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Agenda Item FA 15-31

Submitted by the Executive Committee

Creation of Honors College

10/01/15: Passed

10/12/15: Approved

Creation of Honors College


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  Date:   August 26, 2015

  To:      Faculty Association 

  From:   John A. Delaney, President 

  Subject:           Creation of Honors College 


Consistent with our efforts to position UNF as an e lite public comprehensive university, I believe we need a strong, vibrant Honors College. Academically high achieving students look for universities and colleges that offer them something more. Since 1990, we have had a n Honors Program, and it has provided an outstanding educational experience for students enrolled in the program. Currently, there are several hundred students enrolled in the UNF Honors Program. To date, the Honors Program has focused largely on courses for freshmen and sophomores, providing exciting and challenging courses in relatively small classes. However, a robust and engaging Honors experience must be integrated with upper level courses and scholarship in the major.

Our ultimate vision is to develop a residential Honors College that provides students with a transformative four-year   experience. This will include not only taking classes from our most accomplished faculty, but also engaging in experiential, high impact learning, living and learning among their peers in a community of academic excellence, and cultivating skills and competencies that will prepare them for a lifetime of leadership. Clearly, to make this vision a reality UNF will have to provide additional resources to Honors, as well as secure generous philanthropic support. This will occur over an extended period of time, as resources become available. The plans to realize the vision for the future Honors College include the following seven components:


  1. Recruiting and Admissions
  2. Merit Scholarships and Research Scholarships for Honors Students
  3. New Curriculum
  4. Faculty Mentoring Program
  5. New Staff Positions
  6. Study Abroad Opportunities
  7. Post-degree placement in graduate schools or selective companies/organizations

The primary motive for creating the Honors College is to raise the profile of the program. This will be beneficial to effective recruitment.  We can find examples of excel lent Honors programs, but the most outstanding Honors programs tend to be colleges . As Peterson's stated in a 2013 report, "an honors college moves the program from the periphery to the cent e r of undergraduate academics at the university".   Importantly, we have identified a donor who is interested in investing in Honors at UNF to assist us in realizing our vision. The donor agrees with and fully supports the change from an Honors Program to an Honors College. The donor's gift will provide essential support for some of the key initiatives highlighted above, specifically Research Scholarships for Honors Students and Study Abroad Opportunities. The Research Scholarships are structured so as to provide incentives for Honors students to pursue an Honors in the Major. These scholarships will support the students who will be paired with faculty in joint research activities. The Honors Study Abroad program will enable UNF faculty to expand existing study abroad opportunities to include courses specifically designed for Honors students. The donor has also agreed to assist UNF to identify and cultivate philanthropists to provide additional critical private support.

At present, the Honors Program staff includes:

            Dr. Jeff Michelman, Associate Dean and Director Dr. Leslie Kaplan, Associate Director

            Dr. Mark Workman, Senior Honors Fellow

            Richard Tryon, Lt. General USMC (Ret), Senior Honors Fellow & Fellowship Advisor
            Cristina Helbling, Coordinator of Advising & Academics

            Elizabeth Peter, Academic Advisor

            Mary Hirsch, OPS Admissions & Recruiting (regular line vacant)
            Office Manager (line vacant)

With an Honors College, the only required changes to this staff and the estimated costs will be:

  1. Convert the Office Manager position to Administrative Assistant- estimated cost $7,000
  2. Incidental expenses associated with changes in letterhead, business cards, and promotional of the new Honor College- estimated $5,000


These incremental incidental expenses would be incurred during the current fiscal Year 2016.

The one anticipated new expense associated with the gift will be the addition of an Assistant Director who will provide support for the Research Scholarship program and the Study Abroad program. The projected cost for this position is estimated to be $56,000 for salary and benefits. This cost will begin in Fiscal Year 2017. It is important to note that this expense is necessitated by the gift agreement and not by the creation of an Honors College.

As the Honors College (or Honors Program) grows, additional resources will be required for recruitment, a faculty mentoring and placement program, and new staff positions, such as a Director of Development and an additional Advisor. The important point here is that these expenses will have to be justified by growth in the Honors College and will not occur until growth occurs. Additionally, these costs will be incurred whether or not UNF has an Honors College or an Honors Program.

This transition from an Honors Program to an Honors College is an exciting but inevitable step toward fulfilling our vision to become a preeminent public institution. The long-lasting outcomes from this transition will enhance the academic enterprise and benefit both our students and our faculty.