H. Holden Thorp, PhD, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
I just moved here a year ago, but I already dearly love St. Louis. I came from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which is a town that engenders so much love and sentimentality that it is called “The Southern Part of Heaven.” I lived there for 30 years.
I still love Chapel Hill, but St. Louis is my hometown now. My wife and I lived at the Moonrise for two weeks. Best omelette in town.
I love gooey butter cake. The sight of the Arch gives me chills. The image of the riverfront on this website moves me every time I see it.
When I came here, I began learning about the problems that have plagued our region. The multiple townships, the tension between city and county, and the persistent segregation and inequality. My colleagues in the Brown School, theorists like Rebecca Wanzo and Jeffrey McCune, our Vice Provost Adrienne Davis, urban designers like Bob Hansman and many more in the Wash U community have all helped me understand the painful context right here in front of us.
Wash U often still thinks of itself as a “rapidly ascending” university. For sure, our rise in stature and influence over the last 30 years has been remarkable. But Wash U is ready to make the transition from being rapidly ascending to being one of America’s great, established institutions.
I work in higher education because American universities, despite all their challenges, have been the greatest engines for upward mobility in our country’s last century, and because we are the best places for bringing together the diverse minds needed to solve multi-faceted, challenging problems. Excellent universities embrace these missions every day.
But we need to do better. We need to do more to provide the educational opportunities that the people of our country deserve. We need to do a better job of reflecting the St. Louis and America that we serve. We need to do more to address the uneven access to health care, education, and resources. And we need to do more to provide the knowledge and talent needed to solve the pressing challenges in front of our region.
We will. On this website, we’ll collect the thoughts and ideas of our faculty, staff and students who are mobilizing to help our community. We’ll provide context and contribute to the plans for the future. And we will provide ways to get involved by attending events on and around the campus and contributing and participating in the efforts being mobilized by our community.
This is our hometown. When St. Louis is hurting, we’re all hurting.