Campus and Community Reflections

From the Campus

There are so many stories to choose from, but I will start at the beginning – or at least my beginning – with Raymond. He was the delegation leader to Western Conversations at LMU that I attended my second year at GU. One morning as our group collected in the hotel lobby, he pulled out a little red book, Mark Link, SJ’s Challenge. He read a passage from it and then we were off to the conference. On our return to GU, he sent one to everyone in our group. I still have mine. It was my first introduction to the ideas in the Spiritual Exercises and I have been grateful to Raymond ever since!

Ellen Maccarone

I smile fondly when I think of Raymond and the many years we shared together. The first thing that comes to mind is his deep commitment to our Mission and our students. This grounded everything he did. Then there is his infectious passion whenever he is in front of a class or a group of any kind, words and images that just flow so easily and pick up such momentum over time that you have to listen to see how things are going to end. And finally, I think about what a great colleague he was to work with, always a team-player, and never judgmental as we tried as an institution to be more welcoming and supportive of diverse students, faculty, and staff, particularly when at times there didn’t seem to be meaningful change, which could have been discouraging to most people. Well done, Raymond. We are a better place because of you!

Chuck Murphy

Raymond Reyes is a charismatic and motivational speaker who always managed to leave every audience mesmerized by his powerful and poetic messages. He often started his talks by having everyone look at their thumb fingerprint as a way to remind us that we’re the only person in this entire universe in the whole history of humankind who has this fingerprint. Not even twins have identical fingerprints. That’s how unique and valuable each of us are.

Joan Iva Fawcett

Raymond Reyes is the kindest, considerate, brilliant scholar/practitioner that I have ever met. His words of wisdom never cease to amaze me! I came to Gonzaga in 2019 because of Raymond. he believed in me and our ability to make significant advances in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We worked together for nearly seven months, and then I was pulled over to the president’s office to support the efforts around COVID-19 and safely bringing our students, faculty, and staff back to campus in 2020. An interesting unknown fact. I first met Raymond around the early 2000’s. It was in New York City at a diversity conference where Coretta Scott King (wife of the slain civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King) was the keynote speaker. Guess who introduced Mrs. Scott-King to the audience? That’s right….Dr. Raymond Reyes. Who would have guessed that nearly 15 years later, I would be sitting in his office at Gonzaga University? I guess no meetings are accidental. Thank God for Raymond!

Charlita Shelton

My first memory of Raymond was in the summer of 1990. I was 20 years old and did not have the best attitude this particular day. I was working for Marriott catering that summer (the predecessor to Sodexo), and was the most junior member. As such, I drew the short straw and was assigned being on duty in Cataldo Hall for an event that was being held. It was a beautiful summer afternoon, and I was alone and grumpy. The person in charge of the event was someone I had never met before – Dr. Raymond Reyes. He came into Cataldo early, introduced himself, and sensed my grumpiness. He was patient and kind, and over the course of the next few hours, I witnessed this gifted person engage a room full of people with stories and activities. My attitude shifted from grumpy, to embarrassed at being grumpy, to awe at recognizing I was witnessing someone special.

It would be many years later before Raymond and I would work together again, and we have in many ways. I count our shared work on standing up the Act Six Program as one of my greatest joys and it was truly a team effort. The program challenged Gonzaga to be more aware in the care of our students, and though the program’s effectiveness ran its course, the desired outcome of centering Gonzaga on the needs of students from lower income and underrepresented backgrounds lives on.

On April 13, 2024, Raymond once again welcomed hundreds of students to GEL Weekend in McCarthey. The Office of Undergraduate Admission asks Raymond to welcome students year after year because he is so genuinely joyful and invites students to let go, open up, and see goodness.

Raymond, thank you so much for being a mentor, friend, teacher, and colleague. To quote the musical Wicked, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Julie McCulloh

I simply cannot imagine my career at Gonzaga without Raymond’s influence. I first remember really getting to know him when I was a delegate to the Western Conversations conference in 2006. That conference was utterly transformative for me – it invited me into the mission of Jesuit education in a way that has shaped my career and my sense of self every since. It was long conversations with Raymond, as well as the other delegates, including Molly Pepper, Matt Lamsma, and Mike Hazel, that showed me that working for Jesuit school meant that I could put my personal values and commitments into every aspect of my professional life. It inspired me to work for social justice on campus not as an outsider fighting against the identity of Gonzaga, but rather as a collaborative member of the community, working with love and loyalty to help Gonzaga better embody its own identity and mission. That working group ended up being incredibly productive – together, we authored two peer reviewed articles, made several presentations, wrote and implemented the first Campus Climate Survey, spearheaded an early push for an online and anonymous incident bias report form, and pushed Gonzaga for increased transparency in its response to bias incidents associated with campus or members of the community. When I look back at my career, I take incredible pride in this work and the impact we were able to have on campus!

Raymond was more than just a model for how to be a loving, loyal advocate for change – he taught me a whole new way to think about who I want to be as a Gonzaga professor and as a person in the world. And he did so with grace, humor, humility, and wisdom. And I want him to know that the Gonzaga that always existed in his heart (and sometimes only in his heart) lives on in my work, and that I will do all that I can to pass that vision on to the faculty and students I have the privilege to mentor.

Linda Tredennick

Thank you for being on my search committee and bringing me to Gonzaga. Though we have not interacted frequently, I have learned so much from you. The concept of intellikey, being conscious of our own commission or omission, and how the way we lead is who we are, just some of the wisdom that I learned from you and will continue to impact my own leadership journey.

Ashley Davis

I haven’t had the chance to work with Raymond as frequently or as long as many of others have, but I have experienced his deep passion for diversity, inclusion and equity values and his kind spirit.

Raymond is one of those rare people who, on a minute’s notice, can speak from his heart, with a deep reservoir of knowledge and vast experience. Raymond is a master story teller, and he really connects with people. He is a gentle soul with a caring presence, always calling people “in” rather than calling people “out.” He has a deep understanding of Ignatian values and pedagogy, and his love for Gonzaga comes across in every conversation you have with him. I honestly believe that Raymond’s deepest desire is for every faculty, staff and student at Gonzaga is to be seen, heard and valued. His presence and his gifts have made a big difference at Gonzaga for a very long time.

Kent Porterfield

Raymond often described the work of equity and inclusion as being one that attempts to bridge the gap between “rhetoric and reality.” I always appreciated that phrase as it was a much more eloquent way of saying we need to put our money, time, energy, and resources where our mouth is.

Matt Lamsma

One of the most meaningful endeavors in my time at Gonzaga was partnering with you to teach Assessment to the cohort who studied for their master’s degrees in Zambia. You traveled there, and it allowed me to avoid leaving my 9-month-old baby for over a month that summer (with my other duties in Canada). Then, as it turned out, it was so good that you were there to adapt the curriculum to what they needed when they were focused on an accreditation visit. Making sense of what would be taught and how to mark it was wonderful PD for me as a junior faculty.

I also remember teaching the same cohorts in Canada. You changed their thinking… and we all laughed together at the activities that broke the ice to get to that deeper level of engagement.

Thanks for being a collaborator and for modeling experiential and responsive teaching.

Elaine Radmer

I am happy to extol the beautiful spirit of my dear friend and colleague, Raymond Reyes. I have known Raymond for 30 years all the way back to when his office was next to mine in the School of Education. Raymond’s enthusiasm for teaching, his work in all areas and life in general has always been inspiring. I have served on my committees with Raymond and he is consistently kind, respectful and patient.

Some of my fondest memories are when Raymond and I took a group of teacher education students to Zambia in a faculty led study abroad program to work with the African students and staff at a Community College. Raymond accompanied me two years in a row. He was great at establishing strong relationships with our group and a real sense of family. Raymond’s nickname was Rainman and I frequently referred to him in that way. One of the African students asked me if he really could make it rain and I said yes, and the rain is wisdom. I like to think of Raymond aka Rainman that way.

Deborah Nieding

Raymond’s contributions to Gonzaga are manifold. To say he has been a valued teacher, scholar, administrator, and colleague is insufficient. In every role and every undertaking, Raymond has challenged Gonzaga to take seriously its mission of inclusion and equity. His tracks are many and enduring.

People commonly talk about your inspiring way with words and your emotive calls to justice. Your vocal advocacy has not been a small thing, and I echo the sentiments of many who have watched you and listened to you on their personal journeys toward liberation. But I wish to call attention to another facet of your work as a teacher and change agent - your willingness and ability to pause and listen, to enter into dialogue in the recognition that it is not the teacher's job to impose or manipulate, but to empower. You manifest the wisdom of Paulo Freire's understanding that we are simultaneously teachers and students, and that our goal is liberation for all -- not to simply replace the oppressor with the oppressed.

George Critchlow

There are many things I could say about my work with Raymond, but one that summarizes those things best is that if I had a dollar for each time someone who is not a “Gonzaga person” shared with me, essentially, that they have heard of Gonzaga because they had the honor of meeting Dr. Reyes, I’d be a wealthy woman!

Another thing that makes me think of Raymond: In one of the emails Raymond and I exchanged on a challenging initiative, Raymond shared the following with me: An elder once told me that “the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.”

I printed it out and have it within easy reach, both at work and at home, to remind me to practice “the better” as much as I can. I try to live by these words of wisdom every day.

Jolanta Weber

From Raymond’s activism and wisdom, I have learned so much about DEI, social justice, and belonging, and how those themes work in institutions of higher education and beyond. For example: I used what I have learned from him when doing an official review of the Disability office at Marquette University, and essentially quoted Raymond in my report to their Provost (full disclosure: it was a shared report written with my counterpart from Georgetown).

He was one of the first people in upper administration to vocally support the idea that disability is an important part of diversity, this was very important to my office and my work. This also made some students with disabilities, who were having access issues, feel heard and supported from the University administration, not just the Disability Access office.

His “invocations” (my word) to the divine at each of our Council on Equity, Inclusion, and Intercultural Awareness (and other meetings) were also centering and thought provoking.

Story: The first time I met Raymond was at new employee orientation in 2007 (back when he had his braids 😊). It was in the Greenan board room and the only thing I remember from that day was his session. He was engaging and fun, and as he ended his session, he began to walk out of the meeting – waived to the room and said: “Now I have mind melded with you all, and you know what I know!” That set the tone for how I saw Raymond over the years: no matter how heavy, difficult, or frustrating a situation, he could always find the light (and when appropriate, humor) within him to shine through. I have seen him frustrated, even angry, at injustice and I have always been inspired by how he could morph that frustration into action and drive toward the positive. I am a better person for having known him and learned from him.

Jason Varnado

Raymond often began his words of wisdom or encouragement by quoting a philosopher or great thinker. I will follow suit.

Ken Niimura wrote “Someone once said: ‘We do not make friends, we recognize them.’ And you’ll know who they are because they play according to the same rules that you do.”

Raymond went rogue a lot. He often worked outside the rules to do the next needed thing. That's how he moved us forward.

I think what many of us saw in Raymond was a friend who played by rules we wish we had the courage to play by. He gave us that courage by drawing us into friendship and teaching us that the rules worth following are the ones we create for ourselves.

Molly Pepper

I worked with Raymond and the class president and class VP to establish the Class of 1999 Diversity Endowment for their senior class gift. It has now grown to ~ $50,000. The class established the Class of 1999 Diversity Endowment which was intended to support diversity initiatives and cross-cultural experiences for students. UA worked with the class reps (Chuck Moore and Marites Fiesta) to solicit funds for the scholarship in honor of their 5-year, 10-year etc. reunions. It has helped support programs, speakers and projects tied to advancing Inclusive Excellence.

Raymond later shared that, as the Chief Diversity Officer and in collaboration with the Center for Global Engagement, he was working to "create more programmatic synergies between our campus’ diversity initiatives and our global cross-cultural work with the Jesuits work in Africa" and the endowment fund allowed him to teach three new related courses. He wrote: "I am grateful for the opportunity to creatively use these resources. Remain blessed."

Laura Gatewood

Raymond, when I arrived at Gonzaga in the Fall of 2006, you were a crazy, crazy man. . . or at least that was my mistaken impression at a new faculty orientation event. Marching around the stage, sucking in air, testifying to the power of this place so that new faculty would understand the benefit of belonging but also the charge and responsibility to be difference makers ourselves. You my friend… you my mentor… have been a difference maker for me and, frankly, the thought of you not being on this campus unsettles me. The ways you know, and know deeply, what Ignatian education anticipates as the possible for our students, these kind of insights into deep and transformative meaning for human lives and the adaptability of an enduring tradition for new times and peoples and places cannot be replaced through a search and a hire. You bring together a remarkable conflux of insight into that which is Ignatian and that which is indigenous. You have a vision for this place and its people, and it’s a vision that moves you, inspires you, even at times makes your face a little red and gives to your brow a suggestion of sweat, and this vision has picked me up more than a few times and given me insight into the possible. Our paths have crossed at several important diversity initiatives like a visiting scholar in residence program, the university’s first committee for diversity initiatives, and a ten-year lecture series named for the Jesuit conviction that to be religious is to be interreligious. Through your monetary support and more importantly your moral and visionary support, you made possible more than can be recounted in testimonies like these. You my friend, my not so crazy but touchingly wise and kind friend, will be deeply missed, and I will remain deeply grateful for all the ways you mentored and allowed me into your expansive vision.

“The words of the mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a gushing stream” (Proverbs 18:4)

John Sheveland

Raymond, in my ten years at Gonzaga, I have been privileged to witness and benefit from your leadership. In the many spaces and capacities in which you have engaged – the Center for the Study of Hate, the Leadership Symposium, the Comprehensive Leadership Program, the Intercultural Development Inventory, and even in my faith community (Inland Northwest Unitarian Universalist Community) – you have brought a level of wisdom that has left me with a sense of hope and wonder. Though we never had the chance to work very closely, you have always made me welcome and important. That is your way. I am grateful to you for modeling how to show up with courage and conviction, while being grounded in optimism and even humor. I will miss very much miss seeing your smile and long gait at Gonzaga. Know that your impact here will be felt for a very long time and that you are appreciated beyond measure. — Rachelle Strawther

I need an entire book to describe how much Raymond Reyes means to Gonzaga University. From being the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer, teacher, and mentor, he's given his all for the betterment of others. He is a beautiful soul and has a way with words that can touch your soul. I will miss our long talks about life, hope, and everything. Raymond had a way of bringing light to darkness, sunshine to a cloudy day, melody to music, laughter to tears, and a smile to a frown. I'm so very grateful to have worked with you and to have you as a friend. Raymond – I can't wait to see what's next for you.

Robin Kelley

From the Community

I have known Dr. Raymond Reyes for decades and find him to be a dear friend and colleague in the campaign for civil and human rights, diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice. He is truly a giant in the advancement of democracy through his work not only in the United States but also internationally.

Raymond’s eloquent speaking and writing skills have persuaded many individuals to join the cause to especially assist and support those among us who experience discrimination and injustices.

On a personal note, he has been such an ally with the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations and North Idaho College in our work for a better world. To share a few examples: He was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations annual human rights banquet; appeared on the NIC PBS TV Public Forum several times; performed workshops at NIC; and from a request from the KCTFHR did an extensive workshop with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies and staff.

Finally, I had the honor to join Raymond for speaking engagements first with the western region’s conference of the College Board in Las Vegas and then the national conference in San Diego several years ago. He was received by the delegates with resounding applause and gratitude.

Raymond, congratulations on your upcoming retirement and I know you will continue your work for a better world.

Tony Stewart

I first met Raymond when he was working with the American Indian Community Center. We continued to connect as he moved into his various roles at Gonzaga University and invited The Fig Tree to have an office at Unity House. Connecting through the years, I have valued the depth of the insights he brings to issues, especially those related to diversity, human rights and cross-cultural understanding. We have had to some vital conversations about multicultural, multifaith, multiracial, multigenerational ties. He now serves on The Fig Tree Board as he carries into retirement. Many thanks, Raymond, for your friendship, your commitment, and hopefully more of your time.

Mary Stamp

I worked with Raymond in my capacity as Executive Director of Leadership Spokane, 1999-2014. He was a graduate of the program in the year I took the position. We became acquainted, and the connection prospered. He is a person of fire, spirit, intellect, courage, and discernment. As time went on, Raymond was a great advisor to me as I settled into my work, and particularly as it became clear to me that the Leadership Spokane program needed a whole session focused on diversity and inclusion. He was instrumental in designing the curriculum, and I relied on him heavily. He served as board member, class instructor, and friend. He is very dear to me and a person of great respect.

Linda Finney

Dr. Raymond Reyes was one of the first people I met when our family moved to Spokane in 2006. We were driving near the Gonzaga campus checking things out, and he happened to be standing outside a home devoted to supporting the spiritual needs of students of color. Something prompted me to get out of the car and meet this man. I had no idea that would lead to a relationship spanning over a decade. I have now had the opportunity to witness his impact as a community member and to serve as a colleague during my short stint on campus supporting students. Raymond is one of the most compassionate, thoughtful, and committed educators I have had the honor to work with in my 33 years in education. Raymond has given so much to the students, staff, and faculty of Gonzaga but also to the wider Spokane and Washington state community. Raymond has left a legacy that is embedded in the lives of thousands, some for whom he is not even aware. Thank you, Raymond. Blessings to you as you transition into a new season.

Erin Jones