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Glenn Terrell, former Washington State president, dies at 93

Sat., Aug. 31, 2013

The Glenn Terrell Friendship Mall is a signature spot on the Washington State University Pullman campus.

Each day, thousands of students cross the brick path on their way to class, passing a small sign honoring the walkway’s namesake, former WSU President Glenn Terrell.

Terrell, 93, died in his home Friday, the university announced.

Terrell was WSU’s seventh president, serving from 1967 to 1985, during times of national and local turmoil.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd called Terrell’s impact on the university “legendary” and said he’s spoken to a number of alumni who remember him for his kindness toward students.

“They would recall the very unique circumstances in which he would remember their names and everything about their background,” Floyd said. “He was one in a million.”

Terrell was well-known for addressing political upheaval on the WSU campus, according to a statement on WSU’s website. He addressed demands for racial and gender equality by establishing ethnic studies programs, the Commission on the Status of Women and the Office of the Ombudsman on campus.

In a 2005 interview with WSU’s Sue Hinz, Terrell said he enjoyed engaging with young people, even when he disagreed with their opinions on issues like the Vietnam War.

“And I think I was fortunate in liking young people and even when they’re ugly and their behavior’s ugly because … they were so idealistic and so energetic and charming,” he said.

Terrell added he was accused of being a communist by local conservative lawmakers, including Spokane state Sen. Sam Guess and Spokane state Rep. Carlton Gladder.

Terrell told Hinz that despite financial difficulties and while working to increase the quality of education at WSU, responding to student activism was the largest priority for him in the early years of his presidency, including a universitywide protest in 1970 following the killing of four Kent State University students by Ohio National Guardsmen during antiwar protests.

“My keeping the peace was my main job here in the first two or three years after I arrived,” he said in 2005.

Terrell is also remembered for increasing research grants and contracts from $11 million to $68.5 million during the time of his presidency, as well as increasing enrollment from 10,500 students to 16,500 students.

Under Terrell, WSU also saw the development of several new buildings, including Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.

Terrell was born in 1920 in Tallahassee, Fla. He attended Davidson College in North Carolina, where he joined the advanced ROTC program and graduated as a first lieutenant in the Army. He spent four years in the service before returning to school for his master’s and doctoral degrees.

Prior to becoming WSU’s president, Terrell taught psychology at Florida State University and the University of Colorado. He was later a dean at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle.

The Terrell Library on the Pullman campus is also named for the former president.

Floyd said university officials are organizing a memorial service to Terrell, but a time and location had not been determined Friday night.

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