Looking Forward: What's Next for Gonzaga?

Provost Sacha Kopp
Provost Sacha Kopp has championed the updating of the University Strategic Plan.

October 30, 2023
Gonzaga Marketing & Communications

In the following excerpt from the 2022-23 Report of the President, we discuss our process for updating the university's Strategic Plan and highlight some of the many upcoming priorities we're enthusiastic about.

A Grand Challenge

While much has changed over the past 136 years, one thing remains truer than ever: Critical to Gonzaga’s success is the continual focus on strengthening the educational experience that makes us who we are. While always refining and adapting for changing times, the value of a comprehensive education with the liberal arts at its core has never been clearer.

Underscoring the connection between education and occupational success, part of GU’s lasting legacy is to strengthen the educational experience, expressing fidelity to our Jesuit, Catholic and humanistic heritage and our aspiration to be an exemplar of that education well into the future.

For the last year, individuals and departments across campus have embraced “The Grand Challenge,” the process of updating the 2015 Gonzaga University Strategic Plan. All strategic planning techniques reveal complexities and opportunities for improvement, and through collaboration and expertise from within the institution, we are ready to proceed with action.

With Board approval, the updated Strategic Plan offers a centralized roadmap to support the continued delivery of exceptional undergraduate and graduate educational experiences, while
deepening research and ethics-informed professional education that cultivates attention to the common good, creative innovation and leadership. Anchored by the same Vision, Mission Statement, and Four Commitments of the 2015 plan, the new plan has:

A. Updated goals that articulate key institutional aspirations for the next five to seven years;
B. Concrete actions to take based on insights from the Grand Challenge process; and
C. Measurable metrics for accountability during the evolution of the plan.

A key to success is constantly evaluating opportunities that position Gonzaga for distinction and competitive advantage. This aspiration of strategic differentiation is embedded in many of the
identified goals and will continue to inform strategic activity and policy development.

The Grand Challenge process has resulted in an action-oriented set of opportunities that align well with our mission and vision as an exemplar Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic institution. It has
been inspiring to read the submitted plans and understand the opportunities they could create, and it has been gratifying to witness colleagues across campus coming together to learn, discuss, and collaborate together on these projects.

So what’s next? In July 2023, following approval from the Board of Trustees, the Provost and senior leaders began working with units, schools, and the College to build these broad ideas into unit-level strategic plans, aligning our programs toward these guiding principles and identifying funding opportunities for larger projects.

There is still much left to this journey. In a time when the value of higher education continues to be questioned, it is more important than ever that Gonzaga rises up and shows the world why we, more than any other institution, take on grand challenges with grit, determination, and resilience.

Following are the 12 Actions in development at this stage:

  • Action 1: School of Health Sciences
  • Action 2: Institute for Informatics and Applied Technology
  • Action 3: Integrative Jesuit Education
    • Integrative Jesuit Educational Experience
    • Housing Master Plan
    • Mission Integration + Academics
    • Honors + LLCs
    • Global/National Education
    • Student Success
    • Outdoor Learning
  • Action 4: Re-imagine the Learning Environment
    • Center for Faculty Development and Formation
    • Reimagining Foley Library
    • Online
    • Technology, CRM, etc.
  • Action 5: Strategic Enrollment
  • Action 6: Inclusive Excellence
  • Action 7: Service and Action Within Our Community
    • Opportunity Northeast
    • Early Child Development
    • Tribal Research and Engagement
  • Action 8: Humanities Institute
  • Action 9: Center for Ignatian Dialogue and Discernment
  • Action 10: Institute for Water, Climate, and the Environment
  • Action 11: Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Action 12: Affirming Our Defining Relationships

Read more at gonzaga.edu/strategicplan.

Priorities for the Future

Mission Development

Mission Engagement leads faculty and staff in the practice of Ignatian discernment, exploring the topics of cura personalis and justice, and other spirituality programming. This year, the first mission formation cohorts will complete the multiyear program, applying their learning through mission integration projects across the university.

Affirming Jesuit Connections: A priority of the Office of Mission Integration has been the orchestration of deeper formation opportunities for faculty and staff to explore Jesuit spirituality and Ignatian pedagogy.

Academic Excellence

New Degree Programs: With many professions becoming increasingly data-driven, and the challenges of finding strong, service-oriented leaders common across industries, GU is offering three new opportunities: a Master of Science in Business Analytics, an online Master of Business Administration and an online Master of Education in Educational Leadership with Principal Certification.

Degrees on the Horizon: Other programs are under review: Bachelor of Science in Data Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, Bachelor in Public Health and an Accelerated 3+3 Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor (in partnership with the School of Law), Master of Science in Cybersecurity, Master of Science in Data Science, Master of Public Health and Master of Engineering Management.

Centers and Institutes: The Board’s approval of the Strategic Plan allows the Provost’s office to move forward in developing a Humanities Institute and the Center for Ignatian Dialogue and Discernment. Through an Institute for Informatics & Applied Technology, funded by a $5 million gift from the family of David and Cathleen Reisenauer, to establish a directorship, GU will partner with local industries, government agencies and health providers.

School of Health Sciences: Comprehensive health education and access to care in rural areas remain high needs for our region. Building on Gonzaga’s existing programs in nursing and human physiology, what was once the School of Nursing and Human Physiology is now the School of Health Sciences. This School looks forward to strengthening the University’s ongoing partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Enhancing The Student Experience

Student Wellness: Changes in society, the isolation of technology, and global, economic and public health crises are definitely impacting students’ mental health. To address growing needs, Gonzaga’s counseling, health and wellness services are realigning to put resources where they’re most impactful.

Village Living: It has been 13 years since new housing became available on Gonzaga’s campus, and in that time enrollment has grown, retention rates have increased and some residential spaces have been repurposed for other uses. An ambitious expansion of our residence halls is underway, with a focus on accommodating more of our freshmen and sophomore students in living-learning communities. This summer, construction began on a new 90+ bed residence hall at the corner of Sharp Avenue and Cincinnati Street. This is the first step in a larger endeavor to develop a residential village designed primarily for second-year students, but versatile enough to accommodate other student populations if needed. The proposed site for the new village is in the area south of Sharp and between Cincinnati and Standard.

The Future of Foley: Gonzaga’s residential learning experience prizes the way students learn best: through collaboration, dialogue, reflection, debate and community. Evaluating how infrastructure fosters this learning environment, Foley Library will be reimagined as an academic learning commons with more spaces for peer collaboration, advising and mentoring support and a Center for Faculty Development and Formation. Finally, investments in technology will benefit students through digital learning tools and systems care, assessing their progress to completion.

Supporting Student Athletes: Providing strong programs in sports contributes significantly to the experience of student athletes. In July, construction began on a 17,000 square-foot indoor practice baseball facility. The new complex, funded entirely by donations, will sport four batting cages and two pitching mounds for practice time unhindered by weather. The project is due for completion in time for the start of the spring 2024 season.

In The Community

STA ribbon cutting

STA City Line: In July, Spokane Transit Authority’s City Line officially launched with a celebration outside the Hemmingson Center. Ten years in the making, the zero-emissions rapid-transit bus line is connecting the Spokane community in a whole new way. City Line buses allow Gonzaga campus community members to travel across town to Browne’s Addition, further connecting our campus to the city in safe and sustainable ways.

Service and Action Within our Community: The call to justice and solidarity articulated by Pedro Arrupe, S.J., to be persons for and with others is fostered in numerous ways:

  • All academic degrees will include service learning, experiential learning, outdoor learning or global learning.
  • Opportunity Northeast will strengthen its service to the Logan Neighborhood with housing, family care, legal advocacy and workforce training.
  • Catholic Charities’ partnership with GU will explore the creation of a new child development center, providing much-needed care not only for children of faculty and staff at the University, but those that live in the Logan Neighborhood.

More from the Report of the President