National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Summer 2020


Journal of The National Collegiate Honors Council, vol. 21, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2020)


Copyright 2020 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


This essay rejects any notion of professionalization in honors programs and colleges as well as any plan for the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) that is connected to implementing a process of certification or accreditation. The author offers historical details about the machinations of a small group of powerful NCHC officers who tried to turn the organization into an accrediting or certifying body and how they were successfully blocked by grassroots opposition from the membership and by a large group of NCHC past presidents who recognized the ill will and divisiveness that would result. The author discusses the damage that certification would do to the organization by fracturing the collegial spirit and workings of the organization and the honors community it has nourished for over fifty years. As part of the JNCHC Forum initiated by Patricia J . Smith’s “The Professionalization of Honors Education,” this response takes issue with Smith’s application of sociologist Theodore Caplow’s theory of professionalization to NCHC and the honors community and with her implicit endorsement of certification. The essay asserts that evidence for professionalism in honors at the collegiate level is to be found in the structure and resources of NCHC’s national office; the skilled and thoughtful practitioners of honors education at their home institutions; and the scholarship, intellection, and commitment found in NCHC’s monograph series and refereed journals.