Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, was founded in 1887 by a Jesuit priest as a boarding school for boys. The school was named, appropriately, after Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of youth. By 1912, the school had grown into a multifaceted institution of higher learning and was officially designated a university by the state. It continued adding graduate institutions through the first half of the 20th century. In 1948, the school dealt with the dual influx of returning soldiers (sponsored by the G.I. Bill) and women (as the school finally went co-ed).
Gonzaga’s 131-acre campus in Spokane, Washington, is flat and green, excellent for Frisbee when it is not covered by snow (nearby mountains make up for the lack of hills). The school is very proud of its Crosby Student Center, which, in addition to being a hangout, houses memorabilia of alum Bing Crosby. The notoriously athletic student body spends a lot of time at the Martin Center, where the Kermit Rudolf Fitness Center - with basketball, volleyball, and racquetball courts, fitness rooms, strength and cardiovascular equipment, a six-lane, 25-yard swimming pool, and an indoor running track - is located. The McCarthey Athletic Center next door is a new 6,000-seat arena where the men's and women's basketball teams play.
A riverside trail cuts through campus and leads to downtown Spokane. But since the area is a little rough, many students choose to congregate in the dorms or the Student Center instead.
Gonzaga is located in a somewhat blighted area of Spokane, a major city in Washington State. Still, movie theaters, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars for the 21+ crowd surround the campus, and students who venture farther into twon are rewarded: The 100-acre Riverfront Park and Spokane Falls are both visually striking places to relax, and more artistically inclined students can enjoy ballet, opera, and theater performances.
Since all students who participate in a club or organization must do some sort of service, Zags also give back often to their community, which helps keep town-gown relations friendly. Citizens of Spokane have almost as much spirit as students themselves and often post Go Bulldogs! signs in their windows.
The climate that keeps Spokane chilly and often snowy through the spring makes for excellent skiing in Washington and nearby Idaho. Students can hike, bike, snowmobile, snowboard, and ride horses through those mountains as well. Montana and two Canadian provinces are both visible from Mt. Spokane and accessible by car.
Students advertise club meetings, lectures, parties, and dances, and communicate with the rest of campus by painting on a large wall at the center of campus.
Orientation every fall features one of the two annual Gonzaga Student Body Association (GSBA) boat cruises, as well as Jell-O wrestling.
The school sponsors University Ministry Program annual retreats, one of which begins with a 14-mile Pilgrimmage to Cataldo Mission in Idaho.
In mid-November, students attend a formal Charity Ball, proceeds of which are donated to a local organization.
The student body crowds into St. Aloysius Church for the Christmas Candlelight Concert to hear the University Choir perform by candlelight.
Madonnastock, an annual day-long student music festival in April, is named for nearby Madonna Hall, not than the eponymous singer.
In a tradition that dates back to 1887, the school year officially begins with this formal prayer, the Mass of the Holy Spirit.
Sherman Alexie (attended) is an award-winning novelist from the Spokane area.
Brian Ching (2000) is a professional soccer player.
Bing Crosby (attended) was an Academy Award-winning performer.
John Stockton (1984) is a retired NBA all-star who played as point guard for the Utah Jazz.
Gonzaga is a West Coast Conference Division I school, offering seven men's and seven women's sports: basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, tennis, cross country/track and crew for men, and volleyball, basketball, soccer, tennis, cross country/track, crew, and golf for women. The school also offers intramural sports, including volleyball, flag football, basketball, softball, soccer, racquetball, tennis and ultimate Frisbee, and club sports, including ice hockey, lacrosse, and snowboarding.
Though almost all students participate in athletics on- or off-campus (hiking or skiing on one of the four nearby courses, for example), basketball is what knits this school together. Bulldogs have won over 90 percent of their games, and tickets are free, though increasingly difficult to come by. Fans are unashamed about screaming and hugging strangers in celebration when the team scores.
Gonzaga was originally founded as a mission school for young Native American men.
Originally, players on the Gonzaga football team (itself now defunct) were called the Blue and White or the Fighting Irish, reflecting the university’s desire to be the Notre Dame of the West. But a journalist nicknamed them Bulldogs for their tenacity in the early 1920s, and the moniker stuck.
The school’s current living mascot, Q the Bulldog, was named after point guard Quentin Hall who, with the rest of his team in 1999, helped catapult the Zags to Basketball prominence. Salty, the mascot in 1966-67, made history by running onto the court to bite an unfriendly referee.
Students are strongly encouraged to live in one of the campus’s twenty dorms, six apartment complexes, or fifteen houses their first two years at the school. The school offers some triples, single rooms, and premium single rooms (double rooms set aside for single occupancy), but the majority of dorm rooms are designated as doubles.
All-male halls: Campion, DeSmet, Roncalli
All-female halls: Alliance, Lincoln, Welch
Co-ed halls: Catherine/Monica, Chardin, Crimont, Cushing, Dooley, Madonna, Dillon, Goller, Twohy
Substance-free or “Po-Cho” (Positive Choice) dorms, with a strict no smoking or drinking agreement: Dillon Hall, part of Catherine Monica
On-campus apartments for first- and second-year residents: Sharp Apartments, 301 Boone Apartments, Dussault Apartments, Burch Apartments
On-campus apartments for third-year or older residents: Corkery Apartments, Kennedy Apartments
There is no Greek life at Gonzaga and thus no fraternity or sorority housing.