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ERIC Number: EJ1132196
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1559-0151
The ICSS and the Development of Black Collegiate Honors Education in the U.S.
Dula, Traci L. M.
Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, v17 n2 p45-62 Fall-Win 2016
Precursor to the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), the Inter-University Committee on the Superior Student (ICSS) was active from 1957 to 1965 under the leadership of Joseph Cohen at the University of Colorado. As NCHC culminates fifty years of supporting collegiate honors education, its historical context needs to include the contributions to honors from a unique group of institutions, the nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). While scholars of collegiate honors education understand Frank Aydelotte, Swarthmore's seventh president, to have started "a trend in honors among American colleges and universities" (Rinn 70), the honors literature does not provide evidence of Aydelotte's engagement with Black higher education in the U.S. One is left to question, though, whether HBCUs were providing the same kind of special opportunities for their students in the mid-twentieth century and what particular challenges these unique institutions faced providing honors education within the racialized climate of the United States in the 1960s. The author's present study, an historical analysis exploring the development of honors education at Morgan State University reveals that some of the private, liberal arts HBCUs in the 1920s were likely offering opportunities to their high-ability students that could have been operating in the spirit of honors even if they had not launched a program with that name. While the focus on high-achieving students at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) was a campaign that began between the two world wars and continued in the 1950s Cold War era with the ICSS, the question is whether earlier, in the 1920s, Aydelotte and his faculty ever reached out to HBCUs as they promoted honors education or whether they simply dismissed these institutions as not possessing the raw material: talented students. This historical analysis reveals the contributions of a collection of institutions to the development of honors in higher education and bridged the research gap in the role of HBCUs in that development. The omission of HBCUs in historical studies of honors is evident, for instance, in the recent study "College and University Honors Programs in the Southern United States," the authors fail to make any mention of Black institutions despite the research being conducted in the region of the nation where most HBCUs are located (Owens and Travis). This colorblind oversight indicates that HBCUs are categorically absent from mainstream research considerations by most higher education scholars unless the topic is specifically on Black education. The particular histories of HBCUs require that research findings be nested in the distinct characteristics of Black institutions even if they appear on the surface to be conducting similar work as their White counterparts. Going forward, the NCHC can serve a critical role in the next fifty years in sponsoring research on honors education and the contributions of HBCUs to the field of collegiate honors education.
National Collegiate Honors Council. 1100 Neihardt Residence Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 540 North 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588. Tel: 402-472-9150; Fax: 402-472-9152; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland (Baltimore)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A