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Volume 69, Issue 138, Wednesday, April 28, 2004


Gogue: Integrity important

President's talk looks at spirituality's role in academic leadership

by Matthew Shepherd
The Daily Cougar

While the inflammatory issue of the separation between church and state was making headlines across the nation, a more civil incarnation of the discussion over the role of religion in society has been under way at UH's Catholic Newman Center.

UH President Jay Gogue was the final of three guest speakers Wednesday in the center's "Spirituality for Academics" luncheon lecture series. 

He discussed a variety of topics relating to spirituality and its role in his work.

Gogue, who spoke of attending three services a week as a child, emphasized his lifelong involvement with the church -- first Methodist, now Presbyterian. 

"I go to church every Sunday," Gogue said.

He noted similarities between religions and acknowledged the importance of campus ministries at universities despite the growing controversy over religion in government, drawing from his experience as president of New Mexico State University. There, the campus ministries' function became distinctly apparent after 9/11. 

The ministries were extremely supportive and helpful during that challenging time, Gogue said.

But the body of Gogue's presentation was dedicated to the role spirituality has played in his leadership positions. Integrity, understanding context and motivation are key components of success that stem from spiritual health, he said.

"Integrity is important," Gogue said. "Small things are important ... things like returning phone calls (and) doing things that you said you would do."

In terms of context, Gogue said it's important to understand different values in different communities. 

"Georgia is tobacco country, and you won't hear them preaching about (the health hazards of) smoking," Gogue said, getting a rise out of the more than 20 people in the audience.

He referred to motivation as a crucial element in team chemistry. Motivation is achieved through compassion and incessant evaluation, Gogue said.

"From a biblical perspective, the teachings that deal with compassion ... are critical," he said.

The balance of the speech dealt with the evolving function and responsibility of campus ministries in growing universities and cities -- issues the UH administration is dealing with. Gogue said the influx of students that will come with Houston's projected growth in the next few years must be grounded morally, and he called on the campus ministries to help.

Gogue's talk marked the conclusion of this semester's luncheon lecture series. "This was our final, our grand finale," Lubna Nabi, campus minister and event organizer, said.

Sociology professor Joseph Kotarba will kick off the fall series with a speech Oct. 5. For more information on the Catholic Newman Center and its programs, visit or call (713) 748-2529.

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