Modification of University Mission Statement

Earlier this academic year, the Council on Equity, Inclusion and Intercultural Awareness proposed a modification to the University’s Mission Statement, one which specifically advocated including the adverb “culturally” to the second paragraph, to wit:

“In keeping with its Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic heritage and identity, Gonzaga models and expects excellence in academic and professional pursuits and intentionally develops the whole person – intellectually, spiritually, culturally, physically and emotionally.”

The purpose of this proposed amendment is to underscore the importance of ensuring that all members of our University community have a culturally engaging and integrating experience during their time at Gonzaga.  It further recognizes that affirming and delivering on a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is an effort that requires the engagement of the entire institution, not one or two areas or programs.

This proposal was subsequently reviewed and endorsed by a number of formal bodies of the University, to include the Gonzaga Student Body Association Senate, the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Council, and the Staff Assembly.  With the endorsement of these entities, GSBA President Caleb Dawson presented this proposal to the Administration and the Board of Trustees, along with some context and perspective regarding its importance, at its December meeting in Seattle.

The Mission Statement is one of the most significant foundational documents of the University.  It is a principal way by which one can understand how the institution considers its identity, values and purpose.  The Trustees, therefore, took seriously this proposal and, following the Seattle presentation, the Mission Committee of the Board was tasked to receive, review, and make a recommendation regarding the inclusion of the adverb, “culturally.”

I am pleased to share with the Gonzaga Community that the Board of Trustees voted, upon the recommendation of the Mission Committee, to approve this proposal.  I would be remiss, however, if I did not underscore the degree to which this proposal has engendered considerable discussion and a request for further dialogue regarding the current state of cultural awareness, sensitivity, and support for diversity in our student, faculty, staff and governing board populations.  An initial presentation on these issues was provided to our Trustees and Regents by Dr. Raymond Reyes, Associate AVP and Chief Diversity Officer, at the most recent (April) meeting; subsequent discussion ensued throughout the day, with specific conversation regarding the amendment to the Mission Statement and its significance being a focus.  It is clearly my sense that the Trustees consider these issues to be worthy of continued discussion, and that support for the institution’s efforts to develop plans and strategies focused on diversity, inclusivity, intercultural awareness and equity continue.

I want to take this opportunity to express appreciation to the members of the Council on Equity, Inclusion and Intercultural Awareness, and in particular GSBA President Caleb Dawson, for their initiative and commitment, and to all those involved in the discussions leading to this action.  The amended Mission Statement is now in effect, and we will work this summer to ensure that its publication is reflective of the change.  Thank you.


GSBA President Caleb Dawson has asked that I ensure that the university community is aware of, and invited to, “Diversity and Equity at GU: The Story Behind the Stats” on Sunday, April 30th in the Hemmingson Ballroom at 7pm.  This event is designed to bear witness to and reflect upon students’ experience of exclusion and inclusion at Gonzaga.  Through this “moment for mission,” we will be invited to make an informed commitment to being a sacred place wherein all students, staff, and faculty belong and experience Gonzaga as a culturally enriching university.

Sincerely yours,

Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.
President, Gonzaga University
April 24, 2017