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MEDIA CONTACT: Terry Gearing

FAU’s Wilkes Honors College Receives $295,000 Gift to Fund New Social Engagement Program

JUPITER, FL (January 5, 2012) – Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College has received a $295,000 gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to fund the Kenan Social Engagement Program, a three-year pilot program at the John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter.  The new initiative will bring together best practices in community service learning, public-private partnerships, social entrepreneurship, and the use of sound business techniques to address pressing social problems.  The goal of the program is to create a series of sustainable projects to improve the quality of life in southeastern Florida.

“We cherish our ongoing relationship with the Kenan Trust and are honored by their confidence in funding this program, along with two others, at the Wilkes Honors College,” said Jeffrey L. Buller, Ph.D., dean of the Wilkes Honors College. “With service to the region being a central focus of FAU, we believe that the public-private partnership of the Wilkes Honors College and the Kenan Trust will continue to play a significant role in the University’s evolving mission.” 

The initiative will allow five students with a strong commitment to solving social problems to take a course in social entrepreneurship and work with an existing nonprofit agency to learn the most effective ways of making social projects sustainable for the long term.  During the summer, each student will receive a seed grant to initiate a project, and then a faculty panel will select the most promising project to receive more extensive funding to launch it.

Richard M. Krasno, the executive director of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, hopes this initiative will serve as a model for other colleges and universities to develop their own social entrepreneurship programs. 

“It’s such a creative idea,” Krasno said. “We’d love for this to be known as the Wilkes Honors College Model.” 

Timothy Steigenga, Ph.D., professor of political science and chair of the humanities and social sciences at FAU’s Honors College,  along with Christopher Strain, Ph.D., associate professor of history at the Wilkes Honors College, will serve as co-directors of the new program.

The Kenan Social Engagement Program will be the Honors College’s third Kenan-funded initiative, together with the Flagler Scholarship Program and the Kenan Science Scholars Program.  In addition, the college hopes that the new program will not only provide a unique form of educational enrichment for its students, but will also address pressing social needs of the surrounding community.


The Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, located on FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus, is a four-year residential liberal arts & science college for high achieving undergraduates.

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit

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