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ZagNut08
03-17-2008, 08:34 AM
March 17, 2008



Dear Members of the Gonzaga Community:



After 10 years as president of Gonzaga University, I believe the time has come to initiate a process of transition in the office of president. Therefore, with profound respect for and gratitude to the Board of Trustees, I have informed them of my intention to work with them over the next 16 months to implement a transition by July 2009. The University has made considerable progress during these years and now enjoys a foundation which will catalyze even further progress.



I believe that transitions are best made during times of real advance rather than in times of crisis or neutrality. As I reflected on the past 10 years and took note of the progress that has been made in our academic programs, Jesuit and Catholic mission programs, enrollments, facilities, fundraising, athletic programs, academic reputation, and financial strength, it became apparent to me that this is an ideal time for a new leader with innovative ideas and fresh energy to invigorate the vision in our new Strategic Plan and move Gonzaga to “the next level.” A transition would also allow me some additional time to develop two national institutes and to promote three books which have been accepted for publication. I will be discerning with my Provincial in the upcoming 16 months how to pursue these projects while continuing the relationships that have been so central to my Gonzaga experience.



When I came to Gonzaga in 1998, we were experiencing financial difficulties and were in the midst of a rather arduous budget reallocation process. I, the Board, and the Cabinet responded with a vision entitled “Momentum 2007,” which we believed would respond to those difficulties. It included (1) a significant increase in enrollment, (2) a $150 million Capital Campaign, (3) a significant increase in our merit-based and need-based financial aid, (4) a process to restore our financial stability (including paying down of our internal debt, and increasing our reserves), (5) measures to assure fairness and quality for our personnel (including a plan to fully fund our salary survey adjustments and a plan to increase faculty development funds and sabbaticals), (6) measures to increase the quality and quantity of our academic programs, (7) increased support of our five mission areas of faith, service, justice, ethics, and leadership, (8) an ambitious facilities plan (including new facilities for law, business, science, engineering, theatre arts, basketball, student fitness, student activities, and residence life), (9) increased resources for our athletic and extracurricular programs, and (10) increased resources for our marketing programs. We believed that these 10 steps would produce a cycle which would repeat itself every two years resulting in continuous improvement of our academic and mission quality. Thanks to our tremendous Gonzaga team, all 10 of these steps were successfully initiated and have run their course of significant amplification. In view of this, we needed a new Strategic Plan to bring our unique Gonzaga education to the next level.



The community then created a Vision Statement for the University (with dynamic definitions of “Jesuit,” “Catholic,” and “humanistic”), formulated seven major goals for our new Strategic Plan, “Vision 2012,” and is now in the process of creating an operational plan to carry this vision forward through the next seven years and beyond. The community then engaged in a productive process to create a funding mechanism to animate this new Strategic Plan. This funding mechanism will ensure that our new Strategic Plan will be optimally fulfilled.



This forward-looking vision assures that the next president will be able to work with the Board and our community to make Gonzaga one of the very best universities of its kind in the nation. In light of this, I can honestly say that my personal goals have been met and that the University’s future will not only be secure, but also significantly improved. As I noted above, I cannot think of a better time to make a transition.



The Board of Trustees will appoint a search committee to include trustees, faculty, administrators, and Jesuits. A targeted search, to identify qualified candidates, will begin within the next month. I believe there are many excellent Jesuit candidates for our next president who can bring new creativity and vigor to our educational enterprise. We will be searching for a dynamic individual who is committed to our mission and improving our academic quality. Given our current momentum, Gonzaga should attract the very best candidates.



I would like to personally thank the Board of Trustees who have not only made extraordinary contributions to the University with wisdom, leadership, financial resources, time and sacrifice, but who have also become my dear colleagues and friends. I would like to express in the same breath my sincere gratitude to the members of the Cabinet whose remarkable professionalism and leadership have transformed my entrepreneurial schemes into a dynamic reality. I would like to thank members of the Jesuit Community, our Board of Regents, and our many benefactors and friends, who are so central to our Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic, and academic mission and who have given me such great support. I am deeply grateful to our academic leadership, faculty, administration, and staff who have made huge sacrifices which allowed Gonzaga to move from a place of financial hardship to one of the most unique and dynamic educational communities in the nation. Finally, and by no means least, I want to thank our beloved students who have not only been a tremendous personal support, but also a beacon of service and faith to reflect a heart of love to our community and the world. They have been a tremendous source of delight and fulfillment to me.



It has been a real privilege to work with all of you, and more importantly, to share in the faith, hope, friendship, and love that you aspire to bring to one another and to the world. I think we can together enjoy the accomplishments of the past and look forward to remarkable opportunities in the future. Please be assured of my prayers for all of you as we move into the transition process which anticipates even greater blessings than the ones we have already experienced.



Sincerely,



Robert J. Spitzer, S.J.

former1dog
03-17-2008, 08:42 AM
Didn't see this one coming.

I'll be sad to see Fr. Spitzer step aside. :( He was a great steward at Gonzaga and really brought the school to another level.

rennis
03-17-2008, 08:43 AM
wow. didn't see that coming.

nice work over the last decade Fr. Spitzer.

gueastcoast
03-17-2008, 08:46 AM
A very sad day for GU. That said this has been in the works for a while; I had just hoped he could hold out a while longer. The Provincial(s) tend to not want guys like Fr. to get too entrenched, and so they are pressed to keep moving (onward and upward of course).

East Coast

Zag 77
03-17-2008, 08:55 AM
Quick news on the Spokesman-Review this morning says Fr. Robert Spitzer is hanging it up effective July, 2009 after 10 years.

He will keep pursuing his academic interests. I hope he is OK.

He came to GU in a really tough time when no other Jesuit really wanted the job after Fr. Glynn got fired. He has presided over one of the best decades ever at GU in terms of growth and financial stability. He was smart enough to not drop the ball as far as the goodwill the basketball team brought, and has been a very respected voice in the field of business ethics.

McZag
03-17-2008, 08:56 AM
Hmmm.. This seems very strange to me. He will certainly be missed.

gueastcoast
03-17-2008, 08:59 AM
Not strange -- see prior post -- I think they actually took a run at this a year or two ago.

That said, I find the timing around the tournament a little strange -- a going away gift as noted in another thread? Win won for the Gipper?

Zag 77
03-17-2008, 09:59 AM
Rumor has it he wanted to stay and Trustees wanted him to stay. The Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Whitney, said otherwise. Something about the Society not wanting a guy to stay in any one place too long.

If that is true, it is unfortunate. Hopefully unlike 10 years ago, there will be lots of good Jesuits who will apply (Thanks to Spitzer).

SintoZag
03-17-2008, 09:59 AM
I recently found out that Spitzer has been there well passed the period he originally committed too, so this should not really come as a surprise.

kitzbuel
03-17-2008, 11:44 AM
He really has presided over some great accomplishments and has put some programs in place that can ensure the success and growth of GU. I really hope that we get someone who has the vision and dedication to grow that vision.

Any word on what he will be doing next?

gu03alum
03-17-2008, 12:08 PM
Does anyone have any idea who will replace Fr. Spitzer?

zagcheer78
03-17-2008, 12:14 PM
Wow. Fr. Spitzer has been a great leader that has solidified the Catholic identity
of our school. I will truly miss him. I pray that someone with the same commitment will take over the helm.

TheBeast
03-17-2008, 12:14 PM
I recently found out that Spitzer has been there well passed the period he originally committed too, so this should not really come as a surprise.

None at all. I guess there's another year to figure it all out though, which also doesn't surprise me.

tobizag
03-17-2008, 01:38 PM
i'm a little in shock.

fr spitzer was truly a blessing to gonzaga university. they will have a very hard time replacing him.

he is a great man who i had the privelege of getting to know on a personal level while at school. he will be sorely missed.

kitzbuel
03-17-2008, 02:05 PM
i'm a little in shock.

fr spitzer was truly a blessing to gonzaga university. they will have a very hard time replacing him.

he is a great man who i had the privelege of getting to know on a personal level while at school. he will be sorely missed.
We all said the same thing about Fr Coughlin and, thank God, that was not true. I believe the next leader will be just as gifted.

krozman
03-17-2008, 02:30 PM
I was in school from 1996-2000, and at the law school from 2000-2003, and speaking from those 7 years, we couldn't have asked for a better steward of the image of our university. Wishing him well.

GonzagaLove
03-17-2008, 02:49 PM
Fr. Spitzer is a great man. I hope the university can find someone just like him, but it won't be easy.

rawkmandale
03-17-2008, 02:50 PM
They need to find someone as gentle and intelligent, but also as committed to the faith - without compromise. Rare birds.

gamagin
03-17-2008, 03:13 PM
so energetic, wise and holy, too.

I do think he will be hard to replace.

lawzag
03-17-2008, 03:52 PM
he will be greatly missed!:(

RomanZag
03-17-2008, 03:59 PM
Fr. Spitzer has done more good for Gonzaga on the material level than I think anyone could have imagined. He took a university with dwindling enrollment, questionable financial status, and mediocre reputation, and he transformed it into the upstart university that it is today. Applications have increased exponentially during his time, the capital campaign was a huge success, and so many great new facilities have been built.

Even more, though, he has made the spiritual mission of Gonzaga central to the university's identity. As a Catholic university, Gonzaga is in the business of educating her students unto eternal life, and Fr. Spitzer has been committed to this from Day One. One may question some decisions he has made, but one can never question his true zeal for the salvation of the soul of every student who attended his university.

He will certainly continue to do amazing work in defense of God, human life, and metaphysical realism. And, as a priest of Jesus Christ, he will certainly continue to labor for the eternal salvation of every person with whom he comes in contact.

beatProgram
03-17-2008, 05:34 PM
Didn't see this one coming.

I'll be sad to see Fr. Spitzer step aside. :( He was a great steward at Gonzaga and really brought the school to another level.

You mean by subjecting everyone from 1998 through at least 2002 a rather marginal education compared to the cost of the institution and the entrance standards?

For years it was difficult or impossible to get into sections of upper division courses because qualified professors had to be pulled to teach more sections of lower-level courses because of Spitzer's policy of pumping the size of each incoming freshman class regardless of whether or not the University had the resources ready to handle it.

This practice also led to a very high number of questionably qualified adjunct professors to be brought in to at least give the appearance of maintaining reasonable class sizes for such a small University, and to mitigate some of the increased burden on full-time professors.

This created a rather divisive relationship between faculty and the administration, as well as some educationally ambitious students and the administration. Spitzer's policies created conditions where students are staring down the face of another $10k to stick around for a useless 5th-year because their last 400-level major requirement course got cancelled in favor of adding another section of Engineering Graphics 101; needless to say this isn't very endearing.

As far as I know Spitzer was the only University President at GU to have a formal academic grievance filed against him by one or more students.

Gonzaga's financial situation, more or less, floats or sinks on the success of the GU basketball team; still. And while Spitzer did help to facilitate some of the growth in that realm by doing what was necessary to get out of Few and Roth's way, he did plenty else to sully the achievement in my opinion.

Though that's just me. I got out in 4-years, and I got a good education, but I had to constantly twist the arm of the University to provide it for me. My $100k+ didn't speak loud enough on its own apparently. I knew plenty of other engineering and hard-science majors who weren't so lucky.

If you enrolled in probably 2001 or later, or you weren't in a department hard pressed for resources, then it probably went totally unnoticed. Eventually things turned around pretty well. The engineering and science buildings got renovated, and the departments got expanded a bit. However, quite a number of students were left to be guinea pigs in this fiscal gambit early on.

webspinnre
03-18-2008, 02:49 PM
A very sad day for GU. That said this has been in the works for a while; I had just hoped he could hold out a while longer. The Provincial(s) tend to not want guys like Fr. to get too entrenched, and so they are pressed to keep moving (onward and upward of course).

East Coast

I've heard that folks in the province have been trying to do this for a couple of years, and that it was really just a matter of time. As someone who had the opportunity to get to know Fr. Spitzer personally, he will be greatly missed.

mendiant
03-20-2008, 03:30 PM
I certainly hope that he can see all the well wishing on this thread.

Glad for the respect SR paid to him by placing the story on the front page.

Story said that he will help choose his successor, and this is truly good news.

The man has gifts that The Church needs bestowed on a grander scale.

His philosophy of the 4 levels of happiness are classic and genius.

He will be missed at GU, but if you pay attention, you will be able to glean gems from his gifts.

If you have cable and EWTN, watch for him. He has had a few programs there.

Much love to Fr Spitzer,

And gratitude to God for gifting him to us here in Spokane.

love,
mendiant

MIkie3
03-24-2008, 08:29 AM
Fr Spitzer will be a tough act to follow. He brought the University out of the dusty corners into the limelight. We now have 1st class facilities, the best students wanting ti get in, great faculty. Fr Spitzer...DON"T GO!!!!