Barrett, the Honors College at ASU, Is a Close-Knit Community; Some Say Too Close

One morning last spring, Becca Smouse, a first-year student at Arizona State University's Barrett, The Honors College, jumped in her car and headed to Tempe for her intensive freshman seminar course, the Human Event.

The Human Event in many ways is the linchpin of Barrett's programming. It covers an ambitious topic -- the history of human ideas -- and is designed to challenge how students think through intensive reading, writing, and discussion.

Through the Human Event class and subsequent study-abroad trips, Barrett students begin to form the strong relationships with professors they will need as they move on to become teaching assistants and interns, to seek supervisors for their honors theses, and to apply for graduate school and jobs. The class is important, and so are the relationships it helps students to form.

But that March day, Smouse and her classmates found an unexpected note on their classroom door. It informed them that their professor, Dr. Joel Hunter, wouldn't make it in that day, or for the rest of the week.