This is Our Hometown

HT Wash U headshot

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.


  1. Yes, it’s deeply painful to see our Ferguson neighbors hurting. I hope this event can be a turning point toward healing for St. Louis, if not for the entire country. As members of the Washington University community, and in our own private lives, we all have the ability to contribute to meaningful change. Let’s all pledge to identify concrete things that we can and will do as individuals to make things better. Talking is the first step!

    1. Hi Juli. I agree with you and thanks for your response. However, let’s take it to the next level. Let’s get an understanding and engage in a process that empower the people, socially, political and economically. Please get our book. it will lay out a case study to achieve true success based on the Information Age System and the how to get it done.
      Dr. Gerald Higginbotham

  2. Greetings, it has been painful to witness and see the events unfold and at the same time this could have been avoided. I have lived in the St. Louis region for over 25 years. Coming here from Los Angeles, CA to work as a Pilot for Trans World Airlines (TWA). I began to notice issues between whites and blacks that i had not seen before. I saw the poverty and the neglect of the of the descent of American Slaves people. I immediately sprang into action looking at ways to fix it. Over two years ago I went and talked with the city of Ferguson Economic Development department and explain that unless we build up all the resident in your community, the community has the potential to erupt. It did happen on August 10, 2014. My story is simple, I witness the watts riot on August 11, 1965. I was 7 years old it was in my backyard. I also witness on April 4, 1968 the night of Dr. Martin L. King assignation the community burn down. The people suffered. I vowed to create a better community and I have developed a bottom up strategies that will address the issues in any urban city in America. We as a people and a nation has been off course and I know as commercial airline pilot one degree off course you will wind up like Malasia Airlines, lost forever. We must come together and be open to hear the truth and be ready to take action. We have the vehicle, the process and plan to fix our community. Just one thing we lack and that is the resources. However, if you buy our books and powerful training we will have the resources to fix our communities. My prayer is that we take this life changing event and use it to the uplifting of all men. I want to encourage you to order a copy of my book Collaboration, Teamwork and Networking, A Case for Working Together Systematically to Achieve Successful Living. Here is the link.

    I have dedicated my life to making our world better. It takes teamwork to make the dream work. We can and will fix our communities and our nation.
    Dr. Gerald Higginbotham

  3. The necessary actions to prevent things like Ferguson are not possible as long as institutions refuse to address the root causes of racism and Isystemic inequality. As long as people express their dismay while simultaneously protecting the status quo and punishing the few that actually speak truth to power the scourge of dysfunctional race relations will continue in education as well as in society.

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