W. Atom Yee
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Good morning, I am Atom Yee, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Today it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you to this very important event to recognize and thank Victor and Julia Vari for not only their past years of service to Santa Clara University and to our students, but for the legacy they are bequeathing for generations to come.
THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES
Chair, Department of Modern Languages & Literatures
Good morning. I’d like to begin by saying that I am honored to be here to speak on this very exciting occasion. On behalf of all your colleagues in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, I would like to join the University and the College in thanking you, Vic and Julia, for your generous endowment to the future of Santa Clara University. Your gift in support of the Arts and Humanities is truly emblematic of your legacy of educating the whole person in the spirit of Jesuit education.
Now, most of you here today know that for close to 70 years, Dr. and Mrs. Vari together have generously shared with the SCU community their passion and love for Italian language, literature, art, music, and cultures through numerous creative ventures, many of which still impact our students today.
The Vari’s educational vision has always been to transcend disciplinary boundaries in order to foster understanding and to promote personal transformation. In other words, the values and virtues embodied in the Arts and Humanities have consistently been at the core of the Vari’s contributions to the Santa Clara experience.
Much in the same way that, from its beginnings, dating back centuries, Jesuit education has also made the Arts and Humanities a centerpiece, fundamental to the mission of educating students of competence, conscience, and compassion. For it is precisely through literature, philosophy, religion, art, music, history, and of course, languages, that we learn to decode, record, critically question, and better and more sympathetically understand the past, present, and future of ourselves and of others. Indeed we learn to see ‘others’ not as ‘foreign’ but rather as ‘human.’ And importantly, it is through the rigor of these disciplines that we learn to effectively engage and creatively and eloquently enact our competence in service of the common good.
But the disciplines of the Arts and Humanities don’t just make us ‘more human’ and they don’t just enrich our lives with color and sound and texture. They are not just a complement to other disciplines. They are an inextricable part of developing the essence of competence within specific fields, including especially science, math, and engineering. Eugene Ferguson beautifully underscores this point in his book ‘Engineering and the Mind’s Eye,” commenting that: “Pyramids, cathedrals, and rockets exist not because of geometry, theories of structures, or thermodynamics, but because they were first a picture–literally a vision–in the minds of those who built them. Society is where it is today because people had the perception; the images and the imagination; the creativity that the Arts provide, to make the world the place we live in today.” Dr. and Mrs. Vari, your names on this building will serve as an enduring symbol of your deep commitment to broadening students’ understanding of the human experience and to stimulating the creativity within them. And your generous gift will strengthen our ability to develop in students the potential to make the world a better place in which to live long into the future. For this we are very proud, and grateful. Thank you!
Michael E. Engh, S.J.
Victor and Julia, welcome back. We are very happy to have you here. It is a very special occasion to see you back on campus, where you have invested so many years of your lives.
When Victor retired a few years ago, we had a grand celebration, and many, many people talked about the fabulous classes; they talked about the trips to Assisi; they talked about the introduction to Italian culture; and they talked about how the two of you impacted people’s lives, impacted their lives. And I heard it again this morning in our meetings, how the trips to Assisi brought people together, again and again, in such a way that they even wanted to get married in Assisi. I am sorry I missed that trip; I would have been happy to do the ceremony. But we’re very, very pleased to have you back and recall the memories of so much of your lives dedicated to the school. It’s a great, great legacy to Santa Clara the two of you have provided. And so we look forward to continuing to celebrate – celebrate two people who have transformed so many lives. And as I was thinking about all that you’ve done, it reminded me of my readings of Dante. I wanted to get in the spirit of the event, and I thought, let me practice my Italian. And I never had the benefit of being in one of Dr. Vari’s classes, so bear with me. But Dante is talking about the human spirit, what we strive for, who we are as human beings. This is a great manifestation coming out of Italian culture: Who we are as human beings. And the phrase goes like this:
Considerate la vostra semenza:
fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.
I hope you recognized that. It translates as this:
Consider your origin;
You were not created to live as brutes,
but to follow virtue and knowledge.
And following virtue and knowledge is what the two of you have done; and that’s what you have been to Santa Clara for so many lives. And so with that, with this great inspiration for virtue and this great dedication to knowledge, we are very pleased that we can gather with you to re-dedicate this building. But most importantly, we salute you, we thank you and we celebrate you. Thank you.
VICTOR B. AND JULIA BOTTO VARI
Welcome and good morning! Relax, I'm not giving a speech. I simply wanted to say that this show of gratitude is a bit overwhelming. Victor and I feel that we should be thanking you for so enriching our lives with your love, your caring, your presence. It has been a long and wonderful journey that you have shared with us. And personally, I cannot imagine what it would have been like without you.
William J. Rewak, S.J.
As we gather to bless this building, let us recall and thank, first, those who have built it so that it would remain as a place of study and research for the future. Let us thank those who have adorned and protected it so that generations to come may be moved by its beauty. Let us thank Julia and Victor Vari who have ensured it will stand as a monument to the living arts and sciences of our University.
And so we pray:
O God, you have placed the earth and all of its life under our care; help us so that by our labor we ensure that all share in the benefits of your creation.
Through such labor of many people, we have been gifted with this building. We ask that you bless all those who will use the Victor B. and Julia Botto Vari Hall so that by their study they respect justice and charity, that they see themselves as working for the common good and that they find joy in contributing to our crucial work of education.
May God, the author of all goodness and the giver of all our talents, who has asked us to help one another as brothers and sisters, bless this building with grace and look kindly, this day and every day, on all who enter here.