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Jeff Chamberlain
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Emailchamberj@gvsu.edu

InstitutionFrederik Meijer Honors College, Grand Valley State University

Location:Allendale, Michigan

Phone616-331-2540

Institution Type: 4-year public, undergraduate

Program Type: Honors College

Program Enrollment:1700

Present PositionDirector, Frederik Meijer Honors College, 2007-present

Previous Honors Positions:  Founder and Director, Duns Scotus Fellows and Scholars Program, University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL D

NCHC Member Since: 1999


Program Reviews and Consultation

NCHC Annual Conference Consultant's Lounge 2013-2016


NCHC Activities Related to Honors Program/College Assessment & Evaluation:  

  •  2012 NCHC summer workshop on Assessment and Evaluation
  • 2016 NCHC summer workshop for program reviewers

Activities in other areas or organizations related to assessment or site visits, workshops, etc.:
  •  AAC&U Assessment workshop 

Self-Identified Areas of Special Interest and Experience

  • Living/Learning Communities
  • Recruitment
  • University Partnerships
  • Program Promotion to Univ. & Community

The Role of an NCHC-Qualified Site Visitor

I have been involved in National Collegiate Honors Council since the late 1990s when I was working to start an honors program at a small catholic college (the University of St. Francis, Joliet, IL).  At the time, I had never experienced a professional organization like the NCHC.  The friendliness, support, and advocacy that I received from presenters, consultants, and NCHC staff was a breath of fresh air after participating primarily at disciplinary conferences.  I benefited by a couple of consultant visits (one formal and one informal) when I was getting that program up and running, and I received help and support from the NCHC listserv and other more experienced people I encountered along the way.  I enjoyed Honors so much that I decided to stay in Honors permanently.  I became director of a much larger program—the Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University—in 2007.  Since then I have continued to benefit from my relationship with the NCHC, its staff, and members.  My program profited from a consultant visit, and I have been to every national conference that I could, and have taken staff, faculty, and students.  I also became heavily involved in the Mid-East Honors Association (including becoming president for a few years) because it was a great venue for students to present off-campus.  All of this help and support has enabled the Meijer Honors College to grow and develop into flourishing program with rich, innovative team-taught interdisciplinary courses, a robust living/learning community, and strong recognition and support from administration and faculty alike.  I was delighted when our president agreed to submit an essay to the 50th anniversary issue of JNCHC—he not only authored it; he directed that it be distributed to the Board of Trustees, the President’s Cabinet, The Provost’s Cabinet, Honors faculty and alumni, and major university donors.  We do, of course, have many issues to work on and many hopes and dreams yet to accomplish, so we will be requesting a program review again soon.

I wish to become a program reviewer for two reasons.  One is to give back in gratitude for what was given me.  I have no doubt that I would not have been nearly as successful as an Honors director had I not received such generous support.  The other is because I have been deeply involved with Honors long enough that I am sure I can be helpful.  I have, in fact, been sought out as an informal consultant for many years now.  I have become an unabashed booster of Honors and am an effective advocate.  I also have a wide range of experience.  Though I have only worked in Honors at two institutions, I have worked through a lot of issues: I have dealt both with skeptical and supportive administrations; I have both run a program on a shoestring and have worked with a foundation in an endowment; I have had to beg, borrow, and steal faculty, and I have overseen a unit with 12 tenured/tenure-track faculty; I have implanted innovative curricula at very different institutions; I have developed and implemented assessment programs that fit unique situations; and I have solved problems at every level.  Having said all of this, however, my style as a consultant/reviewer is to ask penetrating questions that allow the answers to bubble up from the principle people involved and to suggest possibilities; I hew closely to NCHC’s “Basic Characteristics,” but I elicit from faculty, staff, and administrators ways in which they can best implement them at their institutions rather than set rigid parameters.  My motivation to become a reviewer is my fervent belief in Honors education—I have seen first-hand how it transformed two different universities—and I want it to be as good as it can possibly be at every type of institution of higher education.  I want, ultimately, to do everything I can to help students everywhere to flourish.    

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