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Elaine Torda Addresses International Honors Conference

January 7, 2021

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – SUNY Orange professor Elaine Torda, who coordinates the College’s Honors Program and also currently serves as president of the National Collegiate Honors Council, recently provided opening remarks for the international online honors conference of the Siberian Federal University.

Torda addressed attendees from six countries, speaking to international honors college leadership about honors pedagogy, including innovative transitional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference was hosted by Maria Tarasova, director of the SibFU Honors Program.

“It was an honor to be online for the second Siberian Honors Conference,” Torda said. “The honors community, while international, is a small close-knit group bound by the same basic goals, focused on a love of lifelong learning.”

The professionals and students attending the HCSibFU Conference provided more than 80 presentations over the two-day conference.  “While we had to transition to online teaching quickly in March, we have learned that these virtual learning skills are providing us with the adaptability, and necessary, skills for our students to assimilate in the new learning environments. While it has been a challenge, some of this will positively impact our educational experiences moving forward.” Torda noted.

Torda, who was elected to her NCHC leadership role in 2018, was conference chair in 2019, and currently also serves on the Two-Year College Committee. As chair of the NCHC Two-Year College Committee, Torda created, administered, and summarized membership surveys; facilitated numerous NCHC annual conference presentations; and wrote articles for the NCHC newsletter—circulated to over 1,000 NCHC institutional and professional members. In 2015, Torda received the Council’s Ron Brandolini Award for Excellence at a Two-Year Institution. The award recognizes a two-year college honors director or faculty member for outstanding contributions to the honors community. Additionally, Torda was named an NCHC Fellow in 2013.

Torda joined the SUNY Orange faculty in 2000 as an English instructor. She has coordinated the College’s Honors Program since 2003 and has overseen steady growth in the program, to include expansion on the Newburgh campus. In 2013, she was named as a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Professional Excellence. Under her supervision, and with the aid of faculty mentors from all corners of the College, SUNY Orange’s Honors Program students have strongly represented the College via award-winning presentations at such prestigious student seminars as the Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference and the Beacon Conference.

The National Collegiate Honors Council supports honors colleges and programs across the United States and internationally. NCHC provides professional development opportunities for students and faculty, publications and best practice guidance for leadership in and about honors education.