Lessons Learned from the Honors Program Council

Lisa York’s relationship with Phi Theta Kappa began in 1998, when she became an honorary member of the Alpha Epsilon Omicron Chapter at Trident Technical College in South Carolina. Her aunt, the late Joanie Keller, was the chapter advisor there as well as the Carolinas Regional Coordinator, and she was trying to provide York with a new avenue in life following the death of her husband in 1992.

When York finally became an advisor to the Alpha Upsilon Eta Chapter at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina nearly eight years ago, she thought her journey with the Society had reached its peak.

“Thankfully, I was very mistaken,” York said.

While attending Honors Institute at Boston University in 2011, York was encouraged by Faculty Scholar Pat West to apply to become a Faculty Scholar the following year. Later, West encouraged her to apply for the Honors Program Council, which develops the Honors Study Topic and assists with the compilation of the Honors Program Guide.

“Serving on the Council as the Cultural Studies Representative provided me with a chance to focus intellectually on the issues that were important to me as an academic and helped me find new ways to bring those ideas not only to my chapter, but to all of my students,” York said.

York, Jo Fritts and Dr. Sauda Smith will complete their four-year terms on the Honors Program Council this summer. Applications to fill their spots are due May 2, and a Humanities Representative, a Social Sciences-Communications Representative and, for the first time, a Technical-Workforce Representative will be selected. (Apply today.)

York said the leadership skills and knowledge she has gained from Susan Edwards, Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Academic Affairs and Honors Programs, and from interactions with other Council members have proven invaluable both for her personally and for her students and chapter officers and have made her a better teacher and advisor.

“(Students) must know how to cooperate with others, how to lead and what constitutes effective leadership, how to successfully communicate complicated ideas, how best to serve others, why a life of service matters, and how to self-assess,” she said. “My greatest lesson, perhaps, is learning to continually set goals and assess personal growth and professional growth, which we can easily forget to do when we are so focused on our students’ personal and professional growth.”

York is a literature professor, but her time on the Council has allowed her to explore other areas of study such as accounting, the hard sciences and technology and to see how they’re all connected. She’s also made close friends with her fellow Council members — she and Smith now consider each other sisters.

“The camaraderie, the friendships and the participation in something so intellectual have become monumental for me,” said Smith, Associate Vice President of H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the British Virgin Islands and founding advisor of the Beta Omicron Sigma Chapter. “For me, it’s been the ability to be in a room where a group of super-intellectual people can clash, and from that clash can come the most wonderful ideas and creativity. It’s absolutely been a priceless opportunity for me.”

Smith has used her experience on the Honors Program Council to show her students and even her co-advisors that it’s okay to disagree, as long as from that disagreement you arrive at a place where the common good and a common goal emerge.

The research aspect that goes into developing the Honors Study Topic and producing the Honors Program Guide has also been a valuable teaching tool for Smith.

“In a community college setting, we’re not often given the opportunity to do research and get published, unlike our colleagues in the universities,” she said. “The Honors Program Council enables you to create and contribute to the publication of a document that’s actually a teaching tool. It gives you an opportunity to use your intellect.

“We push our students to be on top of their games, so why shouldn’t we push ourselves?”

The opportunity to do research was a big draw for Fritts, a self-proclaimed “research geek.” Fritts is the advisor of the Alpha Psi Tau Chapter at Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri and is the Missouri Regional Coordinator. She patiently waited for several years for a spot on the Council to open up so she could apply.

Fritts has shared her first-hand experience as a Council member with her students and her region to show them that Honors Study Topics are not chosen lightly and that two years of repeated researching, writing and editing goes into the Honors Program Guide. It was important for her to show that it truly is a team effort, she said.

She is also ending her term on the Council with close friendships. Although she tends to be a private person, the connection Fritts has developed with her peers on the Council and the memories she has made with them have made it easier for her to open up.

“Knowing that my comments would be responded to in a respectful fashion (even if they were not agreed upon) was refreshing,” she said. “I know that I have developed a special bond with a handful of wonderful people that I will forever cherish.

“I feel as if I have lived the past four years in Williams Shakespeare’s quote, ‘We few, we happy, few, we band of brothers,’ because I look upon my fellow Council members as my brothers and sisters.”

Chapter Shares Tips for 35% Member Acceptance Rate

When the Beta Epsilon Tau Chapter at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Rangely Campus calculated a member acceptance rate of more than 35 percent, new advisor Jessica Hearns knew the unprecedented growth was no coincidence.

“There were several specific factors responsible for this year-to-date growth in our membership,” she said. “One of the biggest was the popularity and dedication of my co-advisor Leana Cox, who’s also a Phi Theta Kappa alumna.”

Hearns said the chapter had an active and motivated officer team (pictured above) that took advantage of every opportunity to spread awareness on campus, including operating more than 85 percent of concession stands at school functions. They’re just as active in the community, participating in everything from highway cleanups to food drives.

The chapter also hustled during its recruitment campaign, deploying strategic initiatives in a multifaceted approach that paid off in a big way. Among their initiatives:

  • Multiple informal orientation nights presented as game nights with desserts
  • Personalized invitation letters to students with as many in-person deliveries as possible by members and advisors — Two rounds of letters were sent to encourage word of mouth
  • Emails to advisors/coaches for each eligible student encouraging the advisors/coaches to have their students to come see the Phi Theta Kappa advisor — Two rounds of these emails were sent in two separate weeks
  • “Poster Bombed” campus the night before letters were sent
  • Photo of letters being stuffed on the campus Facebook page

“Everyone knows that communication is key to any organization’s success, and Jessica is a full-time faculty member who is communicative, active and motivational outside the classroom as well as in it,” Cox said.

Hone Your Leadership Skills in Our Nation’s Capital This Fall

Interested in strengthening your leadership skills? What about getting an insider’s view of Washington, D.C.? Through the new Leadership and the American Presidency (LTAP) program, you can do both.

This is an intensive 15-week leadership program that will have you living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, taking academic courses in international economics and government, interning with government agencies and other organizations in the area and much more. The program will take place during the fall 2016 academic semester.

The program is offered by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in conjunction with the Fund for American Studies.

The priority deadline is April 15, and the final deadline is June 1. Be sure to include your Phi Theta Kappa membership on your application for priority acceptance. Apply today!

Vote Now for Open AAC Position

Alumni can now vote for the final member to the Alumni Advisory Council! Voting will be open now through 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, April 9. The winner will be announced during NerdNation 2016.

Vote now!

The elected member will serve a two-year term on the AAC and will act as a liaison between alumni, alumni associations and Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters. Current AAC members are Kenneth Ruemke, Feifei Zeng, Lindsay Moore, Kevin Braden, Sara Oswald and Jeffrey Romeu. AAC co-chair Barbara Wolf Ebert will rotate off the council this year.

The AAC candidates are:

Alumni — learn more about the exciting opportunities available to you during NerdNation 2016, including the annual Alumni Business Meeting, the Alumni Social and Educational Forums exclusively for you! Register today!

Hallmark Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to our 2016 Hallmark Awards!

Advisor Awards

Advisor Hallmark Award winners will receive commemorative medallions upon their arrival at NerdNation 2016 and will be honored during the Association of Chapter Advisors Luncheon and the Second General Session.

There are four Hallmark Award categories for advisors: Distinguished Chapter Advisors, Distinguished Chapter Advisor Teams, Continued Excellence Award and the Paragon Award. These advisors were nominated by their chapter officers and members through the Hallmark Awards application process.

Meet the winners:

Fifteen Named Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter Advisor Teams
Fifteen Named Phi Theta Kappa Continued Excellence Advisors
Fifteen Named Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Advisors
Fifteen Named Phi Theta Kappa Paragon Advisors

Special thanks to Envision/International Scholar Laureate Program and Nova Southeastern University for sponsoring our Advisor Hallmark Awards!

Individual Awards

Individual Hallmark Awards recognize members, chapter officers and chapter officer teams. Recipients of these awards will receive commemorative medallions upon their arrival at NerdNation 2016, and they’ll be honored on stage during the Third General Session.

These students were nominated by their chapters through the Hallmark Awards application process.

Check out the winners:

Thirty Named Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter Members
Thirty Named Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter Officers
Thirty Named Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Chapter Officer Teams

Regional Awards

Regional Hallmark Awards recognize regions, regional officers, regional officer teams and Regional Coordinators. Individual winners will receive commemorative medallions, and all winners will be recognized on stage during the Parade of Flags Ceremony in the Opening General Session of NerdNation 2016.

Meet the Regional Hallmark Award winners.

There’s Something for Everyone at NerdNation Ed Forums

The Educational Forums at NerdNation 2016 will teach everyone a new thing or two. Topics range from Society programs to personal development, student success and career planning, and they’re presented by staff experts and chapters who are setting the standards for excellence in Phi Theta Kappa.

Five rounds of Ed Forums will be offered over three days, with the first round beginning Thursday, April 7, at 1:30 p.m. More than 65 topics will be covered, some more than once. Here’s a sample of what’s being offered.

Better Money Habits: Meeting the Challenges of Today and Tomorrow
Sponsored by Bank of America, this forum will help you with short- and long-term goals. You’ll learn action steps for some of the most common financial goals: reducing debt, creating an emergency fund, education and retirement planning.
Round 1, April 7, 1:30-2:30 pm
Round 2, April 8, 8:30-9:30 am

Gaining a Global Competitive Advantage through Experiences Abroad
Join two U.S. Department of State’s program alumni from the Gilman Scholarship and Fulbright U.S. Student Programs to learn how students can enhance their academic, leadership and professional capabilities through international exchange opportunities.
Round 1, April 7, 1:30-2:30 pm

Motivating Members: #thestruggleisreal
Explore creative and successful ways to increase engagement in your chapter activities.
Round 1, April 7, 1:30-2:30 pm
Round 3, April 8, 4:30-5:30 pm

National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
Learn about free resources for students and faculty about preventing unplanned pregnancy, including an award-winning birth control support network. Hear how Society members have joined this important initiative.
Round 1, April 7, 1:30-2:30 pm
Round 3, April 8, 4:30-5:30 pm

Communication 101
Effective communication skills are critical for success in the 21st century. We’ll share tools and tips to enhance your communication skills in your academic, personal and professional life. Sponsored by Cengage.
Round 1, April 7, 1:30-2:30 pm
Round 3, April 8, 4:30-5:30 pm

Becoming a Certified Leadership Instructor
Advisors, learn about the Instructor Certification Seminars for Phi Theta Kappa’s Leadership Development Studies curriculum.
Round 2, April 8, 8:30-9:30 am

Membership Outreach: Who Are You Missing in Your Chapter?
Does your chapter reflect the diversity on your campus? Hear how other chapters are reaching more students with the benefits of membership.
Round 2, April 8, 8:30-9:30 am

Careers in Healthcare
The top major for Phi Theta Kappa members is healthcare. Learn about various careers in medicine from a panel discussion on doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmaceutical research.
Round 2, April 8, 8:30-9:30 am

Advisor Benefits: What’s In It for You?
Advisors at all levels will learn about the scholarships and professional advancement opportunities available to them. Mosal and Marshall Awards, Faculty Scholars, the Leadership Development Program, presenter opportunities, professional networking and more will be covered.
Round 4, April 9, 8:30-9:30 am

EI + IQ = Success
Research shows that 58% of our day is controlled by Emotional Intelligence (EI), which directly impacts success in every aspect of your life, from work and school to chapter interactions and relationships. Come evaluate your EI level and see how you can develop this important life skill to achieve success.
Round 4, April 9, 8:30-9:30 am

Conflict: You Can Run But You Cannot Hide
Conflict is a normal part of life. You can run from it, but you cannot hide from it, so learn to approach and resolve conflict through the exercise of personal leadership.
Round 5, April 9, 10-11 am

International Honors Certificates: Gaining a Global Edge
Learn about Phi Theta Kappa’s global education courses, developed through university partners, and how colleges can offer them to students.
Round 5, April 9, 10-11 am

Professional Etiquette, and Why It Matters
How do you dress for an interview? How do you address coworkers and bosses? How can you exhibit leadership and gain respect from your peers? Cover these topics and more to help you nail the interview and rock your workplace.
Round 5, April 9, 10-11 am