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GU History: 1961-1979

A guide to the history of Gonzaga University


After hiring Dorothy Darby Smith, the Theater Department and the Music Department collaborated together to offer an annual musical extravaganza at Shadle Park High School Auditorium in the 1960s.  In 1961, “Oklahoma” was shown followed by “South Pacific” (1962), “Music Man” (1963), “Kiss Me Kate” (1964), “King and I” (1965), “Carousel” (1966), “Kismet” (1967), “My Fair Lady” (1968), and “Once upon a Mattress” (1969).  All of these shows were well attended.

“King and I”, 1965

Dale de Viveiros as Lun
Tha and Eletra Cipolato as
Tuptim in the “King and I”, 1965


Catherine-Monica Hall, 1962

To celebrate Gonzaga’s Jubilee Year in 1962-1963, Gonzaga University feted the opening of seven building projects, which cost $3,500,000.  Another women’s dormitory was completed. Built in two sections, St. Catherine Hall and St. Monica Hall housed over 350 coeds.  In the center of the court were lounge and recreational facilities.  Previously, the University had twice refused some 250 women applicants for admission due to lack of housing facilities. 

 Hughes Hall
Hughes Hall, 1962

With the physical sciences growing, Hughes Hall, the new chemistry building was built.  It was named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hughes, Spokane civic leaders who contributed one-third of the construction cost.  The building came with an attached 300 seat auditorium, classrooms and laboratories.

 Campion Hall
Campion Hall, 1962

The ever-increasing enrollment necessitated that Gonzaga added an 18,000 square foot annex to the COG.  (There were 2,111 students enrolled in the fall of 1962.)  Three more smaller men’s dormitories were constructed on Boone Avenue:  Alliance House, housed 20 students from Latin America and Western Europe with 25 students from the United States; Campion House, named in honor of the Jesuit martyr Edmund Campion, housed 37 male students; Rebmann, in honor of Gonzaga’s first president James Rebmann also housed 37 students.  

School of Law
School of Law Building,
 formerly Webster Elementary
 School, 1963

Since its beginning in the fall of 1912, the School of Law had been housed in the Administration Building.  In 1963, Gonzaga purchased the former Webster Elementary School and dedicated the new law building.  By the fall of 1962, there were 127 law students, with only 3 women.  The law school’s enrollment continued to grow and an addition was added in 1973 to provide the much needed classroom space. 

 Parents weekend
Students and parents listen to
Fr. Burns lecture at Parents’ Weekend, 1964

Gonzaga hosted its first Parents’ Weekend in April 1963.  More than 200 visitors came to campus.  A highlight was the banquet on Saturday evening.  Due to its success, Parents’ Weekend occurred annually in the spring for the next 30 years.   

Piazzale Michelangelo
Gonzaga in Florence students
at the Piazzale Michelangelo,
Florence 1964

In 1963 Gonzaga expanded its campus globally by establishing the Gonzaga in Florence Program in Italy.  Students took core classes taught in English from Jesuits and lay faculty, and they were required to take an Italian course.  Fr. Neil McCluskey was appointed director of the program.  For its first year, the program accommodated 34 men and 25 women students.

 Bozarth Mansion
Bozarth Mansion and
Retreat Center, 1982

Also in 1963, Gonzaga purchased the Waikiki Mansion with nine acres for $85,000 to be used as a spiritual retreat center.  Built in 1913 for J.P. Graves, the $100,000 mansion was designed by architect Kirkland Cutter.  In the early 1970s during a financial crisis, Waikiki was traded to the Jesuit Oregon Province in exchange for a number of Province-owned homes and lots around Gonzaga’s campus.  The University rented the facility from the Province.  In 1986 Christine and Horace Bozarth donated $200,000 to purchase Waikiki.  Consequently, the name was changed to honor the donors, Bozarth Mansion and Retreat Center.  Since 1964, this site has housed numerous spiritual retreats, seminars, and other campus events. 

 Jesuit House
Jesuit House, 1964

After tearing down the old Original College building, which had served the University for 70 years, Jesuit House was built on the grounds in 1964.  The Jesuits finally had their own residence on campus to eat, sleep, and pray. In addition to living quarters, a reading room, an infirmary, and a dining facility, Jesuit House had its own chapel. 

 Kennedy Pavilion
Kennedy Pavilion, 1964

By the 1960s, the recreational facilities available in the Administration Building were no longer adequate for a growing university. The basketball team had not played on campus since the Spokane Coliseum opened in 1955.   The John F. Kennedy Pavilion, named in honor of the late President Kennedy, was completed in 1965.  Built at a cost of $1.1 million dollars including pledges from the student body, the building boasted two gymnasiums, a standard size Olympic pool, and multiple exercise rooms. The new basketball court could hold 3,800 basketball fans. 

 Naiads on diving board
Naiads on diving board in Kennedy
Pavilion swimming pool, 1968

With the addition of a swimming pool on campus, Gonzaga offered swimming as a physical activity and sport.  Previously, swim classes were taught off site.  Professor Marjorie Anderson oversaw the “Naiads”, a synchronized swim team.  These “aqua-maids” offered a show during the 1968 Parents’ Weekend. 

 Health Center
Health Center, 1966

The Health Center was built for $180,000 in 1966.  This building was much smaller than the first infirmary, Goller Hall, which would eventually burn down in 1970.  The Health Center with its 11 private rooms took care of students, Jesuits, scholastics, and employees.
In 1968, three laymen were appointed to serve with the five Jesuits on the Board of Trustees.  This was the first time that laymen served with this important group.  Over the years the number of total trustees has increased with the number of Jesuit members decreasing.  In 2007, of the 28 trustees only six are Jesuit.

 Students in dorm
Students, about 1968

Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees endorsed a parietal hours experiment in December 1968.  For the first time in the school’s history, members of the opposite sex were permitted to enter the rooms during certain hours.  This change was met with mixed feelings from students, Gonzaga personnel, and parents.  Eventually, the experiment passed and parietal hours became the norm.

 Vietnam Moratorium
Students observe Vietnam Moratorium
at Gonzaga University, 1969,
Welch Hall in background

On October 15, 1969, Gonzaga University campus participated in the Vietnam Moratorium Day in Spokane.  Classes were suspended so that the entire student body and faculty could examine the historical and political aspects of the Vietnam War.  Later in the afternoon, approximately 2,300 people, including Gonzaga students, marched peacefully from the Kennedy Pavilion to the U. S. District Court House in downtown Spokane. Prior to the march, a public rally was held near Welch Hall.  Spokane attorney and GU alumnus Carl Maxey gave a speech saying that the war must end immediately.  The rally and march were sponsored by the Spokane Moratorium Committee.         

 Taming of the Shrew
Cast from Taming of the Shrew, 1973

Russell Theater was opened in the former gymnasium in the Administration Building in 1969.  Named after alumnus Gene Russell, this new theater held 250 people with three banks of seating.  The first theatrical production was the Broadway musical “Celebration.” The theater was also used as a classroom for drama students and for musical performances by students in the Music Department. 

Pilgrims on the second
Pilgrimage, 1970

In May 1970 Gonzaga sponsored its first Pilgrimage, with the second one occurring that fall.  All the succeeding treks would take place in the fall.  The total walk was about 30 miles over two days to the Cataldo Mission, the oldest standing building in Idaho and was established by the Jesuits in the 1840s.  A Jesuit Priest and a California Scholastic founded the Pilgrimage.  Later, University Ministries took over its organization.  As is tradition, the pilgrims make designated stops along the route where individual groups perform skits. A mass is held at the Cataldo Mission to complete the journey.         

 Fr. Coughlin
Father Coughlin, 1974

Beginning in the fall of 1970, for the first time Gonzaga law school offered a full-time day program. With a day program, students would able to complete their studies in three years, instead of the usual four years for an evening program. This decision allowed for more students to be admitted which meant that the Law School had to hire more full time faculty. From 1970 to 1979 there was an increase in law school enrollment from 159 to 879. Two new classrooms in a modern addition were added in 1973 to help the space problem.

Fr. Bernard J. Coughlin became Gonzaga’s 23rd president in October 1974.  Prior to his arrival, Gonzaga was facing soaring operating deficits; campus growth was static; and enrollment had begun to decline.  Within two years of his arrival, the budget was balanced and enrollment had begun to grow.  Coughlin would continue to successfully serve Gonzaga as president for 22 years.  Afterwards, he became Gonzaga’s first Chancellor. 

A longed-for goal was obtained by the Law School in December 1977, when the Association of American Law Schools admitted the Law School for the first time as its 133rd member. The law school library was one of the largest ones in the west and other problems had been addressed. At the time, the school had 27 full-time and 21 part-time faculty members with 510 full-time and 355 part-time students.

 Press Secretaries forum
Panel at the Presidential Press
Secretaries’ Forum at Kennedy
Pavilion, 1978

On April 1, 1978, Gonzaga hosted the Presidential Press Secretaries’ Forum at the Kennedy Pavilion.  Over 2,500 people heard four former presidential press secretaries answer questions on a panel.  The presidential aides worked for Nixon, Johnson, Ford, and Kennedy.  The panel also included media from the New York Times, ABC –TV news, and Portland Oregonian, a representative from Kaiser Aluminum, and the son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. More than 2 million viewers tuned in to view the edited version of the forum “Some of the President’s Men”, which was televised over the national PBS network in May during prime time.         

 Bob Hope and Fr Coughlin
President Coughlin and Bob Hope
look at Bing Crosby painting in the
Crosbyana Room, 1978

A few months later, entertainer Bob Hope was on campus to participate in Gonzaga’s 1978 commencement.  To honor his friend Bing Crosby, who had died six months earlier, Hope gave the commencement address.  In return Gonzaga gave him an honorary degree.  During his speech, Hope made comical remarks about himself, Crosby, and Gonzaga.




Updated March 2015


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