National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Fall 2007


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 8:2, Fall/Winter 2007. Copyright © 2007 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Many of us in honors education will readily agree that, if the equation above is ever true at all, it is a very sharp double-edged sword. I suspect that most of us who direct honors programs or colleges at public institutions have been sliced or diced more than once by an institution’s growth imperatives. Although upper-level administrators often point to their honors programs with pride and tout the accomplishments of their honors students to alumni and benefactors, only a few honors programs and colleges actually report a funding baseline that adequately addresses all the needs of the program and its students; a consistent lament that has echoed for years throughout NCHC conferences is “if we only had enough funding, we’d do that too.” To be fair to upper administrators, those of us in honors education need to admit that honors programs are the African violets of the academic floral landscape. In general, honors programs simply require more: they are more labor-, energy-, time-, and funding-intensive than programs for the bulk of the student population. In times of financial stress for higher education institutions (financial stress in higher education has become the status quo in Florida for at least a decade now), it can be difficult to shift funds to a highcost program that sometimes serves less than 5% of the total student population when the institution as a whole is struggling to supply enough test tubes for the freshman chemistry labs or can’t hire enough composition teachers to limit freshman composition classes to 22 to 25 students. Unfortunately, when viewed from the lens of a university president or chief accounting officer, the allocations that public institutions receive from their legislatures most often amount to flat budgets that barely cover increases in operational costs, particularly during times when a spike in energy prices can quickly consume whatever meager increase a rogue legislature might have deigned to grant during the last session.