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A Look Back at 1986-87 to See Forward to Gonzaga’s 125th Anniversary in 2011-12

The 1986-87 academic year marked the 100th anniversary of Gonzaga’s founding and included a yearlong centennial celebration. On Sept. 17, campus was abuzz with activity as the University hosted an all-campus barbecue and birthday party. Photo courtesy Gonzaga University Archives.

The 1986-87 academic year marked the 100th anniversary of Gonzaga’s founding and included a yearlong centennial celebration. On Sept. 17, campus was abuzz with activity as the University hosted an all-campus barbecue and birthday party. Photo courtesy Gonzaga University Archives.

1986-87

Looking forward to Gonzaga University’s quasquicentennial celebration (125th anniversary) in 2011-12, @GONZAGA continues its monthly series counting back to its founding year, 1887. This series began in September when we looked back six years to the 2004-05 academic year, and each month looks back another six years. In this issue, we travel back in time to view highlights of the 1986-87 academic year.

By Tara Schmidt
Class of 2012

SPOKANE, Wash. – The 1986-87 academic year marked the 100th anniversary of Gonzaga’s founding and included a yearlong centennial celebration. On Sept. 17, campus was abuzz with activity as the University hosted an all-campus barbecue and birthday party. The aroma of burgers wafting through the air, the sounds of live music and sizzling grills, the sight of giant balloons bobbing in sunlight, and “the world’s largest birthday cake” set a decidedly festive tone that continued throughout the year.

In late September, some 500 people attended a Centennial Civic Luncheon emphasizing the link between the growth of Gonzaga and the city of Spokane. A busy September closed with the well-received public lecture, “Rodin’s ‘Thinker’ and the Dilemmas of Modern Public Sculpture” by Stanford University’s Albert Elsen. The presentation coincided with an extended campus exhibition of Rodin’s most famous work, “The Thinker,” courtesy of the B. Gerald Cantor Art Foundation.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke about the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution on Oct. 28, and received an honorary degree. The event also marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of Gonzaga’s School of Law.

During Parents’ Weekend in the spring, the Quadrangle took on the aura of a medieval city as the Gonzaga community celebrated the Italian Renaissance Festival, marking the 16th-century life and times of the University’s namesake: St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Music, theatre, arts and crafts, food, dancing, and education accompanied the all-day festival, which concluded with a Renaissance Mass.

The merriment continued with the St. Patrick’s Day dedication of the 121,000-square-foot Charlotte Y. Martin Centre, a $4.5 million gift from the Gonzaga trustee.

From June 26-28, 1,300 alumni and their families attended the All-Alumni Centennial Reunion. A nostalgic performance by the Men’s Glee Club Alumni, directed by Professor Emeritus Lyle Moore, wowed the crowd.

Other Highlights of the 1986-87 Academic Year:

  • The south side of campus along Lake Arthur was landscaped, with a path connecting campus to the 37-mile Centennial Trail.
  • The women’s athletic program completed its ascent to NCAA Division I.
  • The men’s basketball team recorded its highest finish since joining the West Coast Athletic Conference in 1979. They secured second place with an 18-10 record.
  • In April, an impressive panel of scholars was assembled for a round-table discussion of the American bishops’ latest pastoral letter, “Economic Justice for All: Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy.”

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