National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Chapter 7 in Honors Colleges in the 21st Century; Richard Badenhausen, editor

Pages 181–210

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


Most honors college deans are White males, yet most students enrolled in honors colleges are women; more often than not, there is glaring underrepresentation of diverse races and ethnicities among student populations in honors colleges. Considering these data, the authors ask whether honors colleges perpetuate the “Oxford College Don” model of White male privilege and power. Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other students of color often look at the leaders of honors colleges and rarely see themselves, and White honors students lack the opportunity to see diverse leadership models. This chapter explains how and why faculty of color and women face numerous barriers that prevent them from advancing to leadership positions such as honors college dean. Higher education–especially honors education–is often referred to as the great equalizer for future graduates and, as such, should be at the forefront of leading the way for other sectors in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Yet, there is much work to be done as White males predominantly occupy the role of honors dean, more so than deans of Nursing and Education, for example. This chapter offers a new paradigm and recommendations calling for strategic diversity leadership in which White males must play a prominent role in organizational change leading to increased diversity among honors college deans.