In 1985, NJIT established an Honors Program to encourage and challenge its brightest and most motivated students. Dr. Richard Sher, Professor of History and Associate Dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts, was its first director. The approach taken was to stimulate students intellectually with a thorough and well-balanced education. Special activities, rigorous courses, lectures and a colloquium series made up the program.
The first twenty-eight Honors students began their studies in the Fall of 1985, growing to 160 in 1990. The first graduates had succeeded academically and obtained jobs in prominent corporations or had chosen to further their education by entering graduate training or schools of medicine or law.
Ms. Ruth Baker succeeded Dr. Sher as Director of the Honors Program in 1991. Under Ms. Baker's direction, and with the assistance of Dr. Dennis Donahue as Faculty Coordinator and Honors Advisor, she worked with President Saul K. Fenster, Dr. William Mech of the National Collegiate Honors Council, deans, and faculty to formulate the Honors College.
President Fenster engaged Albert Dorman, class of '45, in the development of NJIT's fifth college. Mr. Dorman's special interest and generous endowment helped to create the Albert Dorman Honors College in 1995. Mr. Dorman's endowment, along with other gifts, allowed the Honors College to attract a greater number of students, growing from 230 in 1995 to 630 students today. Honors scholarships were created, and a strong educational foundation was fashioned.
Dr. Joel Bloom, Vice President for Academic & Student Services, was named the first Dean of the Honors College, Dr. Dennis Donahue the Associate Dean, and Ms. Lois Chipepo-Hodges Assistant to the Dean. Other changes included a stronger and more active Honors student council and a greater variety of colloquium lectures, study trips, research activities, and publications. A new emphasis on developing leadership has helped add an additional focus.
In January 2001 Dr. David Reibstein became the second Associate Dean of the College. In the 2000-01 school year, with the continued growth of the college, the new position of Assistant Dean for Recruitment was created, followed by the creation of the position of Assistant Dean for Academics in January 2004. By the 2008-09 year, the Honors College had seen major increases in the number of honors courses offered (to nearly 50) and in the number of research and other projects undertaken by its students. New programs, including new accelerated programs in medicine, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy and law; and the Honors STS major, added to the diversity of offerings. New outreach activities, such as summer teachers’ institutes, were initiated.
The College’s first five-year Strategic Plan was adopted by the Board of Visitors in 2001, and a second plan in 2008. The first plan's enrollment goals having been met, the new plan emphasizes academic enhancements such as students' Individual Education Plans, innovative honors courses, dual majors and minors, increased student research, leadership programs, and international study.
In May 2010 the Honors College celebrated its fifteenth anniversary as a college. From its start of twenty-eight students in 1985 to well over 600 Honors Scholars in 2010-11, there have been many changes in the Honors Program. The Albert Dorman Honors College now looks forward to many more years of innovation and leadership.