Glenn promoted to key unifying role on campus
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Unity will be the overriding theme on the Grand Canyon University campus when students return in late September, and one of the key unifiers will be Donald Glenn.
In his second year at GCU, Glenn has been promoted to Director of Multicultural, Diversity and Inclusion and will oversee all aspects of the University’s efforts in those areas this fall. He plans to kick off the semester in a very visible way with an Awareness Walk on Sunday, Sept. 27, but there will be other events as well (see schedule at end of story).
“Donald has been a great addition to the Student Affairs team and has reflected a deep devotion to the care and development of our students,” said Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and University Pastor. “His focus on our minority students has been a growing dimension of our programming and staffing at the University.
“When he came to GCU, he brought with him a level of experience in the multicultural space balanced by a Christian worldview that can be difficult to find. We are fortunate to have him on our team, and we look forward to collaborating with him on future opportunities and initiatives.”
Indeed, Glenn’s pastoral background – detailed in this GCU Today story shortly after his arrival – will be a key element in his approach. He cites this passage from John 17:20-23, in which Jesus prayed to His Father for unity among all believers:
“… I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
“I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one — I in them and You in Me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”
“Jesus said that if you can love your neighbor, you have fulfilled the entire Scripture,” Glenn said. “If you love your neighbor, you won’t steal. If you love your neighbor, you won’t lie. And on down the list.
“No one can argue with loving your neighbor. We’re going to make sure GCU is following the best practices of industry and higher education when it comes to diversity and racial/social reconciliation.”
Glenn’s new mission is to define diversity and then partner with everyone on campus – GCU and Grand Canyon Education employees, students and faculty, athletics and academics, everyone – to explore how a Christian institution applies it. He has been busy this summer doing presentations to various groups and teams to provide his perspective to the social unrest that has gripped the nation.
But it always comes back to using Scripture to pull people together.
“That prayer that Jesus prayed … there was something that He must have recognized that we’re not one, that we weren’t one,” Glenn said. “The whole premise of becoming a Christian is that I’m stripping myself of everything that I want, my will, and exchanging it for His.
“So now what we have to do as a community is search for what God’s will is for us as we interact with one another, as we interact with the community and the world around us.”
Those interactions won’t always be easy, Glenn noted. He likens it to Jesus overturning the tables in the temple marketplace because the merchants were overcharging.
“I do think there will be a level of discomfort,” he said. “However, my plan is to address that very early on, using the Awareness Walk to start those conversations and let the students know that GCU is not going to come back and start another semester and act like we don’t know what just happened the last four months.
“We’ve got enough challenges with COVID, and let’s not add this on top of it. Let us treat each other with love and with respect, and if you have opinions let’s work together because by working together I think we can find out that we have more in common in Christ.”
Effective civil discourse
Glenn also is planning podcasts and virtual discussions in which students can express their political views as long as they will listen to opposing ideas.
The idea, he said, is to “teach them how to have civil discourse and make sure they understand they are in a professional educational space and this is about education. If you’re not willing to listen, then you don’t have a right to speak.
“We’re just going to have to do what Jesus said to do and become one. And as we are becoming one like Christ, we have to forget our differences or our will or wanting to state our point and do what Jesus did – just love people. That’s going to be easier said than done.”
Glenn’s new office will be in a very accessible place – just off the lobby on the east side of the Student Life Building, next to the Promenade. He’s hoping for a lot of visitors.
“We’re going to work to get students involved,” he said. “I want people at other Christian schools to see GCU as a leader not only among schools in Arizona and the United States but – my goal – around the world.
“The goal is to train students. When they go into the marketplace, the workplace, we want them to be equipped, and not just for church but for society as well.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
(All have been modified for COVID-19 social-distancing requirements)
Sept. 26 – Multicultural Office Open House
Sept. 27 – Awareness Walk
Oct. 5, 6, 8 – Hispanic Heritage Celebration
Oct. 26-29 – Un1ty One Week
Nov. 16, 17, 19 – Native Heritage Month Celebration
GCU Magazine: GCU initiative aims to make campus discourse civil
GCU Magazine: Why diversity matters (and is organic) at GCU