Mission Statement

Our mission is to challenge, encourage, and celebrate undergraduate students who pursue a path of academic excellence on their way to becoming advanced scholars, working professionals, creative artists and/or community leaders. We do this through innovative and engaging classroom settings, living communities and special events that promote a love for inquiry, learning and exposition. Our Honors College welcomes students who are able to thrive in a reading, writing and research oriented environment and who want to be encouraged and challenged by their peers and our Honors Faculty.


The UMass Lowell Honors Program began in 1995. Instrumental in its creation were Eric Sheldon, Eugene Mellican, Robert Kunzendorf and Jacqueline Moloney. Many have played a leading role in supporting Honors over the years, including several directors and associate directors, as well as many Honors Coordinators including Elizabeth Donaghey, Veronica Gadbois, Kristen Rhyner and Brooke Crossman.

On Feb. 27, 2014, recognizing the strength of the Honors Program and its contributions to UMass Lowell's rising stature, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees voted to elevate the program to an Honors College. James Canning, Ph.D. became the first dean of the UMass Lowell Honors College on June 1, 2014. In the fall of 2014, Elizabeth Donaghey was appointed the Director of the Honors College. 

After James Canning retired in June 2020, Jenifer Whitten-Woodring, Ph.D. was named as interim dean. 

Past Deans

  • James Canning, Ph.D.

Past Directors

  • Eric Sheldon, Ph.D.
  • Eugene Mellican, Ph.D.
  • Stephen Pennell, Ph.D.
  • Noelle McAfee, Ph.D.
  • Alice Waters, Ph.D.
  • Doreen Arcus, Ph.D.
  • Julie Nash, Ph.D.
  • James Canning, Ph.D.

Past Associate Directors

  • Eugene Mellican, Ph.D.
  • Robert Kunzendorf, Ph.D.


The UMass Lowell Honors Program is sanctioned by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. In 2001, the Board of Higher Education started to approve honors programs within the Massachusetts Public Higher Education System. We received our initial approval in 2002 and received re-approval in 2008 and 2016.

UMass Lowell's Honors College is administered by a dean and a team of full-time and part-time staff. The dean reports directly to the Provost's Office. The UMass Lowell Honors College Faculty Council, consisting of both full professors and associate teaching professors, serves in a campus-wide advisory role.


The Honors College is a member institution of the Massachusetts public higher education Commonwealth Honors Programs and the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC).