News from NCHC | June 2021

In This Issue...

From the ED


2021 Events & Institutes

PITP: Big Thicket Online

2021 Spring Portz Grants

Student Awards and Scholarships

Dates and Deadlines

New Honors Sample Syllabi

HIP 17 Available

JNCHC Call for Papers

GEICO Member Discount

From the ED

Trending Now

Trending now.

It's a phrase that we've grown used to seeing in our newsfeeds, screen time, social media posts. I hadn't thought much about how the phrase shaped what I had read or watched until the last few weeks. While in pandemic captivity, I think I was tied to the trending options online, hoping I'd be able to stay relevant and able to refer to the most current small talk conversations on Zoom. Or hoping I didn't miss some trending, streaming, made-for-distraction television.

Leaping forward just a mere three months into a more traditional work setting, the trending conversations are less about a list on a screen, and shaped more by interaction with office mates, family, and friends. Experiences, events, personal narratives.

Trending now. For the better part of a year, we may have prioritized some of our decisions based on "someone said you should care about this." Now, the time and energy we invest seem to challenge the very trends that intrigued us just weeks ago.

I'm seeing a new emphasis on the trendlines. We hope for intentionality because we saw the chaos of the last year. We work for intentionality because we understand what it means to stand idly by.

But accountability and intentionality on the same Gantt chart? On the same SWOT analysis?

Trending this week, the NCHC Board of Directors is meeting virtually. The work of the honors network is as critical as ever, as we've learned of professionals who've lost their careers, and programs that have dissolved. We've been in touch with honors directors looking for research that would help them build the case for honors in the fall of 2021. We've also learned of numerous activities in the planning stages in NCHC committees. Opportunities to connect new honors leadership to honors experts in strategic and relational ways.

During the Board meeting, the directors will review many new proposals, and not only weigh them against each other, but also against the trends in financial viability, volunteer capacity, and membership benefits.

Just as importantly, the board members will be balancing the needs of the network with their own perspectives as we work to address the growing list of trends that drive academia, among them: assistance for students in crisis, online learning experiences, the value of higher education degrees, faculty burnout, and equity and access issues.

I keep thinking about the emails and text alerts that indicate trending news stories in our neighborhood. There are people who read the news, and there are people who set the trending news cycle. The work ahead of the board this week is to represent a little of both, using innovation and out-of-the-box thinking to address the larger issues at hand in honors curricula, personnel, student-life, and events.

The work of being a trend-setter is daunting and rewarding.

Honors 2021: intentional, relevant, trending now.

Mary Beth


NCHC is Florida-bound this October! We're giving away THREE FREE REGISTRATIONS to #NCHC21, and all you have to do to enter is register! On July 1, the first name will be drawn from all registered attendees to receive a free conference registration.

Registrations must be received by 11:59pm CST on June 30 to be eligible to win. All registrations received by NCHC prior to July 1 are included as eligible for the drawing.

Two more winners will be drawn on August 1 and September 1; the earlier you register, the more chances you have to win!

PRESENTERS: Don't forget! All NCHC21 presenters must be registered and paid by August 31 to secure your place in the conference schedule.

Register Today

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NCHC21 Hotel Early Access in June!

Hotel Reservations for the NCHC21 Block will open to all members on July 1. Register in June to receive priority access to booking in the hotel block! (Link provided in confirmation email.) Visit our Hotel and Travel page for booking information as well as air travel discounts and ground transport details.

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Additional Disney Theme Park Tickets

Visit the Hotel & Travel Page or your hotel reservation page for a link to book discounted additional tickets for Disney Theme Park experiences while in Florida.

Please Note that Disney Theme Parks are currently operating at a reduced capacity. Please see the Walt Disney World website for all COVID-19 guidelines and important details pertaining to visiting the parks.

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.

Limited spaces available!

Virtual Summer Institutes

June 23-25

Gateway 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 12-13 New 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 14 Admissions & 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 28-30 The 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!

Throughout 2021, 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.

Join us on Thursday, June 17 for a free Virtual Adventure in the Big Thicket National Preserve with Partners in the Parks!

Explore the Big Thicket National Preserve through presentation and video. Life of all types abounds in the Big Thicket. This national preserve protects the incredible diversity of life found where multiple habitats converge in southeast Texas. Hiking trails and waterways meander through nine different ecosystems, from longleaf pine forests to cypress-lined bayous. It is a place of discovery, a place to wander and explore, a place to marvel at the richness of nature.


2021 Spring Portz Grants

Congratulations to the recipients of our 2021 Spring Portz Grants! Then NCHC community is excited to see how these grants further the honors experience at your institution. Fall Portz Grant applications will open August 1 and close September 28.

John Bawden, University of Montevallo
The 1922 Project
"A very recognizable form of the United States existed in 1922. Ideas and institutions were taking shape that have persisted to the present. And yet, the United States in 1920s was a strange land of peculiar habits and different modes of thinking. Many of the country's greatest challenges remain. "The 1922 Project", an Honors class at the University of Montevallo, aims to investigate American life one hundred years ago in the state of Alabama. What has changed and what has stayed the same with respect to food, farms, cities, urban life, clothing, the armed forces, cinema, music, radio, transportation, professional sports, race, social inequality, female enfranchisement, extremism, religion, conservation, economic life, consumer culture, advertising, domestic pets, politics, childrearing, health care, and weather forecasting. These are just some of the topics students may choose as their individual focus.

Each student will write a research paper and contribute one chapter to the class's digital presentation/documentary. The goal is to tell a range of stories that feature the lives of different Alabamians reflecting the state's diversity. During the semester, we will consider issues related to intellectual property -- music, images, motion pictures – as well as review opportunities for the wider dissemination of our work as a podcast or documentary on the class Omeka website.

The focus of the project is Alabama, but the 1922 Project will interest both national and regional audiences. What does Alabama in 1922 tell us about broader changes sweeping the nation as well the state's differences from other regions? The focus on Alabama involves identifying national trends in relationship to the state's development. Collaboration towards a common goal and broad semination of our work will greatly strengthen Montevallo's Honors Program. This is student-directed project and my expectation is that the class will run again in the spring semester. Students will take charge of the project, its archival research, and aesthetic design. Once there is a final product to promote, students will take charge of that aspect as well. Apart from a digital dissemination, the results will be presented at least one honors conference."

Maria Garcia, Eastern Michigan University
Enhancing Cultural Competency through Virtual Engagement

"The purpose of this project is to pilot a method for expanding students' global competency in circumstances where they lack access to international travel. Direct engagement with global cultural diversity has long been a priority of the Honors program at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). As a College, we have promoted opportunities for Honors students to engage directly with culturally diverse communities throughout the world, primarily through study abroad. The COVID-19 pandemic has led us to seek innovative approaches to making global engagements with cultural diversity accessible to students, despite constraints on travel. Beginning August 2021, with the assistance of the Portz Grant, we intend to offer virtual, global engagement opportunities to Honors students.

The first such opportunity, scheduled for August 2021, will involve collaboration with a research collective in the Ixil Maya town of Nebaj, El Quiché, Guatemala, under the leadership of Dr. María Luz García, a linguistic and cultural anthropologist who has worked in the region for over 20 years. Within the context of a week-long, virtual workshop, students will first work with Dr. García to analyze videos and photographs from the cultural context under analysis. In the initial prototype, this will be an outdoor market where Maya community members purchase food and other supplies on a daily basis. Students will learn to observe patterns of interaction, the organization of space, and the types of activities different groups of people conduct. They will then work with Dr. García and other Honors students to discuss techniques for building rapport and asking questions during scheduled, ethnographic interview sessions with members of the community. Following a virtual interview, the students will compile the results of their observations and interviews to find patterns of cultural meanings and reflect on the methods that they used in learning in culturally diverse global environments. This pilot program represents a first step toward offering students similar opportunities to engage virtually with global academic partners in India, China, Mexico, Tanzania, and Japan."

Sarah Maria Rutter, Roosevelt University
The "Jane" Project, An Honors Exchange

"The Roosevelt University Honors Program (RU Honors) hosts an annual Honors Exchange, a collaborative partnership with a peer institution and community establishments that includes intellectual, experiential, social, and local engagement. Our Honors Exchange partner for this project is the Honors College of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Our project for the upcoming Honors Exchange is focused on the name "Jane" and exploration of the identity, difference, intention, and scholarship of a set of individuals who share the name. Many of the Janes that would be studied during the exchange (ex. Jane Addams and Hull House, Jane Byrne, Chicago mayor)) were pioneers in their respective fields and all share the commonality of their origins (Chicago or the Midwest) in addition to their names. Their disciplines, professional, and personal lives allowed them the platform to evoke considerable changes that contributed to the betterment of society in some facet (ex. Jane Addams' participation in the women's suffrage movement eventually lead to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution which gave women the right to vote). Being that our institution has a commitment to social justice, the "Jane" project, and its emphasis on Roosevelt's "the city as the classroom" motto, strategically aligns with the university's mission of promoting an educational experience that allows for the examination and cognizance of the numerous interconnected aspects in our journey towards social justice, starting with our home, Chicago. The goal is to create an environment that allows students to collaborate with, and gain insight from, the community and its scholars and nonacademic experts. This exchange is a highly interactive experience, including local field trips (Hull House (on UIC's campus), local library archives, Jane Addams' birthplace in northern Illinois, etc.), enabling students to connect with learners across multiple disciplines, network with faculty members, and become familiar with the city and its innumerable significant sites in a non-classroom intellectual engagement within a conference setting (Honors Program Characteristic #15)." Statement written by Mia Moore, freshman honors student and Honors Program research assistant

NCHC Student Awards and Scholarships

Applications are still open for the following student awards:

NCHC Honors Newsletter Competition (closes June 30)
National Recognition & Award for Honors Print and E-Newsletters

Freddye T. Davy Student Scholarship (closes August 1)
Four $1,000 scholarships toward the costs of an honors event or activity

Community Engagement Award (closes August 1)
Online platform to promote community project + national recognition

John J. Hanigan Student Scholarship (closes September 8)
One $500 scholarship toward the costs of an honors event or activity

NCHC Student of the Year Award (closes September 8)
$1,000 to one 2-Year and one 4-Year Institution Winner

Dates and Deadlines

Take note of these upcoming important dates for NCHC members!

June 17-18 NCHC Summer Board Meeting
June 17PITP Virtual Adventure: Big Thicket National Preserve
June 23-25City as Text Faculty Institute: Re-Reading Local Spaces
July 1Florida Freebie Drawing #1
July 12-13NCHC New Directors Institute
July 14Admissions & Recruitment Institute
July 15 PITP Virtual Adventure: Acadia National Park

New Honors Syllabi Available

Did you know that NCHC houses an archive of sample syllabi for honors courses? Syllabi are submitted annually to NCHC's Publications Board for review, and grouped by student year. As you plan ahead for the next academic year, browse these available samples for new ideas and structures to incorporate in your own courses.

If you have syllabi to submit for the archive, watch for the call in January of 2022! New syllabi will be reviewed and added to the archive the following summer.

View the Sample Syllabi Archive

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HIP 17

The latest issue of JNCHC is now complete and available! If you receive print copies of your NCHC member publications, watch your mailbox. The latest issue is also available digitally to all members on the Digital Commons. Happy reading!

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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.

Member Benefit: GEICO Discount

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