Gonzaga names interim president - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Gonzaga names interim president

Thayne M. McCulloh Thayne M. McCulloh
Rev. Robert J. Spitzer Rev. Robert J. Spitzer

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Gonzaga University Board of Trustees today appointed Thayne M. McCulloh interim president at Gonzaga, beginning mid-July. McCulloh has served the University for nearly 19 years in various administrative and academic capacities.

Rev. Robert J. Spitzer's accomplishments at GU

1998 Spitzer becomes President

Increase in enrollment

$150 million Capital Campaign

Increase in merit-based and need-based financial aid

Process to restore financial stability

2000 New School of Law building built

2001 Corkery Apartments, Dillon and Goller residence halls built

2003 Additions to Hughes Hall, Jepson Center, and Cataldo Hall constructed

2003 Administration Building and COG remodeled

2004 McCarthey Athletic Center opens on site of baseball field

2007 Patterson Baseball complex built opens

2007 Kennedy Apartments open

He will serve as interim president until a search for a highly qualified and available Jesuit candidate results in the appointment of a permanent successor to Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., who will complete his 11-year term as president July 15.

"The appointment of Dr. McCulloh as interim president gives us great optimism for the future of Gonzaga University," said Donald Nelles, chair of the Gonzaga University Board of Trustees. "He is uniquely qualified to lead the University while the search for a Jesuit president continues. He lived the Gonzaga experience as an undergraduate, and he has led many important initiatives over the past two decades that have helped propel Gonzaga to its current stature as one of the country's best comprehensive regional universities."

McCulloh, 44, has served the past two years as interim academic vice president following the departure of Stephen Freedman, who became senior vice president at Fordham University. Prior to that McCulloh was vice president for administration and planning, associate academic vice president, dean of financial services, dean of student academic services, assistant dean of students, and held several other student life positions. He has been integrally involved in shaping Gonzaga's current strategic plan, developing its enrollment strategy, and in 2004 chaired the institution's comprehensive institutional accreditation process. McCulloh has taught as a member of Gonzaga's psychology department faculty and facilitated numerous student research projects. He also has served the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities as a team member and chair, engaged in evaluating the effectiveness of peer institutions in the Pacific Northwest.

"The mission of Gonzaga is strong and well articulated," Nelles emphasized, "and the faculty here are second-to-none. Dr. McCulloh is blessed to have a cadre of vice presidents who have a collective service to the University of well over 130 years. He knows the institution well, is an experienced administrator, and the right person at the right time in Gonzaga University's history."

The institution's strategic plan, Vision 2012, is in place and serves as a blueprint for University progress over the next five years. Prospective student applications are on par with last year's number, and there is every indication that enrollment will hold strong in the fall. To assist in supporting the University's efforts to keep current students enrolled, members of the Board of Trustees have formed an assistance fund for students whose families may have experienced layoffs or other financial strife in this volatile economic period.

McCulloh Background

McCulloh received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Gonzaga in 1989, and was accepted into the Master of Science program in experimental psychology at Oxford University in England that same year. In 1998, he completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree in experimental social psychology, also from Oxford.

"Here's an individual who is the product of our mission, as a student educated by Jesuit and lay companions, and who has for the past 23 years witnessed and been a part of the way this University exposes students to its mission," Nelles said. "He has been practicing and strongly supporting Jesuit-lay collaboration ever since he took his first job here, back as a resident assistant during his undergraduate days."

McCulloh said, "I am deeply honored and very humbled to be asked by the Trustees to serve the University in this way. It has been a privilege to work with Father Spitzer and so many excellent colleagues over the years, to have participated in the strengthening of this vibrant and successful institution. Gonzaga is unique among Jesuit and Catholic universities. It is a wonderful and exciting place to be, and my family and I are grateful to be a part of it."

"Having had the recent opportunity to work with deans and faculty has been enormously positive and important for me. The faculty are the heart and soul of an academic institution," McCulloh said. "To understand and appreciate faculty issues is extremely important, and I believe it will be critical in our decision-making going forward."

"As we have dealt with faculty concerns, student issues, financial challenges or whatever the focus of the moment might have been, my colleagues and I always try to ask: ‘How do we best serve the students of Gonzaga University, and simultaneously support the University Mission?'

"I spent three years in the Army after I graduated from high school," McCulloh said. "For most of my time I was stationed at Fort Polk, in the heart of Louisiana. One of the things I realized out of that experience is how many bright, talented and hard-working people in this country will never go to college because they lack the resources or have not received a strong pre-college education. What we do at Gonzaga is incredibly important, and my memories of Louisiana, and many other parts of our nation, remind me of that. How fortunate are we, even in these difficult economic times, to be engaged in the mission of higher education. Our work as a Jesuit, Catholic university is about engaging in a transformational process, working together with students who make a positive difference now and for the future."

McCulloh is married to wife Julie, and they have three daughters, Kathryne, Anne and Emily.

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