Santa Clara University


About Michael Accoliti, S.J.

Michael Accolti, S.J. c. 1870, photo courtesy of Santa Clara University Library Special CollectionsA native of Conversano, Italy, Michael Accolti, S.J. was a pioneering missionary in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-19th century, and arrived in San Francisco in 1849 to start a school in the Gold Rush-era region.

Tasked with recruiting faculty and students for Santa Clara College by his colleague John Nobili, S.J., he travelled to Italy and around the U.S. for likely candidates. In 1856, he became prefect of studies at Santa Clara, the first college in the new state of California.

His work with the Jesuit order resulted in the California Province of Jesuits and helped launch St. Ignatius College (which later became the University of San Francisco). Fr. Accolti is buried in the Mission Cemetery on the Santa Clara University campus.

The Michael Accolti, S.J. Chair recognizes his pioneering example of leadership in California's rough-and-tumble beginnings, a dynamic marketplace not dissimilar to today's Silicon Valley.   

Photo courtesy of Santa Clara University Library Special Collections

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