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Gonzaga University’s new provost set to start in June

Sacha Kopp is the new provost of Gonzaga University.  (Greg Mason / The Spokesman-Review)
Sacha Kopp is the new provost of Gonzaga University. (Greg Mason / The Spokesman-Review)

New York, Texas, Nebraska – and now, Spokane, Washington.

Sacha Kopp’s career over more than two decades has taken him coast to coast, with his latest stop at Gonzaga University as the school’s new provost.

Kopp, who will officially take the job June 6, will take over for former Provost Deena Gonzalez, who stepped down after the fall semester. Ken Anderson, dean of the School of Business Administration, has served as interim provost.

Kopp was selected through an international search that attracted about 46 applicants, said Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh. A 12-member internal search committee interviewed eight semifinalists before choosing Kopp to serve as Gonzaga’s chief academic officer.

In conducting their search, McCulloh said search committee members prioritized finding someone with past experience as either a provost or a similar position – especially since the job is a “relatively new one” at the university.

“I believe that Dr. Kopp’s extensive administrative experience, emphasis on collaboration, focus on building and stewardship of resources, and calm and congenial demeanor will make a positive and constructive impact on our university in the coming years,” McCulloh said in a statement.

Kopp, 54, will come to Gonzaga after serving as senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for three years. In that position Kopp served essentially as a provost, he said – just with a different title.

A native of Dubuque, Iowa, Kopp earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago with training as a physicist.

After a postdoctoral fellowship at Syracuse University, Kopp earned his first faculty job in 2000 at the University of Texas. He eventually rose through the ranks over 15 years to serve as a student affairs professional and an associate dean, he said.

The opportunity then arose for a return to New York for a five-year stint as the dean of liberal arts for State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Asked of his travels, Kopp said he was largely drawn by the opportunity to amass experience in a variety of environments, staff and student bodies.

“I’ve really thought of it as what are the opportunities to serve and asked myself, ‘Does this really feel like a really meaningful opportunity to serve others?’ ” Kopp said. “I’ve been an educator my whole life, and I chose that as a calling because I really think an education is a life-changing experience for young people.”

With Gonzaga, Kopp cited “the mission” as one of the largest selling points for him.

He said the university uses a model reminiscent of the work his father, Jay, did as a 40-year faculty member at Loras College, a private Catholic institution in Dubuque.

“It’s a great Jesuit institution, it’s nationally known, and there are certain principles of Jesuit higher education that I believe in strongly,” he said. “Although I’ve worked in public universities, Jesuit education talks a lot about the development of the whole person.”

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