National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, Volume 10 (2014)


Copyright 2013 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


All of us need heroes. Throughout my thirty years in honors, two of my heroes have been Sam Schuman and Ted Estess, both of whom not just incorporate but embody the highest values of honors culture in the way that Gary Cooper embodied the Old West. Both are beautiful writers, accomplished scholars, dedicated teachers, generous colleagues, and—without making a fuss about it—indispensable exemplars and mentors for at least two generations of honors directors and faculty. Opening with contributions from both of them makes this a special volume of Honors in Practice.

Sam Schuman’s “Valediction” is a speech he gave, somewhat revised for this publication, when the University of North Carolina Asheville dedicated its new fitness center to him. Schuman is Chancellor Emeritus at UNCA and also of the University of Minnesota, Morris. He returned from Minnesota to UNCA as both a professor and dean before retiring from academia. Fortunately, he has never retired from the NCHC, where he still runs, with Ted Estess, the Beginning in Honors sessions at the national conferences. His most recent NCHC monograph is If Honors Students Were People: Holistic Honors Higher Education, in which he argues for spiritual and physical as well as intellectual development within honors, and these are the themes of his speech. Tying the physical to the spiritual, and calling on his distinguished background as a literary scholar, Schuman celebrates the blessing of the brief lives we are allotted, concluding, “I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” I speak for all of us who have the blessing of his friendship in saying that we are the luckiest ones on the face of the earth.