National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, Volume 9 (2013)


Copyright 2013 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


Two essays, both published in the fall/winter 2007 JNCHC Forum entitled “Managing Growth in Honors,” present conflicting points of view:

As most of us in honors openly or covertly acknowledge, the best friend an honors program can find is the president who embraces advancing the program as a central piece of her/his personal agenda to advance the entire institution. When those stars align, the funding flows. (Lanier 39)

At the last, growth management must be guided by . . . the resource requirements for sustaining excellence . . . [A] highly developed honors program/college must . . . stay grounded in its core mission to provide an enriched learning environment for high-achieving students. If it grows beyond its capacity to provide for this core mission, then it . . . will fall. (Sederberg 26)

Lanier underscores the potential of a president to create beneficial change while Sederberg suggests the risk that such change might undermine an existing university asset. New England University provides a case study of this dynamic in the context of growth in honors; it is a story about the efforts of faculty, students, and staff committed to evoking and sustaining excellence in one honors program to respond to the vision of a new president who placed growing the honors program as one of his highest priorities. This particular presidential initiative—significantly growing the size of an honors program at a major public university—presents an opportunity to analyze one university’s experience of implementing institutional change. Examination of the personalities, process, pitfalls, strategies, and successes in this case study contributes to the scholarly tradition of studying and documenting change in higher education. Conforming to tradition in qualitative research and to at least partially protect the identities of the university and individuals involved in the case study, I have substituted fictional names.