Community leaders agree that the people who take over for Bill Robinson and Gary Livingston will have huge shoes to fill, because the men left their strong footprints throughout the Inland Northwest.
Here’s what some of those leaders said:
When I think about Bill Robinson and Gary Livingston, I am reminded of the words of another (now retired) college president, Lane Rawlins of WSU: “If you see a turtle on a fencepost, remember, it didn’t get there all by itself.”
As it applies to Bill and Gary, it means that one day – as the vision of Spokane as a vibrant community with a local economy based on higher education, health care and advanced manufacturing comes to fruition – we will have people like them to thank.
I give them great credit in overcoming the culture of “no” that held back Spokane. They understood that people will say “no” until you give them a reason to say “yes.”
Chris Marr, Washington state senator
Bill and Gary have been unfailing champions of higher education in our community. They are really thoughtful people. They are also practical. They get things done. I feel much better knowing I can still consult with them.
I have three daughters who are not yet grown. They (Robinson and Livingston) both have children who are now grown. Both (were) aware of the value of spending time with your family. It’s important in and of itself, and it allows you to bring your best to the work you do as a president.
Thayne M. McCulloh, interim president, Gonzaga University
It’s just plain weird to think of both Gary and Bill retiring at the same time. There will be such a leadership vacuum – and not just in higher ed. These men understand the interconnectedness of education, social services and economic development.
They’ve helped us face the issues of poverty and racism. And because they are men of integrity and commitment, people listen. Both have encouraged their students and colleagues to be active participants in the community and the world, not just people who sit on the sidelines.
Marilee Roloff, president and CEO of Volunteers of America and chairwoman of Our Kids: Our Business
Gary Livingston came to town and had an immediate impact on Spokane Public Schools. He is so talented at sizing up the situation, assembling a team, getting out into the field to meet school professionals and families and then plotting a course for inclusiveness, involvement and achievement. He did the same thing when he came back to Spokane as chancellor of the community colleges.
Can we really think of Whitworth without Bill? He is funny, charming, witty, brilliant and caring. Like Gary, he has revived the organization and the campus. Yet he is most proud when his students are downtown feeding the poor and homeless.
Bill and Gary are builders and collaborators. We should hope – and expect – that the selection committees for their replacements seek candidates who can carry on that tradition.
Rich Hadley, president and CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated