Catawba hosts 2021 virtual NC Honors Association meeting

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 7, 2021

SALISBURY — The Catawba College Honors Program hosted the 2021 North Carolina Honors Association Annual Meeting on Sept.25.

The NCHA is comprised of honors programs and colleges from most higher education institutions in the state of North Carolina.

The conference reflected the diversity of the organization as students and faculty from public and private two and four-year North Carolina colleges and universities joined together to build connections across the state and institutions.

The theme of this year’s conference, reengaging communities,
acknowledges the need to reconnect with one another. This shared feeling among all communities — including honors programs and colleges — increased over the past year. This need is also a call to explore new tools and ways of reengaging with one another and reviving our communities.

In that spirit, the 2021 NCHA Annual Meeting was hosted virtually, though replicating the traditional structure of an academic conference.

The meeting was an opportunity for Catawba College students to showcase their ongoing research. Dee Brantley presented material related to her honors thesis in “Interventions for Geriatrics with Alzheimer’s.”

Delphia Borden also shared honors thesis research in her presentation, “Mmm, Whatcha Say? A Review of the Influence of Music on American Language.”

Miracle Etim-Andy discussed her research project in “Examination of College Students’ Perception of the Usefulness, Fairness, and Risk of Artificial Intelligence.”

Finally, Emma Nantz delivered a presentation titled “The Evolution of Sentience throughout the Environmental Movement: The Value of Nature as Defined by Preservationist John Muir and Conservationist Gifford Pinchot.”

Catawba hosted the 2021 Annual Meeting as part of Maria Vandergriff-Avery’s role as president of the NCHA. Vandergriff-Avery is a professor of sociology at the college and long-time director of the honors program.

Catawba College was well-represented at the meeting as hosts. Norris Feeney, associate professor of politics, helped Vandergriff-Avery plan and organize the event in his role of associate cirector of the honors program.

During the event, Vandergriff-Avery and Feeney were joined as session moderators and presentation judges by additional Catawba College faculty who serve on the Faculty Board of the honors program.

Michael Bitzer, chair of political science, and professor
of politics and history at Catawba delivered the keynote address.

His address, “Divided Soul of America,” was structured around four questions: what are those principles, values, and/or ideals that make up the soul of America? How does our identity impact and affect the soul of America? How did we get to a level of division/polarization about what it is to be an American? And what, if anything, can be done to address this division and repair the break of America’s soul?

Finally, a panel of judges drawn from Catawba faculty along with the directors and coordinators of NCHA member honors programs and colleges recognized several students for their contributions to the program.