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Mary Kay Mulvaney
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Institution: Elmhurst College

Location: Elmhurst, Illinois

Phone: 708-227-5230

Institution Type: 4-year private

Program Type: honors program, institution-wide

Program Enrollment: 335

Present Position: Director, Honors Program 2004-present; Professor, Dept. of English

Previous Honors Positions: Named NCHC Fellow 2015; NCHC Board Member 2013-15; Co-Editor and contributing author of NCHC Monograph - "Preparing Global Leaders: Honors International Education"; NCHC Chair of International Education Committee 2006-11 and member 2005-present; SIRP reviewer 2008-present; Faculty teaching within Honors Program at UIC during 1990s and at Elmhurst College 2001-present.

NCHC Member Since: 2004

Program Reviews and Consultation

  • College of New Jersey (2018)
  • Westchester University Honors Program - virtual (2015)
  • Saint Xavier College Honors Program site review (2009)

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

  1. Annual assessment of EC Honors Program-alignment with NCHC Basic Characteristics;
  2. Recently completed research assessing the long-term impact of study abroad on Honors Program alumni – presentaed at NCHC Annual Conference 2016; journal article forthcoming spring 2017;
  3.  Panelist presenter on Assessment in Honors at NCHC 2011 and 2014 Annual Conferences;
  4. NCHC Assessment Workshop attendee, 2007.

Activities in other areas or organizations related to assessment or site visits, workshops, etc.: 
  • Conducted faculty WAC workshops (including writing assessment) 2002, 2004, and 2006, at Elmhurst College.
  • Elected member of Elmhurst College Assessment Committee, 2002-5.

Self-Identified Areas of Special Interest and Experience

  1. Specialization in International Education - personally developed (or co-developed) and lead over a dozen short-term overseas courses -- both Honors and non-Honors; recently completed comprehensive analysis of an original survey of 10-years of HP alumni assessing the long-term impact of study abroad;
  2. Honors Program curriculum development -- created and/or coordinated numerous new HP courses and curriculum initiatives, including adaptations of the NCHC City as Text pedagogy;
  3. Holistic Honors advising, specifically focused on high-impact practices;
  4. Experience with the nationally competitive scholarships/fellowships - experienced as Fulbright, Truman, Goldwater, and Phi Kappa Phi campus faculty adviser;
  5. Undergraduate research - significantly expanded undergraduate research participation across Honors Program; prepared students for national conference participation at NCHC and NCUR for numerous years;
  6. Faculty development and mentoring;
  7. Gen Ed revision - served on College Task Force for re-design of Gen Ed curriculum, overlapping with Honors Program requirements;
  8. Co-curricular aspects of student Honors Program experience; 8) Strategic Planning --Elected member of the EC Advisory Council for Strategic Planning, 2012-15;
  9. First-Year Seminars -- One of 4 faculty members to co-design, pilot, and launch an across-campus, comprehensive First-Year Seminar Program, including sections/courses for Honors Program students.

The Role of an NCHC-Qualified Site Visitor 

During my 14-year tenure as Director of the Honors Program at Elmhurst College, I have been provided countless resources from NCHC.   Thus, in short, I am applying to be an NCHC site visitor/program reviewer because I hope to "give back." 


 In 2004, my then VPAA approached me asking if I would be willing to direct the Honors Program of Elmhurst College. At that point, the Program (though initially successfully established by a handful of visionary faculty in 1965) was small and essentially invisible on campus, woefully neglected through various administrative changes. I excitedly agreed to the challenge of revitalizing the Program, though painfully aware of the fact that I knew little about developing a quality program. I recall thinking there must be resources somewhere, and I literally Googled "honors programs" and stumbled upon NCHC--what a find!


  Through my years of attending the annual conference (each year since 2004); my International Education and Conference Planning committee work; my recent tenure on the Board of Directors and my work on special task forces; my many years of serving as one of the 3 or 4 national faculty readers of the SIRP submissions; my work with Jeff Portnoy, my co-editor Kim Klein, and the 30+contributors to our 2013 monograph, Preparing Global Leaders; my many conversations with countless colleagues across the nation, I have become keenly aware of the diverse options that define Honors Programs and Colleges. I have learned so much from intelligent, creative, generous, and supportive colleagues of NCHC, it is impossible to quantify.  


 I have been able to revitalize the program on my campus. It is now widely known and highly respected; student participation has grown from an "on-paper" 80 to 335 active members; students in every major (even from departments I was initially told could not fulfill honors with their curriculum requirements) now graduate successfully with a transcript designation of HP Member, Scholar, or Global Scholar. Now dozens of students annually complete undergraduate research -- many present at NCHC, NCUR, and discipline-specific conferences, fully funded by renewed donor support. I have initiated several new honors curriculum components, including “Honors Directed Readings” with almost 80 different faculty members participating from across nearly every academic department. I have created interdisciplinary senior seminars taught by teams of 6-8 faculty members in varied disciplines exploring a single topic from diverse perspectives.  I have worked extensively with colleagues developing bi-disciplinary core courses and four different short-term study abroad courses, all taught multiple times. Indeed, I have raised significant interest in study abroad -- I am very proud of the fact that 52% of our 2016 HP graduates studied abroad, compared with only 20% of the graduates of the College as a whole.  


 As a site visitor/program reviewer, I hope to assist directors/deans in recognizing and articulating the strengths of their programs, to provide insights into possible solutions for challenges faced, and to help negotiate effective collaborative relationships among stakeholders on their campuses, particularly, where tense or ineffective relationships exist. I hope to speak for those programs that need validation and assist, where possible, in securing much needed resources. 


 I do not envision a site visitor/program reviewer adopting any sort of punitive role or pontificating role, nor providing for miracle turnarounds. But, rather, hopefully, the role is one of reassuring hardworking, dedicated Honors Program directors/deans that their work of creating and supporting empowering opportunities for our students is truly valuable for the students and for our world. For when we empower those students through innovative classes, undergraduate research, study abroad, meaningful reciprocal service, we are influencing the leaders of tomorrow on their path to creating a better world for us all. Therefore, I would be honored to serve as a site visitor/program reviewer for the National Collegiate Honors Council.

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