The 2015-16 academic year made history in many ways. Reflecting on all the achievements of Gonzaga is inspiring and motivating, not to mention simply amazing. The “Gonzaga Will” to expand and enrich our interdisciplinary teaching opportunities and to modernize our learning environments was more than a well-developed plan: It was a series of actions that continued to the mission of our beloved university.
Here are a few ways we saw “Our Will in Action” this year:
- We commenced the partnership with University of Washington School of Medicine to expand medical education in Spokane – a historic and strategic move not only for the two universities, but for the entire Inland Northwest.
- We launched our largest capital campaign, with the most significant part of fundraising focused on building our endowment to help more students access an exemplary Catholic, Jesuit college education.
- Miss Myrtle Woldson bestowed on Gonzaga the largest gift our institution has ever received (aside from the ongoing support of the Society of Jesus). Her estate, valued at $55 million, was also the second largest individual gift to a university in Washington state history.
- Campus planners initiated development of four new facilities: a new Jesuit Residence, the Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement, Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center and the Integrated Science and Engineering building.
- Academic leaders proudly introduced a revised core curriculum this year, focused on broadening courses in the humanities and ensuring that our students are prepared for an increasingly global environment.
I think you’ll agree that these five examples alone are substantial and reflect the incredible hard work and commitment of our faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, benefactors and friends to continue developing Gonzaga University as a premier institution.
But there were plenty of purely fun moments of 2015-16 as well. We watched the new John J. Hemmingson Center become the hub of student activity and livelihood as it embarked on its first year of operation. HBO TV crews followed our men’s basketball team on the road to the West Coast Conference Championship and provided fans around the world with inside views of Mark Few’s coaching and teamwork. The Zags took us to the Sweet Sixteen again – an event that brings worldwide attention to Gonzaga and presents us with the opportunity to display our accomplishments off the court
as well. And, continuing the success of our Presidential Speaker Series, Gonzaga welcomed Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s Head of State.
All of these successes propel us forward to embrace new opportunities in 2016-17. Chief among those will be concentrated efforts to address racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, equity and inclusion, with respect to national issues around justice for all. We’re examining our investments in light of supporting ecological sustainability. We’re engaging our faculty more in dialogue surrounding the future of higher education and how we work to keep Gonzaga viable and relevant. In the midst of those priorities, we’ll continue efforts in our capital campaign. We recently broke ground on three of the four facilities mentioned above – a visible indicator of the momentum we have to continue the exciting work that took place last year.
I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead. I picture dance, music and theater students enjoying a modern facility in which to practice and showcase their artistic abilities. I envision more Jesuits coming to Spokane because they see us offering great spaces for their studies, retreats and growth. I’m eager to see the expansion of science and engineering opportunities. And I – along with partners across the state – am energized by the endless possibilities of having medical students on our campus.
These are really just the beginning steps to an incredibly exciting future. I hope you’ll continue to walk with us on the journey.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil