Our History

The UMKC Honors College was first established in 1979 as an honors program within the College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Bruce Bubacz served as the founding director from 1979 to 1985. Under his leadership, the Honors Program developed a sequence of courses that satisfied the general education requirement while nurturing a sense of identity for the honors students. He recruited students and faculty to participate in the program, created an oversight board and designed an introductory honors seminar. Professor Gayle Levy became director of the Honors Program in 2003 and continues to serve today as director of the Honors College. James McKusick was appointed in 2015 as dean of the Honors College.

Beginning in October 2008, UMKC initiated a strategic planning process that resulted in UMKC’s Strategic Plan 2010-2020, a design for the future of Kansas City’s University. A key action item in this strategic plan was to expand the Honors Program into an Honors College. First convened in April 2011, the Honors College Task Force crafted a roadmap for the creation of an Honors College. In October 2013, its final report called for the establishment of an Honors College that will raise the undergraduate academic profile of UMKC and enhance the classroom and campus experience for all UMKC students.

On March 1, 2015, McKusick became the founding dean of the new Honors College, with an academic appointment as a professor in the English Department. Startup funding for the college was allocated by the University of Missouri System for high-impact learning experiences.

The UMKC Honors Program became the UMKC Honors College on July 1, 2015. Entering students in Fall 2015 became the inaugural class of Honors College students. Students who were then enrolled in the UMKC Honors Program automatically became part of the new Honors College. The faculty and administrative offices of the Honors College moved to the fourth floor of Cherry Hall in summer 2016.

The current goals for the Honors College are to grow the program and increase enrollment while maintaining high academic standards. In fall 2015, 200 students were enrolled in the Honors College, and by fall 2017 its enrollment increased to 400 students. By 2021, the Honors College aims to enroll 600 students, expand the Honors curriculum, and increase the number of honors faculty members.