Last Friday, Sept. 23, Trinity University officially opened the doors to the new home for the humanities on campus, Dicke Hall. The Trinity community gathered outside before the entrance of the new building to celebrate the grand opening.
“The humanities are alive and flourishing at Trinity,” Trinity President Vanessa Beasley, Ph.D., said at the ceremony. “These disciplines allow us insight into the experiences—past and present—of other societies and individuals. They help us to understand the common ground we share, and they provide a meaningful resource when we are faced with challenges both big and small. For decades to come, Dicke Hall will be the focal point of these endeavors.”
Melody Boone Meyer ’79, Board of Trustees chair, opened the event and started the festivities with a few remarks. The dedication proceeded with commemorative speeches from Beasley and the chair of the classical studies department, Timothy O’Sullivan, Ph.D. These remarks were followed by the singing of “Alma Mater” by music professor Kimberlyn Monford, Ph.D., and the debut of “As Sky Happens to a Window,” a poem written for the occasion by English professor and former city and state poet laureate Jenny Browne, MFA. Next, the choir and orchestra, led by music professors Gary Seighman, D.M.A., and Joseph Kneer, D.M.A, respectively, gave a beautiful performance of “O Lux Beata Trinitas,” commissioned for the ceremony and composed by music professor Brian Bondari, D.M.A.
After these performances, Beasley welcomed Janet St. Clair Dicke ’68, Trustee, to share a few words.
“Trinity is an exceptional university and it deserves to be home to exceptional facilities,” Janet Dicke said. “This has been its history and it will continue to be its future with the renovations of Halsell, Chapman, and now, this home for the humanities. Many generations of university leaders and friends have come before us, and it is with gratitude to them that I'm here today, as a proud Trinity alumna and Trustee.”
Dicke Hall was made possible by the generosity of Janet and Jim Dicke ’68 and other fellow donors. The Dickes have a long-lasting legacy of giving back to their alma mater. Jim served as a Trustee for 35 years, and Janet continues to serve today. They have generously provided endowed scholarships and funding for the Dicke-Smith Building, the endowed Janet S. Dicke Professor in Public Humanities, numerous donations of rare art and books, and Steinway pianos across campus.
“[Jim and I] don't take for granted the opportunities we enjoyed while at Trinity and the opportunities we have today as a result of Trinity,” Janet Dicke said. “It is in this spirit that Dicke Hall will help to ensure for future students the same opportunities that we were fortunate enough to have. Those who walk through these halls, sit in these classrooms, and grow under the faculty who office here will live to their full potential by taking on the challenges of this world, which is constantly changing.”
After the ribbon cutting ceremony, more than 350 guests dispersed throughout Dicke Hall, admiring the 40,000 square foot building’s historic and sustainable mass-timber structure and exploring its state-of-the-art classrooms, spacious lecture halls, and inviting common spaces.
Guests were also welcome to attend presentations held throughout Dicke Hall by humanities faculty and students. These presentations featured a wide range of topics and presenters from the classical studies, modern languages and literatures, history, human communication and theatre, and anthropology departments, demonstrating Trinity’s interdisciplinary approach to the humanities.
“As impressive as the building is, I’m most excited about what happens within,” Beasley said. “This building is an investment in those who matter most—our students and faculty. Students and their professors are already raving about the concepts they’re exploring and the connections they’re making in Dicke Hall. You can feel the hum of activity in this space, as it promotes interdisciplinary approaches to discovery and lifelong learning.”
Prior to Dicke Hall, the English and religion departments had been at the far ends of campus from each other, in Northrup Hall and the Chapman Center, respectively. Now, Dicke Hall provides these departments with ample room for collaboration and community gathering inside and outside of the classroom. Similarly, Dicke Hall houses the Humanities Collective and the Mellon Initiative, granting them a center for hosting events and sponsoring programs for humanities students, faculty, and staff as well as making connections with the broader San Antonio community. Dicke Hall will serve as an inviting space for celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month in October.
The opening of Dicke Hall follows Trinity’s debut on the national stage as a liberal arts college. As the No. 1 liberal arts university in Texas, Dicke Hall stands as a physical manifestation of Trinity’s commitment to and belief in the power of the humanities as part of a liberal arts education.
“Dicke Hall tells the world that Trinity University is a growing, vibrant campus—a force in motion,” Beasley said. “Our peers in higher education—as well as prospective students—see that our alumni and community supporters are committed to turning bold ideas into reality. When I first visited our campus in the spring, Dicke Hall demonstrated to me that Trinity was serious about becoming one of the finest liberal arts universities in the nation.”
Relive this historic moment by viewing the photo gallery from the event.