SPOKANE, Wash. — The Gonzaga community is mourning the loss of its former president and chancellor, Rev. Bernard J. Coughlin, S.J.
Coughlin passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 28. He was 97 years old.
Coughlin was Gonzaga’s longest-serving president (1974-1996) and its first and only chancellor (1996-2016), serving the community for a total of 42 years.
"Fr. Coughlin’s vision, passion and dedication inspired and transformed Gonzaga, the greater Spokane community, and people around the world. As we grieve his loss, we celebrate his life of empathy and his embodiment of true servant leadership. Fr. Coughlin’s legacy and teachings to love one another will continue to impact generations to come," Gonzaga wrote in a statement on Tuesday.
Coughlin oversaw a $72 million capital campaign for the construction of new or renovated buildings for the schools of Business Administration, Education and Engineering, and the Martin Centre for Athletics, Foley Center, Jundt Art Center and Museum, and Dussault and Burch student residences.
Gonzaga Chief Strategy Officer Chuck Murphy said the current culture on campus is a direct result of Coughlin's work.
"A lot of the culture that we have here and what exists today is really a direct result of the foundation that he laid when he came in 74 and began turning things around," Murphy said.
Murphy also said Coughlin made sure the school was on a solid footing and worked selflessly for those at the university.
"He never was one that sought to put any sort of glory on himself. It was always a collective effort, always the work of others," Murphy said.
Coughlin also served as chair of the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce from 1988-1989, the first Jesuit priest to ever lead a chamber of commerce in the United States. In the mid-1990s, he joined Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty in founding the Task Force on Race Relations.
Information on funeral and memorial services for Coughlin has not yet been announced.