The Enduring Bonds of Gonzaga Faculty and Alumni

Liz Morris, Blaine Garvin, Scott Morris
Liz (Tomich) Morris (’80), Blaine Garvin, Ph.D., and Scott Morris ('80)

July 02, 2024
University Advancement

“There’s a lot of talk about the ‘secret sauce’ that makes a Gonzaga education so distinctive,” says Gonzaga Trustee Emeritus and former CEO of Avista Scott Morris (’80), “and I think it all comes back to the fact that when you’re a Zag, you’re surrounded by really smart people who are truly committed to teaching—and they deeply care about you.”

Liz (Tomich) Morris (’80) agrees, and speaks of their enduring relationship with Professor Blaine Garvin, Ph.D. Formed at Gonzaga University, the friendship that began over lessons of John Locke and Edmund Burke has strengthened over the past four decades into a deep, mutual respect and appreciation for each other. Their experience exemplifies the profound impact of faculty-student connections on both personal and professional levels and shines a light on the remarkable influence of Gonzaga's dedicated faculty.

Scott credits much of his professional success to the solid foundation he received from his Gonzaga education—especially that which he received from Professor Garvin.

"Blaine’s ability to distill complex philosophical ideas into understandable concepts was transformative," Scott recalls. "His storytelling approach to teaching made challenging material accessible and engaging, which in turn prepared me to tackle complicated issues in my career."

Liz remembers the challenging, yet supportive environment fostered by Professor Garvin and other faculty members.

"Gonzaga was more than just an academic institution for us; it was a community that cared deeply about our success," Liz shares. "The faculty’s genuine investment in our growth provided us with a safety net during uncertain times."

Their bond with Professor Garvin extended beyond the classroom. Scott and Liz recount numerous personal interactions, from dinners and social gatherings to heartfelt conversations that shaped their perspectives and life choices. Scott reflects, “I would not have become the business leader I am today without Blaine’s influence. His ability to teach complex ideas in a simple way has been invaluable throughout my career.”

Scott’s journey, from a political science major to becoming the only non-engineer CEO of a major utility company, highlights the practical application of his Gonzaga education. “In my career, I often had to explain technical and business concepts to diverse groups,” said Morris. “Blaine taught me how to break down complex ideas into digestible parts, a skill that proved invaluable,” Scott notes.

Liz and Scott’s deep connection to Gonzaga and their beloved professors like Garvin and Fr. Frank Costello, S.J., continued long after graduation. They recall a time when Professor Garvin and Costello joined them for a humble dinner at their student home.

“It was a simple gesture, but it meant the world to us. It showed us that our professors cared about us as individuals, not just as students,” Liz recounts warmly.

After that, Garvin and Costello remained staples of the Morrises’ life. Costello married the couple in 1980, baptized their four children (“two of whom went to Gonzaga, and the other two wished they had,” joked Liz), and officiated funeral services for Scott’s mother.

Garvin noted that the value of the relationship between him and the Morrises was truly mutual, saying, “My life, and my wife Susan’s life, have been richer for knowing Scott and Liz all these years."

The Morrises’ gratitude towards Gonzaga is palpable and extends to their ongoing support of the University. As benefactors and active members of Gonzaga’s advisory boards, Scott and Liz are committed to giving back to the institution that gave them so much.

“Our experiences at Gonzaga shaped who we are today,” says Scott. “We want to ensure that future students have the same opportunities and support that we had.”

The Morrises are not alone. Their story—like the many other Gonzaga graduates whose lives have been forever changed by faculty interactions—is a powerful reminder of the transformative power of education and the lasting impact of dedicated teachers. These experiences illustrate how Gonzaga fosters an environment where students are educated, nurtured and mentored, creating lifelong bonds that transcend the confines of the classroom.

Join the Morisses in showing appreciation for inspirational teachers with a gift of support for the Fund for Gonzaga (formerly known as “The Great Teachers Fund”), so that these invaluable relationships and educational opportunities continue to thrive for future generations.

Celebrate your enduring bonds