Tag Archives: Honors Leadership Team

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.

Blackberries

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.

Student Member on Honors Leadership Team

The Honors Leadership Team (HLT) finalized its charter last year, and the charter states that we would add one or two student members to the team by fall 2013. While everyone on the team supported this addition, the addition itself proved to be slightly difficult. We began the academic year without a current student on the team, so I am very appreciative of the synchronous events that led to our adding our first student member at the start of winter term 2014.

Cheyne Dandurand took the honors Invitation to Inquiry seminar last year, and he approached me about being a peer mentor in the class this year. He said that he had a positive experience in the class and felt that he could both contribute to this year’s seminar and also gain something himself by participating again.

I team-teach this seminar with my colleague, Katie Morrison-Graham. Katie and I both thought that having Cheyne join the class as a peer mentor was an excellent idea. We also encouraged him to talk to Tamara Pinkas. Tamara is the Cooperative Education Coordinator for Lane’s Advanced Technology and Language, Literature and Communications Divisions. She also oversees the honors experiential learning requirement and teaches the honors cooperative education class. Katie and I recognized that being a peer mentor would be a good form of experiential learning, and we thought that Cheyne could get co-op credit for his work.

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Tamara, however, saw the larger picture and recommended that Cheyne have his co-op work involve the entire Honors Program rather than just one honors class. She suggested that he join the leadership team and come up with other ways to both learn more about the program and contribute to it.

Cheyne decided that he would not only join the HLT and be a peer mentor in the Inquiry seminar. He would also assist with our social media, organize social events for the honors students, and help plan other honors events.

Last week, Cheyne attended the first HLT meeting of the term. We still need to determine the best way to find student members in the future. Fortunately, HLT member and math instructor Jessica Knoch, is working on a process for the team to consider, and I’m confident that we’ll have a plan in place soon. In the meantime, we now have a current student’s perspective informing our discussions, plans, and projects – a perspective that is very much valued by those of us working on the Lane Honors Program.