UNH’s Honors Program Transitions to Honors College in Huddleston Hall


Huddleston Hall will soon serve as a flagship for the Honors College at UNH.

Aidan Bearor, Staff Writer

At the 2023 State of the University Address, President Dean revealed that change was coming to the Honors Program. With a donation from long-time benefactor Dana Hamel, the university has been able to put a once distant plan into motion. 

With the $20 million donation officially announced on March 23, the funds will be allocated across the program. Huddleston Hall will undergo a makeover and is set to be reopened in the fall of 2023. This building will serve as the flagship for the new Honors College and will house offices as well as other academic facilities. 

The concept of creating a standalone honors college at UNH has been on the horizon for some time within the administration. Head of the Honors Program (and soon-to-be Head of the Honors College) Catherine Peebles recalled the notion being in the wings for years. 

“This has been in the offing since before I came,” said Peebles.

Peebles was appointed in 2018 and said the transition to the Honors College was a priority for her during the selection process. She’s been pushing for the switch since she was still in the selection process for her current position. 

“There are lots of honors colleges out there now,” said Peebles. “People started converting from program to college status three or four decades ago, so it would be nice to catch up.” 

Peebles said that the transition will bolster recruitment for the university. Prospective freshmen will see that resources are being put into the honors facilities and the students that comprise them. 

Liliana Vornehm, a current second-year at UNH and Hamel Scholar, said that change is welcome amongst the honors student body. 

“I’ve heard from other honors students that they don’t really understand the purpose of participating in the program,” said Vornehm. “Because it really seems like, you know, trying to make really difficult academic schedules work with the honors discoveries for very little benefit.”

Vornehm hopes that the transition to an honors college will present the opportunity for students to reap greater benefits for their honors standing. 

Collaboration between students and faculty has been instrumental throughout this process, so that students like Vornehm will feel better heard by their program. 

Peebles said that the announcement by President Dean was not unilateral.

“That was the result of several conversations and meetings and research among students and feedback from students that we accepted,” said Peebles.

Vornehm echoed this sentiment and felt positively about the relationship between administration and students in this process. 

“Obviously they have various administrative and budgetary constraints, but I feel like they’ve been very willing to listen to what students have to say and what students want,” said Vornehm. “That they genuinely want to provide the best experience that they can for the students that are here.”