Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

A conversation with Lew Glenn, first gentleman

Lew Glenn and Krista Newkirk walk hand in hand near the Hall of Letters.
Former Naval officer, practicing lawyer, and spouse of U of R President Krista Newkirk, W. Lewis (Lew) Glenn III is eager to engage students and the greater Redlands community.

University of Redlands President Krista L. Newkirk’s historic appointment as the first woman to assume the leadership position is related to another first—an inaugural first gentleman. Former Naval officer, practicing lawyer, and Newkirk’s spouse, W. Lewis (Lew) Glenn III is eager to engage students and the greater Redlands community. Mika Elizabeth Ono, Lilledeshan Bose, and Katie Olson of the Bulldog Blog spoke with Glenn about his role, background, and interests. Here is their conversation, edited for length and clarity.

BB: You’re making history as the University’s inaugural first gentleman. How do you hope to live the role?

Glenn: I think that's going to develop over time. In large part, I want to respond to how the University and the community want me to live the role. My primary role—first gentleman or otherwise—is to take care of Krista. And, in large part, that's the way I serve the University and the community first and best, because what she does is intense and difficult and demanding. The better support she has, the better she can do that job.

Otherwise, there are a couple of things—such as Town & Gown—that I was not expecting I would get to be involved in so quickly. It's interesting that [Town & Gown] has a traditional built-in role for the spouse of the president, which is a great idea. I'm totally on board with being as active a member of that organization as members want me to be—I think it's an important relationship and it serves a key purpose in the community.

BB: What do you think of Krista being the first female president of the U of R?

Glenn: Redlands could not have made a better choice. I mean, I wish that we were far beyond the days of women being the first in various leadership positions, but we're not. Regardless, she's a great choice. The history it makes is just the icing on the cake. She's going to do a great job and will make everybody proud.

BB: You have prior experience as a first gentleman, which is great. What have you learned that you can apply at Redlands?

Glenn: To a certain extent, Converse was a different experience. For almost the entire time we were there, Converse was a women's college, which posed a slightly different set of issues for my involvement. My primary involvement was supporting Krista—going to things with her, being visible in the community in a way that was supportive of her and the institution.

I did serve on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee for the Chapman Cultural Center, which is the umbrella organization that supports the various art groups in Spartanburg. At the time, we had two sons in high school, one of whom was a traveling soccer player and the other of whom was in band. I was able to take on a lot of that logistical responsibility, which didn't involve Converse specifically but freed up Krista to do the things she needed to do.

BB: What’s one aspect of the position that you enjoy the most?

Glenn: I enjoy the interaction with the people that comes with being Krista’s “plus one,” without some of the pressure that accompanies her role. I get to have great conversations with folks on the periphery of whatever is going on. I get to go to great events—sporting events, performances, art shows, and all these things that are part of the community of a university. I'm looking forward to that aspect of university life.

BB: Tell us about your background in law and the military, and how that influences both your position as first gentleman and your work as a lawyer.

Glenn: I grew up in a military family—my dad was career Navy. Historically, I've always thought of my father as my role model. But, as I think about it, my mom was the parent who was around the most. My dad was committed to us and did a lot of things with us, but he had deployments and jobs with crazy hours at the Pentagon. So, mom was the one who was always around for us, and her example probably makes it a little bit easier for me to adjust to that sort of support role. I was born in Monterey, but we lived mostly on the East Coast. [My dad] was stationed in Charleston for a couple of years, and we also lived two years in Athens, Greece. Then, the summer before my senior year of high school, my parents moved us back to California, after we had lived in Northern Virginia for five years—at that point the longest I had ever lived anywhere. But then I went back to the East Coast to attend the Naval Academy.

I served five years in the Navy—three years on a destroyer out of Charleston and two years on destroyer squadron staff as a scheduling officer and then operations officer. While I was on the ship, I did the two best deployments I think the Navy has to offer—a UNITAS cruise, which is a six-month cruise all the way around South America and through the Panama Canal. We made at least two port calls in each coastal country in South America. I got to ski the Andes and hang glide in Rio. Then I did a three-month cruise called BALTOPS for “Baltic Operations”, which included visits to Northern Europe and Russia. The best thing about that cruise was spending a week above the Arctic Circle where the Russian northern fleet is homeported, and we got to socialize and do military operations under way with the Russians. Getting to spend time and interact with them on a human level was an eye-opening experience—they were the warmest, most generous folks of any place we went. My Navy experience was a really good one.

How does it translate? I did some really, really stressful things in the Navy.

I've driven a 10,000 ton destroyer through a fishing fleet in the middle of the night. It gives you perspective on the things that really matter. One of the reasons I got out of the Navy is because I didn't want to be gone for long periods. I do still miss aspects of it though. It's pretty amazing to experience that level of responsibility at that age.

When I got out of the Navy, I went to law school. Unlike most people, I enjoyed law school—people talk about how stressful it is, but having just come out of the Navy, it was easy. I treated it like a job. I went to school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, whether I had class or not, and did all my work during that time. I met Krista there, which was the best thing about law school. Currently, I do commercial litigation and a lot of real estate professional defense for agents, appraisers, surveyors, or others involved in residential real estate. When deals go bad, I defend those folks. On the commercial side, I do general commercial litigation—anything companies might fight about.

BB: How did you and Krista meet?

Glenn: We met at a law school mixer. There was definitely instant “chemistry”, but Krista and I were friends for a long time before we were anything else. But the thing that let me know she was the one was the time we got to spend together—learning what she thought about and how deeply she thought about things, how deeply she cared about things. She's a remarkable person and the smartest person I know, but doesn't wear it on her sleeve. She asks more questions and listens more than any other person I've known. It was those attributes that let me know she was the one.

BB: You’ve lived in California before—what are you looking forward to now that you’re a resident again?

Glenn: The weather! People keep apologizing for the humidity and the heat—it's so nice. I guess I'll get used to it eventually, and I'll start complaining, too. I really enjoy the environment. The community is fantastic, and I'm really looking forward to getting out and exploring some of the things I've seen, like the A.K. Smiley Public Library, and, of course, we've been down to the Redlands Bowl. We’re excited about the surrounding mountains and hiking. We’ve driven past Joshua Tree National Park, but I've never been there. There are just so many natural wonders right here.

BB: What are your hobbies? Do you like animals as much as Krista does?

Glenn: I don’t think anyone likes animals as much as Krista does! I love horses like she does, and I don't mind riding, but I'm not I'm not wired the same way. I do love our dogs, and animals in general. I like to read. I like to hike. I haven't trail run as much as I used to, but I may get back into that because of the wonderful trails that you have here. I love movies, and I shoot sporting clays.

BB: We talked to Krista about what she was reading and listening to. Do you have any recommendations?

Glenn: While Krista is interested in new artists, my musical tastes are old school—classic rock, and “hair” bands like Poison, Bon Jovi, and Mötley Crüe.

BB: Do you have a favorite movie or book genre?

Glenn: Science fiction. I probably like Star Trek better than Star Wars. I’m reading a collection of science fiction short stories right now.

BB: What’s something about Krista that you think everyone should know?

Glenn: What you see is what you get. Krista’s defining characteristics are her integrity and her commitment. She’s not going to tell you what you want to hear—she’s going to tell you the truth. She isn’t going to give up on you or a situation. She’s dogged and determined. All of that is part of her commitment to whatever she has chosen to do.

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