I was honored when asked to review The Ministry of Leadership: Heart and Theory, by former Washington State University president Glenn Terrell (1967-1985). I couldn’t agree more with President V. Lane Rawlins’s assessment: “Anyone who loves Washington State University will find this book irresistible”; or the appraisal offered by former Washington governor and U.S. senator Dan Evans: “Glenn Terrell has produced a powerful personal memoir. He presided over Washington State University during one of the most troubling and activist periods in our nation’s history. His leadership style successfully guided the University during its difficult times.”
In The Ministry of Leadership, Terrell divides his tenure into three stages:
Stage 1, late 1960s and early 1970s—Keeping the peace during student unrest. Terrell had only just set foot on campus when student unrest hit full force. Protests ranged from the Vietnam War to racism, from migrant workers’ rights to the on-campus presence of ROTC. Terrell cites an ROTC parade that was interrupted by protests. Call in the National Guard like other campuses? Not at WSU. Board of Regents president Harold Romberg, a World War II veteran, supported the decision.
Stage 2, mid-1970s—Mending fences with off-campus constituents. Meeting with interested groups across the state after the period of student unrest, Terrell implemented a solid policy of dealing with student protests.
Stage 3, late 1970s to mid-1980s—Seeking financial support for higher education. Due to the decline of state allocations for higher education, Terrell shifted his emphasis to funding issues with the state legislature and third-party groups.
There was a time when Terrell’s partnership with WSU and the legacy detailed in this book were in doubt. “. . . Before the westbound plane departs from Chicago, that was to carry Dr. Terrell for his interview as President of WSU, he has a sudden change of heart and departs the plane. He decided to withdraw his candidacy.” He was contacted again six months later and accepted the offer to enter the enduring relationship described in Ministry of Leadership.
Terrell writes that “it is nothing short of a miracle” that he survived 18 years as president. I disagree. After reading his book, it is clear to me why he was so successful during his tenure at WSU and why he earned the right to name his own retirement date.