Gonzaga alumna Morgan Marum makes her new classroom like home

Morgan Marum teaches in Gonzaga's integrated media department and works for Hoopfest.

Morgan Marum is the epitome of all things Gonzaga, representing her alma mater in everything she does. 

During her time at GU, from 2012-2016, Marum followed suit of Zags before her, taking advantage of all aspects of campus life and excelling at anything she put her mind to. She participated in a wide variety of groups on campus, finding a way to balance course work with extracurriculars such as Bomb Squad. 

“Morgan brings energy, passion and connection to all that she does,” said Josh Armstrong, assistant professor of organizational leadership and director of the Comprehensive Leadership Program (CLP). “She was a CLP student, a grad student in the School of Leadership Studies and a student leader with our Story Slams. She is a storyteller, and now gets to bring these gifts to her work at Hoopfest.” 

Marum is known for lighting up any room she enters, lifting the mood and spirit. More than anything, Marum connects with people on an unprecedented level, quickly eliciting vulnerability and trust. 

Her ability to make everyone feel at home in her company lies behind every role she has held. 

“One day, I had Stephanie Vigil from KHQ come in as a guest speaker, and Morgan, somehow, stood out, among everybody in the class, to Stephanie,” said Colleen McMahon, associate professor of integrated media, who made the phone call offering Marum a position as an adjunct-professor. “Lo and behold, Morgan gets an internship with KHQ out of one day in my class. That just gives you an idea of how she stands out.” 

The integrated media department offered Marum a position as an adjunct professor to teach strategic communications months after she graduated with her master’s in communication and leadership, an opportunity she had dreamt about throughout her time on campus.

“I knew that there [were] professors and mentors in my life that I wanted to emulate one day,” Marum said. “I knew that they had made such an impact on me because they really cared. I think that there’s something so special about a Gonzaga professor. You buy in if you’re on campus. You buy in to the student experience. You buy into wanting more for your students than the classroom, and I always felt that with all of my professors, and so I thought, ‘Man, if I could be that one day, that would be a dream.’ And here I am.”

Her intellect and ability to inspire students does not go unnoticed by colleagues, with many cheering Marum on from the sidelines.

“I just felt as strong of a student as she was, as outgoing and dynamic as she is, that students could relate to her,” McMahon said. “She’s got good business sense, she’s smart and I figured that we could teach her how to teach whatever she needs to teach. I think she’s been doing a great job.” 

When she’s not on campus, Marum spends her time in an office downtown, working as the director of corporate and media relations for Hoopfest.

Building trust with partners is crucial to Hoopfest, as the structure of a nonprofit relies on sponsorships to run and host successful events. GU’s emphasis on communicating eloquently and effectively with all members of the community was not lost on Marum. 

“I, more often than not, feel unique in the workplace because of my Gonzaga education,” Marum said. “I think it’s because of the whole Jesuit education of the mind, body and spirit. Empathy is probably my main language, just listening to people and getting on the ground level and saying, ‘I see you, and I hear you and I want to be a partner to you.’” 

Marum utilizes the skills GU taught her to benefit Hoopfest in all areas, making contributions both on and off of the 3-on-3 court.

“She collaborates well, knows how to use all types of media to enhance our programs and she brings a fresh perspective for this 30-plus-year event,” said Keli Riley, Hoopfest office manager, in an email. “Morgan has brought many new projects and streamlined old ones.”

Despite her abundance of talents and impressive resume, Marum is no stranger to the concept of grace with humility. Her path to excellence involved similar tumbles as most GU students. However, Marum’s attitude toward these moments is telling of who she is.

“I learned that rejection is part of life. It hurts, it’s hard and it knocks you down, but what happens is that you get up stronger,” Marum said. “I’m so glad I learned that lesson in a safe environment on campus, to where, of course, I could be upset and wish that I was part of the group that was chosen, but it was so much more than that.”

Marum brings this perspective to her job running the social media accounts of the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. 

“I read through every post in so many different voices,” Marum said. “I check every blog before it goes out to make sure it sounds like we think it does. We can’t assume that every filter is going to read the information the way that we’re hoping that it gets put out.”

Marum aims to share the gifts of her college experience with her students, bringing her love for GU into class every Tuesday night. 

“Gonzaga allows you to lean in to who you really want to be and it was the first place that I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself,” Marum said. “I remember being on campus one of those first weekends and going, ‘Gosh I made a good choice. This is where I’m meant to be.’ That feeling only got stronger over my four years. I just loved my experience and I’m a Zag through and through.”

The community GU forms extends beyond the 152-acre campus, and Marum encourages students to lean on those that came before them.

“Don’t take any interaction for granted, because you never know how it can help you or you can help them in the future,” Marum said. “Zags help Zags, and they want to, we want to. It’s an open door and I’m here. I want to be here, and I can guarantee most other Zags would say the same. There’s something so special about it, and I don’t think everybody has that experience.”

With that, Marum encourages students to recognize the weight of their GU identity. 

“Being a Zag matters because there’s a reputation that came before you, that will proceed after you, [that] you are now a part of,” she said.

Nicole Glidden is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @NicoleGlidden16.

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