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Elaine Torda is President of NCHC Board

February 17, 2020

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – Elaine Torda, professor of English and coordinator of SUNY Orange’s Honors Program, has begun serving her one-year term as president of the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Torda, who also chairs the College’s Interdisciplinary Studies Department, is in the third year of a four-year term on the Board of Directors after having served as vice president in 2017-18, and president-elect in 2018-19. Her presidential platform is focused on organizational excellence and member benefits. She is the only community college representative in the Board’s current rotation of officers.

Upon conclusion of her one-year term as president in December 2020, she’ll move into the board role of immediate past president. As president-elect, Torda was responsible for planning the council’s 2019 Conference in New Orleans this past Fall, which was attended by nearly 2,000 college administrators, faculty members and students. The conference keynote speaker was Lynda Barry, acclaimed cartoonist, author, playwright, and professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity at the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Discovery.

More than 65 percent of honors programs (nearly 900) in the United States hold membership in the NCHC, which is the oldest and largest organization made up of honors educators and students, and has grown to include international members as well.

A member of the NCHC for nearly 17 years, Torda has been a strong advocate for two-year college programs. 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 SUNY Orange Honors program highlights the cross-disciplinary nature of learning while seeking to augment academic inquiry with cultural awareness, community building, community service and leadership. The College’s program features smaller, discussion-based classes and assignments that allow for individual research and creativity. Faculty members stress the benefits of classroom education as well as the importance of non-traditional learning. Students who complete the honors program are well-rounded individuals with much to offer transfer institutions, employers and communities.