Over these past several weeks -- as autumn winds blew the leaves from the trees and an early snow dusted campus with the first hint of winter -- I have found myself reflecting a good deal upon the place we are as a University, and as individuals, joined in common purpose. The focus of much of our daily energy, as it should be, is on learning, through interaction, scholarship and research; so too is important time spent in creating and maintaining relationships, paying attention to individual and collective health and safety; and constant efforts to sustain and improve the institution of which we are a part.
But we do not exist in a utopian bubble. Even a cursory glance at the daily news makes clear the many challenges our society faces and we as members of it face – many of which have implications for individual members of our community as well. Dramatic changes in federal policy relating to immigration and undocumented students (particularly those affected by the rescission of DACA), proposed changes in the tax code and federal financial aid, and proposed amendments to health care coverage are but a few examples. Right here at home, we as a community have been engaged in substantive discussions and activism focused on eliminating racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination; protecting the environment; and continually addressing the needs of those who are fighting every day to manage health challenges such as anxiety and depression (among numerous issues). The responsibility of meeting these myriad challenges is real, and ongoing.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day—a holiday that invites us to reflect upon the blessings we have in our lives. Central to St. Ignatius’ theology is the concept of gratitude, the recognition that, despite the challenges and adversities each of us face, we are abundantly blessed by God – through the gifts of our Earth, our capacities, and perhaps most of all, by the gift of others in our lives. Thanksgiving is an important moment to take a step back and focus on the many gifts of Gonzaga – most especially, the inspiring people that make up our University community.
I am humbled and grateful that each of you – students, staff, faculty, and administrators – continue to choose each day to be a part of the Gonzaga community, and for the many ways in which each of you contribute to making Gonzaga the place that it is. For it is a choice, and one that I do not take for granted. Without your commitment, creativity and the high standards and values that you make obvious in your endeavors, we would not be where we are today – a place dedicated to doing important work with long-lasting and positive impact. I wish you a Thanksgiving filled with respite and moments of joy.
With sincere thanks and deep gratitude,
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.
President, Gonzaga University
November 22, 2017