Reaching New Heights: Celebrating the Many Achievements from the 2022-23 Academic Year

A climber from Gonzaga's Immersive Outdoor Learning program stand atop the Rocks of Sharon.
October 30, 2023
Gonzaga Marketing & Communications

From state-of-the-art facilities to diverse research grants, impactful campus events to new academic programs, take a look at some of the noteworthy moments and accomplishments featured in the 2022-23 Report of the President

Academic Endeavors

Faculty Focus

  • Erik Aver, professor of physics, earned a three-year, nearly $800,000 National Science Foundation grant in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Ohio State University to analyze data collected at the Large Binocular Microscope in southern Arizona, determining how much helium was produced in the minutes after the Big Bang.
  • Betsy Bancroft, associate professor of biology and environmental studies, earned a five-year, $858,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to explore the effects of climate change on freshwater bodies in the Northwest. Bancroft and GU students will collaborate with Oregon State University and Whitworth University on the project.
  • Todd Finkle, Pigott Professor of Entrepreneurship at the School of Business Administration, published “Warren Buffett: Investor and Entrepreneur" with Columbia Business School Publishing.
  • Pavel Shlossberg, associate professor of communication and leadership, curated an exhibit called “Dancing with Life” with the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. Shlossberg received 54 dance masks from the region of Michoacan, Mexico, along with dance regalia and video presentations to complement his research in the role of these cultural traditions.
Professor Schlossber
Professor Pavel Shlossberg

Supporting a Profession in Need

The School of Education created a doctoral degree in school psychology, allowing graduates to work in educational settings as well as private practice, community and hospital settings, making them eligible for licensure as psychologists.

Showcasing Expertise & Inquiry

  • More than 100 school psychologists gathered with the School of Education for the annual assessment conference to explore “The Future of Cognitive Assessment.” Experts shared research and evidence that suggests school psychologists and other professionals involved in assessment should carefully consider all measurements of abilities, rather than relying on a single IQ score to determine developmental disabilities and appropriate intervention strategies.
  • The Spokane Cyber Cup IV cybersecurity competition took place on Gonzaga’s campus with a record 128 participants from Inland Northwest schools. The annual event brings together university and high school students interested in cybersecurity. Gonzaga alum Maxwell Dulin (’19, computer science) created the event in 2019 and continues to build the challenges and recruit industry mentors to help teams learn new cybersecurity skills.

Learning with Engineering Experts

More than 160 engineering students completed 41 senior design projects, putting to use new knowledge to serve real-world needs. From libraries to construction companies and aircraft developers, students contributed to work in many industries.

Engineering students
Senior engineering students evaluated seats in Boeing airplanes, with guidance from Andrew Asper, adjunct faculty in Mechanical Engineering.


The E. L. Wiegand Foundation awarded the School of Health Sciences a $169,000 grant to secure vital new equipment to help train nursing students.

Technology Transition

Gonzaga completed the implementation of the Canvas Learning Management System spurred by a need for more user-friendly tools and robust faculty-student support. The Canvas platform integrates with other Gonzaga database and service platforms, offering greater efficiencies.

Prestigious Learning

Center for Lifelong Learning

A principal academic accomplishment of the 2022-23 academic year at Gonzaga University was the launch of the Center for Lifelong Learning, offering continuing education, professional development and personal enrichment programs to the public.

Programs and certificates are designed to meet the needs of professionals seeking to advance into leadership roles, start a new career, and desiring to grow and learn, no matter what their stage is in life.

CLL participants

“We want to bring the expertise and opportunities of this world-class university to our community,” said Rachelle Strawther, director of the GU Center for Lifelong Learning. “Our mission is to create pathways for people from all backgrounds and educational levels to learn and grow at Gonzaga.”

The Center for Lifelong Learning partners with departments across campus to offer a wide range of non-degree programs, including, but not limited to:

  • Webinars
  • Workshops
  • Professional certificates
  • Consulting services

The first major offering was a pair of Certificates in Cybersecurity and Software Development. The cybersecurity “bootcamp” covers industry fundamentals, systems and network security, vulnerability assessment and security operations, while the software development program covers key aspects of front-end web development, back-end web development, databases and data structures and algorithms.

The Certificate in Climate Action Planning helps guide organizations across the country in achieving their local community’s climate goals. The combined expertise of GU’s Institute for Climate, Water and the Environment and Center for Lifelong Learning delivers practical guidance on achieving emission-reduction goals and building more climate-friendly cities, churches, schools and businesses.

Institute for Climate, Water, and the Environment

One year after the Northwest’s deadly heat dome, GU’s Climate Institute launched “Spokane Beat the Heat” to help residents understand the impacts of extreme summer heat and help prevent future heat-related deaths. The initiative included urban heat island mapping, a community survey and a correlation data study, which resulted in a heat health education campaign developed in partnership with the Spokane Regional Health District with presentations to Spokane’s Mayor and City Council.

Climate Action Lessons

  • Nine student Climate Literacy Fellows created seven new hands-on climate literacy lessons and engaged with more than 2,000 area students in grades 2-8.
  • Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J. (’68), of the Vatican, presented “Caring for our Common Home, in This World and with This Climate.”
  • Laura Petes, chief of staff for Climate & Environment and assistant director for Climate Resilience at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, discussed working with federal agencies to advance the climate and environmental priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration.

Community-Engaged Learning

Opportunity Northeast focused on improving outcomes for youth and families in Northeast Spokane and Gonzaga continued to provide in-school mentoring programs with elementary, middle and high school students. GU students also volunteered at O’Malley Senior Apartments, Thrive International Refugee Services, Catholic Charities Eastern Washington and more.

Gonzaga student works with a youth through CEL
Skye Clark (‘22) served youth at Gonzaga Family Haven as an AmeriCorps volunteer

The Center for Community Engagement supported a full array of wraparound programs for the residents of Gonzaga Family Haven to help 70+ families,
fostering movement from intergenerational poverty to independence. The Haven received $576,000 in direct federal funding from the Department of Health & Human Services to enhance its programming and services for Haven residents, and has also been supported by many generous benefactors.

4,300 GU students fulfilled more than 87,000 hours in community engagement.
100 sections of community-engaged learning courses were provided, from philosophy and psychology to business, nursing, engineering and more.

Speakers and Events

A cornerstone of Gonzaga’s mission is challenging students through unique and thought-provoking perspectives. Over the last year, the University hosted individuals whose life experiences and stories have provided opportunities to pause, join in dialogue and generate questions that inform and inspire our work.

Here are just a few examples:

Caring for our Common Home, in This World and with This Climate | Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J.

With his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home,” Pope Francis invited people of all backgrounds to undergo an “ecological conversion” to live in better harmony with all of God’s creation. Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J. (’68), Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, is in charge of the Catholic Church’s efforts to assure humanity’s ability to live in dignity. Given how climate-related disasters disproportionately affect the world’s poorest citizens, Czerny’s work involves not just the science of climate change but migration patterns, social services, global economics and more. Czerny’s presentation explored the intersections between faith, climate change, and Gonzaga's role in caring for our common home.

How to Fight Poverty with Profits: A Conversation with Cotopaxi Founder | Davis Smith

Inspired by his youth growing up in the foothills of the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador, Davis Smith created his business, Cotopaxi, to be a positive change agent. Relationships with nonprofit partners, coupled with the use of recycled, repurposed and responsibly sourced materials, have led the company to fight poverty in new and unique ways.

Building Stronger Communities Through Sustained Activism | Helen Zia

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Helen Zia spoke on issues ranging from human rights and peace, to women’s rights and countering hate, violence and homophobia. A Fulbright Scholar and graduate of Princeton University’s first coeducational class, Zia is an activist, award-winning author and former journalist. Zia presented “Building Stronger Communities Through Sustained Activism,” a discussion about Asian American and LGBTQ+ movements, sustaining social movements, and challenging the Model Minority Myth.

Persistence, Passion and Patience. An Evening with America’s First Latina Military Pilot | LTC Olga Custodio, USAF (retired)

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, America's first Latina military pilot, retired Lieutenant Colonel Olga Custodio, shared her story. Custodio was the first Latina to complete U.S. Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training with a fighter qualification to fly the T-38 as an instructor pilot. From breaking barriers and overcoming challenges as a woman in a male-dominated profession throughout her career, Custodio has gained life insights and perspectives, especially for women working to achieve their dreams.

Visit the Presidential Speakers webpage to learn more.

Inclusive Excellence in Action

During the 2022-23 academic year, the Office of Inclusive Excellence finalized and distributed a Strategic Plan to outline priorities for the University through 2028 including:

  • Recruiting, retaining and fostering the success of a diverse community
  • Nurturing an inclusive campus climate and intergroup relationships
  • Promoting inclusive teaching, scholarship and service
  • Building capacity through education, training and development
  • Strengthening and deepening community relations and partnerships
  • Developing University infrastructure to assess, report and ensure accountability

As noted in the report – which expands from a previous platform of diversity, equity and inclusion to a broader set of ideals including belonging and justice – the work of inclusive excellence belongs to all members of the campus, from hiring and training of employees to curriculum development and student activities.

In Fall 2023, 28% of the student body was from underrepresented minority groups – a percentage that has continued to grow each year. (The incoming first-year undergrad class in Fall 2023 was 33%.)

In 2023, two community groups continued their longstanding traditions of gathering to celebrate their high school and college graduates, meeting at Gonzaga to recognize their students’ accomplishments.

  • In its 27th year, the African American Graduation Celebration honored more than 50 graduates from Spokane-area high schools and more than 20 from local colleges.
  • Also in its 27th year, the Native American Community Graduation recognized Native grads from nearly 30 regional high schools, as well as nearly 30 graduates from postsecondary schools, representing many tribes and bands, from Tohono O’odham and Ojibwe to Sioux, Blackfeet, Turtle Mountain Chippewa and more.

New Leadership

During this academic year, Student Affairs welcomed additional leadership in its Diversity, Inclusion and Community Education (DICE) department, with
Jessie Mancilla as director of the Unity Multicultural Education Center (UMEC) and Jamie Bartlett as director of the Lincoln LGBTQ+ Center.

Coming Together

The Gonzaga campus fell victim to vandalism that specifically perpetuated the erasure of Native Americans, done by a hate group known to target other populations, including Jewish and LGBTQ+ community members. Following the incident, the University hosted a series of speakers providing education on the rise of hate and proper tactics for increasing awareness and reducing harm.

University Highlights

Milestone Celebrations

  • Gonzaga’s ROTC battalion celebrated its 75th anniversary. The United States Army Cadet Command consistently ranks Gonzaga in the top 15% of the nation’s ROTC programs and the Bulldog Battalion has qualified for competition at West Point Sandhurst four times since 2016.
  • In recognition of Title IX’s 50th year, Gonzaga recognized the ways the 1972 civil rights legislation addressing sexual assault, employment discrimination and gender bias among other issues changed athletics operations to support women in sports.
  • Unity Multicultural Education Center (UMEC) celebrated 25 years since the establishment of the Unity House, which seeks to provide support to students of color at a predominantly white institution. In addition to expanding the popular annual Diversity Monologues, UMEC honored its heritage with a mural in the Hemmingson Center.
Painted mural with images representing Gonzaga
Mural by Daniel Lopez inside the John J. Hemmingson Center.

Strategic Alliances

  • Spokane leaders celebrated the region’s newest state-of-the-art hub for medical and health education, research and innovation, anchored by the University of Washington School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Health Partnership. The 90,000-square-foot building, located at 840 E. Spokane Falls Blvd., in Spokane’s University District, is the academic home to the UW School of Medicine Spokane and its 120 first- and second-year students, Gonzaga’s Department of Human Physiology, and more than 500 GU undergraduates in nursing and health sciences, plus faculty and staff.
  • Seattle University, Gonzaga University and Saint Louis University jointly received a $1 million ADVANCE Partnership award from the National Science Foundation to increase the recognition and inclusivity of faculty promotions processes with the overarching goal of encouraging change across all 28 members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU).
Student and professor in human physiology lab
A learning lab inside the Health Partnership facility.

Exhibiting Excellence

Foley Library hosted “Americans and the Holocaust,” a touring exhibit created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association, focused on U.S. responses to the Holocaust and participation in World War II. Gonzaga was one of only 50 universities accepted as a host, among 250 applicants.

Exploring Tribal History

The Office of Tribal Relations, the Center for Community Engagement and Mission and Ministry offered the first faculty/staff immersion centered on understanding Jesuit connections to local Native American tribes. The trip included a visit to the site where Fr. Pierre DeSmet, S.J., began his work among the Bitterroot Salish and a visit with members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Honoring Our Military

Gonzaga joined the Pat Tillman Foundation as a University Partner to enhance recruitment and retention of military members and veterans through support services and financial aid provided by the foundation. Alumni Relations also launched the Military Service Community to unite all grads who have served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Understanding Hate

Gonzaga University and the Community Colleges of Spokane presented the seventh International Conference on Hate Studies as scholars from around the globe addressed the challenges of hate in the 21st century.

Unleashing Spirit

In February, ESPN’s College GameDay aired live from McCarthey Athletic Center, which featured a full student section for the early morning broadcast.

Dancing with Leadership

In May, Derek Hough of “Dancing with the Stars” fame and his father Bruce Hough, ’19 M.A. came to campus to offer “Taking the Lead: Lessons in Leadership from the Art of Dance,” a benefit for the University’s dance department and School of Leadership Studies. Derek also taught a master class with Gonzaga dance students.

Interested in More from the Report?

  • Alumni
  • Report of the President