Dan Harbaugh (’70)
It was 1967. Bishop of the Diocese of Spokane Bernard J. Topel, Ph.D. was coming to Gonzaga University to address students about the way things were changing on campus, like students’ preference for strumming guitars in the student chapel rather than playing the piano or organ. Among the 700 students packed into the Kennedy Pavilion (now The Martin Centre) to greet the bishop was Dan Harbaugh (’70), a political science major from Gooding, Idaho, a town of 3,000.
“Everybody stood up as the bishop came in wearing his clerical garb,” Harbaugh recalled. “He was visibly impressed and emotionally overwhelmed by the crowd. We showed him that we weren’t trying to upset anything; we just wanted things to be relevant to our experience. That’s also happening right now. Gonzaga’s core values are still the same.”
As an alumnus of both GU and Gonzaga Law, and a member of the Board of Regents, Harbaugh makes a concentrated effort to connect with today’s students. Developing relationships, growing faith and global engagement are top priorities for students today, which Harbaugh views as great opportunities to share the Zag spirit.
“St. Ignatius once said, ‘Go forth and set the world on fire.’ That should be the direction Gonzaga graduates have when they leave this school. Whether that means here or anyplace else in the world.” Harbaugh also believes there is a bit of magic in the Gonzaga experience, so much so, that he was inspired to include a gift in his will for the University. “There’s a transformation that goes on here,” he said, “and I want to facilitate that. If I can leave what I’ve worked for all these years to others where it will help and benefit mankind, then that’s truly important. Leaving my ultimate gift through my will and by continuing to give annually, I’m returning a very small portion of the riches I received from Gonzaga.”
During his own time as a student, Harbaugh was drawn to the opportunities to expand his horizons. He felt blessed to make friends with international classmates while living in Alliance House. “The way they grew up was totally different from the way I did,” he recalled. “I think there’s even more of that on campus today. I really believe part of our mission should be to bring people from all over the world together because there is so much they can teach us.”
“I’m enthusiastic about giving something back, because Gonzaga gave me a tremendous amount.”