NCHC Sam Schuman Award for Excellence at a Four-Year Institution

“Teachers need to love their subject matter,
and they need to love their students,
and they need to love bringing them together.”

-- Dr. Sam Schuman

NCHC is pleased to present the Sam Schuman Award for Excellence at a Four-Year Institution. Presented to an honors program director or faculty member at the NCHC Annual Conference, this award serves to recognize those who are making outstanding contributions to the honors community at four-year institutions.

Samuel Schuman, who passed away on November 11, 2014 left a legacy as an accomplished scholar, professor, and administrator. As the author of “Beginning in Honors” and an annual presenter at NCHC conferences and workshops, Sam exemplified the spirit of honors education and was passionate about sharing his love of honors with his students and peers. NCHC and the honors community owe Dr. Schuman their continuing gratitude for all that he contributed to the growth and development of honors.

Schuman Award winners will receive $500, along with an engraved plaque. The winner will be announced prior to NCHC's Annual Conference and awarded at the event.

Please complete the application below to nominate an outstanding honors director or honors faculty member for the NCHC Ron Brandolini Award. The application requires detail about contributions to teaching in honors and involvement in honors beyond the home institution. A total of three letters of support, from the applicant’s institution as well as faculty colleagues or students, are required.

Please consider applying or nominating a deserving honors educator. NCHC is committed to recognizing our two-year college colleagues who strengthen honors education.

2023 Winner

Dr. William "Rusty" Rushton, University of Alabama at Birmingham

The National Collegiate Honors Council announces Dr. William “Rusty” Rushton of the University of Alabama at Birmingham as recipient of the 2023 NCHC Sam Schuman Award for Excellence at a Four-Year Institution. This award recognizes a four-year college honors director or faculty member for their outstanding contributions to the honors community.

Dr. Rushton, a fixture in leadership of the UAB University Honors Program, “has earned the kind of enviable reputation in honors celebrated by the Schuman Award, a tribute that recognizes an exemplary teacher, scholar, and leader dedicated to the fundamental principles of honors education,” shares colleague John Zubizarreta. “I have known Rusty for all of his twenty-six years in honors, and I have witnessed the creativity, dedication, generosity, and skill that have characterized his various leadership roles in NCHC and SRHC. But in praising his acumen as a professional worthy of the Schuman prize, I should not forget Rusty’s incomparable verbal wit, sense of humor, and genuine warmth—traits that have endeared him to colleagues and friends as much as they have made him a popular and respected faculty member among his students in UAB’s University Honors Program (UHP).”

Zubizarreta continues, “Rusty has been a devoted member of both NCHC and SRHC for over two decades. After Dr. Ada Long appointed Rusty as Assistant Director of the UHP in 1997, he quickly began making his mark until he was named Associate Director by Dr. Mike Sloane, who inherited the Director’s position after Long’s retirement in 2004. Effective and well-respected in his growing circle of honors associations both regionally and nationally, he was elected to the Southern Regional Honors Council’s Executive Committee, ascending to the position of President during the difficult COVID pandemic and serving as a helpful consulting member of conferences in 2008 and 2022. On the national scene, Rusty has organized NCHC’s Newsletter Contest for the last ten years, doing yeoman’s work in soliciting and celebrating top-notch newsletters from programs and colleges around the country. Rusty also has a long tenure with the NCHC Publications Board, serving as Co-Chair for several years until the committee’s most recent restructuring last year, a laborious process to which Rusty made important contributions.”

Dr. Michael Sloane, current Director of the University Honors Program at UAB, shared the critical role that Dr. Rushton has played in all aspects of the honors program, ranging from student selection to evaluating and selecting seminars and extracurricular programming. Particularly, Sloane recognizes Rushton’s abilities to build community within their honors program. “He is omnipresent and always has his office door open. Students drop by often and enjoy deep and meaningful conversations with him, some of which, predictably, are on the most esoteric topics one can imagine. He enjoys getting to know our students and spending time with them. Our students benefit from his nurturing and caring approach. His familiarity with our students translates to meaningful letters of recommendation on their behalf. …He has always enjoyed bringing students to regional and national honors conferences and has contributed immensely to their enjoyment of conference activities and their exploratory forays in new cities.”


2024 Nominations open March 1, 2024 and close June 15, 2024.

Applications are available via the form below or at this link.