Looking Sharp

Spokane Mayor David Condon and GU President Thayne McCulloh drive on Sharp Ave

November 30, 2018
President Thayne McCulloh

President's Perspectives, from Gonzaga Magazine, Winter 2019 issue

By Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil, President

The summer-long closure of Spokane’s Sharp Avenue from Hamilton to Ruby was an inconvenience, but its reopening this fall has been notable – a far more significant project than simply smoothing the route to College Hall and St. Aloysius Church. A re-imagined Sharp Avenue is a tangible example of what can happen when our students and faculty partner with the City of Spokane for solutions that impact us all.

Civil engineering design classes, led by Associate Professor Sue Niezgoda, contributed to environmentally sustainable solutions for the street’s storm water management. Porous asphalt, concrete roadway sections, bio-retention swales and an inverted landscaped crown all are intended to filter water that eventually reaches our region’s aquifer. By narrowing the street from four lanes to two with bump-outs at crosswalks and well defined bicycle lanes, we hope greater safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists on this busy arterial.

This major reconstruction would not have been possible without Mayor David Condon’s leadership and the support of the City Council, state representatives and our Logan Neighborhood residents. The collaboration truly represents just one more significant improvement that the City of Spokane is relentlessly pursuing to support our shared community and the welfare of all of its citizens.

cheerleaders and neighbors watch Mayor and GU President drive newly opened Sharp Ave

There’s more of this kind of civic collaboration to come.

In 2019, Gonzaga expects to launch a new “place-based initiative” that underscores the university’s long commitment to an economically challenged area of Spokane. Faculty experts and community engagement leaders have been researching ways other universities have accomplished impressive results in their cities, and we’re preparing to launch similar strategies for improving the lives of residents and the strength of local businesses here. Such projects rely on strong collaborations with civic leaders, foundations, institutions and citizens. Stay tuned to learn more in the spring.

For more than 130 years, Gonzaga has been intimately connected with the life and welfare of the Spokane community, so it is natural to continue to focus on ways we can have a positive impact upon it. It’s not only good for Spokane and the region, but vital in preparing students for lives of service in the places they will call home. I’d be remiss for not acknowledging that this good work is made possible only with the unwavering support of people like you. 

Thank you for your friendship, and may God richly bless you in this holiday season.

Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.