Gonzaga University trustees Friday began a national search for a successor to longtime President Bernard Coughlin.
Rev. Coughlin will be elevated to the position of chancellor once a new president is hired.
Coughlin has led Gonzaga for 21 years. In that time, he has presided over an era of sustained growth in enrollment, budgets and facilities on campus, the trustees said.
Coughlin is 72.
About 150 people turned out at Martin Centre for the announcement by members of the board of trustees. The crowd gave Coughlin several ovations.
No timetable was set for the search. Under university bylaws, the new president must be a Jesuit.
Once the new president is in place, Coughlin will turn his attention as chancellor to building relationships outside the university.
Part of the job will be raising money in a new campaign to double the university’s endowment from $50 million to $100 million by the year 2000.
“Father Coughlin really has set a standard of excellence, a standard of ethics and a standard of commitment for this university,” said trustee Duff Kennedy of Seattle.
Kennedy and other trustees said they want a seamless change of leadership, and that is why they are elevating Coughlin to the role of chancellor. The transition had been discussed privately for at least two years.
GU has never had a chancellor in its 108-year history, so Coughlin’s eventual appointment to that position shows the university’s high regard for him, Herak said.
After the announcement, Coughlin stepped onto a stage and gazed into the applauding crowd. His jaw quivered slightly. His eyes misted.
“I’ve considered it an honor to be a president of such a fine place,” he said.
“This is the right time for this,” Coughlin said. “I feel good about this because Gonzaga University is in a position of strength.”
The former social services professor was hired as GU’s 23rd president in 1974 out of Saint Louis University.
During his tenure, enrollment doubled to more than 4,700 students. The budget grew from $9.6 million to $71 million this year.
A decade-long fund-raising campaign brought in $72 million and culminated in the opening of a sixth new campus building this month. It also created a $15 million scholarship fund and $8 million for endowed professorships.
The new campus buildings include the Jundt Art Center and Museum, the Rosauer Center for Education, the Foley Center library, the Jepson Center for Business Administration, the Martin Centre for recreation and athletics and the Herak Center for Engineering.
Coughlin said the university still needs a new law school, a project that has been under discussion for a number of years. GU also is planning new science buildings, he said.
Throughout his tenure, Coughlin has emphasized the need to serve the broader community through volunteerism and professional careers under a Jesuit tradition of helping others.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo