Tag Archives: Kristina Holton

Honors and Phi Theta Kappa

The Sigma Zeta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) has been shut down this past year after some challenges with particular students. Having served briefly as the advisor for PTK, I remember that depending on the students involved, there can certainly be challenges. In fact, last fall at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference, I asked other honors directors who were also their campus’s PTK advisor about the drama that often seemed to be part of the chapter’s history. One advisor said, “There is always drama with PTK.” The others just nodded.

One reason for the drama, I believe, is that PTK gathers together very bright, very creative students who may or may not have experience with leadership, organizing events, managing funds, and running a chapter. That’s part of the purpose of PTK – building those skills. Some students definitely do show up with one or more of those skills and can help a chapter succeed, or they may be up against a larger group that doesn’t want to follow their lead.

I respect the decision of Kristina Holton, the chapter advisor, to close down the chapter to let things settle out. I especially respect her decision not to push recruitment when there weren’t any activities or opportunities for new members to participate in.

Regardless of the challenges that can beset a chapter, the benefits in terms of scholarship, leadership, and service make PTK an excellent learning opportunity for students. PTK also provides a competitive edge for scholarships (and offers some scholarships available only to its members), college applications, and job applications.

The Lane Honors Program offers these opportunities, too, so what is the ideal relationship between an honors program and PTK?

Kristina and I have been working on the answer to this question specifically as it relates to Lane Community College. For now, we see the two honors groups supporting each other and are encouraging students to join both. In fact, we are now rebuilding the chapter with students from the Honors Program as the active members and leaders.

This week, we held an information session to learn what students wanted from the chapter. Ten students attended the meeting, asking questions and offering suggestions.

We will meet again during Final Exam Week to plan the next steps for spring. Having met with nine of these ten students when they first joined the Honors Program, I can attest to the intelligence, character, and enthusiasm of this group and I’m optimistic that Lane may soon have a vibrant Sigma Zeta Chapter that works hand-in-hand with our honors program.

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!