Gonzaga University announced Thursday the selection of a seasoned Jesuit administrator as its new president.
The Rev. Edward Glynn, 60, head of the Jesuit order in several East Coast states, will take over in September from President Bernard Coughlin.
“I’m delighted and honored,” Glynn said about his appointment.
Coughlin will become university chancellor after 22 years as president.
Glynn, GU’s 24th president in its 109-year history, wasted no time in calling for greater racial harmony at Gonzaga, a campus upset the past two springs by the harassment of black students.
He labeled racist hate mail sent to black law students last month “totally unacceptable behavior.”
A passionate basketball fan, Glynn said he will continue to support a strong athletic program, and he counts among his friends basketball coach John Thompson of Georgetown University.
Glynn met Thompson when he taught theology at Georgetown in the 1970s and served as a scorekeeper.
“He’s a fine, straightforward person,” Thompson said. “He’s not a pretentious person. … He’s not a marshmallow by any means. He’s sensitive, too.”
Glynn said Gonzaga’s biggest challenge is building its endowment fund to keep the cost of tuition affordable.
The new president is no stranger to Spokane. He served as academic vice president at GU in 1977 and 1978 before being offered a job as president of St. Peter’s College, another Jesuit institution in Jersey City, N.J.
He held that position until 1990 when he moved to Maryland to lead the Jesuit order there.
“I am greatly impressed by how Gonzaga has grown in stature, academic quality and its ability to serve its students,” Glynn said of the changes at GU since he left.
He said Gonzaga’s repeated selection as one of the best small colleges in the West in annual surveys by U.S. News & World Report is an indication of the quality at GU, which has more than 4,700 students this year.
Dale Goodwin, a member of the committee that recommended Glynn, said Glynn’s reputation from his two years at Gonzaga helped him get the job.
Glynn’s colleagues described him as a capable administrator who embraces his faith and is devoted to serving the community.
“He struck me as the ideal college president,” said the Rev. John W. Donohue, a former trustee at St. Peter’s College when Glynn was president there.
He described Glynn as easygoing and unassuming with a good grasp of every aspect of academic life.
Eileen Poiani, who served as Glynn’s executive assistant at St. Peter’s, said Glynn is the “quintessential Jesuit” in his pursuit of knowledge, but he’s also a taskmaster when it comes to budgets.
“He’s very concerned about a balanced budget,” she said.
While at St. Peter’s, Glynn was a member of the county chapter of the Urban League, which promotes racial harmony, and the campus itself was made up of about 50 percent minorities.
Glynn also served on economic development efforts in the Jersey City area.
Glynn said he believes economic development works hand in hand with the goals of higher education because it creates more opportunities for success.
He said Gonzaga must continue to play a role in getting colleges and universities in the Spokane region to cooperate to improve access to higher education.
“We have to form partnerships among institutions,” he said.
Glynn said he hopes to stay at Gonzaga for a decade or more - that is, if trustees want him to serve that long.
A native of Clarks Summit, Pa., Glynn studied at the University of Scranton, Fordham University, Woodstock College in Maryland, Yale Divinity School and Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, Calif.
He became a Jesuit in 1955, and after training and college, he started teaching at Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C., in 1961.
He continued his religious studies in the late 1960s before taking a job at Georgetown in 1971.
Glynn has been director of the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C., and acting director for the Churchs’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, also in Washington.
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