In This Issue...
From the President: Welcoming the Stranger
As you may know, the NCHC board is in the midst of strategic planning. Earlier this week, I was part of a conference call regarding what we intend by the phrase "inclusive excellence." Although we are still word-smithing what phraseology might go into the plan itself, there is general agreement that, in addition to encouraging members "to foster educational equity and non-discriminatory practices in their honors programs and colleges," we need to think through how, as an organization, we can create a more welcoming and inclusive community.
My rabbi likes to remind our congregation that a community cannot define itself as welcoming. Ultimately, that designation can only come from those being welcomed (or not). You can have a policy that members of the board will greet people as they arrive, or even set aside time during services for folks to introduce themselves to those around them, but that doesn't mean the greeters will offer more than a perfunctory "Shabbat shalom," or that, after shaking hands with a newcomer, members won't immediately turn back to the buddies they already know.
To me, the honors community in many ways resembles a congregation, and so I think a lot about welcoming, especially as we approach conference. As president, I am aware of the many opportunities to get involved in NCHC, but being one of 2000+ attendees can feel a bit overwhelming. How can we help people feel connected? What might you do?
There are things you can do to connect. One might be to sit with people you don't know, whether at sessions or breakfast, and start a conversation. Greet people in the elevator and ask them to name one thing they've learned at conference. If it's an intimate enough group, ask everyone in your session to introduce themselves, including their preferred pronouns. In other words, don't forget to do the things we teach our students to do to create the sense of community that is a signature, basic characteristic, of honors. And please don't forget to say hi to me – I look forward to welcoming you to Boston, and hearing your thoughts, concerns and great ideas!
Naomi Yavneh Klos, Ph.D.
From the ED - Listening and Being Heard: The Power of Membership
My conversations lately, whether politically or strategically, have been about civil discourse. We read about it, talk about it, model it. We rationalize why it doesn't work. Nebraska's own Senator Ben Sasse provides some interesting reading material in "Them: Why We Hate Each Other – and How to Heal."
You may already be tired or anxious about the elections and appointments at the federal level. But this fall is also about a large NCHC conference and a network-wide vote that impacts the voice of the board as well as changes to several organizational bylaws.
Historically, the voting percentage at NCHC mirrors the voter turnout at the national level. Most years, board leadership is elected by fewer than 28% of the eligible voters at NCHC. Is it possible that members feel the work of the organization is distanced from the work that is done locally on each campus?
As with any collaboration, your work and your perspectives are critical to the voice and impact of the whole. And the people and policies that are put into place in your organization should be elected to ensure that work you've completed about and around honors is recognized with due diligence and consistent care.
I am reminded of the Aesop Fable about the dining habits of the stork and the fox: NCHC can't assume that we know what others need, or apply what works for one to everyone. And we certainly can't effect change unless we're sensitive to the needs of everyone we invite to share the table with us.
We have to hear from you to empower the organization for you. Thank you in advance for being an engaged member of the network and voting in December.
[Thanks to many of you, NCHC was able to collect data on the value of the organization, and the benefits that you feel are significant to your membership. The responses that were collected pointed almost unanimously to an emphasis on networking. We hear you, and are working on a full report to be shared with the membership with completion of the strategic plan.]
The first-ever NCHC Story Slam is sure to be a highlight of the 2018 Annual Conference. Come socialize on Friday night with excellent appetizers and entertainment from a variety of NCHC conference attendees, sharing stories you won't soon forget! You'll have plenty of time to enjoy an evening on the town in Boston afterward.
In addition to our selected speakers, our Story Slam stage will also be graced by emcee Andre Dubus III, the author of Gone So Long, Dirty Love, Townie, The Garden of Last Days and House of Sand and Fog (an Oprah Book Club pick and a finalist for the National Book Award). He lives with his family north of Boston, and just this month released his first novel in a decade. Our lucky participants in the NCHC Story Slam will receive one-on-one coaching from Mr. Dubus prior to their performance, and our winners will receive copies of his brand new book! (Also available for purchase at the NCHC Publications Board table.)
Mr. Dubus was recently featured in the New York Times author interview section called "By the Book." Read on to discover what books are on Andre's nightstand, along with his thoughts on reading (and writing)!
Thank You to our NCHC18 Sponsors!
2018 Ballot Proposals
Use the link below to join the virtual meeting room on Tuesday, or use the call-in information if you will not have access to a computer at the time of the meeting.
Access Code: 623 600 336
If you are not able to attend this final session, or would like to submit a question about the proposals in advance, more information can be found on the 2018 Ballot Proposals page. Recordings of each of the informational sessions will be posted there after they take place.
You can also find newly updated Member Perspectives about the 2018 Ballot Proposal on Tiered Dues. Members from a variety of institution types have submitted their takes on the proposal options, and what it might look like on their campus. Read them here!
There are many exciting changes and events on the horizon for NCHC! Our annual conference is around the corner and, with it, several exciting opportunities for you to determine the trajectory of our organization. This is the good-kind-of-change! Don't believe us? As the students on the board of directors, every vote we cast and every question we raise takes into account the perspectives and needs of honors students, and we believe the 2018 ballot proposals will benefit our students. Below is our rationale for supporting these proposals.
For the past two years, the Student Affairs Committee has been looking to revise the student membership category. It all started with a question: how do we increase student membership? Interestingly enough, our inquiry lead us to a conclusion that we did not expect: that is, the elimination of the student membership category. Under the new proposal, every student who attends a member institution is eligible to participate in all NCHC student activities, grants, and awards!
As it currently stands, the number of student memberships falls well below our other membership categories. In 2017, the organization had 97 student members, but compared to the estimated 350,000 students that our institutional members represent, this number is hardly a drop in the bucket both in terms of our budget and representation of student involvement in NCHC. Honors students make up nearly half of our conference attendees; they present innovative and original research; they facilitate and moderate conference sessions; they lead NCHC's undergraduate journal (UReCA); and they attend our numerous Partners in the Park trips-- all of which do not require a student to pay an annual membership fee. In short: NCHC does not have a problem with student participation. We are, however, limiting a small selection of opportunities to paid student member, such as running for the Board of Directors, sitting on the Student Affairs Committee, and applying for Student of the Year. We have discovered that these opportunities alone are not enough to incentivize students to pay the membership fee. We hope this new proposal will break down the barriers that may discourage our students from fully participating in all our organization has to offer!
Secondly, in a similar vein of reasoning, we would like to add an additional student member with a one year term to the Board of Directors. Currently, we have four students serving on the Board of Directors. Our current student board members all represent a four-year university. For a student from a two-year institution to run for our Board of Directors with the current two-year terms, they must either A) be recommended as a first-year student with, by the time elections roll around, only four months of college experience or B) be recommended in their second year and take the chance that their transfer university is a member of NCHC and would will be willing to fund their travel expenses. Since the vote to downsize our board, which eliminated two one-year student positions, no student of a two-year institution has entered the race. However, two-year institutions represent 22% of our institutional members. With the proposed addition of a one-year term position, student representation on the board can more accurately reflect our membership!
Finally, NCHC is creating a new dues structure that will take into consideration the varying range of budgets within our member institutions. We believe that the tiered dues structure is a fairer way to charge dues because it more accurately represents the cost of membership per student encompassed in the institution. Since currently every institutional member pays the same cost, larger research universities (with more students and typically more funding) are receiving more benefits for the same cost that smaller universities pay. A tiered due structure will even the cost to benefit ratio.
Additionally, membership dues for NCHC have not increased since 2005. Due to inflation, the cost of running NCHC has increased significantly since that time. To add some perspective, the last time the dues increased, the average aged college student was in elementary school! Increasing our dues will allow the organization to operate on a balanced budget, which means we will be able to better serve you. With that being said, if the proposal passes, NCHC will not implement these changes until 2020. Hopefully, this delay will allow institutions to adjust and prepare for the change.
The tiered due structure will certainly not have a negative impact on the experience of students. If anything, a sustainable budget will allow the organization to expand programs and better direct resources to students. Likewise, even if the membership cost for your institution increases, membership costs for students will decrease to zero under the proposed changes. In the long run, a change to our due structures is a win-win for our organization and for you!
Although these proposals would create some large changes to the organization, we hope that you see they would be good changes with the intention of creating a sustainable path forward for our organization, opening it up to all institutions and all students of those institutions, and upholding our collective ambition to go against the grain of a traditional higher ed experience. All good changes.
Mary Kate Andrepont
Student members of the NCHC Board of Directors
Partners in the Parks 2019
There are two PITP projects that take place in early 2019! Registration and scholarship applications are now open for the following projects:
Big Bend National Park : December 27, 2018 – January 2, 2019
Cedar Breaks National Park : January 18-21, 2019
Op Ed - Encouraging Students' Academic Risks
The following article was submitted by Stacy Hayden, an Educational Psychology Doctoral Student who has worked in Honors at the University of Connecticut. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NCHC or its membership.
Encouraging Students' Academic Risks
Stacy M. Hayden
Are our honors students unwilling to take academic risks for fear of failure? Imagine this scenario in a university honors seminar: The professor asks her class, "what do you think the protagonist meant by that line?" The students avert their gazes, looking down to avoid eye contact, hoping they will not be asked to offer their opinions. She knows that she should respect the silence and understands time is needed for her students to reflect, but as the seconds pass, she wonders, are they afraid to answer my question?
Too often, students are afraid of being wrong. Some actually sacrifice opportunities to learn because they falsely believe that the risks of making mistakes are not worth the potential consequences. College and university students constantly weigh the pros and cons of their choices, including whether or not take academic risks. In college these risks may include answering questions in class, disagreeing with a professor, enrolling in a notoriously difficult course because of a strong interest, or sharing a very creative, divergent idea. In other words, taking academic risks may result in new ideas, innovative majors, and even inventions and products that can change the world.
Each time a professor asks a challenging question, students must decide if the benefits of answering the question outweigh their risks of being wrong. Unfortunately, the consequences of giving the wrong answer often take precedence.
A Google search for "quotes about risk taking" provides a flood of results including: "to win big, you sometimes have to take big risks", "the real risk is doing nothing", or "life is all about taking risks. If you never take a risk, you will never achieve your dreams". But is this truly the case?
Teachers in our k-12 education system are eagerly adopting buzzwords such as mindset and grit. This push to take safe risks, and potentially embrace failure may cause us to reframe our students' academic struggles as opportunities to grow. However, do similar realities exist for our brightest university students?
Answering a question incorrectly in class doesn't have extreme consequences, but other academic risks do. A poor grade in a challenging college course may have financial aid implications. A lower GPA due to that low grade can negatively affect admission to increasingly competitive graduate programs.
College and university faculty and staff across the country work to help students feel more comfortable taking academic risks, but is it too late? Sometimes, not taking a risk is the correct choice, but when it comes to being afraid to answer a question in class or failing to propose a new idea, college students must learn to feel comfortable taking academic risks and understand that it is okay to occasionally fail to be correct.
A disconnect exists between risk taking and the current reality of the academic journeys of many honors students. In our constantly-changing society, the need to learn to take academic risks increases exponentially. Current university students face a different reality than their parents, as jobs that may have previously required a Bachelor's degree currently need even more advanced coursework, in some cases, even a Master's degree. They are acquiring a mountain of student loan debt from rising tuition costs, resulting in the importance of making every class count. How then can we tell these students it is okay to take academic risks and potentially fail?
Has the behavior to avoid academic risk taking been ingrained from years of schooling and perhaps the test-taking culture in American schools? Is it possible for colleges and universities to change students' beliefs and behaviors? If we want to encourage creative ideas and academic risks that result in intellectual growth, university faculty and staff must encourage students to embrace academic risks.
From the Research Committee
First, some introductions: Tricia Smith (Dean, University of Central Arkansas, Shedler Honors College) and Jerry Herron (Dean Emeritus, Wayne State University, Irvin D. Reid Honors College) are co-chairs of the Research Committee. What we hope to do is to enlist NCHC members to help us move our research agenda forward. We have excellent assets at our disposal, beginning with our journals (JNCHC and HIP) as well as our monograph series, along with institutional research available at the NCHC website. And we have a membership that includes the whole range of institutions where honors education goes forward. And we have a mandate inasmuch as research is one of the strategic priorities adopted by NCHC to guide our organization. What we want to do now is to develop strategies for making the most of what we have and who we are to advance the good cause of honors research. If you would like to see who our members are and read our committee charge, you can find those at the NCHC website. We also have Collaboration Groups dedicated to specific topics, and we invite you to check these out: basic characteristics, first generation students, housing, academic majors, diversity, and transfer students.
With each newsletter, we will be introducing a topic for discussion. Looking forward to our committee meeting at this year's conference in Boston, we would like first to invite you to attend our meeting, which will be taking place on Saturday, November 10, 11:30-12:20, in Exeter A/B. In preparation, we are asking your help in developing our agenda. Please send us items that you think we should be talking about. Whether you will be in Boston or not, we would like to hear from you. Let us know what you think needs doing in the realm of research. We would be grateful if you would send these items to both of us: Patricia Smith (email@example.com) and Jerry Herron (firstname.lastname@example.org). See you in Boston!
UReCA is now accepting Editor Applications for 2019!
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. Selected editors will be invited to a 4-day training session at Bryce Canyon National Park where they will learn about the academic review process and take part in strategic planning for the upcoming edition. The application for editors is available here.
Call for HIP Submissions
Honors in Practice is accepting submissions for Volume 15 (2019). The deadline is January 1, 2019. Submissions and inquiries should be directed to Ada Long at email@example.com.
Below you will find the editorial policy and submissions guidelines. The list of Editorial Board members and a style sheet for NCHC journals are listed on the Publications page of the NCHC website.
Editorial Policy for Honors in Practice
Honors in Practice (HIP) is a refereed journal of applied research publishing articles about innovative honors practices and integrative, interdisciplinary, and pedagogical issues of interest to honors educators. HIP employs a double-blind peer review process. Authors should include discussion of how central ideas and practices may be applied in campus settings other than their own, and the thesis should be located within a larger context such as theoretical perspectives, trends in higher education, or historical background. Essays should demonstrate awareness of previous discussions of the topic in honors publications and other relevant sources; bibliographies of JNCHC, HIP, and the NCHC Monograph Series are available on the NCHC website.
All submissions to the journals must include an abstract of no more than 250 words and a list of no more than five keywords.
Submissions and inquiries should be directed to: Ada Long at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We accept material by e-mail attachment in Word (not pdf). We do not accept material by fax or hard copy.
If documentation is used, the documentation style can be whatever is appropriate to the author's primary discipline or approach (MLA, APA, etc.), but please avoid footnotes. Internal citation to a list of references (bibliography) is strongly preferred, and the editor will revise all internal citations in accordance with MLA guidelines.
There are no minimum or maximum length requirements; the length should be dictated by the topic and its most effective presentation.
Accepted essays are edited for grammatical and typographical errors and for infelicities of style or presentation. Authors have ample opportunity to review and approve edited manuscripts before publication.
All submissions and inquiries should be directed to Ada Long at email@example.com or, if necessary, 850.927.3776.
Member Benefit: GEICO Discount
With your NCHC membership, you could save even more with a special Member Discount on auto insurance. Get a quote today! (And when you've completed your free quote, GEICO makes a contribution back to help support NCHC!)