New University Center reflects Gonzaga’s Jesuit mission

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Mayor David Condon speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony at Gonzaga
Mayor David Condon speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony at Gonzaga

Two fireplaces will glow inside Gonzaga University’s new University Center, symbolizing the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola who once said, “Go forth and set the world on fire.”

The $60 million, 167,726 square-foot building, which is set to be completed in Fall 2015, will be an anchor for the university’s Jesuit mission, President Thayne McCulloh said Thursday evening at a groundbreaking ceremony.

“This will represent the Gonzaga experience for us in the 21st century,” he said.

The center, which replaces the former COG, will house University Ministry, the Center for Community Action and Service Learning, the Center for Experiential Leadership, the Unity Multicultural Education Center and numerous other organizations.

“It’s an amazingly significant and large project,” said Gonzaga University Executive Vice President Earl F. ‘Marty’ Martin. “It’s indeed a game changer for Gonzaga University.”

According to GU, the building shifts the campus focus to student services, faculty and student collaboration and knowledge acquisition.

Benefactors were honored at Thursday’s ceremony, including University Trustee John J. Hemmingson, who contributed $25 million for the new University Center.

He said he hopes the center will become a gathering place for all Zags.

“This center is about Gonzaga, its incredible mission, and the support of students who will go out and make a difference in our world,” he said.

Rich Hadly, president of Greater Spokane Incorporated, said Gonzaga reaches the physical, mental and spiritual needs of the University District. The new University Center, which will seek LEED gold certification, will be a catalyst for boosting that support, he said, adding that the GU also makes a difference globally.

Construction is slated to begin in early August and is expected to provide approximately 1,500 construction jobs.

At the ground-breaking ceremony the Rev. Frank Case, vice president for mission, prayed for the workers safety and that the building would serve as a symbol of the university’s mission.

More photos are available on our Facebook page.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Journalism Instructor at Washington State University.

She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and for the Religion News Service.

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