The Honors College is named for Justice William O. Douglas, a native of the central Washington city of Yakima. When Justice Douglas retired from the United States Supreme Court in 1975, he had served the court for 37 years, longer than any other Justice in history. Over half of the cases ever considered by the Supreme Court were heard while Justice Douglas held his seat.
In a 1969 newspaper interview, Justice Douglas was asked to name the single greatest problem facing the nation. He replied, "The disappearance of the university, in the scholastic sense of the word." It is fitting that a college that promotes scholastic excellence should bear Douglas' name. Chief Justice Earl Warren said that Douglas possessed "the nearest thing to genius I've ever seen." This genius was coupled with curiosity and varied interests, many of which are reflected in his legal decisions. The Honors College encourages intellectual breadth, academic curiosity, and the fusion of scholarship and everyday life that Justice Douglas personified.