Forever purple: A Q&A with purple-holic Mark Glenn

Call him a purple promoter, Mark Glenn, ’95, MSW ’01, loves to make a bold statement with his clothes. You’ll see him at Husky Stadium or Washington Warm Ups Presented by Alaska Airlines with his purple hat, his purple coat and his purple suit, all for the love of everything UW.

It’s not purple prose to say that Mark is a big fan of the UW, and we are one of his biggest fans! Mark sat down with Misty Shock Rule for an interview. Meet the man behind the purple hat.

I’m part of the team that manages social media for the UWAA. Your pictures always catch our attention and put a smile on our faces. How did your look come together?

I was at a conference in Orlando, and I was in this hat store, and I saw this hat. I was with one of my colleagues, and it was way more than I would normally pay for a hat. I said, “That hat would look perfect in Husky Stadium.” We walked out, and I decided not to buy it. Later, my colleague goes, “You know if you don’t go back and buy that hat, you know you’re going to regret it.” I went back in and bought the hat. I wound up putting a logo on it after that, and that’s what started it all. I thought, I have to obviously get a jacket to match the hat. And then I got the tie and most recently I got the pants to match. I don’t know, next year, I’ll probably move it up to a different level.

It’s really cool to see how everybody responds. Most people that see me want to come up and take pictures. That just makes it really cool.

I also saw from Instagram that you have a beret too.

I do! I wore the beret at New Years Eve at the JW Marriott where the team was staying down in downtown LA. I’m kinda a hat guy. I love hats, especially purple ones.

What does purple mean to you?

Purple represents two institutions, the UW and the U.S. Army. Both of them are really near and dear to my heart, because they helped shape who I am. I’ve had a really good career, all because of what I learned at the UW and the people that I’ve interacted with. And now one of my sons is actually a freshman at UW Tacoma. I think he finally got the message about how the university keeps on giving and it’s not a situation where you just go to school and get your degree and forget. It’s really about how I’ve evolved as a human being because of the foundation that the Army and UW has laid for me. It’s really cool to be among other Huskies who are also as passionate. That’s the part that you just can’t describe, the feeling and why I will continue to do that as long as I can.

That must be why you’re UWAA member as well.

I am, I think I’m a lifetime member now.

Can you tell me more about yourself and your time at the UW? I saw you studied social work.

I originally enrolled at the UW Tacoma and the liberal studies program, now called interdisciplinary arts and sciences. I got out of the military in 1992, and then I was going to school while I was working full time. I was really hungry for a degree. I now work as an IT professional. I’ve been working for the state now for 23 years. While I was working I was getting my degree and then I went back in 1998 and enrolled back at UW Tacoma and got a Masters in Social Work, which I finished in 2001.

That’s something that we’re thinking about a lot – the liberal arts. There’s so much of a push to get a STEM degree, but liberal arts can be a strong foundation even though there’s so much industry around science and technology.

I just became the director of IT for a state agency out in the military department located in Lakewood. When I was going through the interview process, they asked me, “What do you think is the most difficult challenge ahead of you if you are selected for this position?” I think they were looking for me to say something about AI or cloud technology or virtualization. I said, “It’s not about the technology. It’s really about recruitment and retention of good quality people.” My liberal arts education obviously has helped me understand that. A lot of people think, oh you’re a technology leader so you’re thinking about 1s and 0s. No, I’m thinking about the people that matter the most. We can hire people and train them but ultimately if you don’t get good quality, good character people in these positions who are loyal to the organization, it’s basically a revolving door.

People ask, “What are you doing working IT when you have an MSW?” I say, “I use it every day, because a lot of what I do is around navigating the political arena around state IT.” Having that masters degree in social work gives me a better tool in my toolbox to be able to gel with people who both have an understanding of technology and those who do not.

I was hoping to do something fun, a speed round. I’ll ask a question and you tell me what comes into your mind first.


What’s your one word or phrase to describe the UW.

I like “Be Boundless.”

Favorite Husky mascot.


Favorite UW player

Corey Dillon.

Favorite Husky sport besides football.

Women’s softball.

Since you went to UW Tacoma, favorite Tacoma spot.

Red Lobster.

Favorite food you ate in college

Fettuccine alfredo.

Favorite away game location

It has to be Pullman. Love it.

Really? Is that because it’s the big game?

The first time I went to Pullman was this year. It was just an amazing experience!

Favorite UWAA member benefit.

I like the discount for clothes and bookstore purchases.

Considering your love of clothes, that’s not a surprise! A couple more questions: What advice would you have for Husky students today?

I would say that there’s no possible way for you as a student to realize the value of your education at the moment that you’re a student. The value that you realize really starts to sink in better for you as you get older, as your career progresses. So don’t get to the point where you don’t allow your initial exposure or experiences while you’re in school – good and bad – don’t allow that to shape your opinion of the overall opinion of the quality of your education.

Why do you love the UW?

I love and I’m passionate about the UW because it is one of the main pillars in my life that established the foundation of my growth. I would rank my educational experience at the UW, my military experience and traveling abroad and living abroad, and my family and friends as the most important – it’s who I am. It’s my composition, it’s my DNA. There’s nothing that can replace my education I received at the UW.

Getting out of my normal sweatshirts and putting on a nice jacket and pants, that’s what it’s all about – trying to demonstrate how passionate and how sincere I am for my love for the university. It continues to give, and that process of receiving as a student never ends. It’s for a lifetime, and that’s what I think is special.

Around the world, UWAA members are making an impact. Read more stories about the Everyday Huskies that make up our community.