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For a number of years, directors and deans of Honors Programs and Colleges in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), now the Big Ten Academic Alliance, met annually to discuss the best practices and challenges of Honors education. In 2008 and prior to joining the Big 10, the University of Maryland was invited to join the members of the CIC at this annual meeting. Maryland’s addition was felt to be a great benefit to all, and so began the practicing of inviting a different peer institution to the annual meeting each subsequent year. While other Honors focused conferences and meetings have much to offer, it quickly became evident that none were fully meeting the specific needs of Research 1 institutions. Honors Programs and Colleges needed a way to expand their CIC-based annual meetings to allow the larger national Honors community at research institutions to meet and share best practices and scholarly work on to provision of enhanced educational experiences for high achieving students. Thus, Honors Education at Research Universities (HERU) was born.  

A key decision, agreed upon by general consensus, was that effort would be made to keep HERU from becoming another society with a corresponding overhead, committees, and politics. Instead, the organization would be a bi-annual meeting with a "daisy-chain" structure of committees, passing along decision-making from one to another. For each conference, a new planning committee is created with the host serving as the chair of the committee. Each planning committee subsequently creates a subcommittee for site selection to select the location for the next conference. Finally, in a nod to its roots in the Big 10, it was also agreed that, as the founding members of HERU, each committee would always have representation from the CIC. 

Pennsylvania State University hosted the inaugural HERU conference in 2013. Oregon State University was selected to host the second biennial conference in 2015, followed by the 2017 HERU Conference at Ohio State University, and the 2019 HERU Conference at the University of Utah. Then after the COVID pandemic delayed the normal conference cycle, the University of Houston held the 2022 HERU Conference. The University of Kentucky was selected for the sixth ‘biennial’ HERU conference to be held in 2024.

It was the hope of the founding committee and inaugural conference that HERU would be an opportunity for Honors peers to come together, sharing best practices and building relationships that benefit us all. Further, it was hoped that this structure would allow for the organic growth of HERU, responsive to changing needs without becoming imposing or cumbersome. In the end, HERU belongs to those who attend the conference and choose to participate.

Thank for your interest in Honors Education at Research Universities.