University seeks honors director


Nicola Foote, Ph.D., is the interim director of the Honors Program. EN Photo / Nina Barbero.
Nicola Foote, Ph.D., is the interim director of the Honors Program.
EN Photo / Nina Barbero.

A national search has begun for a full-time director of the Florida Gulf Coast University Honors Program.
“We’re ready to go to the next level,” said Provost Ronald Toll. “Dr. Kelly, who was the founding director, did an excellent job with the program and we’d like to continue moving in that direction.”
Sean Kelly stepped down from his position as Honors director at the beginning of the fall semester to further pursue his research and teaching.
Currently, longtime Honors fellow and history professor Nicola Foote is the interim director. “I’m so honored and thrilled to be in this position, because the highlight of my career at FGCU has been working with Honors students,” Foote said. “Some of the best experiences I’ve had — piloting the Honors core curriculum, leading study abroad trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands — all came through Honors.”
The Honors Program was founded in 1998 with a small inaugural class. At the beginning of the 2014 fall semester, the program had almost 500 students enrolled.
“This program is literally growing year to year,” Toll said.
To accommodate this growth, the program is constantly adapting its governing body. This year it moved from a cohort system run by four officers, where honors students met with students in their own college, to a senatorial system made up of 13 student representatives.
“Right now, we’re working to create an honors code,” said Paul Berlinsky, a sophomore and an honors senator. “We also handle honors requirements and sit on different committees to plan events, fundraise and make improvements to honors,” Berlinksy said.
Foote has several short-term goals for the program, such as bringing more FGCU faculty into the program to teach classes, and offering more study abroad courses.
“I want to expand the study abroad offerings and make sure that students are really aware what their opportunities are, so that they can enhance our commitment to cultural exploration and cultural diversity,” Foote said.
Toll has more long-term visions in mind for the program.
“I co-teach an honors class in undergraduate research, so I’m very interested in seeing more students involved in research,” Toll said. “I’d like to see Honors students be even more engaged in presenting their work at national meetings and even international meetings. Ultimately it would be fantastic if we could get a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa here.”
Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest honors society in the U.S.
Dean of Undergraduate Studies Jim Wohlpart is the hiring official in charge of looking at applications for the director position.
While Toll is not directly in charge of the search and does not know whether any current FGCU employees will apply for the position, he said that “anybody can apply for any position.”