About Us

Editor’s note: We have published the 2014 edition of our review of public university honors programs.  It features a mortarboard rating system (similar to five-star rating systems) rather than numerical rankings, and it is based on unique data about honors graduation rates, class sizes, course range and type, honors dorms, and other honors benefits, including merit scholarships. Zhejiang University Press will publish the Review in Chinese later this year. Zhejiang is a C-9 university, the Chinese version of the Ivy League.

The third edition will not be available until late summer/early fall of 2016.

Public University Press originally published A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs on April 18, 2012, and the second edition on October 8, 2014. The Press grew out of a project to write only a series of articles that compared published rankings and summarized their findings. Yet we soon discovered that even though the scholarly literature about honors education is growing, the programs themselves had not been evaluated, except in some cases by in-house staff and faculty or by visiting reviewers from other schools. So, instead of reporting on what others had found, we realized that we had to find “it” ourselves.

One important category of the second edition is that it, like the first edition, shows whether an honors program or college is relatively stronger or weaker than the university as a whole, except for a few “public elites” whose honors and university-wide rankings often vary insufficiently for this measure.  (On the Methodology page of this site we provide a description of the data. We urge you to read the page.)

The editor of Public University Press is John Willingham, who is also the editor of publicuniversityhonors.com. He founded the website in November 2011, having begun gathering data on honors programs in mid-2011. For the second edition, John worked with an assistant editor and the same Ph.D. statistician who was involved with the first edition of the Review. In the summer of 2012, John completed a training session with the National Collegiate Honors Council NCHC), University of Nebraska-Lincoln, on how to conduct evaluations of honors colleges and programs. In both editions of the Review, he has followed the recommendations of the NCHC in emphasizing the importance of honors curricula and completion requirements.

John has been invited to speak at the next annual meeting of the NCHC, scheduled for October 2016 in Seattle. He will speak at a session on Saturday, October 15, at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel.

He has also worked as a consultant for the Parthenon Group on the development of honors colleges abroad, and he has shared his research with honors professionals and administrators in the U.S. The second edition of the Review is widely used by college consultants and counselors across the country.

John became interested in the field of higher education when he was a graduate student in American history at the University of Texas at Austin, earning an M.A. before deciding to pursue careers in journalism and public administration in Texas. Earlier, John had received a B.A. from UT Austin, with honors, majoring in history. His minor fields in graduate school were education and journalism. He now spends most of the year in Portland, Oregon, but returns to Austin, Texas, for several visits each year. Email John at editor@publicuniversityhonors.com.

Leave a Reply