SPOKANE, Wash. – The Gonzaga University Board of Trustees today (Friday, July 16) elected Dr.Thayne M. McCulloh as Gonzaga’s 26th president, succeeding Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. McCulloh has served as interim president since Rev. 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. “What we have in Thayne McCulloh is 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. His work in championing the mission of Gonzaga, and his work this past year as interim president, has given us every confidence that he will be Gonzaga’s next great leader.”
McCulloh, 45, a social psychologist, has been engaged by Gonzaga University in a wide range of academic and administrative positions over the past 20 years. With this appointment, he becomes Gonzaga’s first regularly appointed lay president.
“Thayne McCulloh has proven in his long service to the University that he shares all our Jesuit values of education,” said Rev. Steve Kuder, S.J., rector of the Gonzaga Jesuit community and a Trustee. “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.”
Gonzaga’s bylaws, which stipulate that the president must be a Jesuit, have been suspended by the University’s Board of Members to allow Gonzaga to appoint a highly regarded leader, and an individual who has consistently aspired to promote the Jesuit mission to the highest degree throughout his work here.
“I am humbled by the confidence the Board and GU community have placed in me with this appointment,” said McCulloh. “Gonzaga is poised for even greater success and opportunity, and I am privileged to play a role in advancing its important mission as a Jesuit, Catholic and humanistic university. Our world is filled with boundless technological advancement and staggering challenges due to poverty, economic instability, and international conflict. In this context, our Jesuit-led mission is more important than ever. We are engaged in a transformational process with our students, preparing them to first and foremost be well-educated women and men for others who will make a long-lasting impact on our community and world.”
Since the beginning of his work at Gonzaga, 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.
McCulloh has been integral to Gonzaga’s successful enrollment management effort over the past 12 years. Enrollment reached an all-time high last fall with a total of 7,682 students enrolled. As interim president, McCulloh has engaged the campus community in an effort to define the appropriate size of Gonzaga’s student body without compromising the University’s high academic and student life standards. In the face of last year’s record-breaking freshmen class, which topped 1,200 students, this effort will result in an intentionally more selective fall 2010 freshman class.
McCulloh also has helped navigate Gonzaga’s course through the economic recession, implemented new resource allocation strategies to greater effect and focus dollars on student services, and restructured his administration for greater accessibility and efficiency. Finally, this month McCulloh welcomed a new academic vice president, Patricia Killen, and appointed a new executive vice president, Earl Martin, to oversee many of Gonzaga’s internal operations. Through these and many other changes, Gonzaga’s Jesuit foundation has remained of paramount importance to the new president.
“My life would not be the same without Gonzaga – it’s where my wife Julie and I met, and 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,” McCulloh said. “I am excited about the prospect of giving back to this institution and its constituents through a vision focused on preserving our mission, unique student life experience and academic excellence while exploring new frontiers for preparing students to tackle today’s complex global issues.”
McCulloh’s vision for the immediate future remains focused on increased institutional stability and support for educational excellence. “Our 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. Part of this effort will include building Gonzaga’s endowment to make the University more accessible to students who are motivated to seek a Gonzaga education. Finally, as Gonzaga prepares for its 125th Anniversary in 2012, I plan to seek greater collaboration with the Spokane community to further the prosperity of the City and region through the service, diversity, ingenuity and economic resources of this University and its students.”
McCulloh served two years as interim academic vice president (2007-2009) before becoming interim president on July 16, 2009. 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. McCulloh oversaw the first new residence hall construction on campus since the mid-1960s, and played a key role in the implementation of the University’s integrated computing information system. He has been integrally involved in shaping Gonzaga’s current strategic plan, developing its enrollment strategy, and in 2004 chaired the institution’s successful institutional accreditation process. McCulloh has taught as a member of Gonzaga’s psychology department faculty and facilitated numerous student research projects. Also, he 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.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Gonzaga in 1989, and was admitted into the Master of Science program in experimental psychology at Oxford University in England that same year. McCulloh was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree in experimental social psychology from Oxford in 1998.
McCulloh and wife Julie, have three daughters: Kathryne, Anne and Emily.
THAYNE M. McCULLOH – Biography
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Washington, D.C. and Seattle, McCulloh graduated from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School. Following high school, he completed a three-year enlistment as a food service sergeant in the U.S. Army. He arrived at Gonzaga in its centennial year (1986-87), served as a resident assistant and resident director, was president of Alpha Sigma Nu (the Jesuit honor society), and was elected student body president his senior year. He graduated magna cum laude, and proudly shares with Harry H. Sladich the distinctions of being the only non-Jesuits to serve as interim president and of receiving Gonzaga’s Lindberg Loyalty Award.
McCulloh’s employment at Gonzaga began in 1990 and includes several positions within student affairs as well as teaching in the psychology department. From 1990-92 he coordinated the residence hall staff, and following a one-year leave of absence returned in 1993 as director of housing. During his tenure in housing the Dussault Apartments were completed and the Burch Apartments were constructed. In 1995, he was appointed assistant dean of students, and was instrumental in the creation and development of disability support services. In 1996, he was appointed dean of student academic services; in 1998 he was appointed dean of student financial services. In 2002, he was appointed associate academic vice president and successfully chaired the comprehensive institutional accreditation (2004). In 2004, he was appointed vice president for administration and planning. As VP for administration, he chaired the development of the institutional strategic plan and provided oversight for the architecture of the campus wireless network.
Upon the departure of former Academic Vice President Stephen Freedman in summer 2007, McCulloh was appointed interim academic vice president. During his tenure in this position, he worked to improve core administrative and resource-allocation processes, initiating a new core curriculum review process, and supporting faculty-based initiatives oriented toward improvement in the teaching and learning environment.
McCulloh has developed expertise in several key areas of higher education administration, including financial aid and retention, leadership development, professional mentoring, and organizational succession planning; he has been engaged by numerous institutions as a consultant in these areas.
The McCulloh family is active in the community of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Spokane. He serves on Greater Spokane Incorporated’s Higher Education Leadership Group, the University District Board of Directors, and the president’s councils of the Independent Colleges of Washington and the West Coast Conference. McCulloh’s professional activities have involved long-standing service to regional accreditation in the Northwest, service as a member and officer on the board of directors for EdFund (a public-benefit corporation of the California Student Aid Commission), and appointment to the Spokane Human Rights Commission. He is a member of the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and the College Board. McCulloh’s biography appears in “Who’s Who in America,” and he was honored in January 2009 by the Fulcrum Foundation of Seattle as a Champion of Catholic Education.