In This Issue...
From the President
I write having just wrapped up two days of meetings at the Chicago O'Hare Airport Embassy Suites—which is nicer than it sounds—with the NCHC Board of Directors, colleagues who are passionate about advancing the cause of honors education and supporting the needs of our membership.
After welcoming five new board members during our orientation, we focused on major projects that have been in the works for a significant amount of time. For example, I'm pleased to announce NCHC now has a board-approved strategic plan, complete with twelve pages of action items tied to five strategic pillars: Research, Organizational Excellence, Professional Development, Advocacy and Partnerships, and Diversity and Inclusion.
This is an important development after four years of discussion, as a new strategic plan will give direction to our work, help inform what we spend time on, and shape decisions around the expenditure of NCHC resources.
A second exciting action included unanimous board-approval of NCHC's first statement on Diversity and Inclusion, the result of deep conversations about the manner in which we can evolve our practices to be as inclusive as possible.
Finally, in light of the labor dispute during our annual meeting in Boston and the conference forum that explored how NCHC might navigate future issues that turn on complicated political, social, and financial disputes, the board engaged in an extensive discussion around principled decision making, transparent communication, and leaning into difficult issues in which our own membership might hold contrary views.
We put these considerations to a test during conversations about our 2020 conference site in Dallas, Texas, a state that the California legislature has prohibited reimbursement of travel for state employees. That ban includes public universities, many of whom are NCHC members. The board is exploring the financial losses the organization would suffer from breaking our contract signed in 2014; the possibility of seeking waivers allowing for state support of travel to Dallas, since the law contains exceptions; and if the meeting remains in Dallas, how we might fully engage the issues tied to the travel ban in our conference programming as a way of raising awareness for both members of our community and our local hosts.
Given this is a known problem for an event that won't take place for another 21 months, we plan to continue to update the membership on the board's deliberations. Please feel free to share your thinking with me or the national office on this issue.
From the Executive Director
The world of higher education certainly doesn't exist in a vacuum, particularly in communities deeply divided by social, racial and economic politics.
NCHC has been a resource for honors data for a significant number of years, and members frequently request data from the recurring surveys that are conducted. I think it's indicative of the mood on many campuses that these questions are becoming more specific, with requests for data that in some cases aren't reliable due to the current inability to gather the information. NCHC is thinking forward about the ways members need access to data sets, and considering options and opportunities for providing you with more usable bytes of information.
In the interim, I want to share with you a new report from the American Council on Education, Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education. I was able to watch the livestream convening, where panelists were passionate about the lack of data for minority populations, knowing that leaders in policy and administration oftentimes only address what they can see in the statistics. There were thoughtful conversations about the need for culturally-relevant metrics, rather than blunt instruments and reporting from the federal level. There were invitations to other constituents who were not similarly engaged to come to the table to discuss disparity, equity and supremacy.
The ACE convening seemed familiar: a community of individuals exploring the landscape. Looking for stories of success and barriers, compiling information, reaching out to collaborate with donors, idea-generators, and policy wonks to thoughtfully elicit potential solutions to everything from small tasks to crisis activity.
It looked like honors.
Mary Beth Rathe
NCHC Executive Director
From the Conference Chair
The Beatles famously sang,
"Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly..."
Now I want you to actually picture it. No, I mean, really. Do it.
Put a piece of white paper in front of you on the table.
Take your pencil in hand and place it on the paper.
Close your eyes and remember something that made you laugh.
Without thinking or opening your eyes, draw what you remember of that moment.
Yes, do this one, too.
Imagine sitting in an anatomy and physiology class.
Notice the white paper, glue, and colored bits of paper on your table.
Using those materials, recreate the major muscle groups of the lower body.
Think about this one:
You walk into an honors council meeting, broken into students and faculty and staff.
Each group is asked to identify and role-play six factors that prevent them from taking risks in their classes.
All groups then brainstorm possible ways to address these obstacles to exploration.
Can you see yourself engaging in any of these activities in an honors setting? Or does this seem... too disruptive to the seriousness of education? Interestingly, studies have shown that when we allow ourselves the freedom to explore alternate methods that engage different parts of the brain, we can come up with innovative and new means to learn, think, and problem solve. Many companies are using exercises like those above to engage their staff in more meaningful and innovative work. This sounds perfect for our work in honors.
As most of you know by now, Lynda Barry, acclaimed cartoonist, artist, author and educator, is the plenary speaker for the 2019 conference in New Orleans. She most definitively fits the conference theme: Disrupting Education: Creativity and Innovation in Honors.
The call for conference proposals has gone out. We hope you are working hard to come up with panel, roundtable and other presentation proposals that allow us opportunities to engage with the theme and one another. As always, we are looking for proposals that are new and different as the location of New Orleans, perhaps contain the results of research, and also may include presenters collaborating from different institutions. As you devise and submit your proposals, think about the audience and strands it might best fit in (i.e. two-year college, international education, teaching and learning, etc.). We will be using people from the various strands or signature programs to do initial blind reviews. For the first time, conference proposal reviewers will not know the specific names or institutions of the people submitting.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I am so looking forward to reading proposals and seeing what the creative minds of our colleagues will devise.
Remember: the proposal deadline is 28 February!
Session Proposals Close February 28 :: Master Class Submissions Opening Soon
Dates and Deadlines
Take note of these upcoming important dates for NCHC members!
NCHC ARC Survey
We are excited to announce the launch of the NCHC 2018–2019 Admissions, Retention, and Completion Survey (ARC). Directors, deans, and other institutional contacts should have received an e-mail invitation to participate on February 6th. The survey will remain open until June 30th.
If you are the NCHC contact of record for your institution and you did not receive your invitation to participate, please contact us in the NCHC national office at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ARC survey is one of three membership surveys that NCHC conducts on a recurring basis to collect national benchmarking data. More information about the NCHC survey program, as well as summary results from ARC and other previous surveys, can be found at www.nchchonors.org/research.
Call for Sample Syllabi
Did you know that the NCHC publishes sample honors syllabi on our website? NCHC members are invited to submit sample syllabi for possible inclusion in this collection. Submissions are carefully screened according to the criteria outlined below. The deadline for submission is May 1, 2019.
Guidelines for Online Publication of Syllabi
Syllabus submissions are carefully reviewed before selection for publication on the website, and they must follow a standard format. The general criteria for inclusion are:
We assume that any course for which a syllabus has been submitted was exceptionally successful.
The general categories for which we invite submissions at the freshman, sophomore, and junior/senior levels are:
The absolute maximum length of any syllabus accepted for publication is 4 pages, with margins (left, right, top, and bottom) of no less than once inch and with Times New Roman font size 12.
All submissions and inquiries should be directed to Ada Long at email@example.com.
JNCHC Final Call for Papers
The next issue of JNCHC (deadline: March 1, 2019) invites research essays on any topic of interest to the honors community.
The issue will also include a Forum focused on the theme "Current Challenges to Honors Education." We invite essays of roughly 1000-2000 words that consider this theme in a practical and/or theoretical context.
The lead essay for the Forum is by Richard Badenhausen of Westminster College. In his essay, "Shunning Complaint: A Call for Solutions from the Honors Community," Badenhausen asks readers to consider the weightiest problems currently facing honors education and then home in on one of them, not just to complain about the problem but to "lay out the path" toward a solution.
Badenhausen's essay is itself a Call for Papers, clearly explaining the kinds of essays he hopes to elicit, ones that take on "intractable, sticky problems that have no easy answers and require complex solutions, strategic thinking, long-term effort, and collaboration with multiple units." Examples he provides include the need for pathways into honors for underrepresented groups; the prevalence of mental, domestic, and economic challenges faced by our students; the increasing number of AP and IB credits that students bring with them into honors; legislative agendas that threaten to compromise or undermine honors education; the fact that honors innovations are often co-opted by and credited to other organizations; the need to place honors at the center of our campus cultures; and the growing disrespect for the written word. None of these challenges has an easy answer, and many other obstacles in the path of honors also merit substantial consideration in the quest for creative solutions. The hard part is not defining the problems but imagining ways through them.
Information about JNCHC—including the editorial policy, submission guidelines, guidelines for abstracts and keywords, and a style sheet—are available on the Publications page of the NCHC website.
Please send all submissions to Ada Long at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCHC journals and monographs are included in the following electronic databases: ERIC, EBSCO, Gale Cengage, and UNL Digital Commons. Both journals are listed in Cabell International's Directory of Publishing Opportunities.
NCHC Faculty Institutes: Choose Your Adventure!
Good afternoon, Honors Colleagues,
Are you looking for an excellent professional development program this summer? Are you or your colleagues interested in place-based approaches to teaching and learning? Intrigued by strategies to steep students in challenging civic issues?
Join us for rich, interdisciplinary explorations this summer in Cooperstown, NY, or Detroit, MI. These immersive experiences have two key emphases: 1) positioning faculty and staff members as learners, with all of the opportunities, excitement, and uncertainty that come with that, and 2) facilitating a rich, collaborative exchange of ideas focused on the diverse individual projects that participants seek to develop on their home campuses.
Full details for both programs are available on the Place as Text page of NCHC's website. If you would like to learn more about these experiences, please reach out to any member of the NCHC Place as Text Committee or any of the facilitators of the programs.
Alix Fink and Sara Quay
Place as Text Committee Co-chairs
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