Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown: A Work In Progress

While Changes Abound, Much Remains the Same

By Rev. Scott Pilarz, S.J.

When I think about my times at Georgetown – first, as a student from 1977 to 1981, and now as a member of the faculty since 1996 – I am put in mind of a line from Tennyson’s poem, “Ulysses:” “Tho’ much is taken, much abides.” Taken, for example, are the tennis courts that occupied the space between New South and Lauinger Library, the Pub in Healy Basement and “Ling-Lang,” as we called the School of Languages and Linguistics. And soon to go are the baseball field and Lot 3 (though I’ll hardly mourn the loss of the latter). These days, even The Hoya, at the venerable age of 80, has gone high-tech. There are personal losses, too, and these cost the most. A walk past the Jesuit cemetery isn’t so casual for me as it was “back in the day,” as the current crop of undergraduates would put it. Some of my own teachers, mentors and friends rest there now. Such losses, especially when they are so immediate, serve as reminders that Georgetown is, and always will be, a work in progress. And despite some real sense of loss, that’s cause for celebration.

Georgetown has made progress across the board in the past 20 years. Students are brighter, more accomplished and far more diverse in every respect. If you think there are a lot of people from New Jersey here now, think again. There were so many of us that we regularly sponsored “New Jersey Night” at the Pub. Teaching was always first-rate at Georgetown, and now the faculty’s efforts in the classroom are richer still for all the rigorous research being done in libraries and laboratories.

But for all the progress Georgetown has made since I first learned to love it, much abides. When I’m asked about how Georgetown is different from the way it was when I studied here, I’m tempted to respond, “Only the names have changed.” When I returned four years ago after a 15- year interval, I very much felt that I’d come home. And in all the familiarity there was still a sense of freshness about the place. The company is as good as ever, and the conversations continue to be a source of inspiration and consolation. Most of all, I recognize an ethos that is other-directed. At their best, Georgetown people resist the solipsism that can so easily compromise communities of scholars. At their best, Georgetown people pursue learning and produce knowledge, but not simply as ends in themselves. The end of a Georgetown education, then and now, is a life well-lived in the service of others. That plays itself out in so many ways around here – in special projects and in ordinary personal relationships. What more could you ask of a home?

Like Tennyson’s Ulysses, Georgetown must keep moving forward for surely “some work of noble note may yet be done.” Some of us “are not now that strength which in old days moved heaven and earth,” but the generation just behind us – the students to whom Georgetown now belongs – make me very hopeful about the future of our home.

Rev. Scott Pilarz, S.J., graduated from the College in 1981 and is a professor of English.

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