Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arrn announced that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will be speaking at the ded­i­cation of Christ Chapel next semester. Christian Yiu | Col­legian

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will be deliv­ering a speech at the ded­i­cation of the campus’ new Christ Chapel at its opening cer­emony in early October, Pres­ident Larry P. Arnn announced this past Parents Weekend.

Arnn and faculty agreed that Thomas is an appro­priate speaker for the ded­i­cation cer­emony, due to his rela­tionship with the college in recent years, coming as the 2016 com­mencement speaker where Arnn awarded Thomas an Hon­orary Degree, his service to the public, and his upstanding char­acter.

“We are related in that he is widely admired here,” Arnn said in an email. “I per­sonally think and have thought for a long time him the best public servant of our time.”

Arnn said he invited Thomas to speak at the cer­emony through a letter more than a month ago and received a response from Thomas a few weeks later. From the invi­tation letter, Arnn said he expects that Thomas will speak about topics related to faith, freedom, and learning and may ask for sug­ges­tions not included in the invi­tation letter.

“In inviting the Justice to speak at grad­u­ation a few years ago, in granting him an Hon­orary Degree, and in inviting him to speak at the chapel ded­i­cation as well, the college clearly shows just how highly it regards Justice Thomas,” Provost David Whalen said. “He is a credit to the country and its deepest prin­ciples. It is fitting that one so faithful and moved by grat­itude for his faith should speak at the ded­i­cation.”

Although an official date for com­pletion has not been set, the college admin­is­tration and con­tractors have agreed fin­ishing touches on the chapel should be com­pleted by early October, although there is still a lot left to be done, according to the project’s architect Duncan Stroik.

“We’re very excited about it,” Stroik said. “They have been working very hard and overtime. We have many sup­pliers around the country and around the world, and they are doing a great job with great quality.”

Stroik said his job includes designing the chapel and assisting the owner and con­tractor in fore­seeing and reviewing the design of the chapel, but he does not have any control over the construction’s schedule.

“The thing that is a chal­lenge to balance is schedule and quality,” Stroik said. “It’s like writing a paper. You can rush, but it won’t be done well. We want to provide excel­lence within a deadline.”

Stroik said this spring, the front portico will be con­structed, along with the com­pleted copper domes that will connect to the two towers. Sometime this spring and summer, two arcades will also be added, which will connect to the Grewcock Student Union with covered entrances to the sides of the chapel, pro­viding mul­tiple ways of entry.

“Reflected on the exterior, some ele­ments speak to Central Hall, and some par­tic­ipate in the greater tra­dition of archi­tecture,” Stroik said. “When designing the chapel, we looked at the great tra­dition of early American Christian churches on the East Coast, being derived from the great churches by Sir Christopher Wren and Gibbs in London, England.”

As for the chapel’s interior, Stroik said the internal structure and plaster should be com­pleted by the end of spring, while they will be working on the chapel’s marble floors and stained glass until its opening. This summer, they will be installing the chapel’s organ.

“The chapel is a com­pli­cated building with lots of ref­erence points, such as early American churches, English churches, and buildings in the nation’s capital, which tie Hillsdale to the nation’s capital,” he said. “The capital’s ped­agogy today is the American Con­sti­tution and progress, and the chapel makes those con­nec­tions. We wanted to connect the chapel to local things but even further to tra­dition of sacred archi­tecture and specif­i­cally civic archi­tecture in the nation’s capital.”

With this unique archi­tec­tural con­nection, Thomas as the choice for the chapel’s opening is appro­priate, since he is a public servant and upholder of justice in the nation’s capital, according to college admin­is­tration.

“Though he is not a cler­gyman, he nev­er­theless stands as an excellent embod­iment of both high learning and the pro­found embrace of rev­e­lation,” Whalen said. “We are grateful he will join us that day.”