As I write, students are beginning to return to campus, and the energy here is palpable with excitement and anticipation of great things.
Part of this excitement comes from the John J. Hemmingson Center – the “next-generation COG” – a space so focused on the student experience I hesitate to label it a “building.” With its three-story rotunda, providing visibility on activities from all vantage points; the many comfortable spaces for Zags to engage in conversation, study, reflection and service; and an international perspective brought by the occupant-departments, the Hemmingson is a unique, contemporary reflection of the Jesuit educational experience that is Gonzaga. We are so pleased and excited to welcome our students into their new center. The Hemmingson Center increases our ability to bring students, faculty and staff together and reinforces that key experience of “community” which is the hallmark of the GU experience. Our hope is that it’s a physical manifestation of the belief this institution has in its students and the work we each do every day in service to their education.
What’s even more exciting, and humbling, to me than the creation of this fantastic facility is the generosity of those who made it possible. Together with the Trustee for whom it is named, countless others have given new life to our student experiences at Gonzaga. Scott and Liz Morris, for example, chose to underwrite an area we’re calling the “Hearth Lounge” – the living room of this facility. Liz visited campus many times during construction, to look at blue prints, choose fabric, and walk through the space that would have a fireplace and cozy furnishings, where students could feel right at home.
How appropriate for the Morris Family to choose that specific setting for their contribution. “My husband and I met while attending Gonzaga and both our sons are Zags,” Liz shared on a recent visit. “We love being here.”
The significance of alumni, parents and friends to the completion of projects such as the Hemmingson Center is critical to Gonzaga’s future. In recognition of this, we’re hosting our second-ever all-Zag reunion, “Zagapalooza,” October 15-18. Back in 2012, more than 2,000 graduates from many generations were here at one time, and what a grand experience that was. Zagapalooza this year is already on target to draw an even larger turnout to campus as alumni come to reconnect and celebrate Gonzaga: past, present and future.
As exciting as the Hemmingson Center and Zagapalooza are … dare I say there is yet another reason to join us in October? Indeed there is. Our future is unfolding before us this fall as we launch our next major fundraising campaign. This effort will be focused on what matters most – our students – and raising resources to ensure every young person who desires, and will benefit from, a Gonzaga education can receive it. We invite you to “Because You Believe,” Oct. 15 at the Grand Hotel in downtown Spokane to learn more.
As we begin a new academic year, I once again am reminded of how blessed we are to work in the service of the Society of Jesus, the Church and our world to further the education of women and men. Thank you for your constant prayers and support, and may God bless you and yours, always. AMDG.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.