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A Look Back at 1974-75 to See Forward to Gonzaga’s 125th Anniversary in 2012

Spokane hosted Expo ’74 with a focus on the environment and Gonzaga positioned its Summer Sessions to take advantage of the Fair’s theme. Photo courtesy of the City of Spokane.

Spokane hosted Expo ’74 with a focus on the environment and Gonzaga positioned its Summer Sessions to take advantage of the Fair’s theme. Photo courtesy of the City of Spokane.


Looking forward to Gonzaga University’s quasquicentennial celebration (125th anniversary) in 2012, @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 1974-75 academic year.

By Mary Jantsch
Class of 2013

SPOKANE, Wash. – Music and merriment rang out across Spokane as 5 million-plus visitors flocked to the Lilac City as it hosted Expo ’74, an environmentally themed world’s fair from May 4 until Nov. 3, 1974. Gonzaga personnel were involved in many aspects of the Fair, from membership on planning committees to staffing the pavilions of various national and international exhibitors. Gonzaga Regent King Cole (who died in December 2010) was universally credited with the Fair’s enormous success. Expo also revitalized downtown, transforming a rail-yard eyesore into beautiful Riverfront Park.

The University also stepped up with the “Gonzaga Expo Inn,” providing overnight accommodations to some 50,000 visitors, including entertainment groups such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Joffrey Ballet, Up with People, and hundreds of high school bands, singing groups and families. It was a massive undertaking requiring Gonzaga to establish its own central laundry facilities since commercial laundries were unable to keep up. Gonzaga students were trained as desk clerks, bell boys and maids.

Gonzaga’s summer programs benefited considerably from the international festivities. The annual “Environmental Symposium,” hosted by Gonzaga’s Summer Sessions, was strengthened by the Fair’s environmental focus. Guest lecturers included some of the world’s top environmental scientists. The “National Symposium on Law and the Environment,” sponsored by the Gonzaga School of Law, was part of the Expo’ 74 program.

The 1974-75 academic year also marked the inauguration of the University’s Semester-in-London Study Abroad program. In fall 1975, the first group of students departed to live with families in London’s residential neighborhoods. The program, which continues today, allows students to integrate classroom study with carefully planned tours chosen by instructors to gain maximum exposure to British history, literature, theatre and art.

The men’s basketball team, competing in the Big Sky Conference, finished tied for third place in the conference with an overall record of 13-13 under Coach Adrian Buoncristiani. The women’s basketball team finished second in the Inland Valley Conference under Coach Ruth Reynen. The baseball team had great success, placing second in the Northern Pacific League with a 32-18 record; the team included five All-Conference first-team players. In his sixth season as baseball coach, Larry Koentopp passed 200 victories.

As enrollment reached a record 4,083 students, Gonzaga continued to educate students and serve the community through its Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic tradition.

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