Florida International University Honors College

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FIU Honors College
Florida International University Seal.png
Established 1990
Type Public
Students 1,090 [1]
Location Miami, Florida, USA
Website honors.fiu.edu

Before the Honors College was a college, it was the Honors Program. The Program got its start in 1990 with an inaugural class of only 100 freshmen.

The earliest iteration of the Honors College, the Faculty Scholars Program, was formed in 1972 and became an integral part of FIU’s newly admitted lower-division student body. The program brought together some of the best and brightest students and challenged them to think outside the box of the traditional university curriculum.

Dr. Fernando González-Reigosa, the Dean of Undergraduate Studies in 1972, was at the forefront of the push to create an entire Honors curriculum. Gonzalez-Reigosa dreamed of an intellectual community in which outstanding students focused on critical thinking, personal and professional enrichment, and excellence working hand-in-hand with a group of dedicated teachers and scholars. This vision led eventually to the transformation of the program into an autonomous college within the university.

In 1997, after relocating twice, the Honors Program found a permanent home in the Deuxieme Maison building and became the Honors College. Invigorated by a new sense of its growing value to the University, and with a larger space in which to stretch itself, the College concentrated its efforts on providing students with a continually evolving interdisciplinary curriculum.

Recognizing that, in an increasingly globalized world, it was not enough for students to understand only their own culture, the College set about developing ways to give them the opportunity to get first-hand experience abroad. Its first move in that direction was to establish a partnership with the University of Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, which gave rise to the Spain Study Abroad Program. Students in the program travelled throughout Spain, taking in the architecture, art, culture, people, and food.

In 1998, Associate Dean Stephen Fjellman proposed the Italy Study Abroad Program, which would be jointly operated with faculty from the School of Architecture; including John Kneski who had attended university in Venice, Italy and graduate school in Florence, Italy. In time, Prof. Kneski would lead the Italy Program for FIU, and be elected as the President of The Florida Collegiate Honors Council.[2] Pairing the interdisciplinary cornerstone of an Honors education with the potential offered by study in another country, the Study Abroad programs have since blossomed into one of the College’s most coveted experiences.

The community that Dr. González-Reigosa left in 2001 was nothing like the program he oversaw in its infancy. When Dr. González-Reigosa was forced from his position as dean by the administration that year, Ivelaw Griffith, a political science professor, was appointed the second dean of the Honors College by the Provost without a search. Under his leadership, the Honors College doubled its enrollment and became an even more significant part of the university. Among other things, Dean Griffith added both the Student Research and Artistic Initiative (SRAI) and the Honors Convocation to the College’s offerings. SRAI, headed by Associate Dean and Senior Fellow John Kneski from 2004 to 2010, paired faculty with students on over 500 projects.[3] Opportunities for research in the program encompass nearly every academic discipline and artistic endeavor. The program, now renamed Advanced Research and Creativity in Honors (ARCH), gives interested students a chance to learn by doing, rather than sitting in a classroom in a seminar.

After 5 years as dean of the College, Ivelaw Griffith left FIU to become the provost at Radford University in Virginia; a position that he was forcibly removed from in less than a year.[4] The Honors College dean's position was handed to Lesley Northup, a religious studies professor, who was also appointed by the Provost without a search.[5] Under her leadership the college has adopted a pedagogical philosophy of "moral relativism".

Today, Honors is providing over 1000 students with more advantages and opportunities than ever before. The last few years have seen many new initiatives that have led the College into previously untapped areas. Such significant partnerships as the 3 + 3 program with FIU’s Law School and a partnership with FIU’s Athletics Department are now in place, strengthening the Honors College’s ties with the university and helping Honors students advance.

The College has also begun to place far greater emphasis on outreach and service learning, as students are encouraged to take leadership roles and contribute to the community. The pioneering Sweetwater partnership impacts FIU and the surrounding community, as students tutor children, teach sports and hygiene, plant community gardens and trees, mentor seniors in computer use, offer citizenship classes, and put together events with the elementary school.

The Honors College on the Biscayne Bay Campus has begun its own community service initiative. In 2007, Jayne Klein, the BBC Program Director, established a partnership with the Overtown Youth Center, recruiting students in Tau Sigma Alpha, the College’s BBC Honors Society, to serve as tutors, and mentors for the young people at the Center. Under Dean Northup’s leadership, the Honors College continues to look to the future, while still keeping one eye on the past and both feet on the ground. The creative mix of outstanding faculty, students and staff continues to generate innovative curricular and service opportunities that help prepare students for productive and successful futures.

Honors Place[edit]

In 1999, Honors Place was established. The idea was to create a residential living-learning community exclusively for Honors College students, where they could get to know one another, study together, and participate in special programs and events. Since 2000, when Honors Place consisted of a mere 5 rooms, the community has expanded to 70 rooms and been transformed into a community of scholars that was at one point named the “Best Living and Learning Community” in the state of Florida by Florida Leader Magazine.


  1. ^ "Honors College Facts". Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  2. ^ http://floridacollegiatehonorscouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=45&Itemid=19.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ http://www.johnkneski.com//studentwork/studentwork.htm. Retrieved 9 July 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ http://outbound-call-center.tmcnet.com/news/2007/02/22/2362638.htm.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ http://news.fiu.edu/2011/05/northup-named-dean-of-the-honors-college/26571.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 25°45′22″N 80°22′28″W / 25.75605°N 80.37452°W / 25.75605; -80.37452