2018 Election

See the Candidates, Statements, and Ballot Issues below for the upcoming 2018 Elections. A link for voting will be sent directly to your inbox (from the Big Pulse online voting system), for all paid NCHC memberships.

Voting opens at 6:00 AM CST on Monday, December 3, and closes at 12:00 PM CST on Monday, December 10th.

If you have questions concerning this vote or process, please contact the NCHC office at nchc@unl.edu

2018 Ballot Proposals

This year, in addition to selecting leadership, there are three additional proposed changes to the operations of NCHC that require the attention of the voting membership.

We encourage members to become familiar with information about three specific proposals to make changes to the NCHC Constitution and Bylaws regarding 1) the dues structure, 2) membership definitions, and 3) student board terms at NCHC. Per the Constitution and Bylaws, these proposals must go to a vote of the membership.

View 2018 Ballot Proposals

Office of Vice President

(vote for 1)

Suketu Bhavsar

Suketu Bhavsar

When asked if I would accept a nomination to run for vice president, I pondered the significant commitment and responsibility of serving NCHC in leadership positions as vice-president, then president elect, president, and past president. The decision came down to would I and could I enthusiastically and unreservedly give of my time, effort, and experience wholeheartedly for four years? The answer was YES, after serious thought and contemplation. I owe so much of my development and success in Honors to NCHC that it is both fair and a privilege that I now serve its membership.

I have been the director of the Kellogg Honors College at Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) for 11 years. Prior to that, I was the director of the Honors Program at the University of Kentucky (UK) for two years and a faculty member at UK for 20 years. At these two institutions, one an R1 University and the other a fouryear Hispanic-serving university granting masters’ degrees, I have experienced a large mature program and a small new program (>1000 students and more than 40 years old at UK; about 350 students and less than five years old when I joined CPP). I am proud of the advances and differences I have been able to inspire and achieve at both campuses. At UK, the Honors faculty united to enthusiastically embrace the significant scholarly effort of working across disciplines to team-teach a new theme-based Honors curriculum, after decades of using a Western Civilization classics-based curriculum. At CPP, a very young program, we initiated and cultivated an Honors community and introduced productive new policies. A holistic admissions selection process, civic engagement, student retreats, and a formalized capstone experience have enriched students’ experiences in a still-developing Honors College. Serving at these contrasting institutions has given me a broad and deep understanding of Honors education as both an academic pursuit and as an interpersonal pursuit, as I navigated complex and very different university cultures to achieve my goals and visions.

I served as a professional board member of the NCHC from 2013-16, during which time I also served on the nominating committee and the ad hoc committee created to address board size and its composition. I currently serve on the Assessment and Evaluation Committee as well as the Diversity Committee of NCHC. I also serve at the regional level as chair of the California State University Honors Consortium. During my term on the board, the contribution I am most proud of was for the board to take a close look at our investments. I moved and successfully got passed the initiative to change our investments into funds that invest ethically and responsibly, in keeping with NCHC values, and we’ve done well financially. I have striven to be a good listener during my term as a board member, absorbing what different constituencies want from Honors, and trying to deeply understand the challenges they face. I believe that transparency and collegiality are vital to good leadership. I prefer consensus whenever possible, and I feel concerned when a vote is close; I take a close vote as an indication that we need more discussion and hopefully to move toward greater unity. If elected, I will employ leadership strategies and processes based on these values when working towards outcomes.

Finally, I turn from my previous history with Honors and on the NCHC board to what I envision for the NCHC. Honors exemplifies high-impact educational practices. Hence, an essential goal for the NCHC is to encourage and make available systematic scholarship of teaching, learning, and advising in Honors as part of our professional development. This aligns with one of the current NCHC strategic priorities. Another worthy goal is for Honors to include high-potential students who may have had less opportunities for traditional academic preparation, such as first-generation students, students with disabilities, undocumented students, or students from challenging socioeconomic situations. This aligns with NCHC’s most recent strategic priority of diversity and inclusion. My experience as an Honors director at a four-year Hispanic-serving institution has given me insight into this area. Thirdly, the next 10 years will bring further internationalization of Honors, with more countries (e.g. Britain, India, and France where “Honours” has historically meant something different) considering Honors education as an important form of pedagogy. This has already begun with the Netherlands and China, and the NCHC should be leading the way. Ultimately, I envision international Honors conferences with many countries participating, held every few years around the world. These are three examples of things I would explore with the board, committees, and the NCHC executive director if elected. I hope you will vote for me to be the next vice president of NCHC, entrusting me as a member of the leadership team that guides the NCHC in its current efforts and charts its future. I promise to serve with passion and dedication.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson

I am excited and honored to be nominated for Vice President of NCHC. Over the past (almost) decade, I have sought opportunities to engage as an active participant in our association. I started at the state level where I was recruited to serve as vice president and conference chair when I attended my first Florida Collegiate Honors Council conference in 2009. That state involvement led me to NCHC where I immediately jumped into publishing and presenting.

Since that time I have served as a member of the Board of Directors, the professional development committee co-chair, a summer institute facilitator, Honors in Practice editorial board member, annual conference planning committee member, and program reviewer. Because of my wide-ranging involvement within NCHC, I have a solid understanding of how the pieces of our association currently fit together, as well as a vision for how these pieces could fit together in a more productive manner to push NCHC forward.

I have also represented honors education to a broader higher education audience through presentations, publications, and involvement with other professional associations. I have held both inter/nationally-elected and appointed positions in similar professional associations. With a background in higher education and educational technology, I have been tied into the “higher ed” landscape for my entire professional career. I follow higher ed trends and policy discussions and can easily pinpoint areas where NCHC could and should have a seat at the table.

When I ran for the Board of Directors in 2015, I noted that I wanted to steer the association from the inside to be more inclusive of the many voices and talents we have at our disposal. Over the past few years, I have done just that through targeted programming for the “Number 2’s” in Honors (i.e., associate / assistant deans and directors), the development of a new Professional Staff in Honors strand at the annual conference, two over-capacity summer institutes on advising and enrollment management, and the creation of a Facebook group for professional staff in honors.

Additionally, I have been an advocate for sustainable leadership within our association, and this will continue to be a priority for me. How do we foster a long-term culture of involvement? How do we mentor new members of NCHC? New members of the honors community? How can we involve those honors faculty and administrators who are not at the dean / director level? Or others who may not feel they have historically been represented within our leadership? What do we offer our deans / directors who are no longer “beginners” in honors? How do we share potential pathways to involvement, as well as create professional development activities outside of annual conferences? We must tackle these questions as a community for the long-term health and stability of NCHC.

NCHC is in a great place to move forward - both internally as we consider the benefits of membership in light of the tiered dues discussion, as well as externally as we continue to move into a more prominent position among our higher ed association peers. We have a treasure trove of talented members and leaders that we must leverage in order to make these initiatives happen. I look forward to serving this association as vice president and contributing to our forward momentum if elected.

Office of Secretary

(vote for 1)

Keith Garbutt

Keith Garbutt

In 2000 I became the director of the then Honors Program at West Virginia University. Over the next 14 years I developed the program into a College significantly increasing the enrollment and, in 2009 as part of my role as Dean of the Honors College, I became the resident faculty leader for an Honors Residential College in a custom-built residence hall. In 2014 I moved to Oklahoma State University as the inaugural Dean of the Honors College.

Over the past four years we have developed the program, implementing new opportunities for students, including most recently, in response to the problems of AP and concurrent credit, a new experiential component to the program. I have been active in NCHC since 2000 attending conferences, serving as committee chair or co-chair of the Science and Mathematics (now Science, Mathematics and Sustainability) committee multiple times. I have published in both JNCHC and Honors Monographs, including being the co-editor of monograph with Ellen Buckner on Science Education and Honors. I have given multiple presentations at NCHC conferences. Currently I serve on Board of NCHC and I also serve on the Finance Committee of NCHC, a position I feel will be very helpful as secretary as many of the more complex issues addressed by the Board arise out of the deliberations and recommendations of the Finance Committee.

I have direct experience in the role of secretary for a professional association, I served two 3-year terms as the Secretary of the South-eastern Association of Advisors for the Health Professions (SAAHP) before stepping down when I moved to my current position at Oklahoma State University. As secretary of SAAHP I fulfill a position very similar to that of secretary of NCHC particularly in regards to the maintenance of minutes for executive, board and general meetings along with the certification of election results. In addition, as part of this position I was also responsible for helping coordinate registration for the biannual regional meetings. Perhaps more importantly I discovered I enjoyed the role of secretary, feeling it gave me the opportunity to give back to the organization.

NCHC has been crucial in my development and success in Honors during the last 18 years. Beginning in Honors was a lifesaver for a new director, and the programs and publications of NCHC became important tools in both my personal development and the development of my program and Colleges. Over these years I have gained experience and benefited from the wisdom of many at NCHC, help that I hope I can, at least in part, repay by service to NCHC as Secretary.

Laurie Smith-Law

Laurie Smith-Law

It is with a great deal of excitement that I am applying to be a candidate for the NCHC Board of Directors. After being in the field of Honors for the past 17 years, I find the thrill of working with high achieving students as enriching today as the day that I started. Working with Honors students is a challenging experience that pushes those in the field to continually work on their professional growth; I have found that NCHC helps to serve as the catalyst for that growth.

Unlike many professionals who enter the field of Honors, my journey started in a somewhat unusual place. As a young professional, I began my Honors journey in Student Affairs. My first Honors experience was as a Resident Hall Director responsible for the residential component of Honors. I found my first foray into Honors to be challenging and motivational. A few years later when an opportunity presented itself for me to move into the Academic Affairs side of Honors, I jumped at the chance. Having started my experience in honors as an “outsider” looking in gives me a somewhat unique and different view of its various aspects. I believe that when considering the future of Honors, this experience enriches my perspective.

I have found during my journey that NCHC has been an essential part of my development in honors. When I first came to the organization, I was not exactly sure how as a professional staff member I would best fit. Over the past 15 years, the question of where professional staff members fit in has continued to be of interest to me. As honors programs continue to grow nationally and more professional positions are added, answering this question is vitally important.

To better answer this question for myself and the organization, I became a member of the professional development committee. I have actively been a part of the committee for the past 15 years and served as a co-chair for 8 of those years. My goal as part of this committee was to start addressing the role of professional staff members within Honors. Nine years ago, I helped develop and co-hosted the first summer retreat for new professionals in Honors. The retreat covers many topics a new professional would need to know and helped develop networking opportunities for those in attendance.

With the continued expansion on college and university campuses of Honors Programs, NCHC may see an increase in the diversity of request for information and research over the next several years. As university budgets are challenged may campus are looking at national organizations to find the best information at a low cost. Because of this growth, NCHC will face several challenges in the future, some we can foresee and some we cannot. One major challenge I see on the horizon is how best we can address the needs of the members whose positions, education and honors experiences are as diverse as the intuitions they represent.

Our organization needs take a step back and evaluate the needs of our membership. What are the professional needs of honors today and what role should we as a national organization play in meeting those needs? Simply put are we as an organization fulfilling the NCHC mission and capturing the purpose and impact of the NCHC membership. How do we as an organization develop measurable goals. How can we advocate for Honors affectively if we do not know if the Honors students are better off because of our interactions. These are several of the many questions we will need to answer as our organization continues to move forward.

My experience with NCHC has been wonderful. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many honors partners who have turned into great mentors and friends. Experiences and opportunities I received working with NCHC have had a significant impact on the development of my own professional career. With the knowledge I have gained working with NCHC and the programs I have been associated with, I now feel I can give back to the organization and the next generation of leaders in honors in a more significant leadership role. I look forward to the opportunity to help shape the goals and objectives of our organization as we move grow to meet the needs of honors.

Brian White

Bryan White

Friends and Colleagues,

I would welcome the opportunity to expand my service to the Honors community by serving on the NCHC Board of Directors. Honors education has been an integral part of my professional life since I first started teaching Honors courses in the late 1990s, and my experience with Honors education is both regional and national. Since 2010, I have served as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Upper Midwest Regional Honors Council, and this past Spring my institution hosted our 2018 regional honors conference. I also serve as a member of the NCHC’s Finance Committee. As Honors educators, I think our best successes can come through projects sponsored by the NCHC that directly impact and involve our students. To this end, I am proud to be a co-founder and co-editor of NCHC’s new and exciting digital undergraduate research journal, UReCA, and I love co-leading Partners in the Parks experiential education trips for the organization, which I have done each year since 2012. Currently, I serve as the Director of Honors at Graceland University, where I am also the Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. By bringing my educational and administrative experiences to the Board, I hope to help us further explore the ways in which the NCHC can best serve, promote, and celebrate the diverse and powerful community of our students and professional members.

Board Candidates At Large

(vote for 3)

Andrew Cognard-Black

Andrew Cognard-Black

I am honored to be nominated for a position on the NCHC Board of Directors. Honors represents the best of what we hope to be in higher education—rigorous standards and creative educational practices that nurture students and prepare them to be successful, responsible citizens. As such, I believe that NCHC can be a stronger voice, both in the conversations defending honors on campus and in those conversations about the larger role that education and honest inquiry have for our future.

At the moment, NCHC is in many ways invisible. While honors education is widespread across the United States and is spreading internationally, a quick search in the Chronicle of Higher Education for references to the “National Collegiate Honors Council” reveals only 11 hits—only four in the past ten years, and only two of those are substantive pieces. Meanwhile, the American Physical Society has about 200 hits. MLA has over 1,000. NCAA has more than 3,000. Right now, NCHC is doing great things to build supportive networks within honors, provide professional development, publish new ideas about how we teach and learn, and generate research evidence that demonstrates our successes. But few people outside of the honors lounge seem to acknowledge it, much less pay attention.

I believe that NCHC has the opportunity and the duty to be more involved in the debate about the future of education, and we can be good models for our students, their parents, and their senators of how to participate with integrity, intelligence, and respect. I want to be a part of that vital work preserving quality education for future generations, and I want to do it with the National Collegiate Honors Council.

As a Board member, there are, of course, limits to how much I could do to increase our visibility, but I have over two decades of experience in honors teaching, administration, and research that I believe have prepared me to play an important role in those conversations. I first started in honors in 1993 while a graduate student at Iowa State University, when the honors director gave me the opportunity to teach an honors seminar on utopian literature and social criticism. When I left graduate school, I looked for opportunities in honors, and upon completing my doctorate I was excited to find a position teaching in honors at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a small public honors college providing an affordable yet rich educational experience to Maryland’s diverse student population. While at St. Mary’s, I have had significant involvement in the development of honors first year seminars, and I have been involved in honors in a variety of other ways. I have combined the teaching of interdisciplinary seminars with advising; supervision of honors capstone projects (we call them St. Mary’s Projects) and summer undergraduate research fellows; organizing and participating in colloquium events featuring both campus and external speakers; leading study abroad trips; and, for nine years, helping to coordinate teaching and learning professional development for our honors faculty.

In the time since I became involved with NCHC, I have presented both in general and BHAP sessions at the NCHC annual conference. I have been involved in NCHC service as a professional member in a variety of ways, and I have demonstrated leadership leading to progressive levels of responsibility. In 2017, I served on a special ad hoc committee assembled by NCHC President Art Spisak to investigate complaints against the for-profit educational service company operating under the brand known as American Honors. I have published several collaborative articles appearing in the JNCHC, and since 2017 I have reviewed manuscripts as a referee on the JNCHC Editorial Board. Currently, I also serve on the NCHC Publications Board and Finance Committee. Some of you may recognize my name from my work with NCHC membership surveys, and I believe it is important to note that since 2013, I have provided professional services as a paid consultant to NCHC to help the Research Committee administer those surveys. If elected to the Board, I plan to resign my paid consultancy and instead will contribute to NCHC research programs as part of my volunteer service to the Council.

My commitment to campus honors, my expertise in data-driven decision-making, and my work with NCHC research and publications make me uniquely suited, I believe, to play an important part in the discussions with which the NCHC Board is involved. Thank you for your consideration.

Leah Creque

Leah Creque

My work in honors stands on the shoulders of the founding director of the Morehouse College Honors Program and past president of NCHC, Dr. Jocelyn Jackson. Dr. Jackson believed strongly in NCHC as an organization and instilled a deep appreciation and commitment to Morehouse College’s continued participation in this organization. In this regard, my first NCHC experience included valuable training in the Beginning in Honors series. As my role in honors programming evolved, I became the president of the National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP). I have enjoyed working with President Naomi Yavneh regarding the Atlanta NCHC conference and the historic collaboration and coconvening with NAAAHP. Subsequently, Dr. Yavneh invited me to serve on a panel at the AAC&U Annual Conference with the next president of NCHC Richard Badenhausen. This engagement made me more committed than ever to advance the discourse of honors programs at the national level. Hence, my acceptance of the nomination to serve as a member of the NCHC’s Board of Directors.

I believe strongly that honors programs are essential elements to the academic offerings at colleges and universities, I believe that an honors education affords the best option for customization of students’ learning needs and co-curriculum support. I also believe that honors programs should continue to be self-defined by the unique needs of the college community in which they reside, yet informed by attributes, standards, and best practices of the National Collegiate Honors Council. In this way the formation of a network of student scholars worldwide is perpetuated and sustained that offers lifelong professional, social connections, and limitless possibilities for innovation and change. These beliefs translate into my commitment to honors education and the cultivation of student scholars.

I would prefer to be judged by this commitment more so than my qualifications of an AB from Wellesley College, an MBA from Clark Atlanta University and a Ph.D. from Emory University. I would prefer to be judged by this commitment more than 30 years in the fields of higher education in which I served in admissions and institutional advancement; more so than my work in municipal government where I served as a grants procurement administrator; more so than my tenure as a professor and Chair of English at Morehouse College. I have served on prestigious civic and social boards, among them a gubernatorial commission. I have served as the national president of three organizations. My work as the Honors Program Director at Morehouse College has been my joy and greatest impact on shaping the lives of students who aim for excellence during and after their college careers. It is the field of Honors that I wish to offer lessons learned from these experiences, my leadership skills and voluntary support.

Susan Dinan

Susan Dinan

I would like to bring my energy, enthusiasm, and passion for honors to the Board of the National Collegiate Honors Council. I have been involved in Honors education for 20 years, and I feel fortunate to be part of a group of learners and teachers dedicated to excellence. I would like to help shepherd NCHC into a new era of greater inclusion, modified organizational structure, and richer opportunities for all.

I want to see greater diversity and inclusion in individual honors colleges and programs, in NCHC, and in higher education overall. As member institutions innovate strategies for greater diversity and inclusion among honors students, they will inform the role I believe NCHC can play in making higher education more accessible to a broad range of students and professionals. For example, infusing ideals of inclusion into the Basic Characteristics and making them central to the essence of honors program and colleges align with the honors focus on community. By creating strong communities and networks of support where students can be challenged and nurtured, honors colleges and programs can welcome students from different socio-economic backgrounds and different cultures, and students with learning differences and mental health issues. My home institution, Pace University, has a very diverse campus population. My staff and I offer considerable care to our students, listening to them attentively and providing guidance and encouragement. I see many students who describe themselves as clinically depressed and anxious. Stepping out of their families and high schools and into college is momentous; diverse backgrounds and personal characteristics intensify this stressor. It takes a village to prepare our students for success, and honors is an important facet of this village. In my experience all students regardless of their background and varied personal characteristics benefit from the close connections of the Honors community.

As part of reconsidering its organizational model, NCHC’s move toward a different method for determining dues might help to support diversity and inclusion in our council. We all recognize that there are myriad successful kinds of honors programs and colleges, and a dues system that reflects differences in size and institutional wealth seems important as it may allow a broader range of schools to participate in NCHC.

Another change underway that I also appreciate is the expansion of purpose of the annual conference to include more pre- and post-conference offerings. Of special note is more professional development for everyone involved in honors, including more opportunities for students to engage in service learning and creative expression that are being piloted for the Boston conference. Making the conference more relevant to staff and students allows more people from our communities to benefit from the rich experience of the national conference. NCHC is a remarkable resource of dedicated people committed to sharing their knowledge, and I have benefited from attending a summer assessment workshop and having a professional development site visit. Making the resources of NCHC accessible to all members, despite the level of institutional wealth, matters.

Currently serving as founding Dean of the Pforzheimer Honors College at Pace University in New York, I am responsible for 900 students on two distinct campuses (one in lower Manhattan and one in Pleasantville) and have been working to better align the two campus communities. Since my arrival in 2015, I have worked with many offices on both campuses to increase the number of honors students by 200, redesign the curriculum (especially for first year students), and establish living learning residential communities for first-year students. Before I arrived at Pace, I had spent a decade at William Paterson University in New Jersey where I was hired and succeeded in my efforts to transform a number of distinct honors tracks into a coherent honors college. At both institutions I balanced the competing needs of programmatic coherence and local identity to create better aligned and coherent programs that allowed students and faculty to pursue their unique passions. Honors is about creating space for creative pursuits and individual initiative while making sure that students benefit from coordinated honor pedagogies and practices. Thus I bring experience running medium-sized and large honors colleges at private and public institutions. Equally of value for leadership on the board, I am hard-working, dedicated to honors education, and I have a good sense of humor.

Another area of administrative experience while at William Paterson University involved serving for two years as the vice-chair of the Faculty Senate. I was responsible for coordinating all faculty committees, setting priorities with the Senate Chair, strategizing with the President and Provost about campus initiatives, and running parts of Senate meetings. Faculty governance can be complicated and I imagine managing the members of the NCHC is a bit like managing a faculty senate in that there are passionate people committed to their beliefs who sometimes need to be guided toward compromise.

Regionally, I have served as faculty representative, vice president, and president of the Northeast Collegiate Honors Council. Nationally, I am part of NCHC’s Teaching and Learning committee and from that involvement will publish in JNCHC’s upcoming pedagogy edition edited by John Zubizarreta, and I am a member of the International Education committee in which I was inspired to design an honors course in London. In addition, I have published “How Gender Differences Shape Student Success in Honors.” in JNCHC in 2016. I have organized numerous sessions at the national conference, and for the past five years reviewed student submissions for the national conference.

All of these experiences have shown me we are moving into an exciting and challenging era in higher education. I aim to use all of these experiences, coupled with ardent dedication, to shape the next phase of NCHC’s leadership in honors education and in higher education.

Trisha Folds-Bennett

Trisha Folds-Bennett

I am honored to be nominated for an at-large board seat for NCHC. I have been involved in honors education since the mid-90’s when I began teaching interdisciplinary seminars for the honors program at the College of Charleston. These seminars were always co-taught with a faculty member in a discipline distinct from psychology, the discipline in which I was trained. As a young faculty member, I loved the challenge of thinking about concepts and issues through a new lens and was inspired by the pedagogical approaches of my colleagues in the humanities. I always felt that I learned as much as my students – I know that I learned a lot about my own teaching style, its strengths and its weaknesses. As a result, I grew in ways that I had not imagined. I also realized how much I enjoyed working with the type of student who gravitated toward our honors program – I admired their tenacity, their ingenuity, their active minds, and their goal orientation.

Eventually, our honors program transitioned to an honors college, and I was given the opportunity to move into the role of associate dean and seven years later, dean. As Associate Dean, I was tasked with developing, from scratch, an office of nationally competitive awards, a scholars program, and our first-year experience program (that includes a service-learning component). The success of those programs resulted in my being asked to add to my responsibilities oversight of our campus-wide undergraduate research program. In all of these roles, my focus has been experiential learning – how to incorporate it into our curriculum, how to garner the resources necessary to make it available to honors students, how to manage the multiple opportunities that we wanted to provide our students, and how to defend it as an essential experience for honors students.

In my position as Dean of the College of Charleston Honors College for the past five years, I have expanded my repertoire to include all aspects of honors education – recruitment and admissions, curriculum development, experiential learning, advising and mentoring, residential programming, fundraising, recruitment and development of faculty and staff, assessment of program outcomes, and senior-level management as a member of the Council of Deans. I have also become more involved in NCHC through active conference attendance, publishing in JNCHC and HIP, and for the past three years, co-coordinating one of our conference signature programs – Developing in Honors. The more I have become involved in NCHC, the more I am committed to the important role that this professional organization plays in the everyday work of honors programs nationwide. In my own work to promote the CofC Honors College, I have drawn from the work of the NCHC board and staff with regard to the definition and best practices of honors education. I rely on the annual meeting for my own professional development, both as a presenter and as an attendee. I have leaned on the network of honors educators I have met through NCHC as I grapple with challenging issues in my own program. I have benefitted from the myriad of philosophical issues, evidenced-based practices, and applied approaches represented in JNCHC, HIP and the Monograph Series. I have enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the organization through my work as a co-coordinator of Developing in Honors and as a member of the conference planning committee.

As I have engaged more with the NCHC leadership, I have become enthusiastic about the possibility of serving on the board. I have had the opportunity to lead a robust honors program, and I would like to share the lessons I have learned with the broader NCHC membership. Our program has experienced success particularly in the development of a strong first-year program, a faculty fellows teaching and mentoring program that is well regarded on our campus, and collaborative strategies for fundraising. We also recently reformed the structure of our honors curriculum to encourage a more diverse mix of interdisciplinary and disciplinary courses. I would bring to the board these successes and some ideas about how we might encourage other programs to incorporate similar approaches. Also, with a background in psychology, I have a particular interest in how honors programs might use a developmental framework to guide and support the emerging adults who arrive on our campuses. Finally, in a society where democratic values are being challenged, I see the opportunities for NCHC and associated honors programs to inspire and equip our students to be productive and engaged scholar-citizens through the experiential learning opportunities, intentional curriculum, and community-based projects that we offer. I believe that, together, the membership of NCHC can make a tremendous difference in the evolution of higher education and its contribution to building an educated citizenry.

David Jones

David Jones

I am deeply honored to be considered for service on the NCHC Board, and this personal statement describes my qualifications to serve in this capacity. These qualifications include a successful long-term record of honors teaching and administrative work, NCHC presentations and scholarship in the field of honors education, and professional advocacy for inclusion and excellence in honors practice that has had a national impact.

My professional career in honors includes more than fifteen years of honors teaching and nearly 10 years of honors program administration. Starting in 2002 and continuing through the present, I have developed honors coursework in the areas of literature, cultural studies, and civic engagement, including courses such as: “Literature and War”; “Analytical Thinking about Social Issues”; “African American Writing and the Color Line”; “Integrative Studies in Cultural Identity”; “Culture and Politics in the Age of Trump”; and “McDonaldization and Cultural Identity.” Teaching in honors has entailed many opportunities to explore interdisciplinary themes and to integrate professional research interests into classroom teaching.

In addition to teaching in honors, since 2009 I have served administrative, and consultative roles in honors at UWEC. Program. During these years, honors at UWEC has undergone significant growth in program size and notable improvement in the range and quality of student experiences. At this point, as I begin my second year as program director, honors at UWEC is a well-established, signature program on our campus, serving more than 816 students and employing 30 faculty instructors in a typical semester. Our core goals have been to provide opportunities for academic, professional, and personal growth and to maximize the availability of honors to all qualified students.

These reform efforts are driven by a conviction that diverse student participation and broader campus engagement in honors are goals to be pursued rigorously. We have pursued these goals in honors at UWEC through several initiatives: expanded opportunities for undergraduate research that has contributed to our institution’s ranking as a clear national leader in this area; community-based learning options in honors where students work directly with underserved populations; and implementing a holistic admissions protocol that has greatly strengthened diversity-related outcomes. Through previous administrative roles I have served on our campus (University Fellow for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Director of Liberal Studies, and Director of the MA Program in English), I continue to seek ways of aligning the great work of honors with the work of other campus units and programs.

Timely collection and review of student enrollment data has provided a foundation for program innovation and measurement of progress towards equity and excellence. Some of our findings have been shared at NCHC conference presentations in 2011, 2012, and 2014-2018, with our 2016 poster presentation (“Inclusive Excellence and Student Success in an Honors Program: a Data-Driven Approach”) winning a top research poster award at the NCHC meetings in Seattle. Our honors administrative team also earned a 2012 University of Wisconsin System Diversity Award for achieving measurable results, and in 2014, a student admitted to honors achieved the distinction of being invited to the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

These achievements illustrate that both inclusion and excellence can simultaneously be achieved through honors pedagogy. As documentation of our approach to honors administration, I have recently published a chapter on inclusion and excellence in Honors in the new NCHC monograph on diversity (Occupy Honors), edited by Lisa Coleman and Jonathan Kotinek in 2017. This resource is a valuable one for making an honors program more inclusive and sharing those lessons with honors faculty, students, and administrators in other settings. As additional contributions to NCHC, I continue to serve on the editorial board for the Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council and on the Diversity Forum Committee of the NCHC.

As a board member, I would greatly value the chance to collaborate with honors leaders across the nation and world, building on the traditions of innovation and high-impact pedagogy that are well-established in honors. Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my qualifications to serve on the NCHC Board. I look forward to the 2018 NCHC conference in Boston, and best wishes.

Kristine Miller

Kristine Miller

Even more than showcasing the work of honors students, staff, faculty, and administrators, the National Collegiate Honors Council creates a collaborative community for innovation across institutional, regional, and even national boundaries, in the same spirit as an honors education. This community has made my nearly five years as director of the Utah State University Honors Program the best of my twenty-three-year career: I have bonded with peers in the New Directors Institute; shared insights with students and colleagues in City as Text and Partners in the Parks outings; presented and discussed research in NCHC conference panels, roundtables, and student poster sessions; edited a forthcoming NCHC monograph on honors contracts; and served on the NCHC Professional Development and Large Research Universities committees. In each case, the open exchange of ideas and the shared commitment to improving higher education has transformed professional connections into lasting friendships. I accepted a colleague’s nomination to run for the NCHC Board of Directors because I hope to help build partnerships that will extend this fundamentally collaborative vision.

As a board member, I would be most interested in building three key types of collaboration:

  1. Within Honors: Because a shared language best communicates the value of an honors education, I hope to help NCHC add to its outstanding oversight of conferences, publications, summer institutes, committees, and data-sharing with the creation of targeted online forums, job/opportunity boards, and curated digital exhibits of honors work, which would all allow students, faculty, staff, and administrators to ask questions, share ideas, and develop ongoing common narratives about honors. For students, I would like to see a series of “Honors Experiences for Undergraduates” (HEUs, following from the NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates), which I see as cross-institutional, interdisciplinary workshops about how honors prepares students for purposeful work with experiential learning, undergraduate research, community engagement, and collaboration with people from diverse socio-economic, ethnic, racial, and disciplinary backgrounds.
  2. Across Higher Education: The emphasis in honors education on high-impact practices allows experimentation with innovations that might benefit all college students. I hope to help construct partnerships between NCHC and organizations such as the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR), and the National Association of Fellowship Advisors (NAFA), with the aim of integrating honors education more fully into the broader mission of higher education.
  3. About Public Discourse: The collaborative work described above is central to current public debates about the value of liberal arts education. I hope to help create a task force of students, faculty, staff, and administrators to consider how NCHC might play a productive and meaningful role in shaping public discourse about higher education.

My teaching, research, and administrative work with honors students and faculty over the twenty-three years of my career has yoked my own innovative approach with the power of cross-disciplinary collaboration. I have won awards for Teacher of the Year, Researcher of the Year, and Faculty Advisor of the Year; as director of the USU Honors Program, I have extended my skills in these areas to a population of about 600 honors students and 500 active honors faculty at USU. I have forged partnerships for the USU Honors Program on campus, within the community, and across the country; advocated for and supported undergraduate research and creative work; and built a culture of cross-disciplinary collaboration and collegiality. I serve on USU’s Carnegie Community Engagement Task Force, won USU’s 2016 Community Engaged Faculty Award, designed a series of “Honors Book Lab” discussion groups for students and faculty, focused the honors curriculum on experiential learning, team-teaching, and community engagement, and worked with USU’s General Education committee to extend these high-impact practices to all students. I have grown the staff of the USU Honors Program, expanded our space on campus, and increased funding for students in what is now a thriving program. I would be honored to bring this expertise to the NCHC leadership team, and I appreciate your consideration of my candidacy.

Clay Motley

Clay Motley

If elected to the Board of Directors, I will work to increase ways the NCHC facilitates professional development opportunities for its members at every stage of their careers. Like many of you, my first introduction to the world of honors education was when I suddenly found myself directing an honors program at a small university without really knowing what “honors” meant at the university level. I vividly recall walking into Beginning in Honors in 2005 with trepidation, doubting if there was anything that experienced directors and deans from well-known universities could tell me that applied to my situation. Thankfully, I was wrong, and participating in Beginning in Honors gave me the information and encouragement to survive that first difficult year. Each subsequent year I have benefited from the diverse professional development opportunities NCHC offers, and slowly I have grown into a position to help design and lead these opportunities for others. This incudes participating in Beginning in Honors as an experienced director, serving on the Honors Semesters Committee since 2008 and designing multiple NCHC Faculty Institutes, frequently presenting on Developing in Honors panels, and hosting a formal program review on my campus. I currently serve on the Conference Planning Committee with the task to develop new ways the NCHC can engage first-time attendees at the annual conference. I recall feeling overwhelmed and a bit of out place the first time I attended the annual conference, and I want to ensure that first-time attendees are quickly and warmly introduced to the many opportunities the NCHC offers.

A strength that I would bring to the board is that since 2005 I have served in numerous, diverse honors professional roles. These include director of a small program at a private university; associate director of a large honors college at a state university; director of a program at a mid-sized university; and now director of an honors college. There are few professional honors situations that I have not experienced first-hand, and I would bring that wealth of knowledge and empathy to the board. In short, the professional development opportunities offered by the NCHC changed by career and by extension changed my life. I would be honored to work to create more transformative opportunities for the NCHC membership.

Lynn (Eileen) Preston

Lynn Preston

I have been the director of the Cornerstone Honors Program at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas for 10 years. I am passionate about honors at the two year level. I would like to see more opportunities and unity for two year honors programs and ensure we keep advancing.

For NCHC in the last four years I have been fortunate enough to serve as a co-chair for the Professional Development Committee. In that capacity I have been able to meet many amazing people and help develop great programs to continue the education and skills of those involved in honors education. I have also been a facilitator for the New Directors Institute. Helping with the institute has been a highlight of my involvement with NCHC! I completed the Teaching and Learning Institute as well as the Program Reviewer training. I have also been lucky enough to be able to serve as an interim Board of Directors member the last 16 months. I feel that I am just beginning to understand my role as a Board Member and would like to continue in order to be a voice for the two year schools.

Jeff Vahlbusch

Jeff Vahlbusch

The NCHC has been the key to my professional and personal growth in Honors, and to my service—as an honors program director bringing a dying program back to vigorous life, as a faculty member working to improve my honors teaching, and now as an honors college dean. Led by the Board of Directors, the NCHC has made it possible for me to learn the art and craft of honors administration, honors leadership on campus, and the many aspects of honors education and program building through seminars, conference sessions and workshops, honors publications, and hundreds of friendly conversations and interactions with honors colleagues from every kind of honors program and college across the nation and the world. I’m ready to give back, out of gratitude and appreciation, by serving on the Board of Directors. I look forward to working with all NCHC members to help guide and shape the NCHC, and honors education, for a successful future.

I have 3 initial goals for my service on the Board:

  1. Work to help improve communication and exchange between members of the Board and their fellow NCHC members, and help Board members become more visible, more accessible, and more present in the life of the NCHC. I submit that the advertising slogan intended to motivate members to apply to join the Board this year—“Be in The Room Where it Happens”—is not the best way to think about what our Board is and what it could be. I think that Board members should work to represent the membership, bringing all NCHC members and their views into “The Room Where it Happens” by involving members in collaborative thinking and transparent debate well before important Board decisions are made.
  2. Work to help NCHC become the honors organization of choice for many more, and for more diverse, honors programs, colleges, students, faculty, and professionals, and seek ways to collaborate more closely and effectively with Honors organizations such as the National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP), the National Society for Minorities in Honors (NSFMIH), and Honors Education at Research Universities (HERU), and their members.
  3. Work to help the NCHC make it easier for smaller and less-well-financed honors programs and colleges, and for all honors students, to afford to become NCHC members and to attend our national conference.

Eddie Weller

Eddie Weller

  • 1.With over two decades of work in honors education, I believe I can bring a wealth of experience to the Board. I understand the difficulties of both starting a program and reviving a dying program. I know the issues of trying to do more with less each year as state legislatures pull back funding. I believe my strong emphasis on student research is a positive as we strive to give our students ever more opportunities to spread their wings. My strengths also include a strong financial background, having a minor in business (accounting concentration) and service on several organizations on their Finance Committees. I also think having recently served as the President of the Great Plains Honors Council allows me to understand the strengths of the regional councils; working together, the regional councils and NCHC make honors much stronger. Finally I would hope to work on articulation agreements between universities and community colleges. With NCHC taking the lead, these could be streamlined and made universally available.

Student Board Candidates

(vote for 2)

Olivia Fuson

My name is Olivia Fuson, I’m a history and Spanish double major minoring in women’s and gender studies on the pre-medical track at Creighton University, and I want to be your 2018-2019 NCHC representative. I want to be a NCHC board member because I know from firsthand experience how impactful an honors education can be and I want to help ensure that this same type of education is accessible to students nationwide. As a part of the Creighton Honors Program I have gained a deep appreciation of the interdisciplinary, empowering nature of honors, have immersed myself in the honors experience, conducted research in a variety of fields, engaged in meaningful service that does justice, and developed leadership and administrative skills that I know will serve me well as I apply the knowledge I have learned at Creighton to the real world. I believe that each of these experiences have prepared me to take on a larger role within the honors community, and I hope to have the opportunity to do so as an NCHC board member.

Firstly, through participation in the Creighton Honors program, I have gained a deeper appreciation for honors education as a whole. I believe that preparing students to be open to others’ perspectives, to build bridges between disciplines and find new ways to tackle old problems is one of the primary goals of an honors program, and, while I have found it challenging at times to live up to this ideal, I recognize that it has helped me and my fellow Honors students grow in ways we otherwise could not have imagined. Pursuing a degree in humanities while simultaneously on the pre-medical track, I am constantly discovering opportunities to apply and integrate knowledge from a diverse range of courses in new and interesting ways. Learning about the American Eugenics Movement in one of my History classes, for example, I could not fail to notice the impact of this historical event on both the value of a woman’s body in today’s society as well as the place of disability or genetic counseling within the medical community. Instances such as these in which I can apply multiple perspectives to a real-world event epitomize an interdisciplinary Honors Education and demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary learning in real life. I firmly believe that interdisciplinary study is a core tenet of an Honors education both as it expands student’s perspectives and teaches them to apply classroom concepts to the world beyond the university, and I would love to help maintain the high standards of interdisciplinary education nationally as a member of the NCHC board.

Secondly, through my research across a diverse range of disciplines, I have also learned to value independence as another integral component of an honors education. As a student researcher, I know that a key part of an Honors education is allowing students the freedom to contribute new, creative ideas to their field. Incorporating research into my own honors education, I have come to appreciate both the importance of Humanities as well as Scientific research in shaping the thinkers and innovators of tomorrow and would love to apply my experience to the position of NCHC board member. Since coming to Creighton, I have conducted in research in a variety of fields including History, Literature, Theology and Functional Genetics. I have experience publishing my work, and I am also involved as a peer editor with Creighton’s own journal, QUEST. From this experience, I have not only demonstrated my commitment to rigorous academic study across disciplines, but I have also learned the importance of independent study. I believe that balancing the need for academic freedom and independence with academic rigor is another key element of honors education, and I think that my experience balancing these two aspects of my own honors education is another reason I would be an asset as an NCHC board member.

Finally, given my leadership experience both in and outside of honors, I am confident that I would be able to effectively implement various honors visions and values as an NCHC board member. In the past, serving on the Coordinating Committee for the Global Health Conference Midwest, I learned how to work alongside board members of various ages and roles to organize a large-scale, interstate conference. I am also currently serving as an elected representative on the Creighton Honors Student Advisory Board, in which role I plan programming events, assist in admissions decisions, and serve as student counselor to the Director. From these experiences, I have gained leadership, organizational, and collaborative skills which have helped me to make many ideas into realities. I am comfortable with responsibility and am capable of planning, organizing, and implementing programs from the local to the national level. I know that these skills would serve me well as a NCHC board member, and I hope that you will consider me as your representative for 2018-2019!

Aline Webb

I am a rising Junior at the University of New Mexico. I am a double major in Classical Studies and in Honors. As the capstone of my Honors major, I am conducting ongoing research into the field of Education, and I hope to find new ways to improve traditional educational structures through an interdisciplinary approach. I am deeply committed to and believe in the value of an Honors education, and that is why when I was offered the opportunity to run for the NCHC Board, I accepted.

As for my qualifications, throughout my high school career, I have held many positions on boards that functioned at a both local and national level. I held the roles of president, parliamentarian, and vice president in my 4-H Club, Local NJCL Branch and Toastmasters Gavel Club. I also served for four years as Team Captain and Manager on my FIRST Robotics Team which ranked internationally. Through my involvement with all of these groups, I was able to gain skills in parliamentary procedure and build extensive experience participating in and conducting meetings. Working with such diverse groups has given me the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with others.

I pride myself on my ability to maintain a high level of integrity and responsibility. Being an Honors student, I know what it takes to go above and beyond the basics to complete the highest quality of work possible. My goals for service in the NCHC are to represent to the best of my ability, the interests of Honors students and to be a voice for them on the board. I also hope to develop personally from taking on the challenge and opportunity that working with the NCHC provides.