Not only are new honors colleges and programs being created at universities across the nation, but, increasingly, large donations are enhancing the opportunities at programs already in existence.
One of the largest gifts ever came last year, when benefactor Tom Lewis and his wife, Jan, donated $23 million to develop the Lewis Honors College at the University of Kentucky.
The University of Akron has received a $3 million gift from Dr. Gary and Pamela Williams for the Honors College, which was renamed in their honor.
The announcement was made at a ceremony that included appreciative thank-yous from students who stood on steps as the couple descended.
The gift will be used to fund grants for students to study abroad and undertake research.
The couple have long supported what is now the Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Honors College, and have also donated to other programs since they graduated from UA in 1968.
“We are enormously grateful that the Williamses are demonstrating their belief in and support of the University and the Honors College in this manner,” President Scott Scarborough said in a statement. The couple’s cumulative commitment of more than $10 million in giving will help advance the continued growth and expansion of the college, officials said.
The couple, who met as undergraduates, said in a statement that the university “has been and remains an important part of our lives. We appreciate the opportunity to provide this support and look forward to the great successes that we know participating students will achieve in the years ahead.”
Enrollment in the Honors College has increased 30 percent in the last five years to 1,937 in 2015.
While many faculty members at the University of Montana have struggled with cuts, there is good news for the Davidson Honor College, where a new $1.5 million gift will allow the hiring of two new specialized professors and a full time career development coordinator. Davidson Honors College President Brock Tessman has more details.
“We are going to bring in at least two full time teaching, research, and mentoring fellows,” Tessman said. “So starting next summer we will unveil a fully developed career development program. This will be staffed by a full time program coordinator. Which will be taking them all the way from a resume critique to interview prep to landing that first internship.”
During it’s 25th anniversary celebration this past weekend, The Davidson Honors College received the gift from the Davidson family that comes with a chance to bring even more staff into the program.
“The Davidson’s have also issued a challenge grant as part of this gift,” Tessman said. “It is an open offer, and that means they will match dollar- for-dollar any additional gifts that come in to support this program and that will be up to two additional fellows.”
The UNLV Honors College received a $1 million boost to their scholarship program.
The gift was from the Bennett Family Foundation to support scholarships for entering freshmen and upperclassmen starting next fall. This money will provide scholarship support to more than 150 Honors College students over the next four years.
Enrollment in the Honors College has nearly doubled from less than 300 in 2012 to over 500 today. The gift was made in an effort to maintain the college’s growth by offering compelling financial aid packages. This will allow the Honors College more of a capacity to recruit, support, and retain Nevada’s academic talent.
“Our students often say that the Honors College was the deciding factor in their choice to attend UNLV,” Marta Meana, the dean of the Honors College, said. “These students raise the academic standards and ultimately improve the quality of the entire university.”
The money will also fund a new mentorship program that will ensure new students will learn the ropes of college life and academic success from upperclassmen. The Bennett Family Foundation has contributed more than 10 million dollars to UNLV over the years.
University of Central Arkansas alumni and philanthropists Rush & Linda Harding have pledged $500,000 to benefit the Norbert O. Schedler Honors College.
Rush ’76 and Linda Harding ’82 have a long history of support and service to the institution.
In 2002, the Hardings established the Holloway-Hicks Scholarship to benefit African-American students. In 2004, they gave more than $1.4 million to UCA, which was the single largest gift in university history at that time. Those funds were used to support student scholarships and to construct Harding Centennial Plaza, a signature landmark on the campus.