International College Receives Record Gift; Announces Name Change to Hodges University

International College, an independent, not-for-profit four-year institution, today announced that it has received a $12 million gift from long-time Naples residents and community benefactors Earl and Thelma Hodges. In conjunction with the gift, the institution will change its name to Hodges University and move from college status to university status.

“This is a significant announcement not only for our institution but also for the communities we serve throughout the southwest region of Florida,” said Terry P. McMahan, President of International College. “This historic donation will enable us to better position our school as one of Florida's leading institutions of higher learning and allow us to achieve our long-term goal of university status. We are fortunate to have generous benefactors like Earl and Thelma Hodges.”

Founded in 1990 in Naples, Florida, International College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as well as other programs which enhance the ability of students to achieve life or career objectives. Since 1999, the College has had in place the infrastructure to move from college to university status, but administration wanted to wait until the name of the College could also be changed. The institution has been operating as a small university since that time, establishing four Schools within the College according to programs of study. Significant benchmarks include:

  • Undergraduate programs have grown to 10 associate degree programs and 11 bachelor degree programs
  • Graduate programs have grown to seven programs;
  • Distance education programs have grown to 10 programs;
  • Full-time faculty have grown to more than 60, with a total faculty of 120;
  • Many faculty engage in applied research and have presented papers worldwide;
  • Two new campuses have been built - one in Naples and one in Fort Myers;
  • Seven learning sites have been established along the west coast of Florida.

2655 Northbrooke Drive Naples, Florida 34119 239-513-1122 phone 800-466-8017 toll free 239-598-6253 fax

“Our decision to change the name to Hodges University will assist us with two major initiatives: expanding our distance education programs and restructuring our day programs by providing an innovative curriculum for recent high school graduates,” McMahan said. “By having ‘university’ in our name, our online programs will be better received nationally and internationally, and the day programs will be better received by younger students.”

Hodges University will remain comprised by a School of Professional Studies, School of Allied Health, School of Technology and the Kenneth Oscar Johnson School of Business, and no changes in administration or faculty are anticipated as a part of the name change.

“While we are not a research institution, we do encourage faculty to engage in applied research,” McMahan said. “We believe that moving to university status will further open doors for our faculty to pursue higher levels of research which will, in turn, benefit our student population as well as our reputation in the educational community at large.”

Earl and Thelma Hodges have been married for nearly 50 years and have been actively involved in a wide variety of local civic and charitable causes and have been long-time supporters of International College. The couple has contributed to the capital campaign for the Naples Campus and Earl Hodges serves on the International College Foundation Board. They also were instrumental in establishing the Veteran’s Scholarship fund.

A native of Tennessee, Earl Hodges moved to Naples in 1956. He is a veteran of World War II and the Korean War and was a successful businessman and owner of the Earl G. Hodges Funeral Chapel as well as the Johnson-Hayes Funeral Home with two locations in Gainesville and Trenton, Florida. In addition to building the funeral home business, Hodges founded the Naples Vault Company, Naples Crematorium, and Naples Memorial Gardens and Cemetery. He also has actively served on the boards of several local banks. In 2001, Hodges was honored as the International College Humanitarian of the Year in recognition of his contributions. He also is a past recipient of the Naples Daily News Outstanding Citizen Award and the Junior Achievement Business Leadership Award.

Originally from Lawrence, Massachusetts, Thelma Hodges moved to Naples in late 1955. She was a Registered Nurse and was one of the three original employees at the Naples Community Hospital (hired just three months prior to the hospital’s official opening in 1956). Thelma Hodges worked at the hospital for more than 20 years and at different times was in charge of the emergency room, central supply and operating room.

“This gift from the Hodges is believed to be the single largest donation to any private or public institution in Collier County history,” said Dr. Louis J. Traina, Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “This gift will strengthen and help define Hodges University today and well into the future. We are honored to change our name to Hodges University and to recognize a family who are role models for both our students and the community.”

In recognition of their significant gift as well as their years of community service, Earl and Thelma Hodges will be bestowed honorary doctorates from Hodges University. This presentation will take place at the school’s commencement ceremonies on June 10, 2007.

The name change will become effective on June 1, 2007. However, there will be a six-month transition period in which the institution will reference both the International College and Hodges University names. Students graduating at the commencement ceremonies on June 10, 2007 will receive diplomas from International College, but will have the option to request a duplicate diploma from Hodges University. All previous graduates of International College will also be eligible to request transcripts which will reflect the change. All subsequent graduating classes will be from Hodges University.

In conjunction with the name change, the institution will launch a rebranding and marketing campaign to inform current and prospective students, faculty and community leaders about the mission of Hodges University. It also will introduce the new Hodges University logo which is comprised of the uniquely designed letterforms H and U. The Hodges University logo is symbolic of the idea of transformation - altering the lives of young adults. It also is organic in structure and symbolizes growth and expansion.

The institution also will launch a new web site at During the transition period, the current web site at will remain in operation.

“Plans are in place to grow our Web presence to attract students from all over the world into our distance education programs as well as our expanded day programs,” McMahan said. “We are very excited about the innovative technology that we will be deploying.”

For additional information or to request an interview, please contact Joe Turner, Public Relations Coordinator for Hodges University, at 239-513-1122 or 1-800-466-8017.

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