National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Chapter 11 in Honors Colleges in the 21st Century; Richard Badenhausen, editor

Pages 277–300

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


Honors Colleges are well positioned to be leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives on the campuses of Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) by embracing motivated and engaged students from a broad range of backgrounds. Stretching the missions of honors education beyond narrowly defined academic excellence to embrace intellectually curious and creative students and not just those with stellar standardized test scores and GPAs will yield more dynamic and inclusive communities. Embracing holistic admissions practices allows honors colleges to build cohorts of students whose experiences may or may not include being recognized as the smartest in the class in their K-12 experience and opens honors learning to students who think differently or challenge traditional academic expectations. Fostering partnerships with offices on campus that address student life, equity issues, and mental health puts honors colleges in the middle of the matrix that defines the experiences of all students and makes honors more relevant and approachable to students who might not have been reached by traditional efforts to recruit the academically elite. Centering social justice campaigns will make honors colleges attractive to students who might not have considered themselves honors material. Changing the way honors colleges conduct assessment might allow for the importance of diversity and inclusion questions to take center stage. Removing systemic barriers, while creating supportive and inclusive honors experiences that prepare students to engage in future social justice initiatives, allows honors, even in PWIs, to lead the effort to create a more diverse and inclusive future.