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GONZAGA UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE
Dale Goodwin, Director
Peter Tormey, Associate Director
|Presidential Announcement to the Community|
Office of the President
March 17, 2008
Dear Members of the Gonzaga Community:
After 10 years as president of Gonzaga University, I believe the time has come to initiate a process of transition in the office of president. Therefore, with profound respect for and gratitude to the Board of Trustees, I have informed them of my intention to work with them over the next 16 months to implement a transition by July 2009. The University has made considerable progress during these years and now enjoys a foundation which will catalyze even further progress.
I believe that transitions are best made during times of real advance rather than in times of crisis or neutrality. As I reflected on the past 10 years and took note of the progress that has been made in our academic programs, Jesuit and Catholic mission programs, enrollments, facilities, fundraising, athletic programs, academic reputation, and financial strength, it became apparent to me that this is an ideal time for a new leader with innovative ideas and fresh energy to invigorate the vision in our new Strategic Plan and move Gonzaga to “the next level.” A transition would also allow me some additional time to develop two national institutes and to promote three books which have been accepted for publication. I will be discerning with my Provincial in the upcoming 16 months how to pursue these projects while continuing the relationships that have been so central to my Gonzaga experience.
When I came to Gonzaga in 1998, we were experiencing financial difficulties and were in the midst of a rather arduous budget reallocation process. I, the Board, and the Cabinet responded with a vision entitled “Momentum 2007,” which we believed would respond to those difficulties. It included (1) a significant increase in enrollment, (2) a $150 million Capital Campaign, (3) a significant increase in our merit-based and need-based financial aid, (4) a process to restore our financial stability (including paying down of our internal debt, and increasing our reserves), (5) measures to assure fairness and quality for our personnel (including a plan to fully fund our salary survey adjustments and a plan to increase faculty development funds and sabbaticals), (6) measures to increase the quality and quantity of our academic programs, (7) increased support of our five mission areas of faith, service, justice, ethics, and leadership, (8) an ambitious facilities plan (including new facilities for law, business, science, engineering, theatre arts, basketball, student fitness, student activities, and residence life), (9) increased resources for our athletic and extracurricular programs, and (10) increased resources for our marketing programs. We believed that these 10 steps would produce a cycle which would repeat itself every two years resulting in continuous improvement of our academic and mission quality. Thanks to our tremendous Gonzaga team, all 10 of these steps were successfully initiated and have run their course of significant amplification. In view of this, we needed a new Strategic Plan to bring our unique Gonzaga education to the next level.
The community then created a Vision Statement for the University (with dynamic definitions of “Jesuit,” “Catholic,” and “humanistic”), formulated seven major goals for our new Strategic Plan, “Vision 2012,” and is now in the process of creating an operational plan to carry this vision forward through the next seven years and beyond. The community then engaged in a productive process to create a funding mechanism to animate this new Strategic Plan. This funding mechanism will ensure that our new Strategic Plan will be optimally fulfilled.
This forward-looking vision assures that the next president will be able to work with the Board and our community to make Gonzaga one of the very best universities of its kind in the nation. In light of this, I can honestly say that my personal goals have been met and that the University’s future will not only be secure, but also significantly improved. As I noted above, I cannot think of a better time to make a transition.
The Board of Trustees will appoint a search committee to include trustees, faculty, administrators, and Jesuits. A targeted search, to identify qualified candidates, will begin within the next month. I believe there are many excellent Jesuit candidates for our next president who can bring new creativity and vigor to our educational enterprise. We will be searching for a dynamic individual who is committed to our mission and improving our academic quality. Given our current momentum, Gonzaga should attract the very best candidates.
I would like to personally thank the Board of Trustees who have not only made extraordinary contributions to the University with wisdom, leadership, financial resources, time and sacrifice, but who have also become my dear colleagues and friends. I would like to express in the same breath my sincere gratitude to the members of the Cabinet whose remarkable professionalism and leadership have transformed my entrepreneurial schemes into a dynamic reality. I would like to thank members of the Jesuit Community, our Board of Regents, and our many benefactors and friends, who are so central to our Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic, and academic mission and who have given me such great support. I am deeply grateful to our academic leadership, faculty, administration, and staff who have made huge sacrifices which allowed Gonzaga to move from a place of financial hardship to one of the most unique and dynamic educational communities in the nation. Finally, and by no means least, I want to thank our beloved students who have not only been a tremendous personal support, but also a beacon of service and faith to reflect a heart of love to our community and the world. They have been a tremendous source of delight and fulfillment to me.
It has been a real privilege to work with all of you, and more importantly, to share in the faith, hope, friendship, and love that you aspire to bring to one another and to the world. I think we can together enjoy the accomplishments of the past and look forward to remarkable opportunities in the future. Please be assured of my prayers for all of you as we move into the transition process which anticipates even greater blessings than the ones we have already experienced.
Robert J. Spitzer, S.J.