Association of College Honor Societies




Diane M. Selby, President


(Numbers correspond to slides on power point)

February 16, 2007

Thank you for the opportunity to have worked with and known you this past year as president of ACHS.  I have truly been honored to serve.  One of my privileges and responsibilities is to report on the “state of the association.”  It is my hope that this report will serve to set the stage for the four breakout sessions to follow that will involve each of you in our long range planning.

 #1 – So who are we?  We were founded in 1925 for collaboration, to avoid unnecessary duplication of honor societies on campuses, to establish standards of excellence, and to monitor performance.  Following recent strategic planning sessions our mission statement has been adopted and serves to focus our efforts to build and serve ACHS.

 #2 – The ends that we desire are to coordinate, to provide for consideration of matters of mutual interest, define our societies, cooperate with collegiate faculties and administrations to develop and maintain high standards, and to distribute information and data.

 #3 – What are the benefits of ACHS Membership?  Perhaps the one most absolutely important is the networking with like-minded people regarding the operations of collegiate honor societies.  You can see other tangible benefits listed and

 #4 – I hope you pay particular attention to the partnerships with other professional associations that have been a thrust in the past two years.

 #5- The expanded Web site of ACHS and the Annual Meeting are top priorities for ACHS service to our membership.  The joint national project “A Matter of Ethics” and the creation of a body of knowledge are both valuable benefits to each of our societies.

 #6- Those who have gone before us have led ACHS to this point in time.  This past year your elected board has met twice in person and three times via conference call as we sought to do your service.  Taking direction from the break out groups at the previous annual meeting we nor have a Web site template on line for your use, a scholarship search engine is in place, and this meeting it focused on the sharing of management best practices.  Speaking of the Web site, it links all of us together as well as with our affiliated organizations and the “Standards of Legitimacy” portion is well used by the community at large.

 #7- Ready response to members’ operational questions has been super this year – for example when the question went out regarding how to get member certificates printed – over a dozen responses were received within 24 hours – that is service!

There are many items that can be utilized by your societies in work with your own chapters – the resources on “A Matter of Ethics” and chapter advisors, benchmarking for chapter operations are just a few examples.

I want to call special attention to the representation that ACHS has had at various professional meetings and associations. Dorothy Mitstifer, our executive director, has provided great leadership in working with CAS on developing standards for honor societies, working on standards for undergraduate research, adult learning standards, and truly getting the name of ACHS known in the collegiate world as a source for standards.  Glenda Earwood joined Dorothy to speak to the Honors Council meeting in November about the authenticity of honor societies and keeping the standards high.  Steve Loflin was instrumental in seeing that the ACHS brochures were distributed to the high school National Honor Society’s conference so that young people learn about the values of honor societies in college even before they enroll.  Golden Key and NSCS and ACHS are dividing the costs for representation at the registrar’s meeting this month.  All this is in response to your desire that ACHS become better known and speak for each of us in these venues.  They are not inexpensive and our budget is minimal.  We are seeking to remedy the budget for the future so that we can assure participation with these associations.

Our annual meeting directly addressing your stated needs is an accomplishment of which we are proud.

 #8 – Now, what are the issues we see facing ACHS?

The relevancy of honor society membership in a changing society where young people may not value or be aware of the recognition and benefits of membership … the quest to know what groups to join and how to determine the credible societies vs. the honor mills.

Finding and keeping good campus advisors when there is virtually no reward for their time spent – no appreciation from their boss or sometimes even from the group they advise.

Changes in institutions and lives of the students – time or lack of it to spend on another group – the financial cost – especially when so many students have full time jobs as well as classes, and what returns (benefits) do I get for my membership. And just for fun, think about all the internal changes in institutions – rotations of president –continual search for funding and raising tuition – merging of disciplines (for example at Ohio State the Human Ecology College combined with the College of Education) –lines of traditional disciplines are shifting. Are honor societies only academic affairs concerns or also student affairs?

How do we take action on the national ethics project?

Always of concern are the administrative issues facing our societies – membership growth, services, marketing, technology

 #9 - We really do listen to your voices and here are just some of the results from your annual reports filed for ACHS in December:

             ¼ of us are general in definition and ¾ are specialized societies

            Our revenue reveals that 61% are less than $250,000

 #10 – The number of chapters that each of our societies have is also interesting to note.

I also thought it interesting that over half our societies meet annually –and I thought we were the only ones! J

 #11 – 87% of our member societies either maintained the status quo or increased their new member totals and that is great news. ACHS represents a new membership this past year of 367,000.

 #12 – tallying the individual reports for specific member benefits offered by societies, you can see that a clear majority of our groups have chapters engaged in service and leadership training, as well as internship/career information.

 #13 – Providing scholarships has been a goal for many societies and we learn that about half spend 5% of their annual budget and the other half about 15% of their budgets for scholarships.

 #14 - Can we find a minimum goal or a benchmark goal here?

 #15 –We can all be proud of the total expenditure for scholarships of $2,500,000!

 #16 – So, where do we go from this point forward?  Here is where you all fit into the picture of planning for the future.  We have briefly covered who we are and what we have done this past year.  Let me mention a few facts that might get you thinking about our future. 

What motivates our prospective members?  81% of 18-25 year-olds surveyed in a Pew Research Center poll said their first or second most important goal is getting rich and 51% said it is becoming famous. MTV and reality shows fuel this desire and have an effect on the attitudes and behavior of the millennial generation who were born since 1980 and raised on camera from parents –they are accustomed to being noticed and showered with awards and accolades.  Youthful optimism says fame and fortune are within the reach of anyone!

A similar study for a PBS Documentary with Judy Woodruff and reported in USA Today Jan. 19th points out the differences from 1967 – 2005 students:  Top goal of 1967 for 85.8% was to develop a meaningful philosophy of life – in 2005 only 45% found that essential or very important.

Conversely, the survey found that the 74.5% of the 2005 students wanted to be very well off financially – in 1967 only 41.9% found that essential or very important.

 #17 – What are the concerns of our prospective members:  The generation does acknowledge the realities of the world.  Bills have to be paid and the Pew Survey found 30% cited financial concerns as the most important problem. 18% said college and education was top concern, and 16% claimed careers and jobs were of top concern.

Parents and students wonder why tuition and fees increase so rapidly – average cost of in-state tuition at public colleges has jumped 35% (after adjustments for inflation) according to the College Board in the past 25 years.  Academic year 2006-2007 average cost of tuition, room and board at a public university was $12,796 and private school was $30,367.  Federal direct aid has declined and students borrow more – 58% increase from 1993 – the average debt for a graduating student is now $19,200.

State supported institutions enroll about 75% of all college students but tuition only covers 1/3 cost- the rest is to come from state budgets or private funding.

 #18- Some fun trivia from a MacNeil/Lehrer Production Generation Next Project shows what the views of 18-29 year-olds who will lead us into the future when they are in positions of power and authority:

I know you are not surprised by the use of the internet and “Facebook” or “MySpace” for social interaction.  Think about all the milestones in life when cameras are present – at birth, blowing out the first birthday candle, getting on the school bus for the first time – all recorded. Psychologists have expressed concern about the downside of young people presenting themselves on the Web vs. the intimacy that comes with real communication. There is fear that a sense of emptiness may be experienced from putting all their energy and self-worth into what people who aren’t close to them think of them –that is the definition of fame!

The best statistic is that 84% are content with their lives and optimistic about the future. What a positive forward statement for us to consider.

 #19 – If we realize that the top goal of new members is fame or distinction – our honor societies should be very appealing to them. We have an obligation to make certain this honor is being awarded in the best possible scenario to be perceived by the recipient as distinctive.

            Is it publicly acknowledged?

            Is it of value – What’s in it for me – do I just get a pin, certificate, ceremony –  how about the
            perks, advancement, etc.?

            How do my peers respect this honor?

            What do I have to do to get this honor?

If becoming rich is a top priority to these members – can we show a correlation between membership and future financial success?

What if we did a combined study of members vs. non-members in regard to financial status – what would we find?

Do we need more promotion of our benefits of membership as related to future success and addressing the financial concerns of new member?

            Scholarships and fellowships available

            GS7 rating for government jobs to our members

            Networking and career boards available

            Mentoring and internships available

            Financial rewards offered through discounts and commercial partnerships

Can we translate our values and traditions to current students in a meaningful way?

The high school graduating class of 2008-2009 is expected to be the largest in history. Are we ready for a surge in membership?

 #20 – You have been randomly given a colored dot on your nametag. Please go to the assigned room for your color for our break out sessions.  What can ACHS do to enhance your membership and assist your society?  In what ways would you like to participate in ACHS?  What should our focus be for the next year, 5 years, 10 years?

Your ideas will be recorded and reported back before the end of this annual meeting and will be a focus for the next Board of Directors.  This is your ACHS – you are ACHS.