National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2001


Published in the Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 2:1, Spring/Summer 2001. Copyright © 2001 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Sam Schuman's observations in "Cultivating: Some Thoughts on NCHC's Future" about the weakening of excellence in the academy and our culture are shrewd and accurate. The proliferation of award shows on the television screen and in magazines, for example, with their increasingly specialized and arcane constituencies, underscores his point. This bounty leaves a tacky, deadening glaze across the eyes that is tousled only slightly when an award show crops up that offers, if not the ring of merit, at least the jingle of familiarity. If something more than marketing, the dearth of good programming, or self-promotion is operating here, then I suspect the culprit is, as Schuman asserts, "that the assumption of excellence has been weakened, if not lost." Everything is wonderful, miraculous, the gift of the gods, and befitting of highest honors. I suspect that we want our palates to be more discriminating than that, than Dante's Cerberus, a creature satisfied by eating mudpies, and that we encourage the students in our Honors Programs to practice the analytical skills to make discriminations more tenable than that of Cerberus.