The College of Arts & Sciences Blog

Category: Arts & Sciences

Arts & Sciences Welcomes New Faculty Cohort – Fall 2023

Gonzaga’s College of Arts & Sciences is proud to highlight our newest Faculty cohort starting their tenure this Fall. The faculty below come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. Some are entirely new to our campus, and some are stepping into new roles. Click on the images below to learn more about individual faculty members.

State of the College – 2023

We made it to Commencement! I hope you enjoy reflecting on what you achieved this academic year. For me, consolation comes from witnessing the amazing work you are all doing to support each other, your students, your loved ones, and your communities. I would like to highlight just a few College successes of this year, hoping we can collectively savor the joy in these accomplishments.

Academic Excellence

CAS faculty and staff continue to give their all to students amidst persistent mental health and other challenges. I have heard from many appreciative students and families about how you extended care and concern (cura personalis) to them. In addition, let’s celebrate these highlights:

  • Faculty published, exhibited, composed, and performed amazing works that are too numerous to mention here— many were honored at the Academic Honors Convocation, and we continue to highlight this scholarly and creative work on a regular basis in the monthly CAS newsletter. Remember that we rely on you to share your good news with us. Tell us about your and your colleagues’ successes here.
  • Faculty used over $115,000 in Career Development Funds to faculty and staff across the College. Faculty were also awarded $18,000 in funds for CAS Dean’s faculty development and special projects. Moving the application deadline from November to March to allow for a full fiscal year of spending resulted in a bumper crop of proposals. Thank you to the CAS Awards Committee for their work in reviewing two sets of submissions (the original November deadline for Fiscal Year 2023 and the new March deadline for Fiscal Year 2024).
  • Our students continued to shine with individual awards, as we saw at Academic Honors Convocation.
  • Kaaren Goeller-Bloom (Classical Civilizations, History, Native American Studies) won the CAS Outstanding Staff Award.
  • We submitted a successful Grand Challenge proposal for an Institute for Humanities, which is poised to be voted on at the July Board of Trustees meeting. This Institute will promote mission-aligned humanities scholarship, pedagogy, and community partnerships. Thank you to Interim Director of Applied Humanities Charlie Lassiter (Philosophy) for serving as the proposal’s co-convener and all the CAS faculty and staff who contributed to its success.
  • Several departments completed their program reviews and began undertaking curriculum enhancement and overhauls aligned with their vision of academic excellence.
  • New program proposals moved to Academic Council for recommendation for approval. Thank you to the faculty and staff who initiated these proposals and the CAS Curriculum Committee for your thoughtful and timely feedback.
Brook Swanson, Ph.D. (Biology), meets with students for an experiential, outdoor course.

Fundraising and Gifts

The CAS Dean’s Excellence Fund supports various initiatives across the College that our university budget cannot accommodate. This fund is the primary source of gifts to provide monies to CAS co-curricular groups like Model UN and the Gonzaga SACNAS Chapter so that students can afford to travel to conferences and competitions. I also use this fund to create startup packages to recruit faculty and staff, offer CAS Dean’s Summer Faculty Fellow stipends, and co-sponsor conferences like the Ancient Philosophy Conference and the Criminology Symposium, among other activities. I am thrilled to share the following fundraising milestones from this year:

  • We had a 6-fold increase in Zags Give Day (March 9) contributions to the Dean’s Excellence Fund from ~$5,000 in 2022 to ~$29,000 in 2023.
  • We have also grown contributions to this fund yearly (Fiscal Year 2021 = $3,575, FY 2022 = $59,307, FY 2023 = $78,345).
  • We added a second day of giving in November 2022 to recognize STEM Day and raised almost $19,000 to support STEM equipment and research.
  • We were gifted a new endowed award: the Runger/Dolliver CAS Faculty Excellence Award. This award includes a $5,000 stipend for a faculty member who exemplifies inclusive excellence in their teaching, scholarship, and service. Awardees are identified by the dean in the fall.
  • I continue to work with University Advancement on gifts to your departments and programs, including cash and endowed funds to support faculty-student research, equipment, speaker series, events, and other activities.

Much gratitude to our benefactors, including the CAS Advisory Council, University Advancement, and department colleagues who helped me build the case for benefaction in your areas.

Faculty Hiring and Retention

I am happy to report that we are welcoming 8 new tenure-track faculty in the following departments: Art, Chemistry & Biochemistry/Environmental Studies & Sciences, Integrated Media Studies, Music, Political Science, Psychology (2), and Sociology and Criminology. In addition, we will welcome several new lecturers across the College. Congratulations to all the departments for recruiting wonderful human beings as new colleagues! Recruiting and hiring is stressful as you navigate competing needs, short timelines, and a tight market. Thank you also to the search committee chairs and members, and search advocates who helped keep transparency and equity at the forefront throughout the process.

What’s on tap for the summer?

Here is what is on the dean’s office summer agenda:

Faculty retention and advancement:

  • We celebrated a successful conclusion to the first year of the CAS faculty mentoring program in April. Thank you to all who participated in the mentoring “pods” consisting of a Professor, an Associate Professor, and 3-5 Assistant Professors. We will prepare to expand this program over the summer to include all faculty in their first 6 years on the tenure track starting in Fall.
  • Two CAS Dean’s Summer Faculty Fellows will contribute to retention and advancement in the College. Stemming from IDEAS in Action work, Chip Callahan (Religious Studies) will be working to amplify equity-minded teaching practices in the College. Sarah Arpin (Psychology) will work with Associate Dean Jonathan Rossing and others to provide DEI- and Jesuit mission-related guidance in the College RPT guidelines.
  • The associate deans and a volunteer group of faculty and department chairs will collaborate to create College guidelines incorporating Faculty Handbook revisions regarding promotion and tenure, and post-tenure review.
  • Career development and support: We successfully expanded the travel-only professional development fund to a more flexible Career Development Fund that supports various activities for faculty and staff. Despite increased travel and other professional development costs, this budget line has been static. We will continue to advocate for greater support from the university. When we are asked to trim our budget, we have not touched this budget line because we know how important it is.
  • Continued emphasis on inclusion and healthy work environments: Most of you want to create healthier workplaces in the College and your departments. Several reading groups were tasked with providing recommendations to me about how we can do this. We must do this work if we truly want to live our Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic mission through our interactions with each other and our students. Even if you have not experienced oppressive or toxic interactions or environments, please know that some of your colleagues have. We should listen to them with openness, curiosity, and humility so that Gonzaga is welcoming to all.

Dean’s Survey & Vision 2024

  • Responding to Dean’s Survey: We have already instituted a few changes, including updating the dean’s office My.GU page, including more information about funding issues and budget, and in award letters. At the last Chair’s Council meeting in April, I also shared more information than I have in the past about my advocacy on behalf of departments. The dean’s office continues to welcome constructive feedback about how to best serve the College.
  • Revisiting Vision 2024: Provost Kopp has indicated that the College and Schools must align their strategic plans with the university plan. He will share his thoughts at the All College Meeting in August, setting the stage for continued work on the College’s existing plan, Vision 2024.

I am grateful to have gotten to know so many of you over the last three years. May you have a restorative and rejuvenating summer. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your dean.



The Finish Line

We’ve made it to finals week! I hope you are feeling a sense of success (and maybe, relief?) in making it to this point, despite the twists and turns of this aca-pandemic year. In the spirit of St. Ignatius of Loyola, this is a fitting time to savor the joys and consolations of these last two semesters. I am writing to share just a few College successes that give me a great sense of satisfaction and consolation, in the hope that we can collectively savor the joy in these accomplishments. It is easy to forget in the midst of darkness and distress but faculty, staff, students, and friends have been shining lights throughout the year.

Academic Excellence

CAS faculty and staff have given their all in the classroom this year and I have heard from many appreciative students and families about how you extended care and concern (cura personalis) to them. In addition, let’s celebrate these highlights:

  • Several departments completed their program reviews despite tough pandemic conditions. Now that’s vision!
  • New programs you have diligently worked on have been approved including the interdisciplinary Health Equity (HEAL) minor and a Statistics minor and concentration. Many thanks to the hard work of the CAS Curriculum Committee for moving these and the many course proposals and revisions through in a timely manner.
  • Students continue to shine with individual awards as we saw at Academic Honors Convocation in April. Also, the Model United Nations (UN) team led by Stacy Taninchev (Political Science) was awarded the top honor at the Model UN conference in New York City: Outstanding Delegation Award, the first time they have won this designation. And the Debate Team led by Glen Frappier (Communication Studies) won the competition at the prestigious LaFayette Debates in Washington, D.C. SACNAS (Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science), is in its second year and mentored by Biology faculty and staff (Carla Bonilla, Amanda Braley, Laura Díaz Martinez), and continues to grow and create a more inclusive STEM culture at Gonzaga.
  • CAS faculty and staff continued to engage in impressive scholarly and creative work and many were honored at the Academic Honors Convocation. Faculty also were awarded $18,000 in CAS Dean’s faculty development and special projects funds; in fact, all applications were awarded, most with full funding. And new appointments were made to our endowed professorships including the Powers (Laurie Arnold, Native American Studies, History) and Arnold (Melody Alsaker, Mathematics) professorships and an endowed chair in Dance (Suzanne Ostersmith). Azra Rašić won the CAS Outstanding Staff Award. Thank you to the CAS Awards Committee for selecting the award winners.
  • Faculty published, exhibited, composed, and performed amazing works that I will share in detail in the CAS annual report in June. Among these accomplishments were new grants including a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to Greg Gordon (Environmental Studies and Sciences) and Katey Roden (English) and a USDA grant to Julie Beckstead (Biology).

Fundraising and Gifts

I am thrilled to share that the College was the recipient of several new and major gifts by benefactors who are excited about the mission of the College and the work that you do to support students. Here are some of the gifts CAS departments received this fiscal year. Much gratitude to the donors and University Advancement, as well as department colleagues – in some cases, we had many conversations to get to the point of making these dreams become a reality.

  • Chemistry and Biochemistry: $250,000 for a new mass spectrometer
  • Communication Studies: $100,000 for the Fr. C. Pat Carroll, SJ endowed fund to showcase student work and support department colloquia
  • Mathematics: $20,000 from a current parent to support visiting scholars and faculty-student summer research
  • Political Science: $1,000,000 to support scholarships and an endowed fund in the department to use how it wishes
  • Psychology: $1,000,000 to support scholarships, two endowed funds in the department, and Bollier Center space
  • Theatre and Dance: $2,000,000 to create the Robert and Marion Oster Endowed Chair in Dance

I am also engaged in fundraising for the CAS Dean’s Excellence Fund, which supports a number of purposes across the College. This fund provides supplemental support to student groups like the ones mentioned above and provides funds to recruit and retain outstanding faculty and staff. One way we raised funds was through Zags Give Day (photos in this blog post are from my Zags Give Day tweets on March 3) and you might have seen me on social media getting the word out with impromptu photos with faculty or sharing other good news from the College. Another way we generate support is by working with the CAS Advisory Council, a dedicated group of CAS alumni who love what is happening in the College and want to support our work.

Faculty Hiring and Retention

Many of us spent a great deal of time on faculty and staff recruitment this year (and we’re not done yet!). I am happy to report that we will be welcoming 13 new tenure-track faculty in the following departments: English, Biology, Environmental Studies & Sciences and Biology, Communication Studies (3), History, Music, Philosophy (2), Political Science (2), Religious Studies. In addition, as of this writing, we will be welcoming new lecturers in Biology, Religious Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Philosophy, and Music. Congratulations to all the departments for recruiting wonderful human beings as new colleagues!

I am mindful that we must provide new faculty and staff with the tools and knowledge to succeed. Tara McAloon has been a force in the dean’s office spending a great deal of time recruiting and retaining outstanding staff. I am also grateful to Shalon Parker who served as a CAS Dean’s Faculty Fellow in Spring 2022. She conducted listening sessions with early career faculty so that we can provide mentoring and coaching in an intentional way starting in the fall. I’m also looking forward to the work of the 2022 CAS Dean’s Summer Faculty Fellows, Naghme Morlock (Sociology & Criminology) and Leslie Stamoolis (Theatre & Dance) who will join forces with the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Human Resources, to create a more effective welcoming program for new faculty and staff; and Melissa Click (Communication Studies), who will also engage in collaborative work to build a cohort mentoring program for new faculty, especially faculty from groups that have been marginalized or excluded in higher education.

What’s Next?

I am keeping my eye on the future. Academic Excellence, Cura Personalis for Faculty and Staff, and Building Inclusive Community remain my top priorities. Here is what is on my summer agenda:

  • Fundraising: While the gifts I described above are wonderful, I am aware that continued fundraising for the College and your programs is necessary to help support the things you want to do. I’ll be working with University Advancement to develop a plan for fundraising that can build on the successes of this year.
  • Revisiting Vision 2024: We’re at a time in the pandemic when we can again look ahead to the future. We will be launching a Vision 2024 website in the summer that will allow us to document what we’ve achieved already, what work is still ahead of us, and how some of the goals may have changed since they were documented in August 2019. I will share how you can contribute your ideas to this work at the Fall All College meeting.
  • Mentoring and career development: As a “seasoned” colleague (it’s been 8 years since I attained Professor; 24 years since I earned my PhD) with an almost middle schooler and an elderly parent in a nearby assisted living apartment, it is not lost on me that we need to support mid-career and senior faculty as well as those who have caregiving responsibilities. Expanding the travel-only professional development fund to a more flexible Career Development Fund that can support a wide variety of activities is one piece of the puzzle (stay tuned for a separate email with details). I will also be seeking input from you about what other resources or programing you need to support growth at different career and life stages.
  • Continued emphasis on inclusion and healthy work environments: IDEAS in Action continues to make progress; we’ll provide updates on the website in June 2022. In addition, there is great interest in creating healthy workplace with workshops on countering academic harassment and bullying. It’s important we do this work if we truly want to live the mission of our Catholic, Jesuit, humanistic mission through our interactions with each other and with our students.
  • Getting to know you: I am grateful that I have gotten to know so many of you since I started in July 2020. This academic year and Spring 2022, in particular, has been the first time that I’ve met many of you in person. I look forward to being with you at department meetings and other events this next academic year (God willing).

My hope for all of you this summer is that you are able to rejuvenate and rest in the ways that work for you. You all deserve it immensely! Thank you for allowing me to serve as your dean.

Committing to Inclusion

The College of Arts and Sciences continues intentionally and systematically to embrace principles of inclusion, equity, justice, and diversity throughout our departments, classes, and policies. One important step in this work will be to solidify our commitment to recruiting, hiring, and retaining faculty whose experiences and expertise will contribute to these ongoing efforts. My work as faculty fellow this summer focused on recruiting and hiring– specifically developing a recruitment ad that highlights Gonzaga’s values and commitments around diversity, equity, and inclusion and developing supporting tools for search committees to better evaluate a candidate’s experience and contributions (appropriate to career stage) in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.

Research shows that job postings that showcase institutional values supporting diversity and signal institutional commitments to inclusive hiring processes are more likely to yield more diverse applicant pools and hires. Therefore, we’ve developed a recruitment ad to highlight institutional values like inclusive excellence and cura personalis. The ad will appear in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Back to School issue this September.

Following Sara Ahmed’s analysis of institutional DEI documents (On Being Included), the ad seeks to avoid the pitfall of sounding inclusive and welcoming while still communicating that diverse scholars are perpetual outsiders joining the people who already “belong.” Instead, the ad signals a different ethic of inclusion with more invitational language, attention to the many DEI efforts and initiatives already underway in the College, and an acknowledgment that we still have work to do. The ad explicitly invites and welcomes a diversity of scholarly perspectives and lived experiences to join as colleagues to collaborate on these efforts as we strive for inclusive academic excellence in the College.

Research shows that job postings that showcase institutional values supporting diversity and signal institutional commitments to inclusive hiring processes are more likely to yield more diverse applicant pools and hires.

Going beyond the Cover Letter

This summer Faculty Fellow work yielded preliminary guidelines for requesting, reviewing, and evaluating faculty statements on contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Asking faculty applicants to address their experience with inclusion, equity, diversity, and justice work signals Gonzaga University’s commitments to these values. Such statements about diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice indicate to applicants that these values are important enough to our institution and the College to warrant deeper exploration than simply adding a few sentences to a cover letter template.

Statements on diversity, equity, and inclusion allow applicants to demonstrate commitments, capacities, and experiences related to Gonzaga’s mission-grounded projects of educating the whole person and fostering a mature commitment to human dignity and social justice. Dr. Tabbye Chavous of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor’s National Center for Institutional Diversity writes, “It doesn’t quite make sense to affirm diversity as underpinning the institutional mission, while not giving candidates the opportunity to talk about and be credited for their efforts.”

To support search committees, the guidelines for statements on contributions to DEI provide numerous prompt options for soliciting such a statement. Additionally, the guidelines feature a sample rubric that search committees can use or adapt for their needs, as well as a wide range of example evidence that committees might look for that would signal a candidate’s knowledge, experience, and capacity to contribute in these important areas.

These efforts are just two stepping stones in our larger College and University efforts toward equity and inclusion. Yet we hope they will be important steps toward increasing diversity in the College and creating a work and learning environment that supports and includes all colleagues as whole people.

Professor Rossing studies the rhetoric of social justice, particularly in relation to race and racism in the United States. His primary focus is on the way people use humor to provoke conversations and to provide a critical education about race. He regularly applies theories of play and improvisation in teaching, leadership, and diversity training.

Reflections on the AJCU Leadership Institute

In early August, I returned from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Leadership Institute at Loyola University-Chicago. The institute focused on the Jesuits’ four Universal Apostolic Preferences: Showing the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment, walking with the excluded, journeying with youth, and care for our common home. It was an amazing experience to spend time with colleagues across the Jesuit network as we reflected and engaged more deeply in our work together to form “people for others.” 

I’m still pondering the lessons from the institute. In particular, the work of discernment, as it can mean so many different things to people. As pointed out in the institute, discernment is more than just making a single concrete decision. It’s about listening.

Many years ago, I was first introduced to the Ignatian way of listening and discernment at a Jesuit retreat house. Over the years, I’ve been drawn deeper into the Ignatian way, eventually completing a 2-year internship in Ignatian spirituality, co-leading discernment workshops with Jesuits, and writing about it for the secular press

Throughout this journey, St. Ignatius’ teachings on spiritual freedom, discernment of spirits, and discernment of God’s will have had an enormous impact on how I teach and lead, pay attention to what attracts or repels me, and how I make professional and personal decisions. You may have noticed this in my leadership when I survey people to get a sense of how they feel about a given problem or when I ask about what enlivens people about their work. 

It’s this kind of Ignatian listening that led me here to Gonzaga. Let me share how. 

Discerning the path ahead

After reading an article in America magazine about women leaders transforming AJCU institutions while remaining true to themselves and the Jesuit mission, I felt a deep sense of “rightness” and quiet excitement. These feelings of spiritual consolation were the nudge to start looking to see who in the AJCU network might be hiring. A month later, I saw the Gonzaga advertisement. As I read more about Gonzaga, I thought, I’d love to work at a place like this! The emphasis on educating the whole person, the close-knit community, the Jesuit commitment to justice, and the common good are just some of the characteristics that stood out for me.

A month later, I saw the Gonzaga advertisement. As I read more about Gonzaga, I thought, I’d love to work at a place like this! The emphasis on educating the whole person, the close-knit community, the Jesuit commitment to justice, and the common good are just some of the characteristics that stood out for me. 

Yet, when I expressed hesitation and dragged my feet about writing the letter of interest, saying, “This is really not the right time,” a friend looked at me with disbelief: “This is everything you are looking for, and they are looking for you!”, she said. What fed into my hesitation? My attachment to the safe and familiar—I knew everyone at my old institution, I knew how things worked, I knew where to grocery shop, I loved my child’s school, and he loved his friends and teacher (and I was worried about ruining his life!). I had never lived in the West and had no family close by. But, I came to see these feelings as they were—it’s normal to feel like this when confronted with change. At the same time, I was not feeling entirely free to choose the next right thing offered to me. Once I had worked through those feelings of resistance or desolations, I was able to write my letter. The search committee also discerned, and I accepted the position in December 2019 to start July 1, 2020. 

Being a people for others – in the College and beyond

I share this example to show that discernment is a listening process that takes time, can reveal where we are not entirely free, and requires that we consult with trusted others when possible. I see the fruits of discernment when I look at the amazing work we’ve accomplished together during the pandemic in the three priority areas of academic excellence, cura personalis, and building an inclusive community. I believe we have been able to do these things, in part, because we are each discerning our next right steps individually and as a College. As we enter the next academic year, I hope that we can more deeply embrace these gifts of Ignatian discernment to listen to each other and co-create action plans in the College to pursue the common good and prepare our students to build a better world. I am grateful that the AJCU Leadership Institute supports this collective work within and across our institutions and that it elevated the four apostolic preferences as key guides of our work together.

Annmarie Caño, Ph.D. is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a Professor of Psychology at Gonzaga University.

A Look Behind the Curtain

I fill various service roles as a Communication Studies faculty member, but I had not joined the Dean’s IDEAS in Action Committee, a group dedicated to enhancing the College’s diversity, equity, and inclusion [DEI] efforts. This committee, I later learned, has been remarkably productive, and the dean supported training for faculty members needing targeted skills to fulfill particular roles. I’ll admit, I felt some FOMO. When I saw Dean Caño was launching a summer faculty fellowship, I was elated to have a chance to learn more about her commitment to DEI.  

In addition to asking fellowship applicants to propose a project focused on one of three areas (I chose hiring), Annmarie’s email promised lessons in leadership and higher ed administration. I have been serving on the Faculty Senate for five years, which lends me a partial view of how our university’s commitment to shared governance operates. In its best moments, the Senate demonstrates profound commitment and collaboration among the faculty. Sometimes it also exposes ruptures, and in a spirit of goodwill, I’m always looking to bridge the gaps in trust, time, and willingness. One of those areas of potential rupture is hiring.  

Focus on Hiring

Hiring is a leap of faith. Despite the many hours of service on job search committees, ultimately, we never really know if a hire will find success here, particularly in the long term, and this can be only more pertinent for colleagues from under-represented backgrounds entering a predominantly white institution in a mid-sized city. One part of this fellowship has involved reading and discussing scholarship about creating a more inclusive university, and I am reassured by the fact that the resources exist to do the work of hiring better.  

Inspired by the work begun by the IDEAS in Action committee last year, I am working with Vince Velonza in the dean’s office to design a website that will host resources for a range of stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, and job applicants. The site will assert the fundamental connection between our mission, Vision 2024 priorities, and Dean Caño’s call to strive to be more equitable in hiring and at all levels of our professional and personal lives. 

Bringing Students into the Process

I also have been charged with developing guidelines for hiring committees inviting a student member to advance their efforts this year, an inclusive practice that I learned is not uncommon across peer AJCU institutions. As a faculty advocate, I am creating a set of options that deliver flexibility for departments determining how to include students in their own hiring processes—including the option for students to earn internship credit by serving on a hiring committee.   

My project work is satisfying, but I did not anticipate the broader benefit of the fellowship was about relationships. I have enjoyed the simple opportunity to chat with Annmarie, hear about her daily schedule, and gain insight into how administrators often function as professional problem solvers. This look behind the curtain of being a dean has been inspiring and invigorating. 

Karen Petruska, Ph.D., is from St. Louis, MO, and is a graduate of a Jesuit university. Incorporating a wide range of media into her classes, Karen gives students the tools they need to successfully navigate a world dominated by screens. In her research, she studies the past and present of television, focusing in particular upon the business models that drive the industry. 

Beside restful waters

I recently returned from a weeklong vacation driving around the Cascades Loop, my first vacation away from home since the pandemic hit. I’ve enjoyed exploring Spokane this year and a half, but exploring a little more of Washington state was a treat: mountains, rivers, lakes, the sea. I didn’t realize how much my family and I needed this vacation until we set off—even my son (who is a homebody) was excited to set out on our adventure.

Methow River, Twisp, WA

Something I (re)learned on this trip is that I don’t need to be “always-on,” always trying to fix everything immediately. It is easy to fall into a pattern where everything is seen as equally important and urgent when we don’t step away occasionally. If we don’t take that time, we burn out, as many people experienced during this last year and a half.

A boy and his dog, Wenatchee River, Leavenworth, WA

Now don’t get me wrong, gaining perspective on work does not mean that I will slack off in my deanly duties. On the contrary, I am more committed to creating space to think and to be, which I know supports my creativity, leadership, and decision-making on the job and at home. In fact, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, speaks to the importance of rest and self-care in discerning the next right step forward. It’s something I usually take to heart as a trained spiritual director. But the non-stop activity and the never-ending stream of decisions to be made fatigued me and “made me” forget. Maybe this is true for you too.

Gratitude for the Gift of Time

I acknowledge that being able even to take a vacation is a privilege that not everyone has. Growing up, my parents had to plan around my dad’s bus driving schedule, his limited vacation days, and their budget for one annual family vacation, which often involved visiting and staying with family members. Some individuals and families are not even that fortunate. And even if we are granted vacation time, there may be reasons we can’t take it when we want. But carving out time to read and write, make or listen to music, create or view art, enjoy nature, exercise, visit with others (if you feel safe to do so) are like mini-vacations that can support a healthy outlook. If you are privileged to have days, hours, or even minutes when you’re technically off the clock, reverence that time as a gift from the Creator, a blessing to refresh your spirit.

Beside restful waters he leads me;

He refreshes my soul

psalm 23

My hope for this summer is that all of us, students and families, staff and faculty, and alumni and friends, can carve out some time to refresh, restore and rejuvenate, in whatever way we can.

Dean’s List…Of Summer Reading

I binge-read every summer. It could be the warmer weather or having more daylight hours (especially in Spokane!). The (slightly) slower pace of the workday might also mean I have more energy to focus on a book in the evenings. Whatever the reason, I just read more during the summer. 

For those of you who might ask, “How can a dean have time to read?” I answer that I wouldn’t feel like I’d be a good dean of a College of Arts and Sciences without time to read, especially novels and fiction (the humanities!) and non-fiction (about diversity and science!). And the social scientist in me revels in the psychological and social dynamics at play in fictional and real life. Reading also re-charges my energy and has expanded what I think is possible in life, including my own life as a mother, wife, daughter, friend, colleague, and citizen. 

But I didn’t always love reading. After a childhood filled with many trips to the public library (my parents were thrifty and would rarely spend money on books unless they were reference books I’d use over and over again), I lost interest in college. I did not perform well in my initial literature and poetry classes, and it felt punishing to read: Clearly, I was doing it all wrong, I thought. It was only later that I was able to see that my peers were more prepared to read critically and write the kinds of papers that earned As. I discovered how to write well in graduate school, and shortly after that, I began reading again. I am heartened by CAS faculty and staff who work closely with students to recognize their potential and nourish their curiosity so they can thrive in college and beyond. 

So, what are some of the books on my summer reading list? 


The Deep by River Solomon – A powerful Afrofuturistic tale about the transformation of grief and the loss of life of enslaved African people.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn – How the power of the land beats on in a Hawaiian family as told by each family member.

Pigs by Johanna Stoberock – This was recommended to me by a fellow Humanities Washington board member; a dystopian tale that weaves together themes of childhood innocence, adult greed, waste and sustainability.

Weather by Jenny Offill – A university librarian who gets roped into answering an advice column and learn more than she wants to know about human nature.

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson – Map-making, monarchy, jinn, and power struggles on the Iberian peninsula during the last sultanate. Intriguing, right?


The Alchemy of Us by Ainissa Ramirez – Hidden stories of the scientific discoveries that have shaped us as a species, written by a Black materials scientist who left academia and now engages in science communication.

Once I Was You by Maria Hinojosa – A Latina journalist’s memoir of straddling two worlds, working on imposter syndrome, and taking ownership of her talents

The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – A non-binary Black astrophysicist explains the order and disorder of the universe

How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell – A biracial (Filipina/white) artist describes how being too attached to a capitalist, digital economy can harm our being. I selected this one because I tend toward overcommitting myself and I’m always looking for ways to live a more balanced life.

Lessons from Plants by Beronda Montgomery – A Black plant biologist draws parallels between the health of plants and what we need as humans to thrive.

What are you reading or listening to?

What is the College?

When people ask me what I do, and I say I am dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Gonzaga University, I initially get some impressed looks. (Wow, a dean!) But the next two questions are “What does a dean do?” and “Arts and Sciences? What is that?” Both are good questions but let’s start with the second (I’ll answer the first question in another post). The College is home to a range of disciplines spanning the fine and performing arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences in 23 departments. With 33 majors and 48 minors to choose from, it may seem like the College is just a hodgepodge of disciplines with no relation to each other. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Beautiful day outside College Hall, former home to the College.

This collection of disciplines is the core of a Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic education. Each component helps us reflect on ourselves and our place in the world, appreciating and celebrating our differences and uniqueness, whether at the atomic, cellular, individual, interpersonal, or societal levels. In the College, we ask fundamental questions: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here on this Earth? and How can we use our knowledge, skills, and creativity to work together to solve life’s great problems? What sets Gonzaga’s College apart is that faculty, staff, and students have the opportunity to explore and learn together in a community that values the whole person—body, mind, and spirit. Each student is more than their grades or what they produce. This means that the education we offer in the College is limitless and can transform how we interact with others and build a better world. In two recent interviews, College of Arts and Sciences faculty and students shared their perspectives about what they are learning. As you will see, a College of Arts and Sciences education is more than meets the eye.

Collection of art objects at the Gonzaga University Urban Arts Center.
Artwork from the senior art show, April 2021.

Almost all Gonzaga undergraduates pass through the College as they journey through the University Core. It is here they gain skills that will support success throughout their lives, including ethical decision-making, critical thinking, self-reflection, and the ability to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. I have been impressed with how well our students can articulate how courses across the College foster a growth mindset that will serve them well into the future whether they pursue careers in health care, research, art and performance, education, public service, ministry, or business and industry. For instance, in this interview, students with a range of majors including Biology and Environmental Studies, describe how printmaking (Art) and creative writing (English) classes helped them develop their self-reflection. These creative problem-solving, and reasoning skills have served them well in other classes and will come in handy in their career and in life.

“These lessons will take them far in fulfilling career paths where they can also enjoy themselves and create lasting friendships.”

In the College, we apply this sensibility to our work outside the classroom too. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing students and faculty who participate in Model UN program and Debate teams and was inspired by their knowledge about current events and issues facing people worldwide but with their ability to see how they valued being part of a team. Supporting their colleagues in honing their arguments and having fun as they practiced their written and oral reasoning skills was as much a part of the learning process as their research. These lessons will take them far in fulfilling career paths where they can also enjoy themselves and create lasting friendships.

I hope that this small introduction to what we do in the College provides some initial answers to “What is the College of Arts and Sciences?” I’ll share more about individual departments and degree programs in future posts to provide a deeper understanding of how each program develops students in the Jesuit, Catholic, and humanistic traditions.

Annmarie Caño, Ph.D. is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a Professor of Psychology at Gonzaga University.

Welcome to Contemplating the College!

Portrait of Dean Dr. Annmarie Caño, photo by Zack Berlat.
Dr. Annmarie Caño, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Photo by Zack Berlat

When I was thinking of names for this blog, I had many words swirling in my head. How do I convey what we do in the College of Arts and Sciences in the fewest words possible when the College spans the natural sciences and mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and visual and performing arts? How do I also point out that our Jesuit heritage is integral to what we do across this broad range of seemingly disparate disciplines? It took some time but Contemplating the College fits because that is exactly what I was doing when I reflected on what we have to offer students and families, alumni, and our wider community. Staying true to our roots as a university founded by the Jesuits, who were in turn founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, we regularly engage in thoughtful and intentional reflection about the work we have been missioned to do. Students, staff, and faculty in the College contemplate what it means to be human, what our place is in the world, and how we can better serve our communities.

In this blog, I will be sharing my contemplations about the College, its people, and our impact. Some of these reflections will be on the innovative work we’ve accomplished this past pandemic year, which is also my first year at Gonzaga. Some posts will be about hopes and plans we have for the future of the College. I hope that you will get to know our work better and find a home for yourself here, whether it’s as a student, staff, faculty member, alumni, friend, supporter, or partner. Welcome and happy reading!

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