National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Chapter 6 in Honors Colleges in the 21st Century; Richard Badenhausen, editor

Pages 155–179

ISBN: 978-1-945001-21-5

National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series; Jeffrey A. Portnoy, series editor

Published by the National Collegiate Honors Council, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States


Copyright 2023, National Collegiate Honors Council. Used by permission


In this chapter, four honors deans reflect on the unique aspects of the honors dean's role. The authors argue that by being responsive to the challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities they face daily, honors deans can enable honors to deliver on its promises to students and to serve the whole university community. Attentive to changing dynamics in honors education nationwide, the authors address how deans must confront myths about honors that bear the legacy of past realities while actively tending to justice in the admissions process, to recruiting and serving diverse populations, and to supporting an honors environment that addresses the needs of the whole student. Doing so, honors deans can be at the forefront of transforming higher education. The authors explore the honors dean’s transformative role of promoting interdisciplinarity, institutional nimbleness, and innovative approaches to fundraising, in addition to the imperative of developing powerful new strategies for telling the story of honors and the value it provides. The authors argue, finally, that honors deans have the critical task of leading honorably, which means that a modern concept of honor, focusing on justice, accessibility, well-being, and empowerment, should lie at the heart of every honors enterprise.