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GU History: 2000-Present

A guide to the history of Gonzaga University


Just prior to the fall semester of 2000, the Gonzaga University School of Law building was opened on time and under budget.  The 110,000 square foot building costing $17.5 million was a vast improvement over the former elementary school, where the law school had resided for almost 40 years.

 Law School

Gonzaga University School of
Law building, 2000

 Dillon Hall
 Dillon Hall, 2002

As Gonzaga entered the new millennium, student enrollment continued to accelerate.  In the fall of 2001, there were 5,300 students.  Consequently, the University needed additional space for student housing.  The following fall semester identical residence halls, Dillon and Goller Halls, were opened to house about 2,050 students.  These two halls were identical.  Previously, Gonzaga had constructed the Dussault Apartments (1995), Burch Apartments (1996) and Corkery (2001) to help with the housing crunch.  At one point at the turn of the century, Gonzaga leased an addition from a local hotel, which was a popular choice for 82 students.

 Hughes Hall
Hughes Hall addition, 2004

Major campus improvements were under way in the fall of 2003.  No other single year in Gonzaga’s history had seen as much campus construction.  Some of the construction included: a new 18-foot-wide, red-brick walkway form Astor Street to the Crosby Center; a 37,000-square-foot addition and greenhouse to Hughes Hall; a 30,000 square foot addition to the Jepson Center for the School of Business Administration to be completed in the following fall; a new west wing of Cataldo Hall; remodeling of the Administration Building; and improvements to the COG.

 McCarthey Athletic Center
 McCarthey Athletic Center, 2004

Due to the success of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, an arena was built and opened for the 2004-2005 season.  It was named for the main donors, the McCarthey family.  The McCarthey Athletic Center cost about $23 million.  In addition to hosting Gonzaga sporting events, the 6,000 seat arena would provide a location for entertainment opportunities, educational events, and meetings.  Bill Cosby would be the first, non-sporting event, to perform. 

Gonzaga's nursing program developed its undergraduate nursing program in 2005.  As of fall 2010 enrolls 220 undergraduate students and 300 students in four graduate tracks.  Since its new developments, 99% of Gonzaga's nurse practitioner graduates have passed their national certification exams.

ESPN Day 2006
ESPN College Game Day, 2006

The first ESPN College Game Day at Gonzaga happened in February 2006 making GU the first university west of the Mississippi River without a BCS football team to be featured on the program.  Students camped out for more than a week just to stand in the bleachers behind GameDay hosts Dick Vitale, Digger Phelps, and Jay Bilas during the live broadcast.  College GameDay returned in February 2009.

Located in the Foley Center, the Teaching and Advising Center (CTA) was founded in 2006 to foster a new level of excellence in teaching, and advising, through mentoring, collaborating, and bringing outside sources of expertise to campus.  Gonzaga English Professor Teresa Derrickson was appointed CTA director. 

In November 2006 Gonzaga dedicated the Dave and Sandy Sabey Family Biology/Chemistry Wing of Hughes Hall.  The new north wing contains a seminar room, 10 faculty offices, a biology faculty research lab and the Inorganic Chemistry Lab.

 Kennedy Apartments
Kennedy Apartments, 2007

The Kennedy Apartments at Sharp and Pearl streets opened in April 2007.  A year previously, the apartment complex was completely destroyed by arson.  The 75 unit structure, which housed 220 students, also included a Gonzaga apparel store and coffee shop.  The second section to mirror the first complex is currently under construction.

In summer 2007, the first group of 42 students went to Africa to serve and learn.  Three groups travelled to locations in western and central Zambia and Benin, West Africa.  Each group had different priorities, including teaching English, researching chimpanzee behavior, helping to build a school, and teaching villagers how to filter polluted water using locally available materials.

 Patterson Field
Patterson Complex, 2007

For 36 years, Pecarovich Field, later August/ART Stadium, was home to Zag baseball.  This facility was torn down to make room for the McCarthey Athletic Center.  While a new baseball stadium was being built at a new location just to the south of the old field, Gonzaga baseball was played at Avista Stadium, home to the Spokane Indians.  Named for the major contributor to the project, the Patterson Baseball Complex opened in spring 2007 with the field known as the Washington Trust Field, after another major supporter, Washington Trust Bank.  The $7 million facility provided home and visitors’ locker rooms, baseball offices, laundry, training equipment, batting cages, and a natural grass field.

Fall 2007 marked the celebration of the 120th anniversary of the College of Arts and Sciences at Gonzaga University.  During Fall Family Weekend in October, the Administration Building was renamed as "College Hall".  Always having been the home of the College of Arts and Sciences, the new name affords a recognized home for Gonzaga's largest and oldest College.

bronze bulldog
"This is Our House" Statue

Dedicated on October 6, 2007, the bronze bulldog titled "This is Our House" was a gift of the Senior Class of 2006 .  Created by Vincent De Felice, this 5-foot tall statue guards the McCarthey Athletic Center. Today, numerous Gonzaga students and alumni pose with this iconic statue.

Comprehensive Leadership program (CLP) published its first issue of One World in the spring of 2008.   Published one a semester, it is a non-profit publication to discuss global issues and experiences.  The goal is to give a voice to the voiceless and to provide a place where stories can be shared and remembered.  Student and faculty produced articles, poems, and photographs are aimed to be a call to action rather than just news pieces. 

Construction began in January 2008 for the new soccer facility, which was needed as the conditions of the Martin Field had deteriorated to the point that Gonzaga was forced to forfeit two games because the field was considered hazardous to players.  This construction was the first phase to build a field and adjoining practice field.  Since all funds for building new athletic facilities are from donors, projects are planned in multiple stages as each is completed separately. 

In April 2008, the St. Ignatius Statue was dedicated.  Sculpted by George Carlson, the nine foot bronze statue graces the main entrance of College Hall with a reflecting pool and redesigned landscape.  This "Meditation" statue represents St. Ignatius' contemplative moment of transformation.

ROTC Commissioning

The Bulldog Battalion started in 1947 and is one of the highest-rated ROTC programs in the nation and is recognized by military as the one of the best.  It has been very successful at the Big Sky Ranger Challenge Championship.  As of 2008 Gonzaga's Bulldog Battalion won 15 of the past 16 competitions.  For this event the cadets compete in a map reading exam, physical fitness test, one-rope bridge, hand grenade assault course, land navigation, weapons, and a 10 km forced road march.  Gonzaga's cadets also scored well in Leadership Development Assessment Courses (LDAC), which is the single most important training event for ROTC officers.  The LDAC is a month long event that evaluates a candidate's ability to lead based on several tasks.  In 2008 40% of Bulldog Battalion cadets received excellent grades, while the national average is 15%.  All Army-given ROTC scholarships are full tuition, with money for books and a monthly stipend.  Of the 95 students enrolled in 2008, only 9 did not have the full scholarship. Gonzaga's retention rate was the highest in the country in 2008

With a growing Theatre Arts program, there was a need to improve the existing space in Russell Theater, which had not been renovated since 1968.  Phase one happened over summer of 2008 with phase two happening during winter break and the final phase summer 2009.  The theater underwent major renovations by upgrading the lobby and the performance and seating areas.  The theater was renamed the Harry and Colleen Magnuson Theatre after the donors from Idaho.  Opening night was October 24 with the showing of "Curse of the Starving Class". 

Although St. Aloysius Church is not part of Gonzaga, it has had a long time relationship with the university. A three year project to restore it began in October 2008 in preparation for its Centennial in 2011.  The $1.5 million face-lift to work on its roof and spires.  Many of the roofing tiles were missing or loose.  About 30% of the tiles needed to be replaced.  Lights on the crosses and sky lights were replaced.  Other improvements included a new ventilation system, new interior paint, stained glass cleaning and repair, and a contingency and maintenance budget. 

President Robert Spitzer stepped down in July 2009 after serving 11 years.  During his tenure, he saw the enrollment increase from 4, 507 in 1998 to 7,319 in the fall of 2008.  He completed a $119 million capital campaign for buildings, student financial aid, faculty enrichment, technology, and mission programs.

Coughlin Hall, a $16 million residence hall, opened in Fall 2009 honoring long time Gonzaga President, Bernard Coughlin, SJ.  Housing 340 freshmen and sophomores, it has an onsite café, a reception desk staffed for late night hours, parking beneath the first floor, a classroom, and a seminar room.  A faculty member lives in the residence hall and coordinates the living and learning activities.  Several floors are themed communities, such as Service and Leadership, Global Engagement, and Mind, Body, and Spirit. 

For Orientation 2009, Gonzaga made the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest game of dodge ball with 1000 participants.  The participants played under the lights on Mulligan Field. 

Dodge Ball Record, 2009

The Engineering School grew from 297 students in 1998 to 530 students in 2008.  This enrollment increase as well as new technological developments created a need to for more classrooms and office facilities for students and faculty. The PACCAR Center for Applied Science opened on October 1, 2009.  This 8.5 million building was made possible through the lead gift of $2 million from PACCAR Inc.  The 25,000 square foot high-tech facility houses sophisticated technological laboratories dedicated to robotics, artificial vision, and transmission and distribution engineering, classrooms and offices.  In 2010 the building received the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for incorporating sustainability principles into engineering design. The building was recognized for its natural lighting, energy efficiency, and open public spaces. 

In preparation for a new building, the Bishop White Seminary mansion was donated to Gonzaga by the Diocese of Spokane in 2008.  The building was moved across the side street on July 23, 2008.  It took two days to move the building, which weighed 426 tons.  It took 96 tires from 12 hydraulic dollies to support this weight.  The 100 year old building, named for its architect John Huetter, is considered a well-loved historical site in Spokane.  In January 2010, the Gonzaga Alumni Association moved out of the Crosby House into the Huetter Mansion.  The Crosby House became home to the Office of Sponsored Research & Programs and other offices.

The new Engineering-in-Florence program started in the spring 2010 with 22 sophomores, most of them GU students. Engineering students would no longer have to choose between studying abroad and completing their degrees on time.

President Thayne McCulloh

Dr. Thayne McCulloh, D. Phil. and a 1989 GU graduate was inaugurated as Gonzaga's 26th President on October 22, 2010.  This marked the first time that a lay person held the position of President, which had previously been filled only by Jesuits.   Prior to obtaining this position, McCulloh had been interim Acting Vice President in 2007 and then interim President in 2009. 

In 2011, women's basketball point guard Courtney Vandersloot becomes the first NCAA Division I basketball player - man or woman - to record 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in a collegiate career.

Jane Korn became the first female dean of the Law School in July 2011.  She replaced Earl F. Martin, who became dean in July 2005 and stepped down to become Gonzaga's executive vice president.  Law Professor George Critchlow served as acting dean from 2009 - 2011.

In the fall of 2011, Gonzaga offered Algorithmic Art as a 3 credit class.  The goal was to teach computational thinking to liberal arts students.  Algorithmic Art along with Digital Technology and Society and Fluency in Information are part of the new program called ITEC or Information Technology.  This program meets the belief that higher education must teach computation thinking to students to help them with critical thinking and become graduates who are better prepared for employment.  This could lead to new majors in computer science and computer engineering, fields that need more graduates nationwide. 

In keeping with the Jesuit initiative on interreligious dialogue, the Venerable Geshe Thupten Phelgye, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, spent the 2011 - 2012 academic year as Gonzaga's first Global Scholar in Residence by teaching, lecturing, and leading meditation sessions on campus.  He advocates vegetarianism and universal compassion for world peace.  He taught a class on Asian religions and on Buddhism.  Geshe Phelgye lived in the Twohy Residence Halls with freshmen and sophomores.

Legal Assistance
Legal Assistance Clinic

The Law Clinic which started in 1974 allows Gonzaga law students to put into practice what they have learned in class.  It first was located in the basement of the Gonzaga's Health Center with about a dozen students.  By 2012, it is called the University Legal Assistance Clinic with 7 divisions: business, consumer, elder, environmental, federal tax, general practice and Indian law.  Every year the clinic helps hundreds of clients who might otherwise not get legal assistance.

In April 2012, GU Engineering students won the EPA Competition, its 8th Annual People, Prosperity, and the Planet competition in Washington DC.  The students designed two devices to improve the health of Zambian women and children: one was build a simple ventilation system for kitchens in rural dwellings.  It generates electricity from thermoelectric cells driven by waste heat from cooking fires; the second was to develop a ceramic water filter made with local materials to remove contaminants from drinking water in their homes.

To begin the 125th Anniversary of Gonzaga University, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the commencement speaker for the May 2012 Commencement.  During this event, Gonzaga awarded its largest number of degrees: 2,221 total.

The $15 million Boone Avenue Retail Center - BARC - was started in 2012.  The BARC, which includes parking for 650 vehicles,  is a precursor to the new University Center, that is expected to transform campus and generate a new front-door to the University.  Its construction is expected to start in the summer of 2013 at the same time as the completion of BARC.

class 2015
Class of 2015

Today, Gonzaga University looks much different than its humble beginnings in 1887.  Fr. Cataldo could never have imagined that his school would become such a big business in Spokane.  Gonzaga's operating budget for 2012 - 2013 is close to $250 million with an endowment of almost $148 million.  Instead of the initial 18 boys attending, Gonzaga now has a coed enrollment over 7,800.  Fr. Cataldo's original purchase of 320 acres has diminished.  Over time, Jesuit officials sold most of the property to individuals for neighborhood homes.  Gonzaga continues to purchase some of that property back to house today's expanding facilities.  The campus now includes 105 buildings on 131 acres with a physical plant and equipment value of $174.8 million.  Instead of 17 Jesuits educating the young boys, today Gonzaga employs over 1,100 people, making Gonzaga among the top 5 non-governmental employers in the county.

Although physically and financially Gonzaga does not resemble the institution of 1887, Gonzaga has never lost its mission.  As written in the 1887 catalog, Gonzaga's object is to offer students "the facilities for securing a solid and complete education, based on the principles of religion and calculated to fit them for a successful career in life."  This mission has not changed.  For 125 years, Gonzaga University continues to offer a quality Jesuit education to its students to nurture creative individuals to provide leadership and adapt to the ever changing environment who can make a difference in the world.

(All photos unless noted differently are from the Gonzaga University Archives.)
Stephanie Plowman, Special Collections Librarian

Updated March 2015

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Please credit: University Archives and Special Collections, Gonzaga University. 

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