Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
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Dr. Thayne McCulloh named first lay president of GU
the Inland Register
(From the July 29, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Dr. Thayne McCulloh is the new president of Gonzaga University. (IR photo by Jennifer Raudebaugh, courtesy of Gonzaga University)
The Gonzaga University Board of Trustees have elected Dr. Thayne M. McCulloh as Gonzaga’s 26th president, the first regularly appointed lay president in the university’s history.
He succeeds Jesuit Father Robert J. Spitzer. Dr. McCulloh has served as interim president since Father Spitzer’s departure in July 2009.
“Over the past two years we have looked at a number of potential candidates,” said John Luger, chair of the Board of Trustees. He called Dr. McCulloh “an exceptionally talented individual who has the background, the vision and the leadership skills to lead Gonzaga to a very bright future, and how fortunate we are to have this leader in our own community.”
Dr. McCulloh, 45, is a social psychologist by training and has been involved with GU in a wide range of academic and administrative positions over the past 20 years.
Said Jesuit Father Steve Kuder, rector of GU’s Jesuit community and a university trustee, “Thayne McCulloh has proven in his long service to the University that he shares all our Jesuit values of education. I think I speak for the university Jesuit community when I say that we welcome him wholeheartedly as our first lay president. I cannot imagine a more qualified or distinguished leader for Gonzaga at this pivotal time in our history.”
GU’s bylaws, which stipulate that the president must be a Jesuit, have been suspended by GU’s Board of Members.
“I am humbled by the confidence the Board and GU community have placed in me with this appointment,” said Dr. McCulloh. “I am privileged to play a role in advancing its important mission as a Jesuit, Catholic and humanistic university.”
Since the beginning of his work at Gonzaga, Dr. McCulloh’s focus has been on the promotion of academic excellence, development of a strong community, and institutional health in the context of a vibrant Jesuit and Catholic learning environment. As interim president, these objectives have remained his primary focus as he has engaged with the local business community and alumni nationwide.
Dr. McCulloh’s doctorate, in experimental social psychology, was earned at Oxford University, England.
In an interview with the Inland Register in June 2009, Dr. McCulloh talked about his goals, even as interim president of the school.
“Who we are as a Jesuit, Catholic institution guides everything else we do, so that’s a first priority,” he said.
In a press release, he called GU the place “where many of my values have been shaped. The Jesuits and my colleagues at Gonzaga have allowed me to participate fully in the advancement of this institution.”
He said that the school’s “primary mission is to educate students. I plan to continue efforts to optimize operational costs while focusing additional resources on educational programs, student life, and a healthy financial aid program.”
Dr. McCulloh served two years as interim academic vice president (2007-2009) before becoming interim president in July 2009. Prior to that, he served as 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 taught as a member of Gonzaga’s psychology department faculty and facilitated numerous student research projects.
On the occasion of the appointment of Dr. Thayne McCulloh as the new president of Gonzaga University, I extend to him congratulations and prayerful best wishes. He has already served GU as interim president with distinction. His keen intellect, his spirit of service, his sense of Church, and his spirituality come together as a wonderful gift to Gonzaga University and its very important role in our Church and the larger Spokane community.
As a Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition, Gonzaga has been a great presence and influence in Spokane. Dr. McCulloh will continue to build on that tradition, made possible by so many fine leaders and benefactors.
GU has been an integral part of our formation program for seminarians at Bishop White Seminary. I am most grateful to the university, especially its presidents, for their collaboration and cooperation in assisting us to make our priestly formation program what it is.
The mission of Gonzaga University continues, and I assure Dr. McCulloch my prayers and support as continues his service of leadership to this fine and very important institution.
Bishop William Skylstad