Inaugurations in the Past

Past Inauguration
The 1957 inauguration of Father Edmund Morton, S.J.
Photo courtesy of Gonzaga University Archives.

Inaugurations have not always been referred to as such (installations, appointments, etc.), and neither have presidents (superiors, rectors, etc). Title notwithstanding, the celebrations and changes have nonetheless occurred since Gonzaga College opened its doors in 1887. Enjoy the following excerpts taken from Minister Diaries held in Gonzaga University’s Historical Archives:

1886 – 1890: Note: Father James Rebmann, S.J. was Superior of Gonzaga College during this time, although nothing was found in the Minister Diaries regarding his appointment as such.

Jan. 12, 1890: On Thursday the 9th, Father Mackin was appointed Superior of the College to take the place of Father Rebmann. The Father’s administration, beginning with the true seal of God, the seal of affliction and tribulation, bids fair consequence to be a success.

April 1, 1891: Father Rene arrived here last night from deSmet where he has spent a few days.

April 2, 1891: Father Rene was installed as Vice-Rector of the College at noon and a holiday was granted to the boys on that occasion. About 25 of them availed themselves of the opportunity to go for an excursion to the little Spokane – about 12 miles from this place.

March 4, 1893: Inauguration Day – The boys went to school as usual at about 10:00 a.m. Father Rector announced then, a holy day for the remainder of the day.

March 16, 1893: The letter of Father Cataldo announcing that Father Van Gorp was going to take Fr. Rene’s place as Superior at Gonzaga was read today in the dining room and then the change took place – all were very much surprised at the change as Father Rene had won the affection and respect of all.

July 7, 1894: Father Palladino who had already for some time been appointed Rector of the College – and who was finally relieved by the Bishop of Helena from his position of Vicar General of the diocese, reached Spokane this morning and was immediately installed here as Superior.

Nov. 1, 1896: At dinner the “Status” was read. Father Rebmann, formerly superior of St. Peter’s Mission, was announced U.Sup. of the College in place of Father Palladino.

Aug. 15, 1900: Immediately after the reading of the status…a letter from Father Van Gorp was read announcing to the community that Father Geo. de la Motte had been appointed his successor as Superior of the Missions.

January 14, 1901: To Father Van Gorp this college must always be grateful for it is he who has built the new college, and who has developed the Spokane property so that our Scholastics can be educated.

June 26, 1901: Fr. Francis Dillon was at dinner proclaimed Minister of Gonzaga College.

May 23, 1904: Rev. Fr. F. Dillon has been approved Vice Rector of Gonzaga C.

July 31, 1904: Today Father Dillon was reaffirmed Vice Rector of this college…the Status was read at dinner.

July 31, 1905: Father Goller was appointed Vice Rector of this College.

Sept. 8, 1909: Opening of School, large attendance. The announcement today of the New Province, and of the Provincial Rev. H.J. Goller. The Province to be known as the California Province. Rev. Fr. Taelman was appointed Rector. There was a good spread for the occasion.

August 7, 1913: Rev. Fr. James M. Brogan arrived 7 a.m. Proclaimed Rector of Gonzaga U. at dinner.

March 10, 1920: Fr. John McHugh arrived as new rector.

March 11, 1920: He was installed at noon.

Note: Although nothing specific could be found on Fr. Walter Fitzgerald, S.J. (1921-1927), the following entry remains of interest.

Oct. 3, 1921: Initiation at 7:30 of the new students. Refreshments at 10 p.m. M. Egan addressed the student body. Fr. Rector spoke on “Gonzaga spirit” and granted a full holiday for the next day.

Aug. 6, 1922: Rev. Fr. Reidy installed as Rector of Gonzaga University, succeeding Rev. F. Fitzgerald.

July 31, 1930: Father Keep came in this morning. At bench at noon. It was announced that Father Keep had been appointed Rector of Gonzaga. He assumed office immediately. 5:00 p.m. Pres. Big Dinner, in honor of new Rector.

Feb. 3, 1942: Father Francis Altman, from St. Michael, replaces Father LaMotte as Minister of G.U. from today on.

June 4, 1942: Fr. Altman announced as Rector, and Fr. M. Corrigan, Minister.


The following information was taken from the book “Gonzaga University: Seventy-five Years, 1887-1962” by William P. Schoenberg, S.J.

1945 – 1957: Father Francis Corkery became president of the university after World War II. One of his most significant contributions was reversing the campus development plan in the late 1940s, choosing an area directly south of the Administration Building (today known as College Hall) for a new engineering building. This prepared the way for the university’s well-unified arrangement and added considerably greater values to the area on the lower level to the south.

August 6, 1957: Father Corkery was succeeded, after 12 years of distinguished service, by Father Edmund Morton, S.J., who entered upon his new duties under the most favorable circumstances in Gonzaga’s 70 years of history.

July 19, 1961: Father John P. Leary, S.J., was “read in” as the university’s rector and 21st president. The simple ceremony in the Jesuits’ dining room, just before dinner, consisted of the reading of the Roman document appointing Father Leary.


Presidents after 1962 include:

  • 1969 – 1974: Rev. Richard E. Twohy, S.J.
  • 1974 – 1996: Rev. Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J.
  • 1996 – 1997: Rev. Edward Glynn, S.J.
  • 1997 – 1998: Harry Sladich
  • 1998 – 2009: Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J.
  • 2010 – Present: Thayne M. McCulloh