Our program leaders have collective expertise in all areas of the Honors experience, from course development and advising to study abroad and experiential learning. An accessible, hands-on group, this enterprising team connects directly with students and faculty across campus to shape and guide our program at all levels.

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Dr. Melissa L. Johnson 

Interim Director


Contact for:

  • Campus partnerships and outreach
  • Teaching for Honors
  • Honors strategic initiatives and planning
  • Program requirements
  • Fundraising and annual giving
  • Special events


Dr. Melissa L. Johnson is the Honors Program Interim Director. She previously served as the Senior Associate Director for the program. A lifelong “honors” student, Dr. Johnson’s personal drive for challenge and growth is the groundwork for her commitment to high-achieving Gators – and her role in facilitating the office committed to them.

Known across the country as a leading expert in honors advising, Dr. Johnson brings together a vast knowledge of undergraduate honors education to her role. Helping students understand the value of the holistic Honors experience – including support by a staff who champion their ambitions, intellect and drive – provides meaningful purpose and lifelong connection (she’s still in touch with alumni from her first year with UF Honors over 15 years ago!).

The 2nd youngest ever to be named a Fellow of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Dr. Johnson has been active in Honors on a national scale—she has published, presented and facilitated national institutes on all aspects of the Honors experience. She receives regular requests to serve as an external consultant and program reviewer for honors programs and colleges across the country. She is an Editorial Board Member for the Honors in Practice journal and is a member of the NACADA Academic Advising Consultants and Speakers Service. 

Dr. Johnson’s Gator-connections extend beyond her position with Honors, too. She earned her Ph.D. from UF and has served on the executive board of the Phi Beta Kappa, Beta of Florida chapter. She has also served on numerous university committees over the past 20 years, including Academic Assessment (co-chair), University Libraries (chair), Faculty Senate (steering committee), and Infrastructure Council.

Both on and off campus, Dr. Johnson can be found with her greyhound, Kenzie – a certified therapy dog!


  • Fellow of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2018
  • Field and Fork Faculty Teaching Fellow, 2017-2018
  • Faculty Honoree, UF Anderson Scholars, 2008, 2011-2014, 2016
  • Professional Advisor of the Year for Undergraduate Affairs, 2015
  • Outstanding UF Service Learning Faculty of the Year, 2009
  • Outstanding New Advisor Certificate of Merit, NACADA Region 4, 2007



Regan Garner

Associate Director


Contact for:

  • Internal scholarship questions (Lombardi/Stamps, Davis UWC)
  • Study abroad advising
  • Social justice/activism opportunities

Regan Garner is an Associate Director for the Honors Program. She serves as the coordinator for the Honors’ selective internal scholarship programs: the Davis United World College Scholars Program, the John V. Lombardi Scholarship Program and the Stamps Scholars Program. Regan believes the tenacity, motivation and curiosity of these scholarship recipients demonstrates how to thrive in an increasingly complex world, which she is proud to support.

Previously, Regan worked as an Assistant Director and National Merit Scholar Recruiter in the UF Office of Admissions. She’s a double Gator with a BA in Classical Studies and M.Ed. in Social Foundations of Education. Vast past experience as study abroad program director and Fulbright Program Advisor make Regan a great resource for all Honors students interested in studying abroad.

Outside of Honors, Regan is deeply involved in the community. She is a leader in the Gainesville chapter of National Women’s Liberation, active member of the Alachua County Labor Coalition, the Civic Media Center, the Gainesville Anti-Fascist Committee, and United Faculty of Florida at UF.

Also: Regan is an active cyclist and radical feminist with intimate knowledge of local restaurants and outdoor activities. Wondering where to, say, kayak and eat tacos? Ask Regan!


  • UF International Educator of the Year Award 2016



Dr. Kristy Spear

Assistant Director for Honors Experiential Learning


Contact for:

  • Seeking or promoting experiential learning opportunities
  • Serving as a (Un)common peer instructor
  • Internship credit
  • SHO and creating new Honors student organizations
  • Teaching and leading an Uncommon Classroom

Dr. Kristy Spear is the Assistant Director for Honors Experiential Learning. She supports Honors students by creating and curating opportunities for purposeful engagement and active experimentation. She believes learning is an ongoing process that involves action, reflection and a keen ability to celebrate success and failure. Dr. Spear finds it rewarding to support our student's journey as they seek and engage in meaningful experiences that foster personal and professional growth.

Before joining the Honors Program in 2014, Dr. Spear worked in human resources and career services. She served as the chair of the Advising High Achieving Students Community through the National Academic Advising Association from 2016-2018.

Dr. Spear received her B.S. in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on communication and health. She holds an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, a graduate certificate in Digital Humanities, and a Ph.D. in Educational Technology. Her research is focused on designing online courses that foster learning and engagement for high-achieving students.

Dr. Spear's interest in personal and professional development may be a product of her unique employment history which includes ballroom dance instructor, Halloween Horror Nights Scareactor and pyrotechnician.


  • Professional Advisor of the Year, Office of Undergraduate Affairs, University of Florida, 2018
  • Outstanding New Advisor, University of Florida, 2017
  • Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award, University of Florida, 2016


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