The Honors program was established 60 years ago. Then, in 1989, Hopkins House became the Honors house. Honors students use this space to study, attend seminars, cook, host class dinners, chat, watch movies, play games and hold group events.
“The house transformed the program,” said Fr. Tim Clancy S.J., director of the Honors Program. He said Hopkins evolved an academic program into a tight, social-justice driven community.
However, due to the projected expansion of the Honors Program, the university plans to demolish Hopkins as early as this summer. This expansion stems from the university’s goal to be recognized as a top academic institution by Phi Beta Kappa (PBK), an academic honor society, by 2025.
PBK’s evaluation team assessed GU 10 years ago and did not recognize the school as a top academic institution, citing an insufficient honors Program and language requirement. The university responded by raising the language requirement. It is still working on the expansion of the Honors program.
“[GU] needs this recognition because we claim on our mission to be a nationally recognized premier liberal arts university, and this would give us a way of demonstrating to people that that is true,” Clancy said.
Clancy said he hopes to expand the program by adding classes tailored to business, humanities and science majors. The College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee approved the concept of a humanities Honors Program that students would join during spring semester sophomore year. Approval and execution of these additional academic programs would allow the Honors Program to include 8 percent of the student population compared to the current population, which is less than 2 percent of the total student body, meeting the requirement for PBK recognition.
Clancy and current Honors students are anxious about the kind of community and space that will replace Hopkins House.
Mary Armstrong, a senior in the Honors Program said, “Hopkins represents the personality of the Honors Program and I’m afraid that when the house comes down, the Honors Program might also change.”
The GU administration agreed to provide Honors with four offices in the old Jesuit House as a replacement. Claire Henson, a member of the Honors Council, said students have expressed concerns that, while offices will provide study space, it will be “like any professor’s office during office hours, where students come to ask a question or to chat and then go back home or to class.”
“I know that the classes would drift apart if we didn’t have that space to build community,” sophomore Honors student Sam Ramsey said.
Honors alumni couple Sara Reed, ,’15, and Corwin Bryan ,‘15, met during the Honors bruncheon their freshman year. They said their time at Hopkins was a foundation for their strong connection.
“I think the administration is failing to understand that the community is not tangential, it’s integral,” said Bryan.
Clancy is talking to Student Life about the possibility of renovating a dorm on campus into a living learning community (LLC) for Honors.
“If we don’t have community facilities like we currently have in Hopkins, it is going to be a very different type of Honors Program” said Clancy.
Clancy said he an LLC might be the only way the GU administration will permit the academic program to have the communal spaces that are vital to building the Honors community.
The GU Administration is in the process of hiring a new director for the Honors program who will start this spring. Clancy, who was hired 15 years ago for a six-year position, will remain at Gonzaga but will be unaffiliated with Honors. Clancy said he is optimistic the program will receive community space, provided whoever takes over his position makes it a priority.
Macklen Scribner ,’15, an alumnus of the Honors Program, summed up the essence of the relationship between Hopkins and Gonzaga’s Mission.
“Honors shouldn’t just be the mind, it should be the mind body and spirit aspect of education,” Macklen said.
Kaely Lawler is a staff writer.