University administrators, faculty and students gathered in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom last Monday to honor the 43 year-long career of retiring professor Honey Nashman, whose first name they said epitomizes her persona.
University President Steven Knapp credited Nashman, the director of the Human Services Program, for defining the culture of service at the University.
“You have been modeled, you have been [an] inspiration, you have been a leader for service,” Knapp said, adding that Nashman’s legacy will live on through students’ service projects.
For 20 years Nashman directed the Human Services Program at GW, winning prestigious teaching awards like the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for University Service and the Spark a Life Award, which honors GW faculty or staff members who have impacted the lives of students.
Speakers at the event lauded Nashman’s accomplishments and dedication to GW and its students.
Former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg joked that he looked up “virtue” in a dictionary, and next to the word was a photo of Nashman.
But Trachtenberg said Nashman, who does not have a doctorate degree, would not be hired at GW today. He expressed concern over current higher education hiring practices at the celebration, saying universities do a disservice to students and themselves by solely searching for faculty with extensive formal education.
“If we really want to honor people like Honey Nashman, we need to be hiring successors for her that actually are something like she is – that represent the character and wisdom that we are so free to talk about here today, but we do not seek in candidates now at GW,” Trachtenberg said.
Trachtenberg said his critique of university hiring processes is not unique to GW. He said he is noticing a nationwide pattern of “an excessive reliance on credentials and not enough on the character and the empathy of the individual.”
“Universities need to be able to look past the degrees and look at the people that they are hiring as well. What kind of human beings are they,” Trachtenberg said. “We neglect to look at the teaching abilities of faculty, relying excessively on their scholarship and publications, which are also important.”
Steven Tuch, chair of the sociology department, announced the creation of the Honey W. Nashman Outstanding Student Services Award.
“All of us in the sociology department really thought Honey would be the last one standing,” Tuch said.
In recognition of her lifelong commitment to service, the D.C. City Council voted to recognize May 3 as Honey Nashman Day, Bernard Demczuk, assistant vice president for the University’s D.C. government relations office, announced during the event.
Nashman said she was thankful for the kind words, joking she hopes to some day meet the person who was praised throughout the evening.
“I don’t mean to disappoint you, but I’m not Lady Gaga,” she said.
Nashman told the group she is neither bored of her job nor burned out. After 43 “glorious” years, Nashman said she still loves GW.
“My grandchildren each ask: Will you miss GW and what will you miss the most?” Nashman said. “The answer is yes, and everything.”
Many of Nashman’s former students went to the celebration to take pictures with the professor they loved and cherished.
Junior Josh Bailey said he was fortunate to have had Nashman as a professor.
“It’s sad for future students who won’t have a chance to learn from her and see the amazing person she is,” Bailey said.
Senior Katie Schafer agreed students and the department would miss Nashman, adding, “There are no other Honey Nashmans in the world.”