Professor Wayne Glass said goodbye to 10 years of teaching international relations on Monday in The Forum with a lecture called “Looking Back to the Future,” highlighting important lessons from his past as well as advice for students in the present and future.
“I’ve sort of formulated a series of rules,” Glass said. “I really do think that some of the things I say, I hope you’ll take them with you.”
Glass came to USC in 2002, ending an extensive civil service career in Washington, D.C. that saw him holding positions with the State Department, Congressional Budget Office and as senior defense policy advisor to Senator Jeff Bingaman.
Despite his brief tenure, Glass quickly became a legend among students, making his mark as more than just another professor, said Chris Yon, a senior majoring in international relations (global business).
“He is the most influential professor I have ever known,” Yon said. “He is a true motivator. He really knows how to reach out to students.”
Glass’ first piece of advice was to “never pass up an opportunity.” He shared stories of how he came to learn this from getting a scholarship to Princeton University to getting his first job at the Pentagon to meeting his wife, and told students to apply this advice to their own education.
“USC is a special time and place in your life,” Glass said. “Don’t miss any opportunities. Discover what a great place USC is and take opportunities to see the world.”
Glass created a summer program that takes a delegation of students to Washington, D.C. to research nuclear security and meet with experts and officials to get experience in the field. Glass said he still plans to facilitate the program for as long as possible despite his retirement from the school.
Clara Purk, a sophomore majoring in international relations, said she met Glass last summer through the Washington, D.C. program. She said part of the experience is spending a few weeks with Glass himself.
“He’s so comfortable and amazingly fun to be around,” Purk said. “He also just provides a lot of valuable insight into being in D.C. It’s one of the most unique experiences. He’s so positive and so giving.”
Glass also advised students to set and achieve high standards and acquire as much knowledge as possible but to also have a sense of humor in their work. He cited an experience with the Pentagon, when he gave a deputy secretary a speech titled “The Five Pint Program for Improving Defense Acquisition” instead of “The Five Point Program.”
“I saw the ‘Five Pint Program,’ and I thought to myself, ‘Now, I can fix it, but I don’t think the deputy secretary gets a good laugh, so I’m going to let it run and see what happens,’” Glass said. “The draft of the speech went up to the deputy secretary of defense and came back with corrections. One of them was to circle the pint and write, ‘Make mine Jack Daniels.’”
Looking to the future, Glass told students to aim for success, but it is more important to aim for happiness.
“Go to the beach and throw the crystal ball Frisbee that you won in one of my classes,” Glass said, referring to a simulation he conducts in class that allows students to predict who will win upcoming sporting events.
“Everyone gets to guess scores for sports. When you guess the score right, you get a prize. I won a calendar,” said Hanjun Chung, a junior majoring in international relations (global business). “The whole point was like in foreign policy, nothing is certain. You have to make those choices and try to guess based on the stats and history. [Glass] is really insightful about it.”
Glass cited networking as a major factor for much of his success in Washington, D.C., and said he utilizes Facebook to keep in touch with former students and help them make professional connections with other students. He encouraged current students to stay connected with him.
“I love postcards,” he said. “So I want you to stay in touch with me and send me postcards from the most obscure places you can find.”