After serving as University of Portland vice president for over 10 years, John Goldrick, who has worked in various fields and locations all over the world, decided it was time to come back to UP. Today, he can be found preparing sandwiches in The Bauccio Commons. His impact on the UP community was, and still is, just as meaningful for him as it was for those around him.
In 1997, Goldrick was brought to The Bluff by his Notre Dame colleague and friend Fr. David Tyson, who served as UP’s president for 13 years. Alongside Fr. Tyson, Goldrick worked as the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Life for a 14-year period.
After Goldrick retired from the vice president position, he stayed at the university another five years doing fundraising before he finally retired fully. That only lasted two years.
Realizing how much he missed UP students, who he describes as “the finest group of people I have ever worked with,” he reached out to his former colleague Kirk Mustain, the head supervisor of Bon Appetit. Mustain and Goldrick met biweekly during Goldrick’s time as VP, so they already knew each other well.
“One of the nice things when you meet with someone on a regular basis is that you get to know them. He would always come in and meet with alums and staff, ” Mustain said. “He has always been somebody that I felt had service in his core, and that is a big piece of who he is.”
Listing all the people and places Goldrick has encountered would be hard work. From the time he served as Peace Corps director in Kenya to the time he met his wife in Thailand, there is no shortage of stories to be told. One such story involves the movie “Rudy,” a story based on a college student who Goldrick denied acceptance to the University of Notre Dame three times. Rudy eventually got into the school, and in later years, when Goldrick was in Ghana working for the Peace Corps, he was even sent a director’s cut of the film.
Though he has experienced life in regions very far from Portland, for Goldrick, the most important stories are those that took place just a few blocks from home.
As vice president, Goldrick was central to many of the events that have been a part of UP’s history. He recalls the difficult time of University of Portland student Kate Johnson’s death in 2001, during which he threw a Beacon reporter out of his office.
“I was the public face of the university at the time of the murder,” Goldrick explained. “I would only talk to the press to celebrate Kate’s life.”
Goldrick, whose love of the UP community— the students specifically — has kept him here for so long, remembers the difficulty of balancing discipline and guidance during his time as vice president.
“I had to do the discipline, too, and that is not always a pleasant place to have to be,” Goldrick said.
One student, he recalls, left a particularly strong impact upon his time in student affairs. Goldrick told the story of a young man who came to him upon getting into serious trouble. The student was suspended from school for a while, during which Goldrick required him to meet with him every two weeks. They came to know each other very well; the student ended up graduating.
A few months after graduating, the student died in an accident while Goldrick was at the airport, heading overseas. After the student’s death, Goldrick and the student’s parents became very close. The student’s father ended up starting a memorial scholarship at UP.
“I like to tell that story and say if discipline is done right, it can change lives,” Goldrick said. “In this case it changed the life of the University of Portland. The scholarship is at almost two million dollars now.”
When asked what one of the most impactful things to happen during his time here was, Goldrick sits and thinks. After a while, he decides that the answer is the story of this student.
“We used to go to lunch every month after he came back to school here,” Goldrick recalls. “I was very careful because I didn’t want to confuse my position with a friendship, so I told him we could be friends after he graduated. And of course, you tell yourself you’re not a friend, but you are.”
Goldrick plans to catch up with the student’s father as soon as winter break starts and he has some time off from making sandwiches.
Patti Brown, who has worked in food service at UP for 41 years, also attests to the impact John has had on the environment at The Commons.
“He’ll talk to the kids even if he doesn’t know they are,” Brown said. “He’ll get a conversation going, and then they’ll feel a little more relaxed and they’ll start talking.”
Brown, who can now often be found at the deli bar with Goldrick, talks about how his outgoing nature helped her open up.
“It’s kind of funny because when I first started here I was strictly in the kitchen. I was not really out here in the dining room.” Brown said. “Back then, I was extremely shy and I didn’t even like coming out here to get something to drink. But now, being on the deli out here, I feel much more at ease being around the kids, and I can answer questions when they ask them.”
Goldrick loves the job; he works five days a week. As it is much different from his more official roles in the past, he’s noticed a few things that he likes better about this job.
“The only emotional involvement in my work is to talk to students when they come and get sandwiches so it’s a lot of fun,” Goldrick said. “I love being called John instead of Dr. Goldrick.”
Tight-knit relationships like this are what define his time in the UP Community. Just the other day, Augusto Carneiro, founder of Nossa Familia Coffee and Goldrick’s former student, came by to see him while he made sandwiches. He still sees many of his other former students as well.
“The guy who does my investments started Pilot Wealth Management and he holds my portfolio; he was the CPB director who came to see me every week,” Goldrick said. “I would also meet with the student body president every week. And that was Jerry Carleton. Jerry Carleton is now a lawyer, and he has my will.”
Goldrick laughed, remembering his relationship with them when they were students on The Bluff.
“Anything they thought I wanted to hear, they would tell me,” Goldrick jokes. “And then they would go off and do whatever they wanted. Now one holds my will and one holds my money!”
Goldrick’s family is also part of the community. His daughter, who graduated from UP, lives only three blocks from campus. He and his wife live five blocks away.
“It’s home. It’s family. That’s kind of hokey to say, but it is,” Goldrick said.
And though he has a little more time on his hands now, Goldrick doesn’t see himself leaving this home anytime too soon.
“I turn 80 next year,” Goldrick said, chuckling. “I still don’t think I’m ready to retire.”
Ajay Davis is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.