The Providence family of ministries has contributed a generous $25,000 gift to the Gonzaga University nursing program in loving memory of the late Rev. Patrick J. Ford, S.J., who served Gonzaga as a top administrator and professor for 27 years.
The gift will support needs in the nursing program’s Learning Resources Lab. Rich Umbdenstock, Providence Health & Services’ executive vice president, said the gift was made in recognition of Rev. Ford’s significant contributions to the
“Father Pat was an inspiration to all of us,” said Umbdenstock. “He was a longtime friend and supporter of the Sisters’ religious community, capping this relationship by joining our Providence Services board in 1994 and chairing the board from 2001 to 2004. Fr. Pat’s wisdom and guidance helped to shape the character of PS and to ensure that all of our decisions were firmly grounded in the Gospel values.”
Rev. Ford, who died June 3, 2005, at the Jesuit Infirmary on campus at age 63, last served Gonzaga as academic vice president before moving to Portland in 2001 to become socius, or chief of the provincial's staff, for the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus.
Rev. Ford grew up in the GU neighborhood and went on to earn two academic degrees from Gonzaga, plus its highest award for service, the DeSmet Medal, in 2005. Rev. Ford served Gonzaga as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (1974-79); professor of higher education (1979-2005); an esteemed member of the doctoral faculty who was instrumental in starting Gonzaga's doctoral program; dean of the Graduate School (1985-90); and 11 years as academic vice president (1990-2001). During his Gonzaga tenure, Rev. Ford endeared himself to faculty, students and administrators alike with his sharp wit, commitment to process, respect for individuals' needs and sensitivities, and his legendary gift for crafting language with pinpoint precision.
“Father Ford was a veritable institution at Gonzaga and gave his very self to the improvement of resources, admissions and academics at the University,” said Gonzaga President Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. “I can think of only a handful of people who have left an imprint so significant on the University over its 118-year history.”
Today, the Providence ministries are organized under Providence Health & Services (PH&S.) Through PH&S, the Provincial Council of the Sisters of Providence sponsors health care, human service, housing and educational operations in dozens of communities in Alaska, Washington, Montana, Oregon and California. The Providence system is headquartered in Seattle and employs over 46,000 people.
As part of the gift, a plaque will be designed for the lab in memory of Fr. Ford. When the equipment purchased with the generous gift is received and installed, Gonzaga University will host a celebratory unveiling of the plaque.
For more information, please contact Mary McFarland, dean of the Gonzaga University School of Professional Studies, at (509) 323-3569.