Gonzaga to Create New Institute for Informatics and Applied Technology, Led by $5 Million Gift

A hand with a tablet and an image of a lock and internet icons

April 27, 2023
Gonzaga University News Service

The Pacific Northwest has a long history of technological advancement fueled by creativity and passion. The past century’s successes — from Boeing to Nike, Microsoft to Amazon, and more — put the region on the map as the global leader in high-tech innovation, manufacturing, and progress. A $5 million lead gift to support the development of a new Institute for Informatics and Applied Technology ensures that when the history of the next 100 years is written, Gonzaga University will be a major part of the story.

“Technology shapes and impacts nearly every aspect of human life, enhancing our ability to connect with the world, our knowledge of phenomena, our ability to explore, even extending life itself,” said Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh. “Industries like aerospace manufacturing, healthcare, and computer engineering are all central elements of the Inland Northwest economy, and the Institute for Informatics and Applied Technology will create new opportunities for our students to be leaders in high-tech industries for years to come.”

The concept of the Institute evolved out of several years of discussion with government and industry leaders, as well as faculty colleagues and Trustees. And a generous contribution by the David and Cathleen Reisenauer family allows Gonzaga to immediately launch a search for an inaugural Institute director. By augmenting current faculty with new hires and developing new degree and certificate programs, the institute will serve as a major focal point for technology and information science at Gonzaga. Its collective expertise will offer a chance to partner with local industries, government agencies and health providers, while enhancing current relationships such as the university’s ongoing partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Rooted in a deeply held appreciation for their alma mater’s Jesuit mission — especially the principles of being people who serve others and the pursuit of excellence — Dave and Cathleen Reisenauers’ generosity provides the springboard to launch the Institute of Informatics and Applied Technology.

“This is an opportunity for Gonzaga to demonstrate the next level of academic excellence, adding back to its mission in service of others,” said Cathleen Reisenauer (’84), who earned her degree in business before working for Bank of America and Hewlett Packard.

Dave Reisenauer (’82) added, “We seek out ways to have an impact that may not exist today and will go far beyond our lifetime.” He earned degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics before working in the tech field for companies ranging from IBM to Hitachi and now NVIDIA.

Given the outsized importance of information science and technology to not only economic security but also national security and individuals’ well-being, Gonzaga plans to launch new programs that put students at the heart of harnessing — and protecting — “big data.” That includes potential degrees in data sciences, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, bioinformatics, biomedical engineering and software engineering.

With the considerable expertise already on campus in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Law School, and the School of Business Administration, GU Provost Sacha Kopp believes Gonzaga is uniquely positioned to explore the needs and solutions of an increasingly data-driven world.

“We seek to understand how complementary economic policies can create opportunity for struggling areas of the domestic labor force,” Kopp said. “We seek to understand how big data and artificial intelligence can extract powerful insights in technology development, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. And we seek to understand the threats posed to national, individual and private-sector security due to information and resource theft or attacks in cyberspace.”

The Reisenauers believe that by helping leverage the relationship between Gonzaga, regional governments and businesses, their gift will improve opportunities for all three entities, including career opportunities in applied science and technology for GU students. “I am deeply grateful to Dave and Cathleen Reisenauer, for their commitment to supporting Gonzaga and the work of faculty, staff and students in this important arena,” McCulloh said. “Through their vision and support, Gonzaga will continue to play an important role in the economic development and vitality of Eastern Washington in the informatics and technology sphere.”

The next steps in making the Institute for Informatics and Applied Technology a reality will involve the creation of an external advisory board of industry, non-profit and policy experts, additional benefactor support, and selection of the Institute’s inaugural Reisenauer Family Director.

Learn about the Reisenauer family's passion for the GU mission