What are the odds? Three members of President’s Cabinet have identical twins

James Walsh, Gretchen Edwalds Gilbert and Adam Tschuor

James Walsh, Gretchen Edwalds Gilbert and Adam Tschuor

Three members of President Christopher Callahan’s Cabinet at University of the Pacific have identical twins—Chief Financial Officer James Walsh, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert and Athletic Director Adam Tschuor.

If the odds of that happening seem astronomical, it’s because they are—0.0004%, or in other words, a four in a million chance. (Credit goes to Professor of Mathematics John Mayberry for crunching the numbers).

“It's stunning that we have three people who are twins in that group,” Walsh said. The President’s Cabinet is composed of the university’s 11 senior administrators.

Another member of cabinet, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Scott Biedermann ’05, ’20, has identical twin brothers. 

“He joked that he would be the support group for siblings of identical twins, and I said, ‘Oh, my siblings would totally be in it,’” Edwalds-Gilbert said with a laugh.

In celebration of National Twin Day on Dec. 18, these members of Pacific’s senior leadership share their experiences, memorable moments and if they ever attempted twin-enabled pranks.

What was it like growing up with a twin?

Walsh: There were six sets of twins in my graduating high school class. My brother John and I were the only identical twins, but growing up with twins was normal for me.

Tschuor: Our mom very much liked to dress Aaron and me the same, usually alternating colors, but always the same outfits.

Edwalds-Gilbert: Paula and I were usually just called by our last name. It was the Edwalds twins or even just ‘twins.’ When we went to college it was the first time we got called by our actual names.


Edwalds twins

Gretchen and Paula Edwalds

Other than appearances, how similar are you and your twin?

Walsh: We were probably more identical academically than anything else. When we were in college, a new faculty member saw that John and I got the same problem wrong on a test in the exact same way. He went to the chair of the department and said, “I think these two are cheating.” The chair said, “No, these two are twins. They study together. That’s what happens.” We studied together all the time, and that was a huge advantage.

Edwalds-Gilbert: Our kids would say that we parent very similarly. Her oldest daughter didn't necessarily see it as a benefit. She said, “I know you're always going to back my mom.” Other people would also say our mannerisms. That's usually what freaks people out. They say, “oh my gosh, you really sound the same.”

Tschuor: We played a lot of the same sports together and were on the same teams. That led to us making our college decision because Creighton (University) was the only Division I school that offered for both of us to play golf there.

What’s the biggest difference between you and your twin?

Tschuor: We probably look the most similar (compared to Walsh and Edwalds-Gilbert and their twins) but are wildly different in terms of our lifestyles. I was very particular in choosing this as a career because I believe in college athletics. And I'm very passionate about my family. I've been married for 12 years to my wife Sarah and have four lovely children. My brother is not married and does not have kids. He works in staffing consulting and he’s also a painter. He paints abstract oil on canvas and been featured in international art shows.

Edwalds-Gilbert: Paula’s daughter would say style. She’ll say, “Mom, maybe you can borrow some clothes from Aunt Gretchen.”

James and John Walsh

James and John Walsh

Did you pursue similar careers?

Walsh: We followed the same path totally unintentionally. We ended up in the same university (University of Massachusetts at Amherst), same program (engineering), bachelor's and master’s. We were side by side the whole way. Then 10 years later, we both got MBAs. Different universities but same timeframe. (Walsh eventually left engineering to move into academia.)

Edwalds-Gilbert: Paula is a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Her husband is also a doctor. He's an internist, and then my husband's a PhD as a humanist. We’re the academics; they're the medicine.

Tschuor: Aaron works for a staffing consulting company. His specific area of expertise is in IT.

Ever pull any pranks?

Tschuor: One time. In the second grade. We switched classes, and no one noticed.

Edwalds-Gilbert: We always joked that we never needed to. People never knew who was who.

Adam and Aaron Tschuor

Adam and Aaron Tschuor

Any cases of mistaken identity?

Tschuor: A guy who played basketball at the University of Dayton (where Tschuor previously worked) flew out to Las Vegas, where my brother lives, for the Super Bowl. He comes running up to my brother Aaron and said, “Adam, what are you doing here?” And Aaron said, “I’m not Adam. How has this happened two weeks in a row?”

Walsh: Yes. I used to worry he would run into my boss and ignore him. I’d tell my brother, John, “can you just say hi to anybody who says hi to you?”

What’s the best part of being a twin?

Walsh: I never had to work very hard to find someone to hang out with because my brother was always there. And he and I think completely alike, so you always know there’s somebody who's thinking exactly like you.

Tschuor: My parents would always joke that having twins is one of the biggest blessings that you can have because they’re like built in babysitters. You entertain each other.

Edwalds-Gilbert: We always had a best friend. It did make life a lot easier. She also set me up with my husband. Her boyfriend at the time was good friends with my husband, so she set us up, and we've been married for many years.

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