Academic journal article Honors in Practice

Funding Honors Needs through Student Government Resources

Academic journal article Honors in Practice

Funding Honors Needs through Student Government Resources

Article excerpt

In recent years, issues of funding have been largely absent from Honors literature. This is a curious omission because the availability of funding is the single most likely factor to further or hinder a program's development. Many of our programs are well endowed, especially in scholarships, but it's rare to find an honors program with generous resources in operating funds, despite the inclusion of an item relating to an "adequate budget" in the NCHC's well-known "Basic Characteristics of a Fully-Developed Honors Program."

The reasons for this dearth of operating funds are easy to identify. First, reductions in state support have forced many public institutions to cut program budgets. Second, private funding is rarely able to fill the gap between program needs and available resources. Most donors, alumni included, are more inclined to contribute to scholarships than to support ongoing operational needs such as travel, faculty development, and research costs simply because it's easier for them to grasp how a deserving student might need scholarship assistance than to understand how that same deserving student would benefit from, say, having the resources to present original research at a conference. Sadly, neither state legislatures nor generous donors are likely to see the light and increase our operating budgets any time soon.

Small wonder, then, that budget-starved honors directors are frustrated to see co-curricular groups receiving ample student-fee supported funding to cover everything from the annual Greek leadership conference at the beach to the rugby club's trip to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras tournament. But how many honors programs have actually applied for such funding? Probably very few, since most of us would assume that such funding is only available for student groups and organizations rather than for academic programs, which are normally funded through academic channels.

That equation, however, can be turned on its ear by rethinking how honors works. If a voluntary student organization such as an ecology club can solicit funds from the Student Government Association, what is to prevent an organization of honors students from doing the same? At my institution, the students in the honors program met, elected their officers, formulated a mission and a set of goals, and wrote a constitution for what became the Honors Student Association. …

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