Then and Now: A Look at the Century’s first 20 years at Gonzaga

Main entrance to the Hemmingson Center

May 29, 2019
Dale Goodwin ('86)

Perhaps at no time in the history of Gonzaga has the University changed more than it has in the last 20 years. Two dozen buildings have been built or renovated, we successfully transitioned from a Jesuit president to a lay leader, we’ve completed two highly-successful capital campaigns bringing in more than a half billion dollars, enrollment has increased 69% while the diversity of our student body has seen a marked increase, every school is accredited by its respective bodies, and achievements continue to mount. 

The University’s Jesuit mission strong, fueled by an awareness created through the Mission Examen Priority Process, which asked for and received input from nearly every Gonzaga constituency. 

The completion of the Law School Building on the site of the former U.S. Postal Annex came in 2000, at the beginning of this century, and the opening of the magnificent Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center in April signaled the last building project of this period. While no building has had a bigger impact on bringing the campus community together than the John J. Hemmingson Center in 2015, perhaps no structure represents the human will better than Kennedy Apartments, which, two-thirds completed, burned to its foundation at an arsonist’s hand in 2006 and was rebuilt for start of fall semester 2007. 

Over the past 20 years we’ve lost some longtime and treasured faculty members, and acquired a number of rising stars. The Schools of Nursing and Human Physiology, and Professional Studies were created, a new Core Curriculum was unveiled, and opportunities for students to explore real-world experience through research, internships and study-abroad options have grown significantly.

Meanwhile, a ticket to basketball in McCarthey Athletic Center has become the most sought admission in the Inland Northwest. Men’s basketball’s five straight trips to the Sweet Sixteen, and three trips to the Elite Eight in the last five years is unmatched by any other school in America. But as important is Gonzaga athletes’ top national ranking in Academic Progress Rate and No. 2 ranking in graduation rate. 

With notable contributions from longtime faculty, staff and administrators over this span, coupled with the addition of gifted educators and leaders who have brought fresh perspectives, the University is on solid ground as it enters the second fifth of the 21st century. 

Peruse these facts and figures, comparing then and now. In 1998-99, President Father Robert Spitzer was inaugurated as Gonzaga’s 25th president and basketball was about to take the national stage. Today, under the University’s 26th President Thayne McCulloh, who was appointed interim president in July 2009 and president in July 2010, Gonzaga continues to raise the bar as one of the country’s truly exemplary Jesuit, Catholic universities.

Then: 4,433 (2,848 undergraduates)
Now: 7,504 (5,285 undergraduates)

Undergraduate Students of Color
Then: 9% 
Now: 23% 


Then: $16,710
Now: $42,270

Most Prevalent Majors
Then: Business 486; Psychology 144
Now: Business 1,163; Nursing 385; Biology 383 

Students in University Housing
Then: 1,611
Now: 2,780

Then: 806 (277 faculty, 529 staff)
Now: 1,319 (465 faculty, 854 staff)

University Budget
Then: $73 million
Now: $313 million

Then: $100 million
Now: $298 million

Capital Campaigns
2005: Goal $119 million, Raised $150 million
2018: Goal $250 million, Raised $355 million

New and Major Renovated Buildings
Academic: Law School, Paccar, Tilford, Jepson expansion, Hughes addition, Florence Mozilo Center, Humanities, Woldson
Student Life: Crosby, BARC, Hemmingson
Residence Living: Corkery, Dillon, Goller, Twohy, Kennedy, Marian, Coughlin, 
Athletics: Rudolf, McCarthey, Stevens, Volkar; and Patterson & Luger fields
Other: Huetter, Della Strada

Campus size
Then: 94 acres, 108 buildings
Now: 152 acres, 103 buildings

Sampling of Major Milestones
Remained in U.S. News & World Report’s Top 5 Comprehensive Regional Universities in the West
        -Engineering, MBA and Accounting programs ranked among the best in the U.S. 
All schools accredited by their respective accrediting bodies
Service learning became an academic component
Mission Statement updated
New Core Curriculum introduced
Regional Health Partnership created with the University of Washington School of Medicine 
Underwent a Mission Priority Examen Process 
Opened School of Nursing and Human Physiology
Opened School of Leadership Studies
Women’s basketball is filling 93% of the 6,000 seats in McCarthey Athletic Center, and women’s crew has won 17 WCC titles in the last 22 years. 

Changes in Key Administrative Posts
President: Fr. Robert Spitzer, Thayne McCulloh
Academic Vice President/Provost: Fr. Pat Ford, Wayne Powel, Stephen Freedman, Thayne McCulloh, Marty Martin, Patricia Killen, Elisabeth Mermann-Jozwiak, Beth Martin, Deena Gonzalez
Vice President for Student Development: Sue Weitz, Judi Biggs Garbuio
Vice President for Mission: Fr. Bill Watson, Fr. Rick Ganz, Fr. Pat Lee, Fr. Steve Hess, Fr. Frank Case, Fr. Scott Coble, Fr. Pat Lee, Michelle Wheatley
Vice President for Finance/Chief Finance Officer: Chuck Murphy, Joe Smith
Vice President for University Relations/Advancement: Margot Stanfield, Joe Poss
Vice President for Administration & Planning/Executive VP/Administration: Harry Sladich, Thayne McCulloh, Marty Martin, Skip Myers, John Sklut, Jim Angelosante
Corporation Counsel: Mike Casey, Maureen McGuire
Athletic Director: Mike Roth