Story by April Rubin, Photo of Hume Hall by Stephanie Cobb
Mark Law has been the director of UF’s Honors Program since fall 2014. When he started, the program had six employees. It is now nearing 13, and the Honors office is even looking forward to a new location.
“Goals-wise, I came in wanting to do the most we could for the students that were in the program,” he said. “We’re clearly doing more than we used to.”
Before starting as Honors director, Law was the College of Engineering’s associate dean for academic affairs and previously worked in engineering and higher education. As an undergraduate, he was an Honors student, which helped him better understand how to run UF’s program.
Here’s what he has to say about his time as director so far, and what he looks forward to for the future of the Honors program.
Working to improve
The attention that Honors has received since he began is tied to the university’s goal of becoming a Top 5 public institution. Law said that part of the U.S. News and World Report’s metric is the quality of the freshman class.
“By having a vibrant Honors program, we can recruit better, higher achieving students,” Law added.
Part of this initiative was changing the way students applied to the Honors program. Previously, some students were automatically accepted when they were accepted to UF if their test scores were high enough. Other students who wanted to be part of honors applied once they were admitted to UF.
Now, students who want to join honors apply as part of the general UF application and find out whether or not they were accepted when they receive UF’s decision.
“Having it all streamlined helps us overall,” Law explained.
Increase in staff
Law discussed how the new staff hires focused on increasing the number of advisers, providing students with more direct help from the Honors office. One new adviser exclusively focuses on external scholarships, and another coordinates experiential education and builds programs related to service learning.
Law is also looking to hire a marketing coordinator to overhaul the Honors program’s website and increase communication with students.
The Honors office will move from its current space in the infirmary to Walker Hall. He’s hoping the location change will happen by the end of the semester.
What is Honors still working toward?
One area that Law expressed he is still looking to quantify is how to measure if students are using all of the resources that Honors has to offer –– beyond early registration.
“I’m looking for someone who really wants to throw themselves into university life and take full advantage of what UF has to offer for their interest in disciplines,” he said. “An SAT score and other academic measures of high school success don’t always tell me that.”
Law hopes that students in the Honors program continue to take Honors sections of classes, which are offered across all disciplines, and get involved in extracurriculars.
“Honors continues to evolve here,” Law said. “I would want it to evolve so we serve all of the students and all of the disciplines.”