Dear Gonzaga Faculty, Staff and Administrators:
As we approach, once again, the day on which our nation has by custom agreed to pause and to give thanks for all of the things for which we ought rightfully be grateful, I am struck by the fact that the United States, a relatively young nation by the standards of many other countries around the world, is one of comparatively few that formally sets aside a day for focusing on gratitude. Indeed, our national observation of this holiday was formally instituted by President Abraham Lincoln during the dark days of Civil War. If Lincoln could call on a wounded nation to consider its blessings at such a dark moment in our nation’s history, surely we should find it much easier to respond to his exhortation than did his fellow Americans 150 years ago.
Despite the inevitable challenges we face and the concerns we share, we are blessed as a community of people devoted to providing a rigorous educational experience for our students. Furthermore, I know that whatever successes we have are directly attributable to all of you. Our work as a university, dedicated to enhancing and making more capable the women and men who come to us, is essential work; by these efforts, our graduates gain for themselves the opportunity to lead successful and meaningful lives.
Everywhere I go, I meet alumni and friends who tell me how much they owe to this institution: to individuals who went out of their way to help, to professors, staff and Jesuits that changed their lives, and to experiences at Gonzaga that made them stronger. And each of those encounters reminds me that while we are a working community of more than a thousand people, ultimately it is the one-on-one encounter with individuals that make the kind of difference our alumni tell me about. Each one of you is that individual; you make Gonzaga what it is; and I am grateful to you for this.
I hope that, along with the opportunity to think about all of our blessings over these next few days, you will also have a chance to “recharge batteries” before the final push of the term, enjoying the company of your families and friends, as we give thanks in a special way for those who make up the fabric of our lives. I pray for restoration of power for those still without it; for safe travel for those of you making trips; and for an enthusiastic return for all of us to the collaborative work to which we have dedicated ourselves.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.
November 24, 2015