News from NCHC | March 2020

In This Issue...

From the President

From the ED

From the Conference Chair

NCHC20 Updates

NCHC20 Proposals

2021 Board Nominations

Dates & Deadlines

JNCHC Call for Papers

UReCA Editors

GEICO Member Discount

From the President

(republished from March 16)

Dear Colleagues,

The initial draft of this letter was very different from what finally emerged. My first was a celebratory note, talking about the positive work recently done by the NCHC staff, committees, and Board.

In February, I left my first Board meeting as president feeling energized by and proud of all the work done by various NCHC members and committees, and all we accomplished at that meeting. We passed an informed decision-making policy, continued efforts to expand organizational research, made progress on committee structures and roles, and began projects that will move forward our strategic plan. Our focus on member benefits and organizational excellence seemed to be moving along splendidly. I was thrilled to share the energy and positivity gained from productive and creative interactions with my fellow Board members and the NCHC staff.

All of that should be celebrated. Yet, when I got home, institutional, state, national and even international events intruded. And so has my letter's focus.

As we know, this academic year brought normal semester issues, sometimes exacerbated by tight budgets, increased mental health issues, and amplified needs to prove the value added that honors can provide. Amidst this though, many of us are dealing with a new concern. The coronavirus has and continues to bring new challenges every day. Wednesday, after sitting in a third meeting on the topic, and subsequently learning that I was not going to present a very carefully prepared presentation to our Board on the wonders of our honors program, I found that the Board meeting was superseded (and rightly so) by its members' need to refocus on the New York State governor's unexpected announcement that SUNY and CUNY schools would convert to distance learning formats within a ten-day period. In the last 24 hours, our world has changed significantly. Professional, college and high school sports have been cancelled. Towns and cities are being quarantined. Travel bans have been enacted. College students are being sent home. Hand sanitizers and toilet paper have become scarce commodities. We have learned new terms: social distancing and instructional continuity.

Historically in honors, many have resisted the idea of distance or remote learning, while others have needed to explore and become proficient at it to better serve the students of today. Now, many of us, of necessity, will expand into these formats. We have many colleagues in honors who engage in remote learning--synchronously and asynchronously. With all of this in mind, the NCHC office staff pulled together information from all its constituents to keep us informed on quickly changing coronavirus updates and reached out to find those in the two-year group and beyond who can offer remote learning tips and training for those who might be unfamiliar. The results are a great compilation of NCHC updates related to COVID-19, the beginnings of an Online Honors Courses toolkit and an online roundtable on Tuesday for those interested in exploring remote learning possibilities—online, Zoom, Google to name but a few possibilities. The NCHC staff is doing its best to remain calm in chaos and meet, nay, anticipate, the members' needs.

Where all of this takes us, we know not. We are in unchartered waters. In honors, we pride ourselves on being leaders in educational modalities and pedagogy, able to borrow and learn from one another, and pass on new ideas and ways to the rest of our institutional colleagues. Much as I have drawn on the memories of the positivity and energy from my honors Board colleagues over the last couple of weeks, I urge you to draw on and support one another. While we may be separated physically or even isolated, we can come together in spirit and through technology and our love of honors education. As always, honors program students, faculty, staff, and administrators will continue to do our best for our students, our programs, our institutions, and one another—because it is what we do: lead, share, evolve with the times. Be well, be strong, and carry on, my friends.

Elaine Torda
NCHC President
Orange County Community College

From the ED

Buffering through COVID19

It's one thing to need to make decisions. It's another to be forced to make these unprecedented decisions with such necessitated speed. The current state of affairs has taken us out of our comfort zones and mandated that we be at peace with the decisions that we're making with the information that we have at the moment.

Buffering. Bandwidth exceeded.

It's difficult to know what to do to respond, especially for a network that is driven by connectivity, and whose resources are created and so willingly shared by you, NCHC's members. The work of your semester has shifted, the expectations of the students has changed, and all within what feels like isolation in a sci-fi movie.

The national office has been following COVID19 online in a short association web update from Associations Now. A resource shared by a member via MLA, includes a crowd-sourced collection of tools.

Since last week when the online roundtable with Dr. Victoria Bryan was announced, several of you have been kind enough to share resources and supportive blogposts. If you haven't seen them on the member forum, please take a look for yourself.

Download complete.

Please continue to let us know how we can help as we all move through these uncertain weeks ahead. We can compensate for social-distancing by being social-savvy. We hope you continue to share your compassion and expertise.

Wishing you health, safety, peace (and the essentials for daily life),

Mary Beth
NCHC Executive Director

From the Conference Chair

Speakers secured for the 2020 Conference

Megan Phelps-Roper and Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt are confirmed as the Opening Keynote and the Plenary speakers at NCHC's 2020 conference in Dallas, TX.

Megan's is a story of transformation brought about through patient dialog and compassionate listening. Megan was raised in the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. As a child, she carried signs spewing homophobic and anti-Semitic hatred that she couldn't even read at church-organized protests, eventually actually becoming a spokesperson for the church. But when Megan finally began to "listen to the other," her heart and then her mind opened to interpretations of scripture other than those that her history had offered her. Her memoir Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope: Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, tells the story of her upbringing in that environment and her decision to leave it and her family behind.

Jennifer Eberhardt is a professor of social psychology at Stanford University, author of the book Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. Megan's biases were explicit, easily recognized. Dr. Eberhardt skillfully, through both research and stories, addresses the implicit, hidden biases that every human being holds, that are so much harder to recognize and to change. But it is with the opening of our minds that we see and can consciously acknowledge our biases, and thus open our hearts to eroding and hopefully erasing them.

It is through the hard labor of knowing ourselves that we start the process of opening our hearts and minds. The work of both of Ms. Phelps-Roper and Dr. Eberhardt speaks eloquently, in very different ways, to the quest of self-knowing.

We look forward to seeing you in Dallas this November!

Suketu Bhavsar
NCHC20 Conference Chair
Cal Poly Pomona

NCHC20 Updates

At the time this newsletter is posted, conference will be less than 250 days away! With everything that happens on your campus in that same timeframe, we want you to have the most up-to-date information possible.

  • We are still planning to hold conference. COVID-19 has definitely impacted some spring and summer conferences, but we are moving forward for our November launch dates! However, we are aware of institutional and international travel restrictions that may impact travel if advisories remain in place during registration or into the fall. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.
  • Upon completion of proposal selection, registration for conference and reservations for the hotel will be open. NEW THIS YEAR: Reservations at the Dallas property will be made through a link that is provided to registered NCHC conference attendees. Rooms within the NCHC hotel block will be monitored: those confirmed rooms are subject to cancellation without conference registrations.
  • For NCHC members in California, we are continuing to look for ways to better serve those impacted by the California state law restricting travel to Texas and ten other states. For the official statement from the NCHC board, click here.

Finally, look for a number of additional calls for volunteers, inviting you to participate in conference in other ways. We still have places to use your expertise and talent!

Life Cycle of a Conference Proposal

Although we're in uncharted territory in the conference planning world, below is the typical cycle you can expect for NCHC Conference Proposals. If you submitted a proposal for 2020, please watch for forthcoming details that may affect deadlines

Download this graphic to share with your colleagues and students!

2021 Board Nominations

Dear NCHC Colleagues:

As chair of the NCHC Nominating Committee, I invite you to consider nominating a colleague or student to run for our Board of Directors. I have served on the board at two different points and found that service to be some of the most satisfying of my career. The current board has a high-performing culture, is thinking creatively about the strategic direction of the organization, and works very effectively with our talented Executive Director, Mary Beth Rathe, and the committed national office staff.

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, 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, 2020 whereas if you plan to nominate a colleague, you only have until May 1, 2020. 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 committee—at the moment being formed but which currently consists of myself and my board colleagues Elaine Torda and Quakish Liner—will then propose a slate for approval to the Board of Directors. You will then have a chance to meet those board candidates at the Idea Exchange during November's annual conference in Dallas.

The strongest boards are the most diverse boards because that diversity of perspectives represented around the table helps the board make better decisions, as noted in this recent article in the Harvard Business Review. As a result, we are committed to ensuring our board reflects the wonderful diversity of our organization. I hope you will consider serving NCHC in these very exciting times!

Richard Badenhausen
NCHC Immediate Past President
Dean of the Honors College at Westminster College

Dates and Deadlines

Take note of these upcoming important dates for NCHC members!

March 31 NCHC Consultant Grant Deadline
March 31 Administrative Excellence Award nominations Close
April 1 NCHC20 Registration Opens
NCHC20 Hotel Block Opens for registered attendees
April 1 Student Awards and Scholarships Open:
Student of the Year Award
Community Engagement Award
Honors Newsletter Competition
Portz Scholars Competition
Freddye T. Davy Scholarship
John Hanigan Scholarship
April 3 SIRP Deadline for completed papers

JNCHC Call for Papers

The next issue of JNCHC (deadline: September 1, 2020) invites research essays on any topic of interest to the honors community.

The issue will also include a Forum focused on the theme "Big Hearts, Big Minds," which is also the theme for the 2020 NCHC conference. 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 Suketu P. Bhavsar. In his essay "Teaching from the Heart," he coaxes the reader toward a perception and practice of teaching that includes our spiritual and emotional, as well as our cognitive, selves. He suggests that honors should lead in a paradigm shift valuing the expression of our whole selves in our connections with students and colleagues. He provides three examples from his own experiences as a student and as a teacher; these stories illustrate that through a careful expression of compassion and authenticity, we may deepen our and our students' experience in the academy. He proposes that becoming a compassionate educator is a skill that can be learned, and he offers some lessons for readers to start on that path.

In Appendix B of his essay, Bhavsar has supplied a list of possible topics to which readers are invited to respond. Other possible topics and questions for Forum contributors to consider might include the following:

  • Bhavsar asks his readers to tell their own stories of practicing authenticity and compassion as teachers, so tell yours.
  • Respond to Bhavsar's challenge to "contribute thoughts, examples, experiences, successes, and failures" to a debate about why or whether a paradigm shift is what we need in honors.
  • Discuss Bhavsar's comment that in his early days of teaching, his kindness "was based on personality rather than compassion." What is the difference, and why does it matter?
  • Describe problems—be they practical, ideological, or pedagogical—that you see in Bhavsar's advocacy of compassionate teaching.
  • How would it be possible to implement Bhavsar's approach to teaching in our age of assessment and evaluation?

Information about JNCHC—including the editorial policy, submission guidelines, guidelines for abstracts and keywords, and a style sheet—are 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.


New students accepted as Associate Editors for UReCA

UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, has accepted the following students as Associate Editors for the 2020-2021 publication cycle:

  • Paige Parks, Northwestern State University
  • Veronica O'Brien, University of Houston
  • Olti Myrtaj, Virginia Tech
  • Brianna Lopez, Barry University
  • Nick Koenig, Eastern Kentucky University
  • Cara Dugan, Hartwick College
  • Hunter Berube, Suffolk University
  • Pushya Krishna, Montana State University
  • Cody Tigue, University of Central Arkansas
  • Isabel Bostick, Indiana Wesleyan University
  • Payton Drefcinski, Ball State University
  • Michelle Fan, Rutgers University
  • Kinsey Phipps, University of Iowa
  • Tori Simpson, Graceland University
  • Nolan Harrington, James Madison University
  • Kelly Ferguson, Converse College
  • Cristobella Durrette, University of Houston
  • George Boktor, Middle Tennessee State University

UReCA provides a publication venue for undergraduates with works that make a significant contribution to their respective fields of study and can be anything from microbiology to musical composition. UReCA Associate Editors review submitted works within their fields of expertise, deciding which pieces will be published and contributing to the success of the journal in various ways. Through an online platform, UReCA encourages interdisciplinary creative activity and research among undergraduates in the United States and abroad.

Selections for the editorial staff are made based on previous editorial experience or a demonstrated dedication to research. This year, the journal received more applications than ever before, and these students were among the most accomplished in their respective disciplines. These students represent the best and brightest in STEM, the social sciences, humanities, creative writing, and visual arts across the country.

UReCA is NCHC's online, peer-reviewed journal that fosters the exchange of intellectual and creative work between undergraduate students, providing a platform where students can engage with and contribute to the advancement of their individual fields. For students interested in submitting works to UReCA, visit

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