- Lou: From Brooklyn to Broadway, The University of the Incarnate Word’s 25 Years with Dr. Louis J. Agnese, Jr. by Patricia A. Watkins
This volume provides a survey overview of Dr. Louis J. Agnese Jr.’s career as president of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, one of the state’s premier Catholic institutions of higher learning. Today located along Broadway Avenue on the former estate of banker and philanthropist George W. Brackenridge, [End Page 114] the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word founded the school in 1881. Louis Agnese became president of the University in 1985 (a post he still holds as of this writing). At the time he became president, he was one of the youngest college or university presidents in the nation. This book, written by a long-time administrator at the school, was published to mark Agnese’s twenty-fifth anniversary as president.
Written in a breezy, informal style, it makes use of spoken dialogue in a novelist manner, along with many quotations from individuals, to move the narrative along. As such, this volume is not an academic work of history. It contains no notes, indication of sources, or bibliography, presumably being based on interviews and the memories of the author. It does present in straightforward fashion a chronological delineation of the many ways in which Agnese has advanced the institution, especially its physical plant and its academic programs during his tenure. In short, it is a chronicle of his accomplishments and presents his viewpoints about the things he has done to build the institution.
It is the fundamental premise of this volume that Lou Agnese has transformed the University of Incarnate Word in a wholly positive manner. As president, he has worked tirelessly to expand the school’s endowment, increase diversity in its student body, adopt an international perspective, enlarge campus facilities, and improve its reputation. He has also labored extensively to forge a fruitful partnership between the university and the San Antonio urban complex of which it is a part. In particular, President Agnese has encouraged recruiting students of Hispanic heritage, to the point that today the University of the Incarnate Word ranks second in the nation among private colleges in the graduation of individuals from that background. This book is particularly successful in capturing Agnese’s leadership style, which is inclusive and oriented towards hearing all viewpoints. In that regard, the author provides much biographical detail about the board members, administrators, faculty members, and others who have worked with the president over the years, in the process explaining how and why the school has prospered during the Agnese presidency.
The focus of the narrative centers on telling the administrative history of the school from the executive perspective with special emphasis on the president and vice presidents. It deals almost entirely with matters of institutional governance and policy-making. Those readers who have an interest in the techniques of administration in higher education will find this volume to be a worthwhile book for their attention. Predominately, however, it will appeal to individuals who already have a connection to the University of the Incarnate Word. [End Page 115]