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UNVEILING A LEGACY: Technology Tower named for John H. Hopps Jr. '58

By Vickie G. Hampton

When John H. Hopps’ portrait was unveiled on April 24, a day named in his honor at Morehouse, June Hopps kissed the tips of her fingers then pressed them to the canvas that held a lifelike image of her late husband of 41 years. With trembling hands, she then reached for a handkerchief to wipe away tears. In a row of seats holding family members, Pentagon executives and educators in front of Technology Tower, a few handkerchiefs followed suit.

Before acquiescing the podium to the “speaker” of the family, Hopps uttered words that vibrated with emotion: “I was glad when he said unto me, let us go to Morehouse, the institution that meant so much to him.”

Within minutes of the hour-long ceremony to rename the $7-million Technology Tower to the John H. Hopps Jr. Technology Tower, the veracity of her softspoken words had already become evident.

President Walter E.Massey, Hopps’ classmate and lifelong friend, said: “John Hopps was instrumental in my career.More importantly, he was instrumental in shaping the College.”

From 1995 to 1999, Hopps served as the College’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. During his tenure, he was especially interested in the “quality of science, teaching and especially interdisciplinary teaching. This building grew from his vision of interdisciplinary study,” said Massey.

When James Short, director of the Defense Laboratory Programs with the Department of Defense, decided to apply for a job under Hopps a few years ago, he set out to discover more about the job and the man.

“When I learned about the man, I learned about Morehouse, because both are so intertwined,” he recalled.

Short read a letter from Michael W. Wynne, Secretary of the Air Force, that announced plans to sponsor a scholarship in Hopps’ honor. A $1.7-million grant from the Department of Defense will establish the Hopps Research Scholars Program. The College will use the funds to provide scholarships and a strong research curriculum, coupled with one-on-one mentoring, a summer educational and research program, and internships at top research institutions for students who major in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Hopps’ remarkable career included serving as the director of the Division of Material Research at the National Science Foundation, a principal member of the Technical Staff and chief of Photonics Technology at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory at MIT, and, finally, as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Laboratories and Basic Sciences, where he provided direction of the organizations university-based basic research, instrumentation, graduate fellowship and education programs in science and engineering disciplines.

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