FAU Jupiter campus sidewalk



The Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University opened in the Fall of 1999 as the first stand-alone public honors college to be built from the ground up in the United States. The college was championed early on by Florida Atlantic founding faculty and eventual Vice President of the Jupiter campus, Robert Huckshorn, for whom the campus arboretum is named, and was made possible by the donation of land by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  Below is a brief history of the college’s growth.

1998: Dr. William Mech was appointed as the founding Dean, hiring five founding faculty

1999: 11 additional faculty were hired as part of the original faculty of 16 that welcomed 77 incoming freshmen in August 

2001: George Cornell gave a major gift to the college that was targeted for student scholarships, and the college was named after his wife, Harriet Wilkes Cornell

2002: The Honors College welcomed its first cohort of 5 Flagler scholars, thanks to another generous gift from The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust (established by Henry Flagler's brother-in-law), to support exceptional undergraduate students from the State of Florida to attend the Honors College 

2002: The Honors College held its first Annual Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Research

2006: After Dr. Nancy Poulson served as Interim Dean for several years, Dr. Jeffery Buller joined the College as its new Dean.  Under his 10 years of leadership, the College expanded its curriculum from the 19 concentrations offered in 2004-5 to nearly 30 concentrations, and also developed a new B.S. degree option for students in STEM fields.

2006: Scripps Research Institute of Florida opened on the Jupiter campus

2010: Under the visionary leadership of President John Kelly, a groundbreaking was held for the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, further solidifying the Jupiter campus as a magnet for world class scientists and establishing an unparalleled academic resource for the Honors College

2011: The Honors College received another significant gift from the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust to develop the Kenan Social Engagement program, designed to promote social entrepreneurship

2016: The Jupiter Life Science Initiative was established on the Jupiter campus

2016: After ten years, Dean Buller stepped down and Dr. Ellen Goldey became the third Dean. During her tenure, the Honors College forged new ties with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Ft. Pierce (HBOI), the College of Science, the Jupiter Life Science Initiative, and the Florida Atlantic Brain Institute, while developing new 4+1 programs and adding a concentration in Data Analytics.

2018: The Honors College implemented the 'Common Application' for prospective students to use to apply to the College 

2019: After Dean Goldey moved on to a new position, Dr. Timothy Steigenga was selected as Interim Dean and served for the next 14 months. During his tenure, the college and campus celebrated its 20th Anniversary and kicked off a new partnership between FAU High School and the Max Planck Academy.

2020: Dr. Justin Perry was appointed as the fourth dean in the history of the college

2020: FAU High School welcomed its first cohort on the Jupiter campus as dual-enrolled students in the college

2021: The Florida Atlantic Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute (formerly the Brain institute) opened its brand new state-of-the-art building