Dr. Betty Flinchum, Professor Emerita of Curriculum and Instruction in the University of North Florida’s College of Education and Human Services (COEHS), was presented with the Order of Distinction, a high honor by the government of Belize. Flinchum is the first ever non-Belizean citizen to receive the honor.
“This tribute has given me the greatest joy imaginable,” said Flinchum. “I am sincerely grateful to all my former students, colleagues, Belizeans friends and families, to the Belize government and to all the Belizean people for this great honor and the privilege to work with this country for more than 30 years. I felt humbled to be among those honored and upon receiving my honor, I felt truly Belizean.”
Flinchum was recognized in a formal Tribute to Belizean Patriots ceremony September 14 for giving years of service to the country, in supporting educational programs and facilitating a process where more than 500 Belizean nationals have been able to earn degrees from the University. In attendance at the presentation was a large group of alumni, coworkers, junior college presidents, deans and friends.
“There are hundreds of Belizean professionals whose lives have been positively impacted and changed forever by Dr. Betty Flinchum. Her sterling contribution is through her personal commitment and dedication to Belize’s development,” according to the program from the Belizean Office of the Prime Minister.
Flinchum served for 32 years as a professor of education and director of International Programs at UNF, now called the International Center. As a founding faculty member, she initiated and developed the University’s international programs, which included the establishment of study-abroad programs, international student programs, faculty linkages and exchanges with numerous countries. During her tenure there, UNF’s international student body grew to include young scholars from over 100 foreign countries.
On her retirement, she was elected as Emeritus, an honor and high distinction for retired faculty at the University. She initiated a government-funded international program between the University and Belize in 1986, founding the Consortium on Belize Educational Cooperation, and she currently continues to consult with the University on this project and in other areas of international outreach.
In the early part of her career, she taught in university positions related to the areas of movement education, motor development of young children and teacher education. As her academic career progressed, she served in university administrative positions for the majority of her career and focused on international education and international development. Flinchum had a distinguished career in education as a teacher, professor, director and administrator at several universities.
In addition to her professional career, Flinchum has been involved in several philanthropic endeavors. During her tenure at UNF, she gave the initial monies to establish two scholarships, the Sir Colville Young Endowed Scholarship/Fellowship for Belizeans who wish to study education, and the Ellis F. White Founding Faculty Endowed Scholarship/Fellowship for need-based students in COEHS.
Flinchum volunteers as an international programing consultant for educational institutions in the United States and abroad and continues to provide custom-designed international tours for individual and group travel. Her most recent writing project “A Cultural Legacy: Sir Colville Norbert Young, GCMG, MBE, and D.Phil. Governor-General of Belize” was published in 2008 and is an authorized biography of a prominent Belizean colleague and friend.
A few of her notable awards are the Lifetime Achievement Award in International Development given by the City of Jacksonville for her significant work toward making Jacksonville an international city, the International Development Award for distinguished service to UNF, and the Honorary Alumna Award for her devotion to students and initiating/developing the University’s international program. Most recently, in October, 2013, she was honored as a Woman of Distinction by her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Flinchum earned her bachelor’s degree at Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in 1957, her Master’s in Education from University of North Carolina in 1962, and a philosophy doctorate from Louisiana State University in 1972.