It’s been more than a month since Mark Law’s termination as UF Honors director, and UF administration still hasn’t begun a formal search for a new one.
UF administrators told The Alligator no formal timeline has been established, but they expect to permanently fill the position by the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. The new search gives UF an opportunity to find a director whose vision better aligns with theirs after Law’s termination in August for what the administration felt was lackluster leadership.
Angela Lindner, the associate provost for undergraduate affairs who oversees the Honors College and the search, said she expected to find a permanent replacement to Law by the end of the academic year.
“UF will follow the standard process in searching for a position that has such a strong influence on our students and university,” Lindner wrote in an email. “This typically entails establishing a committee and a chair.”
The process will begin with the position’s advertisement and recruitment of candidates, Lindner said. The applicant pool will be shortened after remote interviews and a final stage of the short-list candidates visiting campus for open forum discussions will start then.
The search comes concurrently with UF trying to find its 13th university president.
“UF traditionally has selected a leader who is in a faculty classification,” Lindner said. “Ideally, this individual has experience in leading staff and developing undergraduate student programs and with good experience in working with Honors students.”
Melissa Johnson, the former senior associate director, has been appointed to lead the program in the interim.
“We at UF are quite fortunate to have Dr. Johnson serving as interim director,” Lindner wrote. “She has served in our Honors program for many years, and she is familiar with the current programming and strategic goals for the program.”
Lindner went on to write she has confidence Johnson will continue to focus on current programs and initiatives within the Honors Program, such as care for current students, recruiting and applications and the final planning of the new Honors Village.
Whoever steps into the vacant role will need to fulfill UF administration’s expectations for the program.
After the firing of Mark Law as the honors director in August, both Board of Trustees Chair Morteza Hosseini and UF Provost Joe Glover made it clear they didn’t feel Law’s plans for the program were sufficient.
“The Board of Trustees believed that our ambitions for UF’s Honors Program were greater than what we saw from Dr. Law,” Hosseini said during August’s State of the University address.
After Dr. Law’s last two presentations to the Board of Trustees, Hosseini added that the board believed the university could be doing a better job of recruiting top students into the Honors Program.
In August, Glover took personal responsibility for Law’s firing in both a statement to The Alligator and in a letter to the Honors Program community. Glover, who will put together the search committee with Lindner, emphasized the program’s importance.
As far as growth, Glover said he’d like to see more honors students compete for top national scholarships, such as Rhodes Scholarships. He’d also prefer an expansion of undergraduate research opportunities, more international opportunities and more integration with other UF departments.
“I think the Honors College at UF serves the same purpose that honors colleges serve in many universities in the nation,” Glover said. “It helps us to attract really high-performing students here who are interested in having an opportunity to do more than just pick a major.”
Christian Casale is a history senior and the university desk editor for The Alligator. In his spare time, he loves writing his bio for the website and watching movies alone in the dark.