More than 1,000 students, faculty and staff gathered Monday night in Lawlor Events Center for a candlelight vigil in honor of University of Nevada, Reno President Milt Glick, who passed away on Saturday at age 73.
Casey Stiteler, president of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN), called on the students gathered to honor Glick's work by making "a commitment to walk across this stage as graduates."
Stiteler said of the University's 15th president: "He had a vision for higher education in this state that had a special place for our University's students."
The special bond between Glick and the students of the University was the theme of the evening. Glick's acts, both large and small, were remembered with smiles, a few voices that cracked with emotion, and a profound sense of gratitude for Glick's five years of service to the University.
Former ASUN President Charlie Jose recalled the same venue four years earlier, when he and the members of the class of 2011 were welcomed to campus by Glick during the annual New Student Welcome Ceremony.
Jose remembered that Glick, who might've been small of stature at about five and a half feet tall, had "the largest heart."
"I remember thinking, 'Who is this small man so eager to welcome us into this community?'" said Jose, who then remembered the special nights when Glick and his wife, Peggy, welcomed students into their west Reno home for apple cider and visits about their experience on campus.
"To him, we weren't just a face," Jose said of Glick. "We were the future of Nevada and he did everything he could to nurture us."
Jose said he was always impressed with Glick's accessibility. He said on the hot, sunny days of late August, as new students and their families hoisted luggage from cars into the residence halls, he came to expect a common scene: Glick would be there, in his trademark broad-rimmed hat, smiling and welcoming families to campus.
"President Glick was always about the students," Jose said.
Graduate Student Association President Matt Smith, who had a particularly close bond with Glick, remembered Glick's sense of humor. He recounted a conversation where the two men were talking about Smith's future - Smith is currently finishing his dissertation in Educational Leadership and hopes to one day become a university administrator.
When Smith shared his career goal with Glick, he said Glick "took a long breath, a long pause, and he said, 'Matt, are you sure you want to join the dark side?'"
Smith said he wasn't alone in sharing quality time with Glick. Just last week, he said, Glick shared that he wished he could spend even more time with students.
"We talked about how he wished he had more time ... how he wished his office didn't have a door," Smith said.
Smith said that of all the qualities Glick possessed, it was Glick's ability to always put the success of others before his own that truly made him memorable.
"It wasn't about him," Smith said. He pointed to the Lawlor crowd. "It was about all of us. He stepped back from the spotlight so we could all shine. If ever there was a man who was great in humility, it was Milt."
In addition to the student speakers, several University and Nevada System of Higher Education officials spoke.
Vice President of Student Services Shannon Ellis noted that Glick's legacy "will be that of a caring, human, accessible president who could push-pull the best from you."
She said that Glick's imprint will be felt on the campus for years to come. His vision, which included such concepts as creating a "sticky campus" where the campus and community alike would gather for social and educational events and programming, had become a reality.
"Yes, he coined the term 'sticky campus,'" Ellis said. Then she added, to great laughter throughout Lawlor, "We're stuck with it."
The development of a "sticky campus" has not been without controversy, Ellis said, noting that some events held on campus were seen by some in the community as too controversial.
Yet, Glick never wavered in his determination to support such events, Ellis said.
"He would say over and over and over and over that our job is not to make ideas safe for students; our job is to make students safe for ideas," Ellis said.
Eric Herzik, longtime political science professor and chair of the Departments of Political Science and Mathematics, said he was constantly amazed at the president's energy level.
Herzik said his inbox would be filled with "a flurry of 5 a.m. emails" from Glick and, following a vigorous day of meetings and gatherings, at the end of the day while "the rest of us were off to Miller Time," Glick would be off to a series of evening events.
Glick spent much of his day with a can of Diet Pepsi in his hand, which Herzik jokingly attributed to the president's prodigious physical capacity.
"I didn't know there was that much caffeine in all the Diet Pepsi he drank," Herzik said with a smile.
Herzik, who has also served for the past year as chair of the Faculty Senate, said Glick always "engaged, there was always a willingness to listen." He said Glick's favorite phrase was "it's the right thing to do."
"When Milt said this in conversation, the conversation usually was over," Herzik said. "It was the right thing to do, and the University benefitted."
Jason Geddes, a University graduate and member of the Board of Regents, appeared in full Nevada and Wolf Pack regalia. He said that Glick's influence would be felt well into the University's future: "He's made Nevada better for generations to come."
Geddes said Glick was always a teacher, always prepared to share the wisdom of having been a part of higher education for more than 50 years.
"With every interaction I had with Milt, I always learned something," he said. "We could always learn something from Milt if we listened long enough."
Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich was choked with emotion as he spoke about Glick, whom he considered more than a president - he considered him a friend.
Klaich quoted passages from Sen. Ted Kennedy's poignant 1968 eulogy delivered at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City during the funeral of his own brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Klaich noted the parallels between the work of Robert Kennedy and Glick: "Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for Nevada."
Then Klaich turned the famous words - "As he said many times, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: 'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that were never were and say, Why not?'" - into words that clearly had resonance for everyone in attendance Monday.
"My friend Milt looked into the eyes of every young man and woman he ever saw and saw a college graduate and asked ... 'Why not?'" Klaich said. He encouraged those in the audience to "rededicate ourselves to this sticky campus, this culture of completion" and to work tirelessly to realize Glick's "obsession with excellence."
Provost Marc Johnson spoke of Glick's priorities as a president. He said "they were very clear," and included teaching students, improving research and graduate education and reaching out to share the campus' knowledge with the community and state.
He said Glick's values were also clear: a commitment to excellence, a commitment to access "so that UNR can be the avenue for changed lives," a commitment to diversity and, "finally, a commitment to honesty, integrity and high quality scholarship."
Johnson said of all of Glick's priorities and values, Glick's most pressing concern was for the students in Monday's audience, as well as all of the campus' 17,679 students, to "first of all, all of you graduate."
Johnson then requested the audience, with lit candles, to observe 73 seconds of silence "to represent each year of the 73 productive years of Milt Glick."
Then, the audience extinguished its candles. Following a violin solo by Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio, an assistant professor of music at the University who played a Scottish funeral composition, the crowd listened carefully as Stiteler thanked them all again for gathering.
The earlier words of Smith were still on the minds of many as the crowd began to quietly disperse.
"We can honor Milt with our words, our work and our deeds ... his example lives on with all of us," Smith said. "Milt, wherever you are, thank you is not enough."