President's Brief

TO: Gonzaga Students, Faculty, and Staff
FROM: Thayne M. McCulloh, Ph.D.
SUBJ: President's Brief
DATE: February 2, 2011

Greetings from the President’s Office! It’s difficult to believe that we have moved through January and are already into February, in my experience, usually one of the coldest months of the year. Given the early snow in November and the deep snowpack in the mountains, we may have seen the worst of it – but then again, it’s obviously too early to know.

January 2011 Activities

January began for my office much as it ended – with visits to alumni and benefactors. The beginning of the month allowed me to spend some time in Southern California with long-time and very strong supporters of Gonzaga, and to talk with them about emerging priorities for our next campaign.

The official beginning of the semester, the Spring Faculty Conference, was a long-anticipated chance to frame up our current opportunities and challenges as regards resource planning for next fiscal year (2011-12). Our focus in making decisions must remain on our students and our students’ needs. Whether we are making decisions about financial aid, academic program needs, resource conservation or fundraising, our mission of educating students is central, and our choices need to reflect this. The Faculty Conference was also an important opportunity for all to hear about certain concerns and to ensure that these inform not only the priorities, but also our process. I am grateful to Faculty President Rose Mary Volbrecht for hosting this opportunity, and to co-presenters AVP Patricia O’Connell Killen, VP for Finance Chuck Murphy, EVP Marty Martin, and Associate VP for University Relations Joe Poss for their efforts.

Our Spring 2011 10th Day enrollment shows us at 7,644 students, as compared to 7,669 same date last year (thus, our overall enrollment is slightly smaller than last Spring).  Registrations show us with 4,662 undergraduates; 490 Law students; 100 doctoral students; 2,209 students in Master’s programs; and 183 students in various programs, including the English Language Center.

Later this week, I will announce the search committee membership for the currently-vacant Vice President for Mission. I am very grateful to the Mission Advisory Group for its hard work regarding not only the position description, but also ways in which the V.P. for Mission can be better supported and assisted. The search will be chaired by Associate VP Joan Allbery, and our hope is to undertake a review of applications later this month, with interviews next month.

As we are all aware, there have been several serious pedestrian accidents involving students this year: several in the fall (on Mission Avenue and on Sharp), and one just last Friday, on Hamilton Street. Improving pedestrian safety has long been a concern, and it has been an area of specific focus for me this year. Executive VP Earl Martin and Plant Services Director Ken Sammons have been working on specific plans which—with the City’s approval—would improve safety for both pedestrians and cars on  Sharp Avenue and on Hamilton. We have been in discussion with the City of Spokane about various options regarding  these heavily-traveled arterials, and are working on a traffic study which will inform our decisions. I am very pleased about the City’s response thus far and will keep you apprised as we move forward. In the meantime, I ask that everyone be very cautious crossing major arterials surrounding campus.

February 2011 Activities

Given the normal February weather experience, it is only fitting that, as I write this, I am flying out of a huge Midwestern storm, returning from five concentrated days of work in Washington, D.C. Our calendar for the next month or so includes the following:

  • Bishop’s Breakfast with Diocesan Schools (February 7)
  • Appointment of Committee to Review & Revise University Events Policy
  • February Trustee Meeting & Retreat (Scottsdale, Feb. 9-12)
  • Preparation of the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget (January-April)
  • Independent Colleges of Washington Retreat (Seattle, Feb. 18)
  • Intense work on the institution’s first full-scale accreditation report since the Northwest Commission instituted new standards (due March 1)
  • Continued development of plans and strategy regarding pedestrian safety on Sharp Avenue and Hamilton Avenue
“Jesuit and Catholic Identity”

As a focus of my time in Washington, D.C. this past several days, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of university presidents (including those of our sister Jesuit institutions) and Catholic clergy (including Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington D.C.). A significant part of our discussion surrounded issues relating to the Jesuit and Catholic identity of our institutions – discussions prompted, in part, by the issuing of last week’s guidelines for the ten-year review of Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Apostolic Constitution of Pope John Paul II on Catholic Universities. As it happens, this review comes at a time when the 28 Jesuit universities are examining similar issues relating to Jesuit identity.

I believe such processes and reviews, particularly if institutions choose to look at them as opportunities for healthy and engaged dialogue and exploration, can be very constructive. I am very proud of the role that Gonzaga plays as both a Jesuit apostolic work and an active part of the Catholic Church. One of the reasons I look forward with hope to our search for the next Mission Vice President is the role this individual can play in facilitating discussion and activity that helps us, in new and deeper ways, to appreciate the meaning of our work as an intellectual mission. It is a conversation that, for us, is ongoing and important; as various opportunities emerge for dialogue regarding our mission-based identity, I hope that you will consider adding your voice to the conversation.

As we continue on the journey of this Spring semester, let us continue to affirm our individual value to one another on a daily basis. Be healthy and take care of yourselves.  My grateful prayers and best wishes are with you. GO ZAGS!

Thayne M McCulloh

Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.
Gonzaga University

Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.

Chief of Staff to the President
John Sklut

Exec. Assistant to the President
Julia Bjordahl

Admin. Assistant/Event Coordinator
Allison Peterson