Vowing to lead the fight against racism on campus, Gonzaga University’s new president said he will do whatever it takes to make minorities feel welcome.
The Rev. Edward Glynn, who takes over on Aug. 28, said racial harassment has no place at a Catholic Jesuit university, or any university for that matter.
“The first thing is to let everyone know that behavior is not acceptable,” Glynn said.
Glynn was in Spokane Thursday to attend a community tribute to outgoing President Bernard Coughlin.
Coughlin, 73, is stepping down after 22 years to become the university’s first chancellor.
Racist threats to black law students last spring and earlier this year have triggered concerns about racism on campus.
Glynn pledged to enhance the university’s recruitment of minority students with scholarships and other financial aid packages.
He said students of color bring a richness of diversity that enhances the college experience for students and faculty alike.
“You have to have respect and reverence for every person,” he said. “We have to have a welcoming environment, an environment that’s supportive.”
Glynn, 60, said he would consider creating a new office of minority affairs, something Gonzaga does not have now. Gonzaga has a director of cultural affairs and a house on campus for minorities.
GU this past school year had 415 minority students out of 4,785 enrolled, or 8.7 percent minority students. The city of Spokane had 6.7 percent minorities at the last census.
Glynn spent two years at Gonzaga in 1977 and 1978 before taking a job as president of St. Peter’s College, another Jesuit institution in New Jersey. There, he worked toward racial harmony in the Jersey City area, and at a campus that was 43 percent minorities.
For the past six years, Glynn was the chief administrator for Jesuit activities in several East Coast states.
He said Gonzaga must help the rest of Spokane battle the problem of discrimination. “The university has to assume a position of leadership in this,” he said.
Minority students may be reluctant to attend college in a community that’s mostly white, he said.
An aggressive effort to build the university endowment would make more scholarship money available, and some of that money could be used for minority scholarships, Glynn said.
He wants to double the size of the current endowment from $50 million to $100 million.
The endowment also is used to pay some teaching salaries to help hold down the cost of tuition, Glynn said.
During Coughlin’s presidency, the university poured money into a construction program of six new or expanded buildings. A new law school is being planned.
Now that the building program is nearing an end, Glynn said it is time to focus efforts back on endowment fund-raising.
Glynn plans to assume his post at Gonzaga the last week of August for meetings that week. A formal inauguration is scheduled for Sept. 19.
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