Phi Theta Kappa Welcomes 2013 Faculty Scholars

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Captivating speakers, a cooking class and a tour of antebellum homes were on the agenda as the 2013 Faculty Scholars gathered at Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi, to prepare for the 2013 Honors Institute.

2013 Faculty Scholars and Honors Program Council Members

The Faculty Scholars — selected from Phi Theta Kappa chapter advisors and Regional Coordinators — attended a three-day conference January 31-February 2 to familiarize themselves with the 2012/2013 Honors Study Topic, The Culture of Competition. The group was selected by the Honors Program Council to serve as seminar leaders during the upcoming 2013 Honors Institute, to be held June 17-21 at Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Honors Institute is considered to be the “crown jewel” of honors programming. The weeklong conference features world-class speakers in six to seven general sessions focusing on the current Honors Study Topic. About 450 Phi Theta Kappa members and advisors typically attend.

Faculty Scholars serve as leaders for smaller seminar groups, which allow for further discussion of the featured speaker and the Honors Study Topic following the general sessions.

“The Faculty Scholar Conference is a professional development opportunity for our chapter advisors, who are selected to come to Jackson and prepare to serve as seminar leaders at our annual Honors Institute,” said Susan Edwards, Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Academic Affairs and Honors Programs. “The conference is a way to bring everyone together to hear renowned speakers, engage in active learning sessions and share best practices for facilitating small group discussions among honors students.”

The first day of the Faculty Scholar Conference featured a welcome by Dr. Jo Marshall, Faculty Scholar Conference Coordinator, and Dr. Rod Risley, Phi Theta Kappa Executive Director and CEO. A preview of the 2013 Honors Institute was given, and an opening orientation was hosted by members of the Honors Program Council.

“The Faculty Scholars Conference provides a unique opportunity to interact with your peers while delving into the Honors Study Topic,” said Sauda Smith, an Honors Program Council member and advisor of the Beta Omicron Sigma Chapter at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. “It allows the advisors who will serve as moderators time and space to discuss and be exposed to varying interpretations and understandings of the Honors Study Topic.”

The afternoon featured the Kesler Lecture Series, endowed by the late Dr. John Kesler and his wife, Judy. Maggie Jackson, award-winning author and former Boston Globe columnist, discussed the rising competition for a person’s attention in a growing digital age with her presentation, Attention Must be Paid: Envisioning Humanity’s Future in a High-Speed, Push-Button Age.

Faculty Scholars were then treated to a cooking class, demonstration and dinner at the Viking Cooking School in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

“To me, there is something sacred about preparing and sharing a meal,” said Dan Rooney, an Honors Program Council member and advisor of the Beta Nu Chi Chapter at Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin. “The opportunity to prepare and share with my fellow Faculty Scholars was incredibly fun; it was also a great way to get to know people.”

Day two of the conference took the Faculty Scholars to Natchez, Mississippi, where they toured Longwood Plantation and Stanton Hall, two 19th-century plantations built by barons in the cotton and sugar industries and situated on the Mississippi River, poising them to be leaders in the competitive trades.

The third day featured Dr. Jo Marshall giving the Val and Howard Hampton Memorial Lecture Series, sponsored by former chapter advisor Marian Combs in memory of her grandparents. Dr. Marshall led discussions on how to facilitate effective seminar groups.

“Even though we work as individuals, leading seminar groups at Honors Institute, I’m a huge believer that if we come together as a group, we will perform better as individuals,” Rooney said. “That’s the value of the Faculty Scholar Conference; it’s the opportunity for us to come together and bond as a team. The end result will be a first-rate group of facilitators at the 2013 Honors Institute.”

Finally, the Scholars heard from Carlotta LaNier during the Marshall Lecture, endowed by Drs. Jo and the late Scott Marshall. LaNier was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, the first wave of black students to begin the desegregation of American schools at Little Rock Central High School. Her memoir, A Mighty Long Way Home: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School, recounts an explosive time in America’s past and suggests new ways of understanding for a better future.

During the Conference, Kenoalani Dela Cruz, advisor of the Alpha Psi Epsilon Chapter at Hawai'i Community College, was named the 2013 Parnell Scholar. Named for former American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) President and Phi Theta Kappa Board Member Dr. Dale Parnell, this scholarship is presented to a chapter advisor selected as a Faculty Scholar who has submitted an outstanding application and who has never attended an Annual Convention or Honors Institute. This award pays for all travel, accommodation and registration fees to the Annual Convention. Phi Theta Kappa covers expenses for travel, accommodations and programs for each Scholar to participate in the Faculty Scholar Conference and Honors Institute.