UCA honors college dean named fellow of the National Collegiate Honors Council

Patricia Smith, dean of the Norbert O. Schedler Honors College at the University of Central Arkansas, has been recognized as a 2022 fellow for the National Collegiate Honors Council for her substantial time and dedication to furthering the cause of honors education. She was formally recognized during the NCHC awards ceremony on Nov. 5 in Dallas. 

To be considered for the Fellows distinction, NCHC requires nominations to be submitted by three NCHC professional, student or institutional members, only one of who may be from the same institution as the candidate. 

Dean Patricia Smith

Dean Patricia Smith

Smith says she was surprised to find out about the nominations and the honor when she received notification of her recognition. She is the only person in the 2022 class of fellows – something that has not happened since the inaugural class in 2010. (There were no fellows named in 2017.) 

“Tricia stands out because her leadership in the field extends to so many different areas – groundbreaking research about the scope and structure of honors programs and colleges, developing and teaching how to use assessment protocols, creation of the most innovative and thorough recruiting procedure in the field, and student mental health among high ability students and program development. She has earned enormous respect among her peers,” said Rick Scott, former Schedler Honors College dean. 

Smith, a two-time graduate of UCA, was a student in the Schedler Honors College when she earned her undergraduate degree in 2001. She earned a master’s degree in college student personnel services from UCA in 2003 and a Doctor of Education Administration at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2013. 

UCA is one of only a handful of institutions with more than one person recognized as an NCHC Fellow. Scott was named a fellow in 2011 and served as president of NCHC in 2013.  A plaque and medal with a gre from National Collegiate Honors Council

“It reflects the high level of leadership in collegiate honors education at UCA,” Scott said. “Our practices, including pedagogy, student enhancement programs, recruiting and residential life, have served as models for many honors programs and colleges elsewhere. In addition, Schedler Honors College faculty, especially Dean Smith, have published important research in the field.”

Scott said even as a student, Smith was “incredibly smart and aware.” He hired her in 2005 as a coordinator of student services. 

“Her rise to the deanship, based on a series of transformative accomplishments, told me that hiring her was one of the best decisions I made as an administrator.”

Smith’s years of dedication, leadership and research made her an invaluable source of knowledge in the honors community. Her research focuses on honors education and its growth. 

“When we started, we didn’t know how many honors programs were in the country,” Smith said. “So the first thing we started doing was identify them all. Then we began looking at the characteristics of all the programs and their similarities. We found there were patterns of the way honors developed.” 

Smith says one of the most common citations to her research is that there are 1,500 honors programs in the country. That number had not been tracked before Smith’s work. She also found that many of the programs eventually convert to colleges, presumably to offer more intensive and hands-on opportunities for students and give them additional support. 

“UCA is lucky to have Dean Smith,” Scott said. “At our final visit with Norb Schedler, founder and namesake of the college, shortly before his death, I told him that UCA Honors could not be in better hands with Tricia at the helm. He smiled and nodded at her in agreement; the pride in his eyes was unmistakable. It made me tear up with joy.”