UF Honors Program director candidate Michael Blandino emphasized the need for UF to have a program worthy of its top five status in his presentation and Q&A session to the Honors community in person and on zoom Monday afternoon.
Blandino is the second finalist to give such a presentation to the Honors community, after interim director Melissa Johnson’s March 24.
Blandino has served as the assistant dean of Louisiana State University Ogden Honors College for the past 11 years.
The final candidate to participate in a presentation and Q&A session is Kathy Cooke, a professor of history who was the founding dean of both Quinnipiac University’s honors program in 2005 and the University of South Alabama’s Honors College in 2017. Her presentation will start at 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 10.
To make UF’s Honors Program nationally recognized, Blandino said he wants to expand the number of honors courses offered. This would expand the vital teaching and learning experience, expand faculty-student engagement and deepen the affinity of students with the program, he told the Honors community Monday.
“Small honors courses lined with curricular requirements should perhaps be an enhancement strategy that benefits in multiple ways,” he said.
Blandino contributed to a 30% increase in honors course offerings core seats annually, according to his cover letter in his UF application.
“I presented findings to our provost, contributed to a task force the provost later designated, and met with each dean of the colleges to convey task force recommendations and request targeted increases in course offerings to realize expected results," he wrote in a CV.
Blandino covered a laundry list of things that define a top-five Honors program. He said he wanted to expand Honors housing, which included the idea of near-campus apartments for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Blandino wants to develop external and campus partnerships for Honors students like creating an advisory board, he said, which also includes partnerships with research facilities for mentorship opportunities. He also wants to create better advising. LSU’s Honors advising surveys are at the highest level, Blandino said.
“Expanding that can contribute to better outcomes for students,” he said.
Dedicated career development is another initiative LSU has that Blandino said he would bring with him to UF. He mentioned LSU’s program of connecting students to prospective corporations looking to hire.
Blandino would like to create stimulating and inclusive spaces, he said. LSU has the French House, which has been shaped to support Honors education, with its third floor acting as student support, the second floor used for instruction and the first floor as common space used for lounging and guest speakers.
Blandino mentioned the UF Honors village as an example.
“What is the feeling of these spaces? What is the character of these spaces? That will be defined by your program and by your students,” he said.
If selected, Blandino would spend his first three to six months meeting with faculty and students, getting to know the campus and program and identifying problem areas, he said.
The interview period will officially close on April 15.
Contact Ella Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @elladeethompson.
Ella Thompson is a third-year journalism major who's on general assignment for The Alligator's metro desk. In her free time, she likes to read, cook and think of feature stories for The Alligator.