The Rev. Robert Spitzer, S.J., a pro-life chamion, plans to step down from the presidency of Gonzaga University in Spokane, ending his very succesful decade at the helm, says

Spitzer, 55, will return to study, teaching and writing in the ethics field. He is a prominent scholar-critic of the movement to legalize assisted suicide, and a leading Catholic spokesman on the right to life.

Spitzer, who is legally blind, has overseen a turnaround on the Spokane campus since taking over Gonzaga’s presidency in 1998. Enrollments at the Jesuit university have risen from 4,500 to 6,900, and a higher volume of applications has allowed Gonzaga wider leeway in who it accepts.

Spitzer has also presided over his share of campus controversies.

The priest-president refused to allow a Planned Parenthood representative to speak on campus, and vetoes hosting a performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”

Now, sadly compare this with Notre Dame where a conference of Catholic bishops was recently moved off the University of Notre Dame campus after they allowed “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed.

In his tenure at Gonzaga, Spitzer has:
1) Shut down an attempt by the women’s center to have Planned Parenthood speak on campus
2) Gathered student, parent, staff, administration, and partial faculty support for Ex Corde Ecclesiae in the first couple of years he was there

3) Hired Fr. Bill Watson as Vice President of Mission to bring authentic Ignatian Spiritual retreats and devout Masses to campus

4) Transformed the 70s “sit-on-the-floor” style student Admin building chapel into a magnificent work of traditional Catholic art, contemplation, and prayer, where Mass will be said appropriately.

5) Doubled student attendance at campus Masses since becoming President

6) Added a Sunday night 10 PM devout Mass which he regularly presides over, and which regularly brings in over 600 students – triple from when it started

7) Founded the Gonzaga Institute of Ethics to bring authentic Catholic ethics to community businesses and organizations.

8) Founded the Institute of Faith and Reason to answer the Pope’s call to bring Catholic theology, sciences, and philosophy together. (H/T Mark Shea.)

Fr. Spitzer seems like an excellent Jesuit and I for one am sad to see him go.