News from NCHC | April 2021

In This Issue...

From the ED

2021 Graduation Cords

NCHC21 Proposals Closing

National Poetry Month

2021 Events & Institutes

PITP Online

2022 Board Nominations

Dates & Deadlines

Call for Monograph Submissions

JNCHC Call for Papers

GEICO Member Discount

From the ED

Looking for Opportunity in the Gray

What's your favorite color? I'd bet that not very many of you would pick gray as a preference, choosing instead the vibrant reds, exciting yellows, or calming aquas.

But I'd bet that you've used gray to describe your emotions, maybe even your decision-making processes in the past year. Felt a little ambivalent and unmotivated? Struggled with how to operate somewhere among the familiar traditions of 2019, the frenetic energy of 2020, and the ambiguous expectations of 2021?

Hello, Gray.

For about the last month, we've been back in the office, working on the details of events and activities that you'll find elsewhere in this newsletter: summer programming, conference in Orlando, nominations for new board members and other awardees, regional conferences, and so many other things it's impossible to list them here.

At first it felt like a weight had been lifted as we got back together, back in familiar chairs, talking with our local barista. But it didn't take long to realize that normal workflows are weirdly unwieldy because so much has changed. Projected outcomes are harder to bring to completion in the new scenario for so many reasons; procedures might as well have been written on stone tablets. Like many of you, return to our environmental normal hasn't meant a return to a comfortable, predictable pace.

The crystal ball options for the future continue to morph and shimmer in chaos as we consider the traditions of the past, but must balance that with the funding, expertise, and limited predictions for a less-certain future. It looks a little like the remaining smears of black marker creating the gray background on my whiteboard.

It's made me realize that we all have varying levels of 'ambiguity tolerance.'

Not many of us are likely to view ambiguity (or uncertainty) as appealing rather than threatening. Most of us are modestly-skilled, even predisposed, to organizing complex situations. But we have never had the shared upheaval of the last year, and then the express purposes of reorganizing so much instability across so many layers of our personal and professional lives.

As we move forward through this year and the work of visioning the work of honors into 2022, we all need the skills to handle our ambiguity intolerances.

  • Flipping mindsets to see ambiguous outcomes as opportunities to highlight creativity and connections.
  • Facing uncertainty with a sense of mastery and efficiency, bolstered with some assertiveness.
  • Using energy wisely, realizing that most of us have some imposter-syndrome to fight.
  • Taking small risks, as ultimately any decision is better than inaction.
  • Realizing the best plans and systems need to be adjusted.
  • Planning for the unexpected. Be prepared.
I'd be the first to admit, gray is a difficult color to add to my desired color scheme. And yet, there may be something freeing in allowing ourselves the opportunity to redirect some of that anxiety, reveling in risks that create something in the spectrum that we didn't know was even visible.

From the French author and 1947 Nobel Prize winner of literature, Andre Gide, "Gray is the color of truth."

Hello, Gray!

Wishing you the colors of spring, and the best that gray has to offer!

Mary Beth

2021 Graduation Cords

Do you have your Graduation Cords ready? All members of NCHC can recognize their students with NCHC's green and gold regalia for just $10 each, and NCHC T-Shirts for just $15! Order yours today from the NCHC Store, or reach out to with questions.


Reimagining Honors: Past – Present – Future

The global pandemic has caused us to reimagine our daily lives. In the process, we have been forced to reimagine how we do teaching, learning and community building within education, higher education, and honors education. There is no going back and while some adaptations have actually enriched honors experiences, the lack of personal connections and organic intellectual conversations has hampered the impact of honors engagement on our students' lives.

How do we take the lessons learned from this time, personally, professionally and for our honors programs and colleges, to imagine a future we could not have envisioned just a few years ago?

Conference Timeline
(subject to change)
  • March 17: Proposals Open
  • April 16: Proposals Close
  • Mid-April - Mid-May: Proposals are Reviewed/Selected
  • Late May: Proposal Notifications Sent to Presenters
  • June 1: Conference Registration Opens
  • July 1: Conference Hotel Block Opens
  • August 31: Early Bird & Presenter Registration Deadline
  • October 27-31: Conference Dates

National Poetry Month

Launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month reminds the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and, of course, poets, marking poetry's important place in our lives. In 2021, the Academy of American Poets looks forward to celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of this annual celebration! (from

NCHC celebrates poets in our honors community in multiple ways, one of which is by publishing student works in the NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity (UReCA). Visit their website to read past published works, and find out how to submit your student work for publication!

Another celebration of poetry in the honors community takes place during the Master Classes at our Annual Conference. Calls will open soon for Master Class sessions at NCHC21, where students can submit a work in progress and workshop it with a group of peers and facilitators during the conference strand. All attendees can enjoy presentation of these student talents (along with music, film, and drama) during the Master Class Showcase at the conclusion of the conference,

2021 Events and Institutes

Registration is now open for our series of Summer Institutes! Join in these online opportunities to engage and interact with your honors colleagues.

EARLY BIRD PRICING: Members always save 50% on Institute fees - but register before May 1 to save an extra $50 on each registration.

Limited spaces available!

Virtual Summer Institutes

June 8-10Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Honors Programs and Colleges: Approaches to Anti-Racism in Honors
The purpose of this summer institute is to support honors faculty and staff in the cultivation of antiracist practices in their university and academic work and in their lives. As we strive to increase diversity in our programs, Honors faculty and staff need professional development and support in this area. This material and exploration can be very taxing for us particularly for those of us who are directly affected by racism, we believe this work should not be undertaken in isolation. We also believe that the work of ant-racism is ongoing with institutions needing to prepare for diversity-minded change before simply seeking greater numbers.

Participants will:

  • Design or re-envision an anti-racism component within the participant's honors program
  • Develop a network of honors faculty and staff invested in anti-racism approaches to honors
  • Develop an internal audit/review process for access, inclusion, equity, and diversity within participant's program/college
  • Present on participant's applications to their respective honor's programs

June 23-25Gateway City as Text Institute: Reading the Local in the New Now
City as Text (CAT) has become a standard part of many honors programs, from "campus as text" orientation sessions to full-semester CAT-based courses. Re-Reading Local Spaces reimagines CAT in a flexible, hybrid, and even virtual space. Participants will develop their understanding of CAT strategies - Mapping, Observing, Listening, Reflecting - while they design ways to make CAT work regardless of context or setting. A new emphasis on multimedia platforms will be central to the Institute, providing participants with interdisciplinary experiences they may employ in documenting student learning in a variety of contexts.

July 12-13New Directors Institute
The NCHC New Directors Institute provides new honors directors and deans with best practices in curricular management and research, based on shared experiences from NCHC colleagues. Participants will take part in virtual nuts-and-bolts sessions, that will:

  • Articulate points of alignment between their own honors program's/college's mission and their broader institutional contexts
  • Identify challenges and develop strategies regarding administrative responsibilities, including budgeting, program management, and student and faculty recruitment
  • Assess their programs'/colleges' existing curricular and co-curricular models, and formulate plans for strengthening their offerings
  • Create an action plan for their continued work
July 14Admissions & Recruitment Institute
Among the Basic Characteristics of a Fully Developed Honors Program or College is "a clearly articulated set of admission criteria [that] identifies the targeted student population served by the honors program." This Institute will cover topics from developing to assessing/evaluating recruitment and admissions strategies for two-year and four-year honors programs.

Participants will:

  • Develop an honors recruitment and admissions strategy
  • Develop a marketing strategy for recruitment
  • Implement an honors recruitment and admissions strategy
  • Assess and evaluate honors recruitment and admissions strategy

July 28-30The Future of Honors
Honors has thrived in the social and economic conditions of higher ed since the 1990's, but those conditions are changing. We do not yet know the combined impact that the global pandemic and increased awareness of systemic racism will have on higher education, but added to the already existing trends of ubiquitous digital technology, disinvestment by state legislatures, demographic shifts, and the college debt crisis we can be certain that little will remain unchanged.

Whatever happened, 2020 was a critical year for higher education. Will honors thrive in the new landscape of higher education, or merely survive? What will honors education look like in 10 years? Join us as we discuss future directions in honors education, and how our programs and colleges can prepare for the uncertainty.

Participants will:

  • Become familiar with trend forecasting and scenario envisioning as methodologies
  • Recognize and analyze major trends in honors and higher education
  • Identify and explore innovations in honors education

Partners in the Parks

Calling all student adventurers!

Starting in March, Partners in the Parks is bringing you an all new online opportunity, FREE for NCHC members! Every Third Thursday at 3, you can join in the conversation to learn more about our national parks and interact with trip leaders and National Park Service personnel.

May 20: Appalachian Trail
What began in 1921 as the vision of one man, Benton MacKaye, has become the largest collaborative conservation effort in the nation. Known as the A.T., the Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains through 14 states, six national parks, eight national forests, two national wildlife refuges, and more than 80 state or municipally owned areas. Its approximately 2,180-mile length makes the A.T. one of the longest units in the National Park System.

The Appalachian Trail is cooperatively managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, several other federal and state agencies, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy—a non-governmental organization with more than 40,000 members.
Join us for an afternoon hearing tails from the trail by former NCHC Partners in the Parks Committee Co-Chair and current NCHC President-Elect, Christina McIntyre.


2022 Board Nominations

The NCHC Nominating Committee invites you to consider nominating a colleague or student to run for our Board of Directors. All you need to know about running for the Board is contained at this link, which includes the online board nomination form. You may nominate others or self-nominate for the positions of vice-president, secretary, professional at-large member, or student at-large member. Please read the qualifications for running, as well as the board member expectations document, both of which appear on the website.

Deadlines for self-nomination are June 1, 2021; if you plan to nominate a colleague, you only have until May 1, 2021. The Nominating Committee will consider those whose names have been put forward and then shape a slate that fills the current needs of the board in terms of expertise, personal identities and experiences, institutional characteristics, and geographic distribution.The strongest boards are the most diverse boards because that diversity of perspectives represented around the table helps the board make better decisions. As a result, we are committed to ensuring our board reflects the wonderful diversity of our organization. We hope you will consider serving NCHC in these very exciting times! For questions about board service, please contact the Nominating Committee Chair, Elaine Torda

Dates and Deadlines

Take note of these upcoming important dates for NCHC members!

April 1Student Awards Open:
Newsletter Competition
NCHC Portz Scholars Awards
Freddye T. Davy Scholarship
John J. Hanigan Scholarship
NCHC Student of the Year Awards
Community Engagement Award
April 16NCHC21 Proposals Close
April 21NCHC Award for Administrative Excellence Announced

May 1Nomination Deadline for 2022 Board of Directors
May 20PITP: Third Thursday @ 3 - Appalachian Trail Adventure

Call for Submission: Honors College Monograph

Abstract Proposals Due: April 15, 2021 (400-600 words)

Essays of Accepted Abstracts Due: Feb. 1, 2022 (4,000-7,000 words)

Editor: Richard Badenhausen (Dean of the Honors College at Westminster College; Past President of NCHC)

Contact: / 801.832.2460

A dozen years have passed since the publication of Peter Sederberg's Honors College Phenomenon (NCHC, 2008), a volume that investigated the operations of 35 NCHC member institutions surveyed on their respective honors colleges. That text helped flesh out the "Basic Characteristics of a Fully Developed Honors College" (approved by the NCHC Board of Directors in 2005) and offered insight into the burgeoning honors college movement.

Today there are more than 250 honors colleges in the United States alone with more coming online each semester. No longer a mere "phenomenon," honors college are an entrenched part of the higher education landscape, often playing a key role in a university's enrollment management tactics, strategic positioning plans, and fundraising efforts. At a time when many sectors in higher education are contracting, honors colleges represent a growth industry, often one of the first features a new university president will look towards to engage donors, innovate in curriculum, and grow enrollment. In light of that context and the massive changes to higher education over the past decade, the time is ripe for a new volume exploring the role honors colleges play on campuses across the country (and abroad, if applicable).

This volume will be of use to those hoping to start or transition to an honors college and those looking to enhance an existing honors college. It will help university personnel who are not part of the honors community better understand the key role played by honors colleges and it will provide benchmark data on honors colleges to help programs budget, plan, and innovate.

The volume will be anchored by an essay written by Trisha Smith and Andrew Cognard-Black on the characteristics of the 21st-century honors college, based on national survey data. While all topics will be considered, the subjects mentioned in the chapter outline at the end of this document are of particular interest.

With the exception of the case studies, authors are encouraged to move beyond the "here's what we do at our place" orientation and instead provide well-researched essays that explore honors more broadly and acknowledge the literature on honors education, honors colleges, and higher ed. A range of perspectives are welcome, including those from faculty, staff, and administrators.

Email proposals of 400-600 words to Richard Badenhausen at before April 15, 2021 and include a current vita or resume.

Draft Outline

Part One: Context

  1. History of Honors Colleges
  2. Characteristics of the 21st Century Honors College (Smith & Cognard-Black)
  3. Why start an honors college?
  4. Transitioning from honors program to honors college: moving beyond changing the sign on the door
  5. Other?

Part Two: Honors College Case Studies
  1. Large R1
  2. Regional University
  3. Private 4-year
  4. Two-year college
  5. Honors College LLC
  6. Honors Colleges at HBCU
  7. Other?

Part Three: Targeted Issues
  1. Enrollment management strategies within an honors college
  2. Honors college curricular models
  3. Honors college budgeting strategies
  4. Fundraising strategies in honors colleges
  5. Honors college advisory boards (or, more broadly, the role of alums in honors colleges)
  6. Marketing and communication (internal and external) strategies for honors colleges
  7. The role of the honors college dean
  8. Honors colleges and campus politics
  9. Fellowship advising and the honors college
  10. Honors colleges as leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion
  11. Other?

* * * * *

Call for JNCHC Submissions

The next issue of JNCHC (deadline: September 1, 2021) invites research essays on any topic of interest to the honors community.

The issue will also include a Forum focused on the theme "Honors after COVID," in which we invite honors educators to look beyond the urgencies of the moment and imagine the pandemic's impact on the future of honors in higher 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 François G. Amar of the University of Maine. In his essay, "Honors in the Post-Pandemic World: Situation Perilous," Amar provides a wide-ranging yet succinct description of the changes wrought by COVID and speculation about how these changes, though perilous, can lead to significant future benefits. He stresses the moral and educational imperative of making our way through the current crisis by adhering to "the core values of honors, such as diversity, community, student agency, and inclusive excellence," which will help honors weather the coming financial contractions. At the same time, the pandemic has taught us lessons and offered future pathways that can advance the value of honors through benefits, like interinstitutional collaboration, that have become a necessity during the crisis. The synchronicity between the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement has also highlighted inequities that require renewed attention and new action that can transform honors, infusing it with deeper introspection of past and current inadequacies in addressing issues of racial and social justice.Contributors to the Forum on "Honors after COVID" may, but are not obliged to, respond directly to Amar's essay. Questions that Forum contributors might consider include:

  • Will the technologies that have been thrust upon all educators and students be a threat to future learning or a doorway into enriched educational options?
  • Will the "core values of honors, such as diversity, community, student agency, and inclusive excellence" gain strength from the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement?
  • Will these "core values" elicit skepticism among those who see honors as elitist?
  • Will the access made possible through Zoom and other internet connections make honors more feasible and attractive to previously skeptical or excluded students?
  • Will the financial gains of relying increasingly on distance learning disrupt the sense of community that honors fosters?
  • Will privileges for honors students—such as small class sizes, close relationships to instructors, and opportunities for research, study abroad, and service leaning—come under fire as unaffordable luxuries?
  • What specific forms of intra- and inter-institutional cooperation might benefit honors both nationally and in individual programs and colleges?
  • Are national test scores likely now to become less influential in admissions to institutions and to honors, and to what effect?

Information about JNCHC—including the editorial policy, submission guidelines, guidelines for abstracts and keywords, and a style sheet—is available on the NCHC website.

Please send all submissions to Ada Long at

NCHC journals (JNCHC and HIP) 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.

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