Gonzaga University President McCulloh to Retire in July 2025

Trustees Preparing to Launch Presidential Search

President Thayne McCulloh speaks at a microphone, with sparkling lights above him.
Gonzaga University President Thayne M. McCulloh
April 22, 2024
Gonzaga University News Service

SPOKANE, Wash. – Thayne M. McCulloh, an alumnus of Gonzaga who has served the university since 1990 and led as its president for the past 15 years, today announced that he will retire from the presidency in July 2025.

“This decision follows a lengthy period of reflection, discernment and consultation,” said McCulloh in today’s announcement. “After 30-plus years at this wonderful institution, the time is coming to step aside and allow others to have the great privilege and responsibility of serving Gonzaga into its future,” he said. Following a succession of 25 Jesuit presidents, McCulloh is the university’s first regularly appointed lay leader, and its second-longest serving president.

“As Chair of the Board of Trustees, I’ve had the privilege to witness the steadfast leadership our president provided during some of Gonzaga’s best times as well as some of its most challenging ones. He has been a tireless champion of Gonzaga, and his commitment to advancing the Catholic and Jesuit mission, effective collaboration, academic excellence, student success, shared governance, fundraising, and fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for faculty, staff, and students has been foundational and instrumental to our success,” said Christy Larsen (BA ’88), chair of the Gonzaga University Board of Trustees.

President McCulloh has affirmed his intention to continue the work of planning for transition and completing several important projects and initiatives during his final year. Gonzaga University’s Board of Trustees is currently preparing for the presidential search and has retained the firm of Russell Reynolds Associates to support the work of a committee that will soon be appointed and announced for this purpose. A website dedicated to supporting the search process can be found at gonzaga.edu/presidentialsearch.


During President McCulloh’s tenure, the University has achieved many important milestones. Today, Gonzaga is consistently regarded among the nation’s best comprehensive universities, with its programs nationally ranked, its faculty engaged in important scholarship and research, and its alumni achieving renown in their professions.

As the first lay president in the history of Gonzaga University, Dr. McCulloh has enhanced the specifically Jesuit and Catholic mission of Gonzaga in multiple ways: through partnering with the ministries of the local Diocese; championing opportunities for mission formation by faculty, staff and trustees; by strengthening working relationships with the Society of Jesus at the local, provincial, national, and international levels; and by leading the fundraising for a new residence for members of the Society of Jesus on Gonzaga’s campus.

Appointed in the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis, McCulloh has worked to strengthen the financial position of the University by building cash and short-term investments, refinancing debt, increasing the value of the endowment, supporting high yield investment strategies, and increasing investment in the institution’s physical assets. Under his leadership, the capabilities of the University to support educational achievement and student success were strengthened through development of new and renovated facilities including: the John J. Hemmingson Center; the Bollier Family Center for Integrated Science & Engineering; the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center; the Della Strada Jesuit Residence; the Stevens Center for Tennis and Golf; the Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement; the Boone Avenue Retail Center (BARC); and the UW-GU Health Partnership Building, among others. All of these projects and initiatives were made possible through the generous support of many benefactors, and a major fundraising campaign that exceeded its goal by over $100 million.

He has built stronger relationships with the City of Spokane, local businesses, non-profit organizations, regional universities, and elected officials. This has included expanded community service offerings and partnerships with Gonzaga’s Center for Community Engagement, Opportunity Northeast (ONE), and partnerships with Catholic Charities Eastern Washington. He also worked together with the University of Washington School of Medicine in creating the unprecedented UW-GU Health Partnership, bringing together a public and private university to maintain and expand medical education in our region.

McCulloh guided the institution through the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the effort to be one of the first universities in the western United States to welcome students back to campus in fall of 2020, maintaining support for students through both in-person and hybrid instruction; retaining staff and faculty with no layoffs, no reductions in benefits or salaries; and support for hosting on Gonzaga’s campus some of the earliest vaccine clinics available in the Spokane region.

He has made increasing diversity and support for greater inclusivity within the Gonzaga community a priority. This has included hiring of senior administrators from diverse backgrounds and increasing support for students and colleagues from diverse and historically underrepresented populations.

His tenure has accompanied numerous unprecedented achievements across intercollegiate athletics, including the development of new athletic and academic facilities. Many of Gonzaga’s Division I athletics programs have won conference championships and/or tournaments, and advanced to the NCAA tournament, some multiple times. Notably, the Women’s basketball team achieved its highest AP ranking (#11 in 2018-19), and the Men’s basketball team attained its first-ever AP #1 ranking (2013) and appeared in two National Championship title games (2017, 2021) during his presidency.

Since the beginning of his presidency, McCulloh has consistently worked to underscore and emphasize the critical relationship between the university and the City of Spokane and Inland Northwest region. Initiatives such as the Opportunity NorthEast (ONE) and seeking a Tech Hub designation (under the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022) underscore the university’s commitment to the economic development of the region.

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