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  • A History Unfolds

    A lot has happened in 125 years. What began as a land purchase in 1887 with $936 in silver dollars to establish Gonzaga College and a first class of 18 students has transformed into a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts university with more than 7,800 students. The constant throughout these first 125 years is Gonzaga’s educational philosophy to educate the whole person – the mind, the body and the spirit – through “cura personalis,” caring for the individual.

    So grab your favorite drink, pull up a chair and take a trip back in time to remember, reflect and revel in some of the milestones and people that have made Gonzaga University all that it is today – and will be in the future.


  • 1880-1889

    1881  - Father Joseph Cataldo, S.J., works with the Coeur d'Alene, Spokane and Nez Perce tribes in an effort to teach tribal members, ultimately purchasing 320 acres along the Spokane River to build a school staffed by Jesuits
    1887  - Father James Rebmann is Gonzaga's first superior
    1887  - Gonzaga College opens its doors
    1887  - First academic year begins with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a tradition that continues today
    1888  - Gonzaga finishes its first year with 18 students

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1890-1899

    1892  - The first St. Aloysius Church is built
    1892  - Gonzaga football kicks off
    1892  - Electricity and city water come to Gonzaga
    1894  - Gonzaga College's first commencement
    1898  - Administration Building completed
    1899  - Army Cadet Program begins

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1900-1910

    1900  - The Original College Building is moved
    1900  - Gonzaga's first baseball field and grandstand is built
    1903  - U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt comes to Gonzaga
    1904  - Administration east-end addition finished, new pool in basement
    1905  - Basketball begins
    1906  - Typhoid outbreak, school year ends early

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1910-1919

    1911  - New St. Aloysius Church dedicated
    1912  - Gonzaga celebrates its 25th anniversary
    1912  - Gonzaga College becomes Gonzaga University
    1912  - Gonzaga Law School begins
    1918  - Students Army Training Corps starts; disbands after the Armistice
    1918  - Spanish influenza epidemic

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1920-1929

    1921  - "Bulldogs" adopted as official mascot
    1922  - Gonzaga's football stadium holds first game
    1923  - Gonzaga plays in first and only bowl game, losing to West Virginia 21-13 in the East-West Classic in San Diego
    1924  - American Passion play "Golgotha" is a major hit as dormitory fundraiser
    1924  - Knights of the Kennel (now the Knights) established
    1925  - DeSmet Hall built
    1926  - Gonzaga High School and Gonzaga University formally separate
    1927  - Cataldo Memorial Fund begins to assist Gonzaga students
    1928  - Summer school program begins, opens to women
    1928  - Launch of the School of Business, School of Education and School of Music

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1930-1939

    1930  - Debut of the Men's Glee Club
    1934  - School of Engineering opens
    1937  - Bing Crosby receives honorary degree
    1937  - Fight song by Bing Crosby and the Glee Club debuts
    1937  - Gonzaga celebrates its 50th anniversary

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1940-1949

    1940s - Rev. Arthur L. Dussault, S.J. ('26), known as 'Mr. Gonzaga,' was a presence at GU for over 70 years, founding Gonzaga's department of public relations, building Grashio Victory Course and always beautifying campus
    1941  - Football ends due to World War II
    1942  - Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" tops Billboard charts in 1942, 1945 & 1946
    1943  - Naval V-5 and V-12 programs run during World War II
    1945  - USS Gonzaga launched
    1948  - Gonzaga opens its doors to women as full-time students


    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1950-1959

    1950  - U.S. President Truman comes to Gonzaga
    1950  - Carl Maxey, J.D. ('51) and Eli Thomas ('50) bring home the NCAA Boxing National Championship – the University's first-ever NCAA team championship
    1951  - Spurs, the women's service organization now called the Setons, debuts
    1954  - New construction: COG and Madonna Hall
    1957  - New construction: Welch Hall and Crosby Library
    1957  - Great Teachers Program begins to support professors' salaries

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1960-1969

    1960s - New construction: St. Catherine, St. Monica, Hughes, Rebmann and Alliance halls, Campion House, Health Center, Jesuit House, Kennedy Pavilion (now Martin Centre)
    1960 - John F. Kennedy comes to campus
    1961  - Frank Burgess leads the NCAA in scoring with 32.4 points per game, and remains Gonzaga's all-time leading scorer with 2,196 points
    1963  - Gonzaga-in-Florence Program starts
    1968  - First Parents' Weekend
    1968  - First lay members join the Board of Trustees
    1969  - Fr. Tony Lehmann, S.J., begins his work at Gonzaga-in-Florence, a passion he continues until 1982 when he transitions to serve as the chaplain for the men's basketball team for the next 20 years
    1969  - Russell Theatre opens

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1970-1979

    1970s - The Magnuson family, led by Trustee Harry Magnuson who served on the Board for 40 years, saves Gonzaga by guaranteeing the credit of the University
    1970  - First Pilgrimage
    1970  - Fire: Goller Hall burns down
    1974  - Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J., becomes the University's 23rd president, a position he holds for 22 years, ultimately becoming Gonzaga's first chancellor
    1978  - Bob Hope is commencement speaker and receives honorary degree

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1980-1989

    1981  - Alumni Association purchases Crosby House
    1983  - Crew becomes a club sport
    1984  - Johnston Family Mall makes campus pedestrian friendly
    1984  - Kennedy Pavilion expanded & renamed the Charlotte Y. Martin Centre
    1984  - John Stockton, named MVP of Gonzaga's basketball team, goes on to play 19 seasons for the Utah Jazz where he holds the NBA record for most career assists and steals
    1985  - Capital Campaign provides more than 1,400 scholarships and 5 endowed professorships
    1986  - Waikiki Retreat Center takes a new name: Bozarth
    1986 -Gonzaga celebrates 100 years!
    1987  - New construction: Jepson Center for the School of Business
    1988  - GUTS (Gonzaga University Theater Sports) is established
    1989  - Gonzaga crew starts participating in intercollegiate competitions

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 1990-1999

    1990s - Baseball team joins West Coast Conference
    1990s - New construction: Foley Center, Rosauer Center for the School of Ed., Jundt Art Center & Museum, Dussault & Burch apartments
    1990  - Gonzaga hosts Goodwill Games athletes
    1991  - Harry Sladich ('59, MBA '67) becomes the first layperson to assume Gonzaga's presidency (Acting) in 1991 and from 1997-98 (Acting); Sladich held more than a dozen positions over 46 years
    1993  - Crosby Library becomes Crosby Student Center
    1995  - Men's basketball team, first appearance in the NCAA Tournament
    1997  - Institute for Action Against Hate founded
    1997  - Residence halls wired to Internet
    1998  - Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., becomes President, leading 54 percent enrollment growth and spearheading more than $200 million in new construction over his tenure
    1999  - Men's basketball makes the NCCA Elite Eight, its deepest run to date

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 2000-2009

    2000s - New construction: School of Law, McCarthey Athletic Center, PACCAR, Corkery and Kennedy apartments, Dillon and Goller residence halls
    2000  - Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program starts
    2003  - Additions to Hughes Hall, Jepson Center and Cataldo Hall
    2003  - Administration Building and COG remodeled
    2005  - "Educating People the World Needs Most" Capital Campaign raises $148 million, funding 13 new and renovated campus buildings, increasing scholarship endowments, and dedicating resources to Gonzaga-in-Florence and the University's five distinct mission areas (faith, ethics, service, justice and leadership)
    2007  - New Patterson Baseball complex opens
    2007  - Gonzaga's Jesuits receive the first annual Ignatian Spirit Award

    View Slideshow A Look Back at GU History »


  • 2010-Present

    2010  - Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil. becomes the first lay Gonzaga University president
    2011  - Women's basketball point guard Courtney Vandersloot becomes the first NCAA Division I basketball player – man or woman – to record 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in a collegiate career
    2011  - Gonzaga women's basketball team makes the NCAA Elite Eight in the Spokane Veteran's Memorial Arena
    2012  - Gonzaga celebrates its 125th Anniversary
    2012  - Gonzaga Debate Team makes first-ever appearance in the Final Four
    2012  - The Most Reverend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for his efforts to end apartheid, gives the Senior Commencement address and is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree
    View Slideshows » A Look Back at GU History »