NCHC 2013, Developing in Honors: Can Honors Continue to Exist, Let Alone Flourish, in a Time of Academic Retrenchment?

Sponsored by the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

Sheraton, New Orleans, Grand Ballroom, 8-9am

Participants: Jessica Roark, Oklahoma State University (moderator); Ellen Buckner, University of South Alabama; Michael Cundall, North Carolina A&T State University; Naomi Yavneh Klos, Loyola University New Orleans; Rosalie Saltzman, University of Nebraska Omaha



  • Key challenge: Doing honors education well is expensive, but budgets at many institutions are stagnating if not declining. How to justify and grow honors programs and colleges under these conditions?
  • One of the biggest current challenges in higher education is retention. Retention efforts tend to focus on ‘at risk’ students. In what ways can honors retention be a model for retention more generally?
  • How can you entrench honors education more deeply at your institution so as to make it more immune to cuts and even elimination, to make it ‘indispensable’?
  • How to use technology more effectively? (MOOCs, badges, certificates; see debate on ‘credentialism’)


  • Raise the achievement level of honors students
  • Serve as an exemplar to the rest of the institution
  • Improve retention plans and efforts: Engage students in experiential learning; personalize advising, including peer & faculty mentoring (‘personal touch’); take care of students as whole persons (cura personalis, Jesuit educational tradition) [see research on improving retention the more students are engaged and thriving: academically, psychologically, and socially)
  • Create conversations about the value and potential of honors education across campus
  • Develop signature programs
  • Develop service learning programs
  • Engage in philanthropy and democracy
  • Better address mental health challenges, especially stress, anxiety, and depression
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