The Hicks Honors College
Hicks Honors College is named for Ann and David Hicks, longtime community leaders, philanthropists and UNF supporters. The name officially changed to Hicks Honors College on October 15, 2015, after the couple generously donated $7 million to the University of North Florida.
A thank you note from current Hicks Honors student, Marc McLeod:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hicks,
would like to introduce myself. My name is Marc McLeod and let it be known that I greatly
appreciate the contribution you have made to further undergraduate research at
the University of North Florida. In my own case your contribution has made a
world of difference, allowing me to characterize a gene involved with muscle
atrophy and present my findings at conferences such as SOARS at UNF and the
Experimental Biology Conference in Chicago last April, and again this coming April.
These experiences will be key to me as I pursue a PhD in Biochemistry and will
be a stepping stone that have helped me to start my journey into the biomedical
sciences. Outside of my academic life, I have two dogs, a bunny, and a very loving
girlfriend. My work towards the biomedical sciences has provided a clear cut
career path so I can have the security to enjoy what I love with those who
matter most to me. I have always been enamored with the idea of exploring the
outdoors and seeing what the world has to offer. Despite this, I have only left
Florida twice. Once was to Chicago for the experimental biology conference and
another time to go white water rafting when I was 11. With this in mind I have
planned to see the city museum in St. Louis and go to Colonial Williamsburg
this Christmas as a short get away. To say the least I am fairly excited about
this new adventure in my life and I can’t wait to see what it holds. This
adventure is almost on par with the strong sense of passion I have for
increasing knowledge in the biomedical sciences. So to say the very least thank
you for allowing me the opportunity to seek out a way to better myself and the
community at large and I wish you all the best.
A little bit about more about Ann and David Hicks:
“The University is so grateful for Ann and David,” said UNF President John Delaney at a large public ceremony. “We’re thrilled to announce the establishment of the Hicks Honors College, which will provide a unique interdisciplinary learning experience for some of UNF’s high-achieving students.”
The Hicks Honors College provides students with a transformative four-year experience, including not only taking classes from the University’s most accomplished faculty but also engaging in experiential, high-impact learning, living and learning among their peers in a community of academic excellence, as well as cultivating skills and competencies that will prepare them for a lifetime of leadership.
“In all my years of affiliation with UNF, I have wanted to establish a small Amherst College in the midst of our vibrant university. It’s the best of both worlds for the honors students,” said David, a successful Jacksonville business executive.
“These high achievers have the benefit of small classes and intimate learning experiences, while participating in the dynamic atmosphere of the larger university,” said Ann, a 1994 UNF graduate. “Of utmost importance, the honors students will graduate without the burden of debt, which might have been incurred had they chosen a prestigious private university. Our goal is to have their education comparable to that of top-tier institutions.”
The Hicks have been longtime supporters of UNF. In 2012, the University dedicated UNF Hall, Building 53, as Hicks Hall to honor Ann and David for their dynamic leadership and unselfish support to Northeast Florida. David was the former CEO and chairman of Computer Power, Inc., the leading supplier of software and services to the mortgage industry. He is credited with turning around the Jacksonville Housing Authority, where he served as chairman for seven years after his retirement from CPI. David used his entrepreneurial skills to have the JHA partner with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, constructing more than 1,400 Habitat homes, which resulted in HabiJax being the largest and most successful Habitat affiliate in the United States.
In 1996, the couple originated the idea of the Pathways to Success Scholarship program at the University. This innovative program, which David and Ann generously funded, provides a way for students in HabiJax and public housing to attend UNF. The program’s initial goal was a $10 million endowment to fund scholarships. With David’s leadership, it succeeded in securing more than $15 million in donations from over 30 donors in Florida.
Ann has made significant leadership contributions to UNF as a member of the University’s first Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board. She is also greatly involved in providing scholarship assistance to students. Ann established the Gray Scholarship Program in honor of Rev. Neil Gray, an Episcopal priest and UNF adjunct instructor who made a deep impression on her while studying for her second bachelor’s degree.
The Hicks Honors College demonstrates its commitment to academic and cultural growth, civic awareness and student success by fostering a community of intellectually curious global citizens. Through the Hicks Honors College, students are encouraged to develop rigorous and comprehensive critical thinking, their sense of integrity and a commitment to service.
The purpose of the Hicks Honors College is to foster the enlightenment, empowerment, and ennoblement of Honors students. It does so by facilitating the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and values that will inspire students to be effective life-long learners and critical thinkers; by giving students confidence to venture forth into and participate actively in communities beyond those with which they are most immediately conversant and comfortable; and finally by encouraging students to serve or contribute to those communities in lasting and tangible ways by putting their knowledge, skill, and values to meaningful use.