Serving Faith and Promoting Justice: Father Robert J. Spitzer, S.J.

Earl F. Martin, Serving Faith and Promoting Justice: Father Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., 44 Gonz. L. Rev. 363 (2009).

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With the publication of this issue of Gonzaga Law Review, Gonzaga University School of Law says farewell to President Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. Father Spitzer will step down from his position as president of Gonzaga University in July of this year, completing eleven years as the leader of his alma mater.

Father Spitzer’s efforts at Gonzaga have been guided by his vision of a Jesuit education. Focusing on the pillars of faith, service, justice, ethics, and leadership, Father Spitzer worked tirelessly to enhance the academic and social experience at Gonzaga. During his tenure, President Spitzer oversaw tremendous growth across all facets of the university’s operations. Under his leadership, Gonzaga’s total enrollment rose from 4,500 to over 7,000 students, with the aptitude of the incoming students steadily increasing along with this growth in population. Contributions to the university also increased significantly, and the campus was enhanced by construction projects totaling more than $200 million, including seven academic facilities designed to enhance the teaching experience. %CODE2%
One of the construction projects that Father Spitzer brought to completion early in his tenure was the new law school building. From the day it opened in May of 2000, our building along the Spokane River has offered a space for learning that enhances every aspect of our program of legal education. The impact of this new facility on the spirit and profile of the law school cannot be overstated.

Throughout his eleven years as the head of Gonzaga University, Father Spitzer has always enthusiastically promoted the law school, and he has consistently been a strong supporter of programs and efforts within the school that have served the Jesuit-inspired commitments of promoting public service and securing social justice for all. Father Spitzer has spoken on many occasions about the role of the law within the history and mission of the Society of Jesus.

Father Spitzer earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from Gonzaga University in 1974, and his master’s degree in philosophy from St. Louis University in 1978. He earned a Master’s of Divinity from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1983, a master’s in the New Testament from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1984, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Catholic University of America in 1989. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, he is a 1970 graduate of Punahou High School.

Father Spitzer taught at Seattle University from 1978 to 1980, at Georgetown University from 1984 to 1990, and again at Seattle University from 1990 to 1998. He received excellence in teaching awards at both institutions. His interests include ethics in organizations; the dialogue between faith and reason; and the culture, metaphysics, and ontology of physics. He has written five books and has maintained a speaking schedule that has included more than 100 presentations annually.

After leaving his post as president, Father Spitzer plans to continue promoting professional ethics and leadership. He also intends to publish several new books.

On behalf of the administration, faculty, staff, and students of Gonzaga University School of Law, I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Father Spitzer. His vision and dedication have contributed greatly to the success of this institution. We wish him well in all of his future endeavors.


* Earl F. Martin became Dean of Gonzaga University School of Law on July 1, 2005. Prior to joining Gonzaga, Dean Martin served as Associate Dean and Professor of Law at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth, Texas. Dean Martin graduated “Order of the Coif” from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1987 and received an LL.M. from the Yale Law School in 1996. Dean Martin’s writings have appeared in a variety of journals, to include, among others, the American Criminal Law Review (Georgetown), George Washington Law Review, Maryland Law Review, Syracuse Law Review, and the Virginia Journal of Law and Social Policy. Dean Martin teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Torts, and seminars on capital punishment and law and psychology. He is retired from the United States Air Force after having served for twenty years as a Judge Advocate General. Dean Martin is married and has two sons.

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