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.


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.


Looking forward to Seattle next year!

Sharing Lane’s Work on Honors Assessment

This week I head to Chicago for the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference. It’s the NCHC’s 50th anniversary celebration.


I’ll be co-presenting at the session, “Approaches to Assessment at Two-Year Colleges,” with Sheila Stepp from Orange County Community College (SUNY).

My presentation focuses on three types of assessment: student learning of course outcomes, student learning of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes, and program review. I’ll draw on honors assessment work I’ve done with my colleagues: Sarah Lushia, Katie Morrison-Graham, and Eileen Thompson.

Some of my presentation will focus on Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes. Watch the student video produced by Sarah Lushia to see the impact the CLOs have on students.

Some of it will address the use of ePortfolios in assessing student learning. Again, watch the video Sarah produced featuring students discussing the value of ePortfolios. Students and faculty together can engage in authentic assessment of student learning.

The final part of my presentation will concern program review. I’ll draw on the NCHC’s recent development of a program review process, the parallel development of Lane’s program review process, and the Honors Program’s adaptations of both of these processes to best determine our strengths, the areas where we need improvement, and the support we’ll need to make those improvements.

More posts to come during and/or after the conference!



And Then There Were Two: The New Configuration of the Honors Program’s Administration

We are in the fifth year of the honors program, and after several iterations of honors administrative leadership, the college has settled on a tentatively permanent structure: a dean and a faculty coordinator. This may not sound like a significant decision, but we have built this program with an ever-changing team. It is exciting and anxiety-producing to think we have some stability now even with fewer people working on the program.

We began with two faculty coordinators (Nadia Raza and me), each working on the program part time. Then Nadia stepped down and Katie Morrison-Graham came on board, although for a time the three of us were working on honors together.

Nadia, Katie, and me working with then Vice President, Sonya Christian.

Nadia, Katie, and me working with then Vice President, Sonya Christian.

Then we switched to one coordinator. Even though I was the only coordinator, I was still working on the program part time. We originally had an administrative support person, as well, who also handled advising and marketing. Then we lost that position and replaced it with a new administrative support position minus the advising component and some of the hours. We had no academic dean initially, although we have had one for the past few years. So many starts and stops. So many changes. There were moments when I felt like our program resembled the blackberry bushes I saw while hiking at Mount Pisgah yesterday in this unusually warm November: clusters of dried berries with a few new red and black berries mixed in.


What season are we in again? Are we winding down, starting up, or carrying on?

Fortunately, we’ve had a leadership team comprised of intelligent, motivated, thoughtful people who have helped support what we called “the core team.” I know the leadership team will continue helping honors to thrive. Our “core team” is now comprised of me and my dean, Susan Carkin. Susan has been on the Honors Leadership Team from the program’s inception and attended the National Collegiate Honors Council conference with me.

Susan Carkin

Susan Carkin

The Language, Literature, and Communication Division’s Lead Administrative Coordinator, Linda Schantol, has generously taken on some of the administrative support that had been provided elsewhere.

Linda Schantol

Linda Schantol

Having a permanent faculty coordinator position with 75% of its workload dedicated to directing the program, and having the coordinator work one-on-one with the academic dean, will provide the stability and continuity the program needs. It’s a sign that the college is committed to serving all of our students.

Thinking this morning about the program’s history and this new opportunity to dedicate so much of my focus to coordinating this program, I found myself recalling Jorie Graham digging her hands into the absolute (“The Visible World”). The seeds are planted.

ePortfolios and Accessibility

This week, Lane’s ePortfolio Theory Reading Group met to discuss “E-Portfolios and Inclusive Learning,” a chapter from The Educational Potential of e-Portfolios, a book by Lorainne Sefani, Robin Mason, and Chris Pegler.


There were also several supplemental sources that addressed accessibility in ePortfolios, websites, blogs, etc.

I appreciate that the group’s creator and leader, Sarah Lushia, was able to switch the planned reading so that we could focus on the topic of accessibility. It is a topic I wanted us to discuss. I want to think more about making accessibility a foundational part of my pedagogy and not just something I consider when addressing individual student needs.

This term, I’ll raise the topic of accessibility with the Capstone Seminar students, exploring some of the issues involving design and some of the tools that are currently available. Since accessibility is also something I want to consider in terms of my own ePortfolio, the students and I can participate in this work together.

From an administrative perspective, I’d like the Lane Honors Program to think about accessibility in light of our requirement that students build and maintain ePortfolios in the Lane Honors Program. As a relatively new program, we have a chance to make accessibility a central part of how we think about ePortfolios.

Sarah provides a detailed summary of the meeting on the ePortfolio Theory Reading Group blog.

Honors Seminars Revisited

Recently, I was a guest speaker in Joe Fracchia’s HC 431H: Bodies and Artifacts seminar at the Clark Honors College. The focus for the afternoon was, “What’s in a Word”: The Interior Structure of Semiotic Artifacts: Those “agitated layers of air” (Marx) fashioned into the “mouthy little things we call words” (Suzanne Langer).

Joe Fracchia

Joe Fracchia

I was there with Lauren Deegan to read our poetry and talk about our writing processes as well as answer questions from the students.

It was an interesting experience to be back in a CHC classroom having just the day before taught in Lane’s honors seminar, Invitation to Inquiry. I couldn’t help comparing and contrasting the two classes and the general honors experiences at the CHC and at Lane.

I admired the rigor of Joe’s course. Here is the day’s reading from the syllabus:

February 19

“What’s in a Word”: The Interior Structure of Semiotic Artifacts: Those “agitated layers of air” (Marx) fashioned into the “mouthy little things we call words” (Suzanne Langer)

Read:    Marshall Sahlins, Excerpt on the Arbitrariness of Linguistic Signs

Geoffrey Pullman, “The Great Eskimo Snow Hoax”, 159-167

Mary LeCron Foster, “Body Process in the Evolution of Language”, pp. 208-229

Lev Vygotsky, “Thought and Word” in Thought and Language, pp. 210-256

Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, “Language” in Contact, pp. 22-38

Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, “Language as Work and Trade” in Language as Work and Trade, pp. 35-        64

HC 431H is an upper division class, so I did not expect Lane’s lower division seminar to do the same type of work. What struck me was simply the thoughtfulness and intelligence that students exhibit when they have an environment in which to push their thinking and their creativity. We see this in Lane’s honors seminars, as well, but I would like to see a wider range of seminar experiences available to Lane’s students.

Mara Fields, the Grants Coordinator at Lane, occasionally sends me information about grants for “great ideas” courses, and I’ve always hoped to be able to build such a course for the Honors Program. I think the students would gain as much from that type of seminar as they do from our two interdisciplinary research seminars.

The challenge is that a “great ideas” course, like our seminars, would count as an elective and the students have limited space for electives given the constraints of financial aid and the need to complete the courses required for their majors. Still, after participating in Joe’s HC 431H history class, I plan to think more about ways to create a similar experience for the honors students at Lane.

Tricia Rose on Educational Equality in an Unequal World

I had the wonderful opportunity to hear a presentation by Tricia Rose. Professor of Africana Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University, Rose gave an exceptional talk entitled “Educational Equality in an Unequal World: Creative Strategies for Making All Students Successful.”


Rose spoke at the Lane Longhouse. Her subject matter resonated for me in many ways, and I continue to think about her statement that the goals of education are to create “fully developed human beings and healing.” This statement articulates the essential work that honors programs do at two-year colleges. As I watch more students move through our program, I see the choices students make because of their honors experience. They challenge themselves in their classes and they ask more of their instructors. They engage in co-curricular activities. They apply for and receive scholarships. They transfer to, and graduate from, four-year institutions.

The above accomplishments are impressive, especially as students have commented in person, in their ePortfolios, and in other reflective writing about the challenges of attending college many years after high school; returning to college after unsuccessful first attempts; attending college while raising children sometimes with a partner and sometimes on their own; and trying to balance multiple jobs while succeeding in their coursework.

They have acknowledged the ways in which they were discouraged by high school teachers to even consider college, the comments by otherwise supportive instructors that misread language barriers as intellectual deficiencies, and the sometimes resentful and disparaging attitudes of family members and friends when they chose to go to school.

I repeatedly see the value of a cohort of peers who can relate to these many obstacles, peers who support each other in facing them, and who recognize to the sense of achievement in overcoming them. I see the value in having a faculty willing to design classes that provide even more challenging and creative opportunities for this cohort. I see the value in having an instructor tell a student to disregard the ways that they have been underestimated in the past or in having one student tell another that they, too, should consider the Honors Program. I see the value in extending what our college does every day – showing students that they matter and that their success matters – to make sure that there are opportunities here for every student.

“…fully developed human beings and healing.” Those of us involved with the Lane Honors Program agree and we’re working on it. Every student. Every day.

See Rose’s TED Talk at Brown University: “Creating Conversations on Justice.”

Seminar Students Visit UO’s Special Collections Library

This week, Katie Morrison-Graham and I visited the University of Oregon’s Special Collections Library with the students currently taking the Honors Invitation to Inquiry seminar. We are always looking for ways to enhance the seminar’s focus on interdisciplinary research and on thinking critically about the research process. An introduction to archival research proved to be a great addition to the course.


Manuscripts Librarian, Linda Long, brought out several items from the Gertrude Bass Warner Collection including Japanese lantern slides and Warner’s travel diaries.


I’ve worked with this collection in the past and it was a nice surprise when she emailed to say these were the materials she would be using. I enjoyed the chance to see the materials again and to share them with my students.


Linda explained the purpose of a special collections library, described some of the collections in this library’s holdings, and encouraged the students to feel welcome there and use the library as a resource. I was especially appreciative of this invitation because the campus and its libraries can seem overwhelming to someone unfamiliar with them. The honors students now know they have access to excellent scholarly resources and can feel comfortable and confident about using them.


When we left, one student was already registering so that she could use the library in the future. Others gathered outside to talk over their experience. Linda and I decided based on the students’ response that we will make the Special Collections Library visit a regular part of the honors seminars each year.

Sharing Our Research with Students

When Sarah Ulerick and I taught the first section of what became the Honors Capstone Seminar, I found that my experience with my own academic project at that time paralleled some of the students’ experiences in the class. The seminar focused on group research projects and culminated in a student-led, public symposium featuring panels of experts. I was also organizing a panel on American haiku for the American Literature Association’s conference held in San Francisco near the end of the term.

San Francisco

As the students were preparing to present their research findings, I was preparing to present mine in a paper on the American haiku panel. When the students became stressed that not all of their invited panelists were going to be able to attend the symposium, I shared with them that one of my panelists had cancelled at the last minute. In short, they came to see that they were part of the scholarly community and their experiences were consistent with what often happens to all scholars involved in research and in professional activities.

Over the past few years of teaching Lane’s two honors seminars, both of which focus on research, I have consistently seen how beneficial it is for the students and instructors to share their work with one other. To be honest, I am sometimes surprised that sharing my work in literary studies is of interest to them since very few of our students are English majors; however, I recognize that it is simply interacting with someone who is researching in their field, whatever that field may be, that most interests them.

One benefit for the students, I think, is to recognize that what they are doing in the seminars is not a rote exercise. It is both training for the work they will do in upper division and graduate courses and an opportunity to answer real research questions and share their findings with relevant audiences. It is also consistent with what all scholars do and what they see their instructor doing outside of the classroom.

The sharing of our research-related work offers many benefits to me, but one was particularly emphasized this past weekend. Last term, I worked on a paper about Richard Wright’s haiku and American Imagism for the Modern Language Association’s convention. As we began this term and the Honors Invitation to Inquiry Seminar, I traveled to Vancouver BC to present my paper. What I discovered as I worked on the paper was that I kept running into dead ends. I knew I wasn’t getting at what I wanted to say. It was only as I finished revising the paper and presented it at the conference that I finally arrived at the question I really wanted to answer.

With Toru Kiuchi and Yoshinobu Hakutani after our panel.

With Toru Kiuchi and Yoshinobu Hakutani after our panel.

This experience was such a basic research experience that it took me by surprise. It has been a long time since I’ve done that much work only to arrive at my actual starting place in the conclusion of my paper. I was reminded that the obstacles my students face each year in the seminars are also the obstacles and the process I experience in my own work. I’ll be sharing this insight with them this week as they hone their research questions and I begin the line of inquiry my conference paper ultimately directed me to.

Collaboratively-Created, Task-Specific Rubrics

This week, the latest issue of JNCHC arrived in the mail. It included my essay, “Collaborative Design: Building Task-Specific Rubrics in the Honors Classroom,” which is part of the issue’s forum, “Rubrics, Templates, and Outcomes Assessment.” In the essay, I focus on how students in the honors seminars help create the task-specific rubrics we use for different assignments and argue that this activity enhances learning and empowers students.

I did not come to this approach in isolation. Sarah Ulerick and I engaged students in creating rubrics during the first Invitation to Inquiry Seminar in the spring of 2012. My participation in a Faculty Interest Group on critical thinking, led by Siskanna Naynaha and Kate Sullivan, introduced me to an invaluable resource that I used to further develop this approach: Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, by John C. Bean.


My co-instructor in the honors seminars, Katie Morrison-Graham, and I continue to refine our approach to developing rubrics with our students. We are planning to work with Lane’s Assessment Team this year to develop more ways to incorporate Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes into our collaboratively-produced, task-specific rubrics.