Do you like CSI? Law & Order? If you take a book to the beach or the pool, is it likely to be by Stephen King or J.K. Rowling? It seems most of us like a good mystery of one sort or another. Personally, I teach a seminar every few semesters on the films of Alfred Hitchcock. For me, Hitch's combination of artistry and suspenseful entertainment still seems pretty hard to beat.
Fr. Bernard Lonergan, S.J. begins his towering philosophical and theological masterwork, Insight, with a seemingly modest analogy: detective stories. The "ideal" mystery plot contains all relevant information for the solution of the crime. Yet we often fail to assemble this information; we read on to the end of the mystery novel and, despite having encountered all the necessary clues, find ourselves astonished by the revelations at plot's end.
It's not enough, Lonergan writes, to note all the clues - not enough even to commit them all to memory. One must "confer a basic yet startling unity" on the seemingly disparate facts. One must understand, through synthesis.
Lonergan's analogy goes on, over the course of many hundreds of pages, to liken the quest for the mystery's solution to the quest for unifying insights in "the whole field of human inquiry and human opinion." Even if you don't find mystery stories particularly to your taste, we hope you will agree that we each should be pursuing a life dedicated to philosophical solution: understanding our selves and our world.
Rest assured that Wheeling Jesuit University's liberal-arts core and integrative disciplinary programs offer all students abundant opportunities for what Lonergan calls "insight." What distinguishes the WJU Honors Program is how it rewards WJU's students with a record of exceptional academic achievement and an appetite for intellectual experience: all our Honors Program courses are for credit, but ungraded. The reward, quite literally, is the experience itself - an expanded and enriched intellectual engagement with one another and the world. In defiance of our increasingly grade-conscious culture, we offer students an oasis to take chances: to form questions and seek answers.
I invite you to read more about our History and Design and the various components of the Honors Program elsewhere on this website. In the briefest, practical terms, the Wheeling Jesuit University Honors Program has three functions:
- The Honors Program annually offers two four-year, full-tuition Honors Scholarships.
- The Honors Program invites qualified first- and second-year WJU students to participate in the Laut Honors College, a multi-disciplinary adventure in ideas.
- Qualified sophomores may apply for admission into the Ignatian Honors Seminar for Juniors and Seniors, in which both opportunities for and responsibilities of honors students greatly intensify.
I know from my own teaching experience and from talking with my faculty colleagues that there is no greater reward in our profession than witnessing students' moments of insight. This is when we know our students to be most intellectually engaged in the genuine living of their own lives. This is what we have designed the honors program to encourage and foster in our students.
John W. Whitehead
Director of the Wheeling Jesuit University Honors Program
Assistant Professor and Chair of Fine Arts
Prof. Whitehead poses with the seniors in the Ignatian Honors Seminar at a February 2016 Honors Program event. (He is the tall one.) The seniors, left to right, are Melinda (MeMe) Earnest, Athletic Training; Mary Meiman, Communications; Elizabeth (Libby) Sacco, Psychology; Amy Schattel, Biology; and Anh-Dao (Anha) Le, Biology. Another member of the senior class, Do-Heum Choi, graduated early; he went on to dental school.
FUN FACTS about WJU HONORS
- While the Honors Program is demanding, it is ungraded: be engaged in our program because it's interesting, not because it will hurt your GPA if you're not engaged.
- Recent topics have included Intuition, Barbarism, Rhetorics of the Body, Utopia/Dystopia, Ideas and Inventions, and Family.
- WJU Honors students have toured a funeral home and an operating room, state parks, Buddhist and Hindi temples, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, Ellis Island, the Alamo, the Medici Palace in Florence, the island of Jamaica, New Orleans' French Quarter, the WWI battlefields of France, the Acropolis, Berlin, Copenhagen, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas.
- At Commencement, Honors students are singled out for distinctive recognition.
- Any resume is more distinguished with a Laut Honors College or Ignatian Honors Seminar listing - and with an Honors Professor's reference!