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Robert K. “Bob” Glenn has spent more than three decades in higher education, serving students throughout. He became the 10th president of the University of Houston-Victoria on Aug. 1, 2018. Prior to moving to Victoria with his wife, Laurie, he served as the 36th president of Athens State University for 10 years. Glenn also was vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services at Middle Tennessee State University (1999-2008) and dean of students at Missouri State University (1993-1999). His “A Jaguar Journey” blog is intended to provide members of the UHV faculty, staff and student body, as well as alumni and members of the community, a direct connection to what he is doing as the new UHV president. Readers are encouraged to share their views and ideas by posting to the comments section.  

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Local patriots keep Victoria going

Posted By Dr. Bob Glenn, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

 

I read an article in Tuesday’s Victoria Advocate about Omar Rachid. Omar is an outgoing member of the UHV President’s Regional Advisory Board and is moving from Victoria to the Dallas area.

 

I was struck by the number of leadership positions he has held during his time here and how much of a void will be left by his departure. It reminded me of Deborah and James Fallows’ second sign of civic success mentioned in their book, “Our Towns.” Their first sign of success is that “people work together on practical local possibilities, rather than allowing bitter disagreements about national politics to keep them apart.” Here is what they have as their second sign of civic success:

 

You can pick out the local patriots. “A standard question we’d ask soon after arrival was ‘Who makes this town go?’ The range of answers varied widely. Sometimes it was a person in an official position of leadership, a mayor or city council figure. Sometimes it was a local business titan or a real estate developer. Sometimes a university president or professor, or a civic activist, or an artist or saloonkeeper or historian or radio personality. Sometimes a person with no official position but whose influence everyone felt. What mattered was that the question had an answer. In one city in Appalachia, we asked a newspaper editor that question, and he said that no one came to mind, but he would think about it overnight. In another southern city, the answer was the commanding officer at a nearby military base – but since the command rotated frequently, there was no permanent local patriot. The more quickly this question was answered, the better shape a town was in.”

 

Clearly, Omar Rachid is on the list of Victoria’s “local patriots,” and his departure will be felt by all who know him. But the good news is that Victoria is blessed with many “patriots.” I won’t even try to make a list in this forum of all the folks who deserve such a mantle. At the same time, I would love to hear from you about who the patriot is in your part of Victoria. As we look to bring more voices into the conversation about making Victoria a destination, it will be important to include these powerful voices. I hope you will take a moment to ponder the possibilities and contact me at glennrk@uhv.edu or @UHVPresident on Twitter.

 

And here I would like to make note of another great book on improving cities called “For the Love of Cities” by Peter Kageyama. One of the author’s contentions is that cities are improved by people who choose to invest themselves in the process because they love the city and because they are enabled by the city to assume leadership roles. He goes on to suggest that the city where assuming leadership is easy means there is a greater chance to make changes. It has been my experience here in Victoria that folks are open to leadership, and many newcomers have been able to step up and have an impact where it might be more difficult in other places. I see this as a great strength for Victoria.

 

I certainly am going to miss Omar and what he brought to this great city. But the question I ask myself is this: Who here will step up to assume the mantle? Who will step into this opportunity to become one of Victoria’s patriots?

Tags:  James and Deborah Fallows  local patriots  Omar Rachid  Our Towns  UHV  Victoria 

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