with determining specific roles of the committee and an appropriate size to achieve them;

  • Committee members should be drawn from a diversity of institutions to reflect the diversity of NCHC membership and the Honors community;
  • In keeping with the committee's role, at least one chair should be a current NCHC officer;
  • At least one student board member should be a member of the committee;
  • Other than student member(s), each committee member should have demonstrated experience with NCHC and Honors education, as evidenced by both experience in Honors administration and/or teaching (minimum three years); experience in NCHC (attendance at multiple conferences, participation in committee work, etc.)

I welcome nominations (self or others) to this committee, as well as your comments, questions, ideas and concerns, as we shape this committee to plan an important role for NCHC and honors education in general.

Naomi Yavneh Klos

2 Students Killed, 1 Injured in Crash Following SRHC Conference

A tragic auto accident on March 31st claimed the lives of two Virginia college students, and critically injured a third. 21-year-old Bridgett Oliver and 22-year-old Rachel Jones, both senior honors students in the nursing program at Radford University, were returning home from presenting research at the Southern Regional Honors conference when their vehicle was struck head-on by a second vehicle, driven by 21-year-old Paige Neubauer, a junior at Virginia Tech. Both Oliver and Neubauer were killed in the accident, and Jones was flown to a trauma center with serious injuries.

Bridgett Oliver (center) and Rachel Jones (right)
present their research posters at the SRHC conference.

Oliver, a senior honors nursing major, was presenting her capstone project at SRHC. She was about to be inducted into the Honor Society of Nursing, and was set to graduate this spring with a job offer in labor & delivery.

The devastating loss of these promising students is felt on both the Radford and Virginia Tech campuses, and vigils have been held on both campuses in their honor. GoFundMe accounts have been set up for Oliver's funeral expenses, and for Jones' medical expenses. We send our heartfelt thoughts to the families, to the honors and nursing student communities at Radford, and also to the Virginia Tech student population.

Visit Atlanta this fall with NCHC, and you'll experience...

  • Hundreds of sessions and workshops for honors, by honors! Learn from national experts and colleagues as they share best practices and collaborate on topics for the whole honors communitiy: administrators, faculty, staff, and students included!
  • A thought-provoking and inspiring plenary session from Bryan Stevenson, a criminal justice lawyer and social justice activist.
  • A history-making partnership with the NAAAHP for our plenary speaker, and for joint museum tours at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
  • Exploration of the theme, "Just Honors": How do we teach "justice" in honors? How is it part of the conversation, and what are we doing in terms of studying the history of justice?
  • Sponsors and vendors sharing information about graduate program and internship opportunities, classroom technologies, honor societies, study abroad excursions, and more!
  • A new view of the city of Atlanta, through excursions by Partners in the Parks and City as Text
  • Networking with old friends and new colleagues, to grow your community of honors professionals and contacts!

...and that's just the beginning!

Register Today!

#NCHC17 Registration Information

Dates & Location
November 8-12, 2017 | Atlanta, GA | Westin Peachtree Hotel
Conference kicks off with registration check-in on Wednesday evening, November 8. Take part in the popular Student Open Mic Night, or just settle in and plan your event schedule for the next few busy days! Conference sessions begin bright and early on Thursday morning, so be sure to get check-in for you or your group out of the way on Wednesday.

Hotel & Travel
See our Conference Travel Page for all the details on our hotel block, and member discounts on airfare!

New Member Registration Process
Because our member registration software is all new this year with YourMembership, here are a few tips to get you (or a group) registered for NCHC17.

  • You can access the Conference event registration through the Conference Event page on the website, or the Calendar at the bottom of your member login page.
  • Each conference attendee in your group will need to be added as a "contact" into the YM member database. (Your institutional contact should already be in the YM system, as well as any additional professionals or students who hold a paid membership.) This will link them to your member institution in our database, so they can access member prices for conference registration. Sign Up Your Contacts Here They'lll receive an email notification, and THEN you may start registration for #NCHC17.
  • If one person is registering your entire group, you'll complete a full registration for each person by selecting "Save and Add Another" at the end of the process. When you're finished, you will receive an invoice for the whole group.

Conference Programs:
Did you know that Americans use an average of 749 pounds of paper per person, per year? In an effort to reduce our conference footprint (as well as your conference costs!), we are now including a print program request as a part of your conference registration. If you would like a printed copy of the conference program when you arrive in Atlanta, please select that option as you register each individual attendee. Printed programs will only be available until the Early Bird Deadline, to allow for printing time, so register early if you're a lover of the printed page! We encourage you share within your group, or go paperless for 2017.

If you do pass on the printed program, try our Mobile App! The NCHC conference app provides a full event schedule with the ability to build your own custom schedule. You can also view our sponsors and speakers, receive notifications and updates in the app, and much more! The app will be free to download in the App Store, with a code for the NCHC event coming this summer. Watch for details as our schedule develops!

Scholarships and Awards Now Open!

NCHC has many Scholarship and Conference Award applications now open! Check out the details for the following:

Looking for a Summer Adventure? Try one of these NCHC Events!

As a member benefit, you can save up to 10% on your airfare by booking with United! Just visit, and check the "All Search Options" box located to the left of the search button on the United home page. This will connect to a new booking screen. After entering the required information, scroll to the bottom of the page and enter NCHC's discounted meeting code.

NCHC Summer Institute:
Honors Advising

June 25-27 :: Lincoln, NE

Flight Discount Code: ZYJP320790

NCHC Summer Institute:
New Directors Institute

July 9-11 :: Lincoln, NE

Flight Discount Code: ZYJP320790

Partners in the Parks:
Bryce Canyon
Directors Retreat

July 10-15 :: Bryce Canyon, UT

Flight Discount Code: ZYJS827788

NCHC Summer Institute:
Program Reviewer Training

July 12-14 :: Chicago, IL

Flight Discount Code: ZYJS827788