Honors and OSU’s Beaver Hangouts

This afternoon, Executive Dean of Student Affairs Kerry Levett organized a conference call with Phil Rowkoski at Oregon State University (OSU) to discuss OSU’s Beaver Hangouts Program. The Honors Program, the Counseling Department, First Year Experience, the Library, the Math Resource Center, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), and Student Life and Leadership Development all participated.

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Beaver Hangouts were initially a K-12 program, but the university is expanding the program to two-year colleges. Student coaches from OSU would be available to Lane students to answer questions and provide information about transferring to OSU. The initial contacts would be a series of Skype sessions followed by one-on-one visits. It sounds like the coaches could come to the Lane campus to meet with students.

Honors has a wonderful working relationship with OSU already, especially through the Transfer Services Manager Kayleen Salchenberg Steeves and through Gildha Cumming at OSU’s University Honors College. Kayleen has presented in the honors seminar and sent information to our program, and we take the students each spring to the University Honors College Thesis Fair and an honors information session. The student coaches could potentially provide more contact around these presentations and campus visits.

I can see having Skype sessions and/or meetings with coaches attached to the honors seminars. Combined honors and PTK events could also involve these sessions and meetings.

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When we visit the OSU campus, the students could meet in person with their coaches as part of the trip. Alternately, if Lane decides to hold larger Skype sessions or to video a Beaver Hangout presentation and make it available via Moodle, the honors students would benefit from those resources, as well.

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OSU is still in the early stages of developing the two-year college component of their Beaver Hangouts Program, but I see a lot of potential for our honors students and would like to see us be part of the pilot.

Honors and the Writing Center

This morning, I had a great conversation with Casey Reid, the Writing Center Coordinator. We explored ways in which the Honors Program and the Writing Center could support one another. Casey had some exciting ideas that I think will be beneficial to students.

Honors students could be course-embedded tutors for other classes. This option will take some time, as embedded tutors work best when the student and faculty member have already met in a class and established a relationship. There are also scheduling issues to consider, especially given that our students often have jobs and families in addition to taking a full load of classes. Nevertheless, it would be an excellent way for students to engage in experiential learning. I look forward to talking with our coordinator for honors experiential learning and honors cooperative education, Gerry Meenaghan.

Additionally, tutors could be embedded in honors classes, offering a resource to the students in the class and also helping the tutors further develop their skills. I can see this working well in several honors classes, including the seminars.

Our initial steps will be to check in with the current honors writing instructors, Amy Beasley, Anne McGrail, and Eileen Thompson, about these possibilities and to see if there is interest in pursuing them this year. I will also talk with my co-instructor in the seminars, Stacey Kiser, about ways that an embedded tutor could work, especially as the enrollments this year are growing.

Honors and International Students

One of my constant concerns is making sure that as many students as possible are aware of the honors opportunities at Lane. I know, from conversations with honors directors at other colleges, that this is a shared concern.

Yesterday, I met with three colleagues in our International Programs: Jennifer Falzerano, the director; and two advisors, Tomomi Kurosaki and Tia Gomez Zeller. Both Tomomi and Tia have been encouraging students to consider the Honors Program and we have had some wonderful international students join the program.

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This year, we are making the program even more accessible. Any student who completes the three, level F ESL classes with a 3.25 or higher GPA in those classes, will be given conditional acceptance into the program. The students will receive a letter from Honors congratulating them on their achievement. Once they complete WR 115 and are eligible for WR 121, they will be automatically accepted into the Honors Program.

Beginning in Spring 2017, we are giving conditional acceptance to international students who test into WR 93 or WR 115, and we are automatically accepting international students who test into WR 121.

These changes will provide honors opportunities to many more students at Lane and will support these students on their way to transferring to four-year schools.

NCHC Conference 2016 Recap

Last month, I attended the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference (NCHC) for the sixth year in a row. This year, the event took place in Seattle, and once again, it was filled with committee meetings and panels that provided helpful information for coordinating the Lane Honors Program.

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The conference always begins for me on Wednesday evening when the Assessment and Evaluation Committee (A&E) meets. I’m just beginning my second three-year service commitment with A&E. While our meeting this year focused largely on the summer training sessions for new honors directors and for program reviewers that take place during the summer, as well as approving new program reviewers, past work has also involved drafting the rubric schools can choose to incorporate into an NCHC review of their honors program. Our program has modified the rubric and intends to use it when we go through the college’s program review process.

Other meetings during the conference that were especially helpful were the Beginning in Honors and the Developing in Honor sessions that I helped run. Newer directors attend these sessions to ask questions and get advice. The conversations focus on issues that we all face in our own programs, and so they offer great opportunities to help other directors and to think about ways to improve the Lane Honors Program, as well.

These conversations continue in the Two-Year College Issues meeting and the Two-Year College Committee meeting. More seasoned directors attend these two gatherings, and a lot of useful advice gets shared. For instance, my leadership team suggested I check in with other directors about adding a link on the college application that goes directly to the honors application. We’ve had very little success with the check box that allows students to request honors information when they apply to the college, even though dozens of people request that information each week. My peers were unanimous in their support of the direct link to the honors application, and we’re currently looking into setting that up.

One panel session that I found especially helpful was on the visibility, growth, and control of an honors program. Karen Kortz and Lynne Andreozzi from the  Community College of Rhode Island and Jeremy Trucker from the Community College of Baltimore County presented.

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They emphasized that there is a roughly ten-year arc for programs during which the first few years focus on visibility, the next few years address growth, and the final years improve quality control. Based on this timeline, our program’s current emphasis on growth is right on target, which was good to learn.

I also presented at a session undergraduate research.

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This topic is receiving increasing attention and support at our college right now, and it has been a focus of our program since the program began six years ago. I learned a lot from my co-presenter, Rochelle Gregory, including the idea of offering a scholarship prize to the best poster at the undergraduate research fair.

I’m looking forward to implementing much of what I learned in Seattle. Next year, Boston!

Undergraduate Research in the 2016 Capstone Seminar

Each spring, students in the Honors Capstone Seminar conduct group research projects and share their findings with the appropriate audience. They choose the topic/s, conduct the research, and determine the best means of presenting their findings.

In the past, topics have ranged from the Take Back the Tap movement to gender inequality in higher education to rainwater harvesting to housing stability for the chronically homeless.

Poster for the Honors Research Symposium

Poster for the Honors Research Symposium

This year, the students explored Oregon’s success at reducing recidivism. They examined the economic impact of recidivism, recidivism for adults and juveniles, and the success of specific programs in Oregon. They ultimately argued that the most successful means of preventing recidivism is through programs that focus on altering the behavior of ex-inmates and on providing support for ex-inmates, as well as using a cooperative approach to offering these services.

They shared their findings through a PowerPoint presentation and a research poster that will be displayed in the Learning Commons in the fall. Their presentation was also filmed by Dean Middleton and Randal Painter.

Completing this project supported not only the course learning outcomes but also all five of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes:

  • Think Critically
  • Engage Diverse Values with Civic and Ethical Awareness
  • Create Ideas and Solutions
  • Communicate Effectively
  • Apply Learning

I look forward to seeing, and learning from, the research findings of next year’s seminar students!

OSU Honors Thesis Fair

Each spring, we take honors students enrolled in the Capstone Seminar up to Oregon State University to visit the University Honors College and attend the Honors Thesis Fair. Last Friday, we made the trip, and I once again witnessed the positive impact this event has on the students and on me.

At the annual NCHC conference, I’ve heard from other honors program coordinators in the two-year college group about the importance of having organized field trips. Not only do they provide learning opportunities for the students, but they create chances for the students to bond and for students and faculty to get to know each other better. Most of our field trips are in town (museum tours, academic conferences, pizza dinners, etc.); however, the OSU trip requires a 45-minute drive each way and several hours of time together on the campus. It is our one out-of-town field trip, and the benefits are immediately visible.

Highlights from this year included a tour of the University Honors College’s new space. We saw the new classrooms. We also saw the student lounge and work space with the free printing and office supplies.

Honors Workspace

We saw the computer stations.

Honors Computers

We saw places for students to relax and talk or read, possibly from The New York Times, daily copies of which were available in the lounge for free. They gave us a copy at the end of the tour.

Honors Reading Area

The Honors Thesis Fair is always impressive. It’s inspiring to see what undergraduate honors students are doing with their research.

Thesis Fair Welcome Sign

It’s equally inspiring to think about the research our students conduct and to know they will be in familiar territory when pursuing their upper division research at a university. Our students took pictures and notes and prepared to apply what they had learned from the honors posters to the poster and PowerPoint presentation they are currently working on in the seminar.

After the thesis fair, we walked around the campus. In the Memorial Union, we encountered a free, lunchtime, classical music concert.

Lunchtime Concert Sign

Music a la Carte Musicians

Spending the day together allowed us time outside of class to talk about a variety of things. As we walked through downtown Corvallis and then had lunch, we discussed shared interests, our opinions about what we had seen at OSU, and how the day’s events might impact their work this term, next year, and farther into the future.

As I drove us back to Lane’s campus, the car became quiet while the students read The Times.

Salgado Maranhão and Alexis Levitin Poetry Event

On Tuesday, April 19 the Honors Program and the Cultural Competency Professional Development Committee co-sponsored an amazing poetry event. Internationally-renowned Brazilian poet, Salgado Maranão, and Alexis Levitin, the translator of two of Salgado’s books into English, spent the afternoon and evening on Lane’s campus. Honors faculty member, Sarah Lushia, knew Alexis. She initiated the event and coordinated Alexis’s and Salgado’s visit to our campus.

Prior to the event, we gave copies of their collections, Blood of the Sun and Tiger Fur, to the honors students. Salgado and Alexis spent an hour in the afternoon reading and sharing stories with the students.

Members of the honors community listening to Salgado and Alexis.

Members of the honors community listening to Salgado and Alexis.

Salgado read “Mater,” a poem he wrote for his mother. He, with Alexis translating, explained how strong and determined his mother was in the face of great difficulties. He described her love of language and poetry, attending mass in Latin the one time a year a priest came to their area even though she did not understand Latin. He noted that if she had been in the upper class, a plaza or boulevard would have been named for her.

Honors Dean, Susan Carkin, noted the shared elements between his poem and “The Arrival of My Mother New Mexico Territory, 1906,” a poem by Keith Wilson. She sent me the link and also mentioned this poem to Alexis and Salgado. I hadn’t known of Wilson’s poem, and learning of it was one of many memorable poetry moments I experienced that day.

Salgado is also a lyricist and has worked with some of Brazil’s jazz and pop artists. Poet Frank Rossini (and also husband of the event organizer, Lynn Nakamura) suggested that Salgado and Alexis speak with music students. After the session with the honors students, they spent part of the afternoon with several music majors.

Salgado, Alexis, several honors students, a few faculty members, and the honors dean had dinner together in the Renaissance Room on Lane’s campus. Great food . . . great conversations up and down the table . . . and book signings . . . a perfect transition from the afternoon gatherings to the evening event open to the public.

Salgado, Alexis, and honors students and faculty at Lane's Renaissance Room.

Salgado, Alexis, and honors students and faculty at Lane’s Renaissance Room.

Honors student, Nathan Woodward, with his copy of Blood of the Sun.

Honors student, Nathan Woodward, with his copy of Blood of the Sun.

On our walk over to the Center for Meeting and Learning, Alexis and I discussed Cid Corman and his connection to Japanese poetry.

Poet and translator, Cid Corman

Poet and translator, Cid Corman

Alexis mentioned that Salgado had written a poem about a snake whose movements were so smooth and so reassuring that it lured a frog into its embrace. Salgado has an interest in Japanese poetry and performs the poem with Tai Chi movements.

Salgado preparing to perform his poem.

Salgado preparing to perform his poem later that evening.

We also found we had a shared acquaintance in Dennis Maloney, publisher of White Pine Press. Dennis and I have both published Cid’s poetry and Dennis published the bilingual edition of Tiger Fur.

The evening event was spectacular! Lynn Nakamura organized everything beautifully. Brazilian music, including one of Salgado’s songs that he sang along to, played as people arrived. Linda Reling had a book table set up at the back of the room where I caught President Mary Spilde buying copies of the books.

Lane President, Mary Spilde, with her purchases.

Lane President, Mary Spilde, with her purchases.

Anyone who has ever heard Mary give a talk knows there will be poetry interspersed among her comments!

Chief Diversity Officer Greg Evans gave a wonderful introduction to begin the evening.

Greg Evans introducing Salgado and Alexis.

Greg Evans introducing Salgado and Alexis.

For two hours, Alexis and Salgado read, commented, shared more stories, and answered questions.

Creating opportunities like this for the students and the community is something Lane Community College does well. It is also a perfect way for the Honors Program to do something that is central to honors education: provide exceptional educational opportunities to the honors students and contribute to the larger campus community. We have many more events planned for next year!

Delivering on Our Promise

My colleague, Stacey Kiser, recently shared an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Honors Colleges Promise Prestige, but They Don’t All Deliver.” While the Lane Honors Program is not focused on prestige, aspects of the article do relate to our program. The article accurately claims that some honors colleges may promise a lot to students but not fulfill their promises.

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Honors colleges are not always fully supported by their institutions, and without that support, they simply can’t provide all the services and opportunities to the students who attend them.

The same can be said of honors programs. Without adequate support, and as my colleague Elaine Thompson has pointed out, a clear sense of where the program fits within the institution’s organizational framework, it is challenging to offer the necessary academic and co-curricular opportunities to students.

The Lane Honors Program has had support from the college, but the amount and form of this support has changed several times over the past five years. The result is that our enrollments have decreased and many honors students transfer before they colhp_logo_color_version_2_0mplete the program. The students who complete the program and transfer report back that the program had a significant impact on their success at their university, which makes those of us working on honors at Lane even more determined to see this program thrive.

In fall of 2015, the college demonstrated its increased support of the program by creating the full time faculty coordinator position that I now hold. This spring, the Honors Leadership Team and a special work group are overseeing the restructuring of the program to help students more successfully navigate the program and to ensure that they are able to complete the program before transferring. We are exploring several possibilities: instituting a version of the guided pathway model, offering honors classes during fall and spring, and running the honors seminars in the winter.

I’m excited about the growing energy around honors education at Lane. I appreciate that colleagues are stepping up to offer new honors classes and to participate on the leadership team and work group. With the college’s commitment to increased marketing, we will be able to raise student awareness of the program. With the changes to the program’s structure, more students will be able to complete the program and take advantage of its transfer agreements with four-year schools.

Potential Transfer Agreements with UO & OSU

This fall I have been working to increase the number of articulation and transfer agreements the Honors Program has with four-year schools. We currently have excellent agreements with Portland State University’s Honors College, Southern Oregon University’s Honors College, and Washington State Vancouver’s University Scholars Honors Program. I recently met with representatives at  the University of Oregon (UO) and Oregon State University (OSU), and I appreciate the direction our conversations have taken.

A few weeks ago, I met with Karen Sprague, the Interim Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education at UO. She was very interested in finding ways to support Lane’s honors students when they transfer to UO and to explore opportunities for them that might encourage them to transfer there. We are looking into automatic acceptance at the UO for our honors graduates, the chance to work in a science lab in the summer before they begin taking classes at UO, and supports specifically designed for transfer students. Dean Livelybrooks has already shared information about the science lab opportunity, and I’m meeting with three of our honors science faculty next week to discuss it. I’m also meeting with Justine Carpenter, the Director of Nontraditional and Veterans Engagement and Success.

University of Oregon

University of Oregon

Yesterday, I traveled to OSU to meet with several people: LeeAnn Baker, the University Honors College’s (UHC) Director of Student Success and Engagement; Gildha Cumming, the UHC’s Director of Admissions and Communications; Kayleen Salchenberg, OSU’s Transfer Students Services Manager; and Tara Williams, the Associate Dean of the UHC. OSU already offers many benefits to transfer students. These include campus housing and childcare at reasonable rates, a new automatic award of $2500 for students transferring with a 3.75 GPA and 36 hours of college credit, and the Degree Partnership Program. We considered ways to expand these benefits and discussed additional funding for our transfer students. We also plan to raise student awareness of the opportunities available at OSU, and Kayleen will visit the Honors Invitation to Inquiry Seminar this winter to talk with the students. Once we know students are applying to the University Honors College, we can then determine if there are elements of the application process that pose particular challenges and address those.

Oregon State University

Oregon State University

The conversations with UO and OSU have been very positive, and I’m encouraged that we will be able to offer Lane’s honors students an increased number of articulation and transfer agreements in the next year.

 

Highlights from the 50th Anniversary NCHC Conference

As always, it was a full conference! There are so many good resources shared each year. Here are a few highlights:

I attended the Developing in Honors and Two-Year College Issues sessions, both led by Elaine Torda, who is receiving the Ron Brandolini Award this year for excellence at a two-year institution.

Elaine Torda

Elaine Torda

These sessions addressed important issues impacting two-year college honors programs including fewer students graduating from high school, creating physical honors space within the college, program review and certification, and the relationship between Phi Theta Kappa and honors programs. The PTK/honors discussion was useful as I would like to find more ways to connect Lane’s Honors Program and Sigma Zeta Chapter of PTK. I know that the PTK advisors, Lida Herburger and Kristina Holton feel the same way.

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I’m also a member of the Two-Year College Committee, chaired by Elaine Torda, and I attended the committee meeting. We voted on a proposal to provide peer mentors for new two-year college honors program directors, engaged in more discussion of program review and certification, discussed publishing opportunities, and brainstormed sessions for next year’s NCHC Conference.

The meeting of the Western Regional Honors Council, facilitated by WRHC President Daniel Villanueva and Executive Secretary Anne Scott included updates on 2016 conference in Riverside, CA and 2017 conference in Ashland, OR. I hope to bring several of Lane’s honors students to the Ashland conference. I also had the opportunity to meet new honors administrators from three of our transfer schools: OIT, OSU, and PSU.

The Western Regional Honors Council meeting is about to get started.

The Western Regional Honors Council meeting is about to get started.

Presenting my paper, “Assessment in Two-Year College Honors Programs,” in the Approaches to Assessment at Two-Year Colleges session was a great experience due largely to the audience. They were willing to adjust to one speaker instead of two and to no AV (challenging to discuss ePortfolios without actually showing an ePortfolio). The best part was that after my presentation, the audience engaged in a productive conversation with everyone asking questions and offering answers rather than having a “speaker” and an “audience.”

The Art Institute as a highlight goes without saying.

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Looking forward to Seattle next year!