Tag Archives: Elaine Torda

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!

NCHC Conference 2014

This has been a very busy day at the NCHC conference in Denver. Several panels at the conference have focused specifically on topics related to two-year colleges, and today there were meetings as well as panels. I am continually convinced that this organization and conference are valuable resources for anyone working in honors education.

This morning, I attended the Two-Year College Issues meeting run by Elaine Torda and Frank Provenzano.


For two hours, we shared ideas, discussed challenges, and brainstormed solutions. The meeting was well-attended by directors of two-year college honors programs from around the country.

This meeting was immediately followed by the Two Year College Committee meeting, which also ran for two hours. The meeting was led by Committee Chair, Elaine Torda. The agenda included leadership issues, committee reports, articulation agreements, and conference planning for next year among other things.

I left a few minutes early to get to my panel, “Two-Year College Capstones: Transitioning Students from New to Established Scholars.” I was joined by my two fellow panelists: Alannah Rosenberg of Saddleback College and Bruce Thompson of Frederick Community College. Unfortunately, Melody Wilson of Portland Community College couldn’t attend the conference this year. Rain Freeman, an honors student at American University, moderated the panel.


The panel went well and generated some good questions from the audience. I just hope that in the future, so many sessions focusing on two-year college issues won’t be scheduled opposite each other. There aren’t that many sessions on these issues, and it seems like they could be spread out over a few days or at least over the course of a day.

After a quick lunch and walk through downtown Denver, I returned to the hotel for the Western Regional Honors Council meeting.


Much of the conversation centered on where the regional conferences will be held in the next few years (2015 University of Nevada, Reno; 2016 UC Riverside; 2017 Southern Oregon University). I’d like to see the conference come to Lane at some point. I also had a chance to talk with Mark Clark from the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT). We are both interested in a possible articulation agreement between our honors programs, and he will put me in touch with the person who handles these agreements for his institution. All in all, a great meeting!

Next up: the reception for the Assessment and Evaluation Committee, which met Wednesday evening. The reception is for this year’s graduates and alumni of the NCHC Summer Institute on Assessment and Evaluation.

I’m heading home tomorrow with a lot of ideas and plans after this year’s conference.


NCHC Two-Year College Committee and American Honors

There were several sessions at the NCHC Conference this year that dealt with issues faced by honors programs at two-year colleges. In fact, one session was titled “Two-Year College Issues.” In addition to the different sessions, there was also the annual meeting of the Two-Year College Committee. One of the topics addressed in this meeting was American Honors (AH). This program is a for-profit organization that works in conjunction with two-year colleges to offer services that the colleges can’t or don’t offer through their honors programs. The debate about the AH was very heated last year and, while somewhat less heated this year, still made it clear that there is no unanimous decision on whether AH is beneficial or detrimental to honors education.


Two-Year College Committee Co-Chair Elaine Torda and outgoing NCHC President Rick Scott at the meeting. Rick Scott shares the NCHC Board of Directors’ statement regarding American Honors.

Several people voiced their concern about schools spending money on AH that could be spent on their own honors programs. Others expressed a vehement opposition to for-profit education in any form. Some honors program directors, however, explained that AH allowed them to offer opportunities across multi-campus colleges that they simply could not otherwise offer. Still other directors said that they were in conversation with AH and were undecided about whether or not to partner with them.

When I first looked into AH, there was little information available on their website, and it was difficult to determine what exactly they could offer. More information is available now, and the two representatives from AH who attended the meeting emphasized that their goal was to provide whatever individual two-year college honors programs needed. They also stressed that there were programs that didn’t need them at all.

While the NCHC’s Board of Directors could not legally advise honors programs to avoid or accept partnering with AH, it did issue a statement: colleges considering partnering with AH needed to involve the director of their honors program in the discussions.

I am still undecided about this organization, but I plan to watch how well it works for those two-year college honors programs who do partner with it. The current version of AH would not benefit Lane’s Honors Program, but I’m still interested to see how AH develops and to think more about the impact it could have on honors education.