Interview by McKenna Tiegland
PIONEER LOG: What does an average day as the President of Lewis & Clark College look like for you?
BARRY GLASSNER: This one is easy in the sense that there is no average day. But I see that as a good thing. Some days I might have the opportunity to share one meal with students in Fields and another meal with a potential donor at a restaurant in downtown Portland or attend a scholarship luncheon in Stamm. In between, there might be calls and meetings with deans, donors, and faculty. In the evening, I might be hosting or participating in an event on campus, say a student production. On another day, I might be meeting with one of the committees of the Board of Trustees or the chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and then attending an athletic event, or a function put on by our law school or graduate school.
PL: What do you find most challenging about being the Lewis & Clark College President? Most rewarding?
BG: The most challenging thing, the most difficult thing for me, is when something unfortunate happens to a member of our community. When I see a student in some sort of distress–physical or emotional–especially if it is not something that is in my power to readily fix. But, I’m thankful that we have a strong community here, one that supports each other in difficult times. That includes peer support, of course, as well as help from our dedicated staff and faculty. And I can help direct resources to assist in the short and long-term.
Most rewarding to me are the personal achievements and community engagement of our students. To see their growth over a few years time–academically and personally–to hear the alumni who come back and reflect on how valuable their experiences with our faculty and programs have been, to see alumni and friends support that work with their connections and mentorship. To see alumni and friends support Lewis & Clark through gifts and donations.
PL: What brought you to Lewis & Clark College?
BG: When I learned about the opportunity at Lewis & Clark, I was intrigued. Betsy and I had been visiting Portland regularly from Los Angeles, and we already loved this beautiful and vibrant city. I recognized the distinctive composition of Lewis & Clark—with three schools, each committed to helping students develop the knowledge and skills they need for global leadership—as unique. In a way, though, it was familiar to me, because at USC I worked with students, faculty, and staff at a College of Arts and Sciences as well as a range of graduate and professional schools. But I had never encountered such a high concentration of dedicated faculty who work so closely with their students—in the lab, in the classroom, and in the community. When I stepped on this stunning campus and met the people here, I was hooked. And I knew I had something to contribute in making us a first choice for where students want to go to school, where faculty want to teach and research, and where alumni and donors want to provide support.
PL: If you could tell the Lewis & Clark College student body anything (within the realm of your position as President), what would it be and why?
BG: Make the most of your time here–it goes by faster than you think it will—invest fully in all that it has to offer. Be active in your deep pursuit of what you already know you like and are good at, but also push yourself outside your comfort zone. That’s where some of the best learning happens and where you can learn to appreciate the passions and diverse backgrounds of others. Also, recognize what you don’t know and ask for help.