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Demography of Honors: 

Comparing NCHC Members and Non-Members 

Patricia J. Smith and Richard I. Scott 

University of Central Arkansas 

R ecent research describing the landscape of honors education has dem¬ 
onstrated that honors programs and colleges have become an important 
and expanding component of American higher education. Since its inception 
nearly a century ago, collegiate honors education offering campus-wide curri¬ 
cula has spread to more than 1,500 non-profit colleges and universities (Scott 
and Smith, “Demography”). NCHC has served as the umbrella organization 
for the collegiate honors community during a fifty-year period in which the 
number of known programs delivering honors education has experienced a 
more than four-fold increase (Rinehart; Scott and Smith, “Demography”). 

In 2012, NCHC undertook systematic research of its member institu¬ 
tions’ structural and operational features, but we revealed in a previous article 
that the NCHC membership does not include 43% of institutions offering 
honors education (Scott and Smith, “Demography”). Since the 2012 NCHC 
study described only a fraction of the honors landscape, we seek to extend 
that vantage point to include non-members, examining structural features, 
engagement with regional honors councils, and reasons that non-member 


83 


Smith and Scott 


institutions’ administrators give for not joining NCHC. Additionally, we seek 
to explore information about the location of each campus offering honors 
education in order to observe how it is distributed throughout the United 
States. 

Regarding the location and distribution of honors programs and colleges, 
we address the following research questions: 

1. How are NCHC member and non-member honors programs and col¬ 
leges distributed in the United States? 

2. What proportion of institutions in each state offers honors 
education? 

3. How are two- and four-year honors programs and colleges distributed 
in the United States? 

4. To what extent is honors education being delivered at four-year insti¬ 
tutions in each state and by institutional type? 

Additionally, since NCHC’s mission is to support honors education 
through strategic initiatives that include research, professional development, 
and advocacy, we explore not only the percentage of honors programs that 
are affiliated with NCHC but to what extent NCHC’s support truly reaches 
institutions offering honors education. To begin to address this issue, we 
need to understand how institutions without membership vary from those 
represented among the membership, so we additionally sought to address the 
following research questions: 

5. How do NCHC members differ from non-members in specific struc¬ 
tural arrangements, i.e., enrollment ofthe institutional host, enrollment 
of the honors unit, title of the honors administrator, and presence of 
dedicated honors faculty, staff, academic space, and housing? 

6. How do NCHC members differ from non-members in affiliation with 
regional honors councils? 

7. What reasons do administrators of non-member institutions cite for 
not joining NCHC? 

METHODOLOGY 

To explore the research questions, we created a comprehensive data set 
from multiple sources. The original dataset was first developed to explore the 


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Demography of Honors 


national landscape of honors education (Scott and Smith, “Demography”). 
Starting with the 2016 list of4,664 institutions in the Integrated Postsecond¬ 
ary Educational Data System, or IPEDS (Carnegie), we eliminated institutions 
that did not deliver a traditional undergraduate education at non-profit insti¬ 
tutions. That focus removed 1,290 for-profit institutions, 261 graduate-only 
institutions, 479 institutions offering special-focus curricula, 35 tribal insti¬ 
tutions, and all 49 institutions located outside of the 50 states of the United 
States, leaving 2,550 colleges and universities. The 2016 IPEDS dataset uses 
the Carnegie Basic Classification that distinguished associates colleges (two- 
year institutions) from four-year institutions and further divides the latter 
into baccalaureate colleges, masters universities, and doctoral universities 
in their 2015 report. Note that the IPEDS definitional structure includes a 
branch campus of multi-campus systems only when the former has its own 
governance unit, which on rare occasions leads to honors programs with mul¬ 
tiple memberships in NCHC having to be classified as one honors program 
despite operating as multiple programs within one branch campus. 

To the dataset we added information about institutions offering honors 
education based on England’s web-crawl procedure that “defined an honors 
program as any program so-named online and providing information to off- 
campus website visitors” (73). Like England, we limited our dataset to those 
institutions that offer honors education in a campus-wide manner, exclud¬ 
ing those having only departmental honors programs. We relied first on the 
Google search engine and then each institution’s internal search engine to 
locate the presence or absence of information on honors education at each 
of the 2,550 institutions studied; when the presence of honors was detected, 
we further examined whether it was institution-wide and whether it was des¬ 
ignated as an honors program or college (for more information, see Scott and 
Smith, “Demography”). Membership in NCHC was based on its 2013-14 
list of institutional members, excluding for-profit companies, organizations 
that provide study abroad or internships, honors societies, and individual/ 
professional members. 

In order to address the first four research questions, we added to the 
dataset the location of each of the institutions and then created maps of the 
locations. We additionally recorded the location of each institution within 
one of the six regions of the United States as defined by the regional hon¬ 
ors councils: Southern, Northeast, Mid-East, Western, Great Plains, and 
Upper Midwest. Consulting the website for each regional council, we identi¬ 
fied regional member institutions and recorded membership in the growing 
dataset. 


85 


Smith and Scott 


Survey of Non-Members 

Once this dataset was complete, we sought to gather contact informa¬ 
tion for presiding administrators at the 643 institutions that were identified 
as having honors education but had no affiliation with NCHC according 
to the 2013-14 membership roster. By searching their honors websites, we 
were able to identify working email addresses for 451 administrators. Of the 
remaining 192 institutions, many did not list contact information, and 45 had 
contact information that was no longer up to date. The 451 administrators 
were then sent an electronic survey that asked about the particular features 
of their honors academic unit and the reasons they were not members of 
NCHC. Specifically, they were each asked about enrollment at the institution, 
enrollment in the honors program or college, the administrative title of its 
chief academic officer, whether they had dedicated honors faculty, staff, aca¬ 
demic space, and housing, and why they were not NCHC members. Replies 
came from 119 honors administrators, representing a 26% response rate and 
approximately 19% of the total population of non-members. An analysis of 
the survey respondents shows that a disproportionate number of baccalau¬ 
reate and doctoral institutions responded to the survey of non-members 
relative to their distribution in IPEDs. Additionally, the average institution 
size of respondents is approximately 20% larger than the average institutional 
enrollment as represented in IPEDs data. Although four-year institutions and 
institutions with larger enrollments are represented at a higher rate in the sur¬ 
vey findings, the distribution of honors programs and colleges in the sample 
is roughly the same as in the total population according to the study by Scott 
and Smith (“Demography”). 

Responses to the survey were then compared to the results of the 2012 
NCHC Member Survey (Scott). For the membership survey, 890 institutions 
with NCHC memberships in 2012 were surveyed; 446 (50%) responded. 
Summary results about NCHC member institutions are referenced in the 
following analyses when comparing them to non-members. Use of the 2012 
survey results presents several limitations for the present study. First, the data 
available on NCHC members are now four years old whereas the data on 
non-members are current. Second, both surveys had relatively low response 
rates, with the 2012 membership survey having a 50% response rate but the 
survey of non-members representing merely 19% of the total non-member 
population. Additionally, the membership list that was used in Scott and 
Smith’s 2016 demography study is now two years old, so membership status 
may have changed during this time. 


86 


Demography of Honors 


RESULTS 

Using the location of each institution in the original dataset, we were able 
to demonstrate the distribution of honors education throughout the United 
States. Figure 1 depicts the location of the 1,503 institutions with campus¬ 
wide honors education. Cities hosting institutions with at least one of the 860 
NCHC members are represented by stars (★) while those with one of the 
643 non-members are symbolized by dots ( • ). Those cities hosting both a 
member and non-member institution are marked by a plus sign (+). The land¬ 
scape of honors education map shows that the 1,503 institutions are located 
in 1,106 communities; 422 locations had 447 non-member institutions (21 
of those locations had more than one non-member institution and no mem¬ 
ber institution); 564 locations had 638 member institutions (55 of those 
locations had more than one member institution with no non-members); 
120 locations had at least one member and one non-member institution (65 
locations had more than two institutions). Institutions offering honors edu¬ 
cation appear to be disproportionately found along the eastern seaboard, in 
southern and mid-eastern states, and in California, but some of this distri¬ 
bution follows the locational pattern of institutions within the United States 
offering traditional undergraduate education. To get a different view, one that 
shows the concentration of honors programs and colleges across the states, 
see Figure 2. 

Figure 2 displays the percentage of institutions in each state that deliver 
campus-wide honors education. The honors concentration map shows that in 
8 states more than 72% of undergraduate colleges and universities offer hon¬ 
ors education, including 5 states in the northeast along with Indiana, Illinois, 
and Tennessee. In another 12 states, 61-71% of the institutions of higher edu¬ 
cation deliver honors, and they are spread throughout the nation. In a total of 
35 states, 50% or more of the colleges and universities offer honors education. 
Six states approach having half of their institutions (44% to 49%) offering 
honors education. Concentrations ofhonors education are lowest in six states, 
ranging from 20 to 38%: Hawaii, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon, Ver¬ 
mont, and Wyoming. A closer look at these latter six states, however, reveals 
that at least 44% of the four-year institutions in Oregon and North Dakota 
offer honors education. In five of the six states, excluding only Vermont, the 
percentage of private institutions in the state is lower, often significantly, than 
the national average, with private institutions making up 13% to 35% whereas 
the national average is 40%. 


87 


Smith and Scon 


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Demography of Honors 



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Smith and Scott 


To further understand the presence of honors education, we explored 
the variation in prevalence between two-year and four-year institutions and 
institutional classification. While honors education is continuing to spread 
through two-year colleges and is currently being championed as one of the 
top five retention strategies for two-year institutions (Noel-Levitz), honors is 
still a much newer trend in these types of institutions. In fact, honors educa¬ 
tion is currently present in only 42% of all two-year institutions (389 of 919). 
Because of these differences, we examined the distribution of honors in each 
state, looking separately at two-year and four-year institutions. In Figure 3, 
cities hosting institutions that offer at least one of the 1,114 four-year institu¬ 
tions with honors education are represented by stars (★) while those with 
one ofthe 389 two-year institutions offering honors education are symbolized 
by dots ( • ). Those cities hosting both a four-year and two-year institution 
are marked by a plus sign (+). 

We further focused on four-year institutions given their greater pres¬ 
ence in honors education. Figure 4 demonstrates the percentage of four-year 
institutions offering honors education and shows that all but seven states 
(Vermont, New Mexico, Wyoming, Hawaii, North Dakota, New Hampshire, 
and Washington) have honors education at 50% or more of its four-year insti¬ 
tutions. In fact, 26 states are offering honors education at 70% or more of 
their four-year institutions, with one (Delaware) having honors programs at 
100% of its four-year institutions. Overall, the findings show that 68% of all 
traditional undergraduate four-year institutions are currently offering hon¬ 
ors education (1,114 of 1,631), and 74% of all honors programs are located 
within four-year institutions. 

Of the honors programs located within four-year institutions, our dataset 
revealed that 47% are located at public institutions and 53% at private insti¬ 
tutions. These percentages do not show that a greater percentage of private 
institutions are offering honors, however, because 60% are private while only 
40% are public. Of the 517 four-year institutions not offering honors educa¬ 
tion, 392 (76%) of those are private, so while a greater percentage of honors 
programs are located within private institutions, a greater percentage of all 
public institutions are offering honors programs. 

Looking more closely at public four-year institutions, we find that 95% 
of all public doctoral institutions, 84% of public masters, and 62.5% of public 
baccalaureate institutions offer honors education. At private four-year institu¬ 
tions, however, masters universities have the highest rate of honors education 
at 73% while 67% of private doctoral and just 48% of private baccalaureate 
institutions offer honors education. 


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Demography of Honors 


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Demography of Honors 


Having examined the national distribution of honors, we turn to issues 
of membership. Previous research revealed that four-year institutions are 
more likely than two-year institutions to be members of NCHC (Scott and 
Smith, “Demography”). Additionally, doctoral institutions have higher per¬ 
centages of NCHC membership, followed by masters and then baccalaureate 
institutions, regardless of whether honors is delivered through a college or 
a program. Institutions offering honors colleges are more likely than those 
offering honors programs to hold memberships in NCHC, regardless of insti¬ 
tutional classification, but institutional type was a factor for honors colleges 
but not for honors programs. Specifically, “honors colleges at public institu¬ 
tions are more likely to be NCHC members than those at private institutions 
... [while] there is very little variation in NCHC membership rates for insti¬ 
tutions offering honors programs, regardless of whether they are private or 
public” (Scott and Smith, “Demography” 89). 

Table 1 displays information from IPEDS and the web-crawl about struc¬ 
tural features of NCHC institutional members and non-members. Institution 
type and honors type are repeated here from the Scott and Smith 2016 study 
“Demography of Honors: The National Landscape of Honors Education” in 
order to provide a broad vantage point for the analysis that follows. A clear dif¬ 
ference in NCHC membership rates emerges between masters and doctoral 
universities, on the one hand, and baccalaureate and associates (two-year) 
colleges on the other, with the former having much higher rates of member¬ 
ship. This difference may be underscored by comparing the mean enrollments 

Table 1: National Landscape of Honors Education 
(Scott & Smith, 2016 ) 



93 


























Smith and Scott 


of NCHC members and non-members, showing member institutions to be 
larger on average. Member institutions also tend to have higher enrollment in 
honors—an average 37% higher for members than non-members—with the 
caveat that the small number of very large member institutions might skew 
the comparison. Also striking is the much higher membership rate for honors 
colleges than programs, with more than 75% of colleges being members ver¬ 
sus 55% of programs; this difference might result from honors colleges having 
greater resources for membership fees or from a trend within the NCHC 
toward conversion from programs to colleges, a trend possibly unnoticed by 
non-members. 

In exploring differences in structural arrangements between NCHC 
members and non-members, we used the information collected in the 2016 
survey of non-members and compared it with the 2012 membership survey 
results for these features. Table 2 shows that NCHC members are far more 
likely than non-members to have a director or dean, with nearly a quarter of 
non-members having other administrative assignments such as coordinators, 
non-administrative faculty, and staff. In addition, compared to non-mem¬ 
bers, NCHC member institutions are far more likely to have dedicated staff, 
academic space, and housing, and they are five times more likely than non¬ 
members to have an affiliation with regional honors councils. Though the 
findings of the 2016 non-member survey appear to show that non-member 
institutions have a higher rate of dedicated faculty, this difference is likely due 

Table 2: Size and Characteristics of Members and Non-Members 



NCHC Member 

Non-Member 

Average Honors Enrollment 

378 

275 

Honors Administrative Type (%) 

Dean 

87.0 

67.5 

Director 

13.0 

9.4 

Other 

0.0 

23.1 

Program Characteristics (%) 

Honors Faculty 

20.0 

36.8 

Honors Staff 

74.0 

34.0 

Honors Academic Space 

70.6 

29.9 

Honors Housing 

51.8 

23.9 

Regional Honors Membership 

70.2 

14.6 


Note: NCHC Member Characteristics are reported from the 2012 NCHC survey while Non- 
Member Characteristics are reported from the 2016 survey taken for this study. 


94 




















Demography of Honors 


to the wording of the questions. While the 2012 membership survey asked 
administrators whether they have faculty that report to honors, the 2016 
non-member survey asked more broadly about whether they have faculty 
specifically assigned to teach in honors. Because the survey of non-members 
over-represents larger and more comprehensive institutions, institutions 
with fewer resources are probably underrepresented; consequently, the dif¬ 
ferences between members and non-members may be even greater than is 
observed here. 

The findings in Table 2 clearly demonstrate that member institutions have 
greater operational resources than non-members and are far more engaged 
in their regional honors communities. To explore the latter point further, we 
turn next to examining the regional distribution of institutions offering hon¬ 
ors education. Table 3 lists the location for all institutions with campus-wide 
honors programs or colleges, placing them into one of the six regional honors 
council groupings of states. The listings in Table 3 reflect the pattern seen in 
Figure 1, with the preponderance of institutions found in the more densely 
populated states of the eastern seaboard, mid-east, and south. Several provi¬ 
sos are necessary in a discussion of affiliation to regional honors councils. In 
principle, institutions are not restricted to membership in only one regional 
honors council, nor does any regional honors council consider an institution 
ineligible to join based on its location. In practice, however, we discovered 
that only one institution is a member of a council outside its general regional 

Table 3: Regional Locations of NCHC Member and 
Non-Member Institutions 


Regional Location 

NCHC Members 

Non-Members 

Total 

Upper Midwest 

77 

106 

173 

Western 

125 

130 

255 

Great Plains 

138 

63 

201 

Southern 

214 

134 

348 

Northeast 

231 

164 

395 

Mid-East 

209 

186 

395 

Total* 

994 (55.9%) 

783 (44.1%) 

1777 


^Because institutions in states bordering two regions could join either, eligibility for regional 
membership double-counts some institutions; as a result, the total number of institutions deliv¬ 
ering honors education in Table 3 is inflated (1,777 compared to 1,503). But when comparing 
NCHC members to non-members the proportions are nearly the same (the arrangement slightly 
deflates the proportion of NCHC members compared to non-members by 1.3%). 


95 















Smith and Scott 


location and that just five institutions have memberships in more than one 
region. States that border two regional honors councils can be deemed as 
residing in both, e.g., Arkansas is located in a state that is part of both the 
Southern Regional Honors Council and the Great Plains Regional Honors 
Council. For institutions in overlapping states we counted their location in 
both regions, inflating the total number of institutions with honors education 
from 1,503 to 1,777; however, when the number of member and non-mem¬ 
ber institutions is examined, the proportion is nearly the same, with NCHC 
members fewer by only 1.3%. 

The degree of engagement with regional honors communities can be 
readily judged from findings in Table 4; membership percentages show what 
might be called market share and are derived from the number of member 
institutions divided by all institutions located in the region (as seen in Table 
3). The totals indicate that NCHC members are more than three times as 
likely as non-members to affiliate with a regional honors council (43.5% to 
12.9%). The pattern of greater involvement in regional honors organizations 
by NCHC members is replicated in each of the six regions. In the Western or 
Mid-East regions, NCHC members have twice the membership rates com¬ 
pared with non-members, and that ratio doubles in the Great Plains or Upper 

Table 4: Regional Affiliation of NCHC Member and 
Non-Member Institutions 


Regional 

Membership 

NCHC 

Members 

% of 
Eligible 
Members 
by 

Region 

Non- 

Members 

% of 
Eligible 
Non- 

Members 
by Region 

Total 

% of Total 
Eligible 
Honors 
Programs 
by Region 

Upper Midwest 

65 

84.4 

15 

14.2 

80 

43.7 

Western 

95 

76.0 

43 

33.1 

138 

54.1 

Great Plains 

71 

51.4 

7 

11.1 

78 

38.8 

Southern 

90 

42.1 

19 

14.2 

99 

28.4 

Northeast 

91 

39.4 

8 

4.9 

99 

25.1 

Mid-East 

20 

9.5 

9 

4.8 

29 

7.3 

TotaP 

432 

43.5 

101 

12.9 

533 

29.9 


^Because institutions in states bordering two regions could join either, eligibility for regional 
membership double-counts some institutions; as a result, the total number of institutions deliv¬ 
ering honors education in Table 4 is inflated (1,777 compared to 1,503). But when comparing 
NCHC members to non-members the proportions are nearly the same (the arrangement slightly 
deflates the proportion of NCHC members compared to non-members by 1.3%). 


96 


















Demography of Honors 


Midwest region and more than doubles again in the Southern or Northeast 
region. Five of the eight states represented by the Mid-East region have eli¬ 
gibility to join other regions, however, which may account for the lower 
percentage of membership in that region. 

Of the participants in the 2016 non-member survey, 16% reported hav¬ 
ing a regional membership whereas the actual percentage of non-members 
with a regional association is 12.9%, indicating that institutions with regional 
memberships were more likely to have participated in the survey and are 
represented at a higher than average rate in the results that follow. NCHC 
representatives have attended regional honors conferences in recent years to 
reach out to non-member institutions. Results in Table 4 show that such an 
outreach market, while comprising about 100 institutions, taps just over 15% 
of the entire group of non-members (101/643). The findings make plain that 
colleges and universities without memberships in NCHC are likely to be dis¬ 
engaged from other professional honors organizations. 

To explore the reasons that institutions have not joined NCHC to date, 
we next examine responses from a survey of non-members that asked par¬ 
ticipants why they were not members. The survey provided three potential 
reasons and encouraged participants to select all that apply; it also provided 
“other” as a fourth option to encourage specifying any reasons not listed. A 
qualitative analysis of the “other” category revealed one additional theme. 
Table 5 presents the most frequently occurring responses. Just over 40% said 
their funding was insufficient to pay membership dues or attend the national 
conference, and nearly a third were unaware that a national honors organi¬ 
zation existed. A cross-tabulation of respondents’ length of administrative 
service in honors with reasons for not joining NCHC reveals that those with 

Table 5: Reported Reasons by Non-Members for Lack of 
NCHC Affiliation (n=1 16) 


Reason Cited % 

Cannot afford membership or the national conference 

41.0 

Not familiar with NCHC and unaware of a national organization for 
collegiate honors 

31.9 

Do not believe NCHC offers programs or opportunities that would be 
ofbenefit 

23.0 

Other 


Intending to join 

13.8 


Note: Respondents could select more than one reason. 


97 











Smith and Scott 


three years or fewer are far more likely (71%) to be unaware of NCHC or of 
any professional educational association devoted to advancing honors educa¬ 
tion. Almost one in four said they did not believe NCHC offered any benefits 
or opportunities for their specific program. Of these, approximately 50% 
have served as an honors administrator for 10 years or more. Responses in 
the “other” category revealed that a number of administrators at non-member 
institutions (14%) were aware of NCHC and expressed an intention to join. 

Survey respondents were also asked an open-ended question about what 
the organization could do specifically to entice them to join as an institutional 
member. Of the 116 participants, 49 responded to this question. Using qual¬ 
itative analysis, three basic themes emerged, and they closely resemble the 
reasons for not having a membership. Participants most commonly suggested 
that the NCHC explore ways to make membership more affordable (51%); 
one participant suggested “waiving membership fees for the first year so that 
membership could be shown to be beneficial,” and another suggested that 
NCHC offer a “pro-rated membership price based on number of students 
at (the) institution.” The second most frequent suggestion was that NCHC 
present more information about itself and the benefits of membership (35%). 
A third category of responses indicated that NCHC was currently not meet¬ 
ing the needs of their program (12%); specifically, one participant said that 
in order for NCHC to entice the program to join, “there needs to be a per¬ 
ception change that the NCHC is a strong organization that understands 
the nuances of a highly intensive research institution,” and a few respondents 
from doctoral universities expressed their sole interest in belonging to a pro¬ 
fessional association of their peers, including Honors Education at Research 
Universities (HERU), the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), 
and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). 

CONCLUSION 

Conducting an examination of honors at an institutional level affords the 
opportunity to describe the population structure and distribution of honors 
programs and colleges. NCHC undertook systematic institutional research 
of its members’ structural and operational features in 2012, but that study 
described a fraction of the honors landscape because the survey was not sent 
to non-members. The present study extends that vantage point to include 
non-members, examining structural features, engagement with regional hon¬ 
ors councils, and reasons non-member institutions’ administrators give for 
not joining NCHC. 


98 


Demography of Honors 


These findings show that although NCHC has in its membership more 
than half of the population of institutions offering honors education (860 of 
1,503,57%), membership could grow further with more than 640 institutions 
eligible to join. Differences between NCHC members and non-members 
are extensive. NCHC members are more likely to come from masters and 
doctoral universities and have more dedicated human and physical resources 
than non-members. Based on the reasons cited for not joining NCHC, many 
non-members have few monetary resources. Non-member institutions are 
also nearly four times more likely to be operating without another type of 
resource: support from or engagement with regional honors councils. When 
non-members were asked why they did not affiliate with NCHC, the most 
common reply other than expense was lack of awareness of the organization 
or its membership benefits. A small subset indicated a more active intention 
not to join NCHC because their institutions had needs that, in their view, 
NCHC was not currently meeting. Given NCHC’s mission to “support and 
enhance the community of educational institutions, professionals, and stu¬ 
dents who participate in collegiate honors education around the world,” 
NCHC has work to do in bringing the support of the national organization to 
a greater number of institutions (NCHC). 

NCHC can use the most common reasons for not joining—affordabil¬ 
ity and lack of awareness—as the focus for intensifying its outreach efforts. 
Respondents’ suggestions on affordability included, for instance, variable 
membership rates depending on institution size and free membership for the 
first year so that new members could realize the benefits. The latter recom¬ 
mendation also begins to address the issue of awareness of member services 
and benefits. 

Another recommendation might be for NCHC to create a national data¬ 
base ofhonors administrators and update it on an annual basis. Periodic emails 
could then inform non-members about the benefits the organization offers. 
Drawing non-member directors and deans to the publicly visible side of its 
website through these emails, NCHC could offer webinars, research results, 
an inclusive index of research on honors education, and analytical strategies 
for showing the value ofhonors to central administrations. NCHC could also 
use the list to promote regional organizations and to advertise the services it 
provides at regional honors council conferences, e.g., a curriculum develop¬ 
ment workshop or a condensed version of Beginning in Honors. 

Overall, dispossession and disengagement are striking elements of many 
non-members’ honors operations. While their honors administrators could 


99 


Smith and Scott 


no doubt benefit from training, not to mention greater awareness of the 
norms and best practices associated with the profession of honors education, 
it is perhaps even more important to educate those running these institutions 
that honors cannot be sustained with few resources. NCHC can play a key 
role in disseminating this message, backed up by compelling data about what 
it takes to produce student success. 

The present study has limitations. A lack of contemporaneous data 
necessitated comparisons between categories of honors operations based on 
information collected years apart. Moreover, the comparisons were restricted 
to structural differences between NCHC members and non-members. These 
limitations, combined with a compelling research question that remains to be 
answered by this demographic approach, point to a need for further study. 

This remaining research question, arguably more significant than what 
has been presented here, should address operational variations between 
NCHC members and non-members. To answer this question, the survey 
NCHC conducted of its member institutions in 2012 needs to be repeated 
with non-members as well, basically conducting a census of the national hon¬ 
ors community. The operations to be investigated would include curricular 
offerings, co-curricular programming, presence of a variety of high-impact 
pedagogical approaches, availability of scholarships, existence of living/ 
learning communities in dedicated honors residence halls, faculty and staff 
arrangements, and more (Scott). This information would enhance NCHC’s 
efforts to support institutions with honors education by categorizing areas 
of difference and therefore targeting areas of need, e.g., honors curriculum 
development, administrative training for new honors directors, documen¬ 
tation of value added in order to defend or grow resources, recruiting and 
admissions processes, and student success programming. 

The period of rapid growth in honors education in the 1980s and early 
1990s slowed as funding for higher education constricted. What pushed the 
earlier growth spurt most likely was intermural competition in attracting a 
perceived scarcity of high-achieving students, especially in public institu¬ 
tions. With budget constraints now pervasive in American higher education, 
conditions have shifted toward intramural competition for scarce and highly 
valued human and financial resources as well as infrastructures. To sustain and 
improve operations, honors administrators need to do more than just track 
information about their honors program or college; they also need contextual 
information about the national honors landscape to provide perspective for 
successful assessment and evaluation. 


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Demography of Honors 


REFERENCES 

Carnegie Foundation. “Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher 
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England, Richard. “Honors Programs in Four-Year Institutions in the North¬ 
east: APreliminary Survey toward a National Inventory ofHonors.” Journal 
of the National Collegiate Honors Council 11:2 (2010): 71-82. Accessed 
15 May 2015. < http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nchcjournal/267 > 

NCHC. “National Collegiate Honors Council Mission Statement.” Accessed 
25 Jun. 2016. < http://nchchonors.org > 

Noel-Levitz, Ruffalo. “2015 Student Retention and College Completion 
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Rinehart, T. R. “The Role of Curricular and Instructional Innovation in the 
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cation.” PhD diss., Western Michigan University, 1978. 

Scott, Richard. “President’s Column.” National Collegiate Honors Council 
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org/newsletters/nchc-newsletter-special-edition > 

Scott, Richard I., and Patricia J. Smith. “Demography of Honors: The National 
Fandscape of Honors Education.” Journal of the National Collegiate Hon¬ 
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Smith, Patricia J., and Richard I. Scott. “Growth and Evolution of Collegiate 
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in Transition: Present Successes and Challenges in Honors Education. Eds. 
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and Littlefield: 2016 


The authors may be contacted at 
psmith@uca.edu . 


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