Honors College Funded by Alumnus Gordon Getty Donation

University of San Francisco alumnus Gordon Getty, a classical orchestra and opera composer and renown philanthropist, recently made the largest alumni donation to USF. The pledge of $15 million will be divided throughout the university, but a majority of the funds will contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a brand-new Honors College.


The pledge will be divided up as follows: $7 million for scholarships for students, $2 million for faculty, artist and industry leaders to visit the school and teach in the Honors College and $6 million for start-up costs of the college, student research, study abroad opportunities and mentorship programs.

Dr. Eileen Chia-Ching Fung, Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Science, is in charge of the project. “The Getty endowment will bring world-renowned artists, scholars, scientists and industry leaders to USF to give guest lectures and meet with Honors College students as well as all students across the university,” she said.


Students of the Honors College will find one-on-one, mentorship-fostering opportunities to work with these special guests, according to Fung. The students will be known as J. Paul Getty Honors Scholars in memory of of Gordon Getty’s father, who was a widely successful businessman in the oil industry. “I owe my prominence in the world to the genius of my father…I’m just kind of hanging under his coattails,” Getty said in a USF press release.


The Honors College in the Humanities project will launch in the Fall of 2018, and the launch consist of informative events and previews to the program. During the Spring 2018 semester, for example, the College of Arts and Sciences will host an Honors College symposium. Fung described a symposium as a lecture which involves follow-up discussions or hands-on learning opportunities. One of the symposia scheduled is entitled “The Data of Sanctuary Cities: Visualizing Social Issues.” The course will be co-taught by professors of both Design and Computer Science.


“This one-unit course intends to introduce students who may not be computer science or design majors about data visualization to understand, explore and leverage information we see everyday about social and political issues,” according to Fung.


The goal of the new Honors College is to “enhance” the liberal arts core already implemented at USF through an even richer, more global and resourceful program, according to Fung. “The classes in the Honors College will be smaller… to foster an intellectually rigorous environment,” she said.


Students currently enrolled in the Honors Program in the Humanities will have the choice to move to the Honors College curriculum or not.


“I want to be challenged,” freshman politics major Lucia Grant said. Grant is currently in the Honors in the Global Humanities program taking “City Stories,” an honors class which compares literature from diverse French-speaking cities across the globe. She hopes to participate in the Honors College and benefit from the new resources the donation will provide. “I’m excited to continue to explore different aspects of history, innovative research ideas and experience newer classes that create a higher level of learning that will incorporate more perspectives of the world.”


Gordon Getty graduated from USF in 1956 as an English literature major. He has since gone on to pursue a passion for composing and performing classical music, and his pieces have been performed all over the world. His success allowed him to create the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. The foundation supplies millions in grants and assistance to classical music companies, as well as educational institutions. “If you have the means to support what you believe in, you’re a schmuck not to,” Getty said in a profile video.


Other pre-launch events and information will be appear throughout the year, including details of special guests and classes.


Featured Photo: Gordon Getty is the largest alumni donor in USF history. Courtesy of the University of San Francisco.


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