News from NCHC | December 2017

In This Issue...

From the President
From the ED - The Value of Membership
2018 Membership Renewal
Public v. Private Lands - Place as Text
Sponsor: Phi Kappa Phi

From the Research Committee
Membership Giveaway Winners
Sponsor: ACHS
NCHC Portz Grant Winners

Sponsor: PebblePad
2018 Trainings & Travels
Call for UReCA Publications
Call for HIP
Call for NCHC Monograph

President's Post

It is a great pleasure to be writing my first newsletter post as your president, and the first after our very successful 2017 conference. With over 2000 participants, "Just honors" was our best attended conference since New Orleans in 2013, and our first in which we partnered with NAAAHP, the National Association of African American Honors Programs. Under the leadership of our new executive director, Mary Beth Rathe, and her talented staff, along with our (now immediate past) president Art Spisak and our treasurer, Steve Engel, our conference came in under budget and our organization is now in the black.

Among many wonderful moments at conference, I'd like to draw your attention to an important step we took in Atlanta: At a conference dedicated to exploring not just how we teach and learn about justice in honors, but how honors itself can be a place of access, equity and excellence in higher education, the Board of Directors identified "Diversity and Inclusion" as NCHC's fourth strategic priority. Now, the challenging work of determining how to work toward that goal must begin, and I look forward to discussing that work with the board, with the committees, and with the membership in general. Please feel free to share with me your thoughts, ideas and concerns.

The first question we must address, it seems to me, is what, as an organization, we mean by "diversity." Certainly, racial, ethnic and socio-economic factors are essential, along with gender, sexual orientation, educational background and immigration status, but there are other ways, as an organization, that we are diverse: Our members are people from a range of backgrounds, disciplines, roles and institutions; students, faculty, administrators and staff; two- and four-year schools, R1s and PUIs, public and private, secular and faith-based, HBCU's and PWI's and tribal institutions. They are North American, European and Chinese.

We must ask ourselves, how does this diversity shape our organization? What are the intersections among these many identities? Who is included? Who is marginalized, whether directly or inadvertently? These questions can be difficult, and even painful, but must be considered in order to begin to address how NCHC can be a community of inclusive excellence.

I invite you to examine these questions with me, on the board, in the committees, and on your campuses. Please feel free to share with me your thoughts, ideas and concerns. As Greg Boyle SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries, has reminded us, when we stand on the margins, the margins are erased.

Peace, joy and honors,


From the Executive Director: The Value of Membership

The semester is about over on campus. NCHC's 'Just Honors' Conference has come to a successful close. New calendars have been purchased and everyone is looking at how to make it to the end of the month: to use whatever resources are available for the holiday, or to strategically determine the feasibility of an additional investment or donation before taxes.

The national office also recognizes you're studying budgets for dues and registration payments, looking for the best potential expenses for professional growth and opportunity.

We think your NCHC membership is a great value, providing access to a network of honors education experts, unlimited resources for your library and classroom, as well as unique travel and training classrooms.

Did you know that your $500.00 institutional membership helps advocate for honors by

  • Covering the cost for development, printing and mailing of the NCHC publications annually? But more than that, it helps to cover the costs of editors' time and expertise; staff time for reconciling publications with the Digital Commons; and necessary software and resources to provide honors researchers the capability of downloading more than 28,000 publications in 146 countries during 2017.
  • Providing opportunities for honors professionals to attend both teaching and learning, as well as administrative and organizational, training? Summer institutes provided training for professionals interested in honors advising, becoming a program reviewer and establishing their role as a new honors director. More than 120 individuals took advantage of NCHC sponsored professional development training, growing the ability to implement best practices, provide mentorship and shared resources, and impacting students on numerous campuses.
  • Expanding the experiential opportunities for both faculty and students? Partners in the Parks excursions and Honors Semesters opportunities explored the country and abroad and provided those in the honors network a place to engage with new sites, cultures and people. NCHC gained new friends and advocates in both commercial and government entities – through the vision of leaders for these excursions.
  • Contributing to the development and analysis of honors research conducted in the network? As questions continue to swirl in higher education about value and return on investment, the NCHC surveys and the continued work of key committee members will provide tools for individual members to use as needed for local purpose and advocacy.

To those of you who already have renewed your membership with NCHC, I thank you. And if you get a chance over your short-but-hopefully-rejuvenating holiday break, I would encourage you to leave a short note for us: what do you find is the best use of your membership? What recommendations would you have for an institution who may not have yet renewed? Where else can you get so much for just $1.37 a day? Follow this link to leave us a message we could use in the upcoming renewal month!

Here's to making 2018 the year of value: professionally through NCHC, I hope to hear from many of you as you look for the resources to meet the challenge of this era in honors education. And personally, I hope that you continue to feel that NCHC truly recognizes your investment of time and expertise.

Looking forward to #Honors2018,

Mary Beth

Simply log in to your Member Profile, and click the banner at the top of the page to generate an invoice or pay online!

"Protection of Artifacts and Sacred Lands," or "Federal Land Grab"?

Learn First-hand with Experiential Opportunities from NCHC

From the New York Times on December 8, 2017:

"President Trump on (December 4) announced deep cuts to the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, a site that has become the symbol of the battle over America's protected public lands.

The monument, a vast, remote stretch of red rock canyons, dotted with Native American sites, was reduced by 85 percent – more than a million acres – and divided into two disconnected parks. The nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996, was also diminished by 45 percent.

Soon after the announcement, five Native American tribes sued the Trump administration, arguing that Mr. Trump was "attempting to, in effect, abolish the Bears Ears National Monument." Several more lawsuits have since been filed by conservation, historical and outdoor industry groups." READ MORE

Heated discussions are happening around the country over the wild lands within the borders of the United States. In 2018, the NCHC Honors Semesters committee is providing two opportunities for deep exploration of contemporary questions about our public lands: How are tensions between the tourism industry and environmental preservation negotiated? What complexities are generated when differing cultures and stakeholders lay claim to a particular location? How are notions of "wilderness" constructed?

FACULTY: Travel to Yellowstone National Park this summer with the NCHC Faculty Institute. Explore the borderlands first-hand while you gain a personal understanding of the complex issues that arise at the intersection of public and private lands. Participants will read texts about this country's wild lands, explore the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to gain understanding of wild and not-so-wild places, and engage local citizens in discussions of place and the competing values associated with it. A range of locations, including both public and private lands within the broader ecosystem, will be explored through direct observations, interviews, and mapping exercises, as well as through group discussion and personal writing assignments. While traveling, gain professional development experience as you learn to adapt City as Text™ methodology to your home campus, and to residential travel programs or academic service-learning immersion projects. DETAILS HERE

STUDENTS: Take part in the Grand Canyon Semester, from August to December 2018. On backcountry field trips, in classrooms and art galleries, around campfires, in traditional hogans, and floating down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, confront key environmental and social challenges in diverse natural and cultural landscapes. The Grand Canyon Semester's broad theme, Boundaries and Borders, evokes a deep exploration of the complex issues that influence and shape natural and cultural worlds. DETAILS HERE

Thank you to Phi Kappa Phi, sponsors of our 2017 Conference!

To Join or Not to Join?

Receiving an invitation to join a collegiate honor society is a well-deserved reward for achieving academic excellence. But it can also leave students with questions: Is the honor society legitimate? Is it worth joining?

Might we suggest a strategy?

First, students should examine the history of the honor society in question. Legitimate societies have a long history and legacy that is easily recognizable. Take our honor society, Phi Kappa Phi, for example. We were founded in 1897 at the University of Maine. Today we have chapters on more than 300 campuses and have initiated over 1.5 million members.

Then, look at the eligibility requirements. Our invitations recognize sustained academic achievement over several years, which is why they are typically extended late in a student's undergraduate career.

Ask faculty and staff at your institution, who can be a great resource in helping you discern whether an honor society is a good fit.

Finally, look at the member benefits as you consider the value of joining. In addition to academic recognition, honor societies often offer benefits such as awards and grants, career and networking resources, partnership discounts, leadership opportunities and more.

As we like to say at Phi Kappa Phi, membership is more than just a line on a résumé. It's an honor.


About Phi Kappa Phi
Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Membership is by invitation only to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and 7.5 percent of juniors. Faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction also qualify. Each biennium Phi Kappa Phi awards $1.4 million to qualifying students and members through graduate fellowships, undergraduate study abroad grants, member and chapter awards, and grants for local and national literacy initiatives. For more information, visit

From the Research Committee

Beginning with this newsletter, the Research Committee will be updating NCHC members on resources and initiatives. As to resources, there are our journals, of course, to begin with—JNCHC, HIP and our new undergraduate journal, UReCA, as well as our monograph series. And there are our data resources. NCHC has three membership-wide surveys with data on a variety of variables captured at the institutional level. Two of these surveys have been administered already—Census (2013 and 2016) and the Admissions, Retention and Completion Survey (2015), with the third focusing on finances and other resources, which is in progress right now, Budget and Resources Survey. For those interested in using comparative national benchmarking data from these surveys in conjunction with their own program-level data, we developed the ARC Data Set Template. Annual updates of the ARC Data Set Template can be found on the NCHC web site under the Research tab.

As a committee, we are charged to, "Encourage, stimulate, and undertake research directed towards honors programs, honors students, and honors faculty." To that end, we would like to hear from all of you. What are you working on? How can we help you connect with other researchers? What do we need to know (that we don't already)? Where can we bring research to bear on our other strategic priorities? Anything else?

We want to keep the conversation going, relative to research, between the meetings of our committee, so we need your help. Please be in touch.

Wishing you happy holiday season,

Jerry Herron (
Tricia Smith (

Co-chairs, Research Committee


Congratulations to Georgia State University (directed by Dr. Larry Berman) and California State University, Fresno (directed by Dr. Saeed Attar) for winning NCHC institutional memberships for 2018! These winners were drawn at random from among 272 honors programs who completed the NCHC 2017 Budget and Resources Survey. We had a strong showing, with 31 percent of member institutions responding to the survey. Thank you to all institutional members and their dedicated staff who contributed time and effort to this important research project! Summary results from the Budget and Resources Survey are expected in spring 2018.

Thank you to ACHS, sponsors of our 2017 Conference!

Defining Honor

by Lisa Wootton Booth, Executive Director, Association of College Honor Societies

All students want to be recognized as high achievers to gain an edge in the fields they hope to enter. They curate memberships and activities intended to impress, and they trust that the honors bestowed upon them will demonstrate their worthiness to graduate schools and employers.

In their quest to land careers that promise a lifetime of stability and satisfaction, students can be vulnerable to unscrupulous companies that prey on their desire to stand out.

For decades, opportunists have tried to lure an ever-expanding pool of students eager to be labeled gifted. They 'honor' anyone who pays, regardless of academic record, enrollment status, leadership qualities, or any other criteria. Students pay exorbitant fees to join, only to find that membership is less valuable than the paper it's printed on.

The Association of College Honor Societies formed in 1925 to combat this trend by defining standards, flagging warning signs, and promoting practices that support high achievers. Where some see a money-making opportunity, ACHS-certified societies see an opportunity to serve. As members of the honors community, it is incumbent upon us to know the difference, and to guide gifted students toward worthwhile experiences. Learn more about genuine honor societies at

NCHC Portz Grants

Congratulations to Northwestern College and Washington State University, recipients of the Fall 2017 Portz Grants.

Northwestern College, a small faith-based college in Northern Iowa, has been granted $1271.36 to aid in providing stipends for faculty who take the time to develop courses for their newly overhauled and growing honors core curriculum. The new honors curriculum at Northwestern College strives to occupy ideological spaces that, by design, blur disciplinary lines. Not only do their courses focus on broad, foundational topics that overlap with multiple disciplines; they have also been designed to fulfill the objectives of two required general education categories simultaneously. Each course must legitimately address the stated educational objectives of two categories with the same strength and vigor of conventional general education courses which address only one at a time. To accomplish this, they have taken the unconventional step of developing parallel assignments within the same course. The resulting interdisciplinary swirl is the new curriculum's hallmark. Stipends supported by this Portz Grant will encourage faculty to participate in the daunting but rewarding task of developing and building such innovative curriculum.

Washington State University has also been granted $1271.36, to aid in faculty stipend overloads for "Innovative Interdisciplinary Course Development." The proposed project seeks to partner the Washington State University Honors College and the Washington State University Global Campus by developing, delivering, and assessing the first online honors course at WSU. This innovative course—Honors 280: Contextual Understanding in the Arts and Humanities Through the Short Story— will also serve as the first online creative writing course offered at WSU, and one of the first, if not the very first, online honors creative writing courses offered in the nation. The proposed project will have the potential to serve as a model across the wider WSU institution, especially as other campus units—such as the English Department with its established creative writing program—look to develop online degree programs with Global Campus. The project also has the potential to serve as a national model for other honors colleges and programs outside of WSU that are looking to diversify their course offerings and course delivery systems by developing and offering online honors courses.

Portz Grant recipients are required to submit a written report of outcome to the NCHC Awards and Grants Committee. They are also encouraged to present their project at a future NCHC Conference. We look forward to hearing more about these honors innovations. If you have an innovative classroom idea that could be launched with financial support from NCHC, consider applying for the Spring 2018 Portz Grants. Applications will open January 25, 2018.

Thank you to PebblePad, sponsors of our 2017 Conference!

Capturing Your Honors Student Journey with the High Impact Practice of ePortfolio Development

As a strong supporter of ePortfolio development, PebblePad was pleased to participate in the 2017 NCHC conference. We recognize that 'high impact practices' (HIP) defined by Kuh (2008) as active learning processes that promote deep learning and student engagement, are an integral part of the honors curriculum. The HIPs in which honors students participate are effectively supported through ePortfolio processes which have been shown to engage students in critical reflection and connection-making across curricular and co-curricular experiences generating a showcase of authentic evidence of their learning. AAC&U (Kuh, et al., 2016) has recently recognized ePortfolios themselves as "the 11th high-impact practice," since they have the potential to integrate other high-impact practices.

Honor's students are curious, engaged and motivated learners. An ePortfolio is the ideal space in which they can apply these characteristics through the development of both learning and showcase portfolios. The outcomes are reflective evidence-rich portfolios that have future value for students, enabling them to demonstrate their knowledge for an internship, job search, graduate school applications and beyond.

If you would like to use ePortfolios with your students and want to learn more about how PebblePad can support HIPs on your campus please visit


Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Kuh, G., Chen, H., Penny-Light, T., Rhodes, T., Watson, E. (2016). Editorial: ePortfolios – The Eleventh High Impact Practice. International Journal of ePortfolio, 6(2), 65-69.

2018 Trainings & Travels

Check out the great new offerings from NCHC in 2018, now posted on the NCHC Website!

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: With five opportunities ranging from the classic New Directors Institute to the brand new Enrollment Management or Fundraising 101 Institutes, there is summer training available from NCHC no matter your title or tenure in honors. Connect with colleagues and grow your skills in 2018! If you're looking for experiential education, try the Directors Retreat with Partners in the Parks at Highland Cove Lake, NC, or one of three amazing adventures with the NCHC Place as Text Institutes – in Barcelona, Yellowstone National Park, or Boston, MA!

STUDENT ADVENTURES: Partners in the Parks opportunities are now open for registration, and filling up fast! Send students on the adventure of a lifetime as they explore some of the most beautiful and unique parts of the national park system. With eleven opportunities from May to August, there's something available for everyone!

Calls For Publications

UReCA is now accepting Student Submissions and Editor Applications for 2018!

The Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, UReCA, is nationally recognized and sponsored by the NCHC. The only student-led and peer-reviewed journal for undergraduates, UReCA showcases competitive multi-disciplinary works produced by honors students from across the U.S.

DIRECTORS: Download This Flyer and share with your students - print and post on your bulletin boards as well!

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Call for HIP - Final Call for Submissions

Honors in Practice is accepting submissions for Volume 14 (2018). The deadline is January 1, 2018. Information about HIP, including the editorial policy and submission guidelines as well as a style sheet for the journal, is available here on the NCHC website.

Please send all submissions and inquiries to Ada Long at

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CFP for NCHC Monograph: Honors Contracts: Insights and Oversights

Editor: Kristine Miller, Professor of English and University Honors Program Director, Utah State University

This collection explores the pedagogical value, benefits, and difficulties associated with incorporating contracts into honors curricula. Contracts can take many forms, from traditional course contracts, which typically add assignments or papers to the workload of non-honors courses, to more flexible independent-study agreements between faculty mentors and honors students. This collection enters the conversation about honors contracts by examining in detail specific examples of—or alternatives to—such work.

The editor seeks original, previously unpublished scholarship answering a range of questions about how contracts function in honors education. How might contracts enrich or impoverish student experience, align or conflict with honors objectives? Where might contracts best fit within an honors curriculum, or what alternatives might replace them? Which aspects of contract or independent work with honors students might excite or discourage faculty, and are there effective ways to incentivize such work? Can contracts effectively prepare honors students for thesis or capstone projects? What models exist for assessing the outcomes of honors contracts, and what data have honors educators discovered about such work? How can this data drive curricular decision-making in honors programs and colleges?

Chapter proposals should include information about size of institution(s) and honors program(s) or college(s), as well as a clear articulation of the goals, content, oversight, and assessment of contracts or curricular alternatives; they may differ in approach and emphasis. Proposals should articulate specific arguments about contracts, pro or con, using concrete examples that might include the following:

  • Case studies or comparative analyses of existing curricula with or without contracts;
  • Innovative or unimaginative approaches to honors contracts and curricula;
  • Effective or ineffectual guidelines, handbooks, or forms;
  • Creative or traditional systems for tabulating honors credit or points;
  • Fully, partially, or insufficiently developed assessment protocols and trouble-shooting strategies for contracts;
  • Possibilities or difficulties in creating contract incentives and rewards for faculty or students;
  • Strategies for structured capstone and career preparation, with or without contracts.
  • Please send abstracts of 250-300 words and a brief two-page CV by January 2, 2018, to Dr. Kristine Miller at

    Completed essays must be submitted by July 1, 2018. These final submissions must be between 15 and 25 double-spaced pages long using 12-point font (including notes, bibliography, etc.), and they should follow MLA formatting guidelines.