She Gave so Others Would, Too

Women Lead 2018

April 06, 2018

Ninety-nine years ago, when Liz (Tomich) Morris' ('80) mother was born, it would have been considered nearly impossible for a woman to climb high in the ranks of higher education—but that's exactly what she did. Marciel Tomich lived through the Great Depression, two World Wars and spent 20 years as the director of administration and registrar of the Pacific Northwest Banking School (later renamed the Pacific Coast Banking School) in Seattle, Washington. But she did more than make a name for herself in a traditionally male-dominated business community. She set an important example for her daughters.

"She instilled in my sister and myself the confidence to do anything," said Morris. "She demonstrated to us that it didn't have to be a 'man's world.'" 

Today, Morris is perpetuating her mother's legacy for women in her own generation and beyond as a champion of the Women Lead conferences through Gonzaga's School of Leadership Studies.  She even went as far as to put up $10,000 as a challenge gift during Zags Give Day on March 8, 2018, to encourage support and further the program. 

"I would love to see more conferences presented in other communities and scholarship opportunities for more women to attend," Morris said of her goal behind the gift. "Not all women were raised by a strong mother or fall in love with and marry a guy who always supports whatever they try to do, and when Gonzaga approached me about these conferences, I thought 'yes, this is super-important.' I want my girls and daughters-in-law to be able to see how important women's roles can be in the workforce." 

Also critical to Morris was that this movement be framed in Jesuit principles. She has always felt strongly about the ideals of critical thinking, respect for individual dignity, development of human potential and commitment to service of others. Morris and her husband Scott have committed themselves to living these values in their daily lives and believe that pairing them with the importance of empowering women in leadership can be a powerful thing. 

"Gonzaga is uniquely poised to have a significant impact," said Morris, "and I love that the Jesuit ideals are our guide." 

Morris' challenge gift helped inspire more than 184 donors to contribute over $19,000 in support for Women Lead on Zags Give Day.  When specifically asked why they chose to support Women Lead, several people shared motivations similar to what inspired Morris.

"We need more leaders, specifically women, who can help to create more leaders and give girls people to look up to," said Nicole Turcotte. 

"I'm an alum from back on the cusp of the women's liberation movement," shared Susan Roberts, "and I still think we have a long way to go in gaining true equality for women."

Anna Miller said her gift was inspired by "the dream that someday our leaders will make decisions that benefit the lowest and most marginalized in society — who better to start the movement than women?" 

Gonzaga University is so very grateful for Morris' leadership and generosity. Although Zags Give Day may be over, you can still join Morris in supporting Women Lead by making your own gift of support to the School of Leadership Studies.