fyi is the official faculty-staff newsletter for the Santa Clara University community. It is designed to keep faculty and staff informed about campus news and information. It is compiled, written and published by the Office of Marketing and Communications.
The Office of Sustainability is kicking off the fourth annual Energy Challenge in February, and this year there will be a social media twist. For the first time, the SCU community can keep track of energy use on a public dashboard with real-time data as part of the largest nationwide electricity and water reduction competition on college campuses, the Campus Conservation Nationals. Starting Feb. 4, not only can students see how much energy SCU is using, but also monitor other schools.
“We’re excited to unveil this new tool to encourage our students and community to think about ways they can conserve using a medium they’re comfortable with,” says Office of Sustainability Director Lindsey Cromwell-Kalkbrenner. “They can actively participate by commenting on facebook, receiving Twitter updates and getting comparisons of each building.”
Santa Clara University has a commitment to be climate neutral by the end of 2015. Roughly 80 percent of a building’s energy use is based on lighting and electronic appliances, so the habits of people on campus are vital to attaining this goal.
“We must dramatically reduce electricity use to reach our goal, and engaging students in a fun and rewarding way will help us get there,” says Sustainability Coordinator Cara K. Uy.
The challenge runs Feb. 1 to 28, but the official kickoff event was an acoustic concert on Jan. 30 called “SCU Unplugged” sponsored by KSCU and The Bronco. Students will also be encouraged to turn off lights and unplug all devices Monday, Feb. 11 from 9 to 10 p.m., for a zero power hour. RLCA and CF sustainability liaisons are also asked to host their own awareness programs including playing glow-in-the-dark capture the flag, holding an energy addicts anonymous meeting, and screening a film or documentary that relates to energy.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of support from the Housing Office, campus community, and beyond,” says Cromwell- Kalkbrenner. Prizes donated range from dozens of pairs of Toms shoes and sunglasses to Zipcar gift certificates. The RLC deemed most enthusiastic will also earn a prize.
Staff and faculty can work toward SCU’s climate neutral goal by evaluating their own home and work spaces. Check out these energy-saving tips.
Jackie Gage '14 performs with with her band The Jurassic at "SCU Unplugged" to kick off the Energy Challenge. Photo: New Glare Photography.
It’s go time for the 2013 Solar Decathlon team. In January they met with representatives from their competitors in Irvine and are gearing up to start construction in April.
“We definitely feel ahead of the game and are excited to head into the construction phase,” says team member Brian Grau. “Meeting with our competitors made the months and months we’ve been preparing feel real. There’s no backing out now!”
The team will submit nearly finalized construction plans Feb. 14 when they can reveal more of their design. They’re thrilled with the support they’ve received from alumni and the SCU community.
“One of the best pieces of advice from a student who worked on the 2009 house was to figure out what time you’ll need for construction and double it,” says Grau. “It may sound simple, but insight from someone who’s gone through the competition is vital.”
Peter Minowitz (Political Science) has been a professor of political philosophy at SCU for more than two decades. As a jack-of-all-trades, Minowitz has written about Machiavelli, Karl Marx, Frank Herbert, Harvey Mansfield, and Woody Allen. He also plays in a jazz band and enjoys SCU sports. His son is graduating from SCU this year.
1.You’re a big 49ers fan. How would you celebrate a Super Bowl victory?
I’d say a loud “yes” and then look forward to dissecting and savoring the game with relatives, colleagues, and students. Since the season will be over whatever the outcome, in some ways the game is less momentous than its predecessors.
2. Can you explain “political philosophy” and why it’s an important field in three sentences?
Political philosophy attempts to answer the following questions: What goals should societies pursue, and what institutional arrangements are most likely to promote those goals? The importance is obvious, and people have been debating such questions furiously for thousands of years (my specialty is the history of the discipline).
3. Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
Plato. The depth, range, and artistry of his dialogues make them one of civilization’s greatest achievements. I’ve taught the Apology of Socrates and the Crito almost every quarter for more than two decades, and I’m not even close to being bored.
4. You lead the Political Science honors program whose members are called “Puffins.” How did that name come about?
If you enroll in the program, I’d be delighted to tell you. But here’s a clue: They’re named after the bird, not the cereal, and no smoking is allowed at any of our gatherings.
5. What are your favorite SCU events to attend that aren’t political science-related?
Tennis matches and men’s basketball games, though I rarely find the time to attend. The tennis is wonderful because of how close the audience is to the athletes. In years past, I've also enjoyed various concerts, particularly Music at Noon (I moonlight as a pianist in Med’s Mood Swings, a jazz trio).
The SCU media relations team would like to thank the faculty and staff who are flexible with their time and help us meet the requests of reporters. A strong relationship with the media propels our reputation as a world-class university with articulate and respected leaders. We encourage you to reach out to us with your story ideas and areas of expertise if you would like to speak with reporters.
Outstanding Media Clips:
Nicholas Ladany (School of Education and Counseling Psychology) was interviewed by ABC the evening of the Sandy Hook school shooting about coping with the tragedy and how to speak to children about violence. He was also invited back for a talk show on the same topic airing Sunday, Feb 3.
Andy Tsay (OMIS) was quoted several times in the San Jose Mercury News explaining the supply-chain and manufacturing issues that affect Apple and other companies. Here is the latest article.
Santa Clara alumnus and adjunct professor John Giddings ’91 wants to set the record straight: It was Santa Clara College (SCU) professor John Joseph Montgomery who was the first in the U.S. to successfully fly a heavier-than-air glider. Montgomery’s feat took place in 1884, 20 years before the more famous flight of the Wright Brothers. Giddings is now hoping to make Montgomery’s story into a full-length feature film.
“This is a story that needs to be told,” says Giddings. “[Montgomery] was just 26 years old at the time of the historic flight—the same age as many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs today. He was a brilliant and wonderful man.”
Giddings has proven there’s interest. A Kickstarter campaign that ended this month surpassed its goal of $4,500. The money is just the beginning of what producer Veronica Craven hopes to turn into a $10 million production. Craven plans to incorporate computer-generated imagery (CGI) flying sequences and courtroom drama into the film.
“What happened to Montgomery’s patents and the 20-year courtroom battle adds a whole new layer to an already complicated and interesting story,” says Craven. “We are not planning to vilify anyone, but want to make sure that Montgomery’s story and the historical facts are known in an exciting and engaging way.”
Today, the Montgomery name can be found on a street, theater, and elementary school in the South Bay. While many people may recognize the name, they may not realize the extent of Montgomery’s aviation legacy.
“This story is a proud piece of Bay Area history and he’s an important role model for children everywhere,” says Giddings.
The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University opens the winter season with an exhibition that speaks to the legacy of ceramics in Northern California. Clay in the Bay, on view Jan. 18 to March 17, 2013, brings together 12 contemporary artists from around the Bay Area who work with clay in diverse ways.
The use of clay as a fine art medium has deep roots in Northern California. Once considered a form of craft, it took the ingenuity, creativity, and vision of artists like Robert Arneson and Peter Voulkos to look beyond the medium’s utilitarian properties to its expressive qualities. In the decades following, their successors continued to stretch the creative boundaries of clay sculpture. Today, the use of the medium as a respected art form continues to thrive.
Through the use of varied techniques the artists featured in the exhibition, many of whom teach at local universities, transform clay into organic shape, architectural design, and narrative form. For some, it is the sole medium in which they work; for others the ceramic elements are part of a larger whole. Regardless, the works included in the show speak to the incredible versatility of the medium as it is molded, shaped, and otherwise manipulated.
Artists in this exhibition include Bean Finneran, Don Fritz, Francisco “Pancho” Jiménez, Robert Kvenild, David Linger, Spring Montes, Matthew Scheatzle, Nancy Selvin, Ehren Tool, Monica Van den Dool, Jenni Ward, and Stan Welsh.
The museum celebrates the opening of Clay in the Bay on Thursday, Jan. 24 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Many of the artists in the exhibition will be present and available to discuss their work.
On Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m., artist Stan Welsh will give a public lecture on his art. The program is co-sponsored by the de Saisset and SCU’s Department of Art and Art History.
Artist Nancy Selvin will lecture on Radical Pots: Ceramics in the Bay Area, 1960s Onward on Thursday, March 7 at 7 p.m. She will address the radical departure from the norm that took place in Bay Area ceramic work in the 1960s and discuss how that shift is carried forward today.
Despite America’s reputation as a melting pot of races and creeds, unease and confusion still seem to be the predominant state of interfaith relations in this country. Members of faiths from Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, or Islam often are aware only of the most superficial or negative facets of other faiths.
In an attempt to bridge that gap and promote interreligious respect and understanding, Santa Clara University is holding a series of a dozen lectures exploring the public significance of sacred texts from diverse contexts and faith traditions.
The series is being presented by the University’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education. Some of the speakers are high-profile representatives of their faiths, such as Hindu Ravi Gupta, who met Pope Benedict XVI upon his first visit to the U.S., and Muslim Ingrid Mattson, who spoke at President Obama’s first inaugural interfaith prayer service.
Titled Sacred Dialogue: Interpreting and Embodying Sacred Texts Across Traditions, speakers in this series will discuss important aspects of their respective faiths’ sacred texts.
Michael Fishbane, of the University of Chicago, will kick off the lectures on Jan. 22 with a talk on “Creating a Culture of Care: Hebrew Scripture and Jewish Tradition on Charity and Hospitality.” Judaism has always demanded that followers provide care, respect, and understanding to the poor, from the early days where a portion of farmers’ fields were left for the wandering poor, to more-modern interpretations of charity and hospitality, he said. “Judaism has various normative regulations and duties—the Halakha—but how you deal with those in certain moral situations has evolved over time,” Fishbane said.
He said Judaism is a religion of vast scriptural interpretation. Many types and spiritual levels of interpretation will be presented to show the diverse approaches to the subjects of care and charity in Judaism.
Another speaker, Ravi M. Gupta of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, on Feb. 5 will discuss “Creation and Chaos in Hindu Sacred Texts.” He says sacred texts such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata Purana offer a holistic way of looking at creation or innovation, processes which Americans generally revere. Positive creation can arise from mistakes and new problems can arise when addressing another problem. Hindu texts recognize the process of creation to be “a series of successive challenges,” says Gupta.
“We solve one, and from that we produce a second challenge. That cycle of problem-solution, problem-solution, points to the fact that a problem is a source of productivity,” he says. “and sometimes solutions to problems, even within human relationships, are borne from conflict.”
Another talk, on Feb. 20 by Ingrid Mattson of Huron University College of the University of Western Ontario, Canada, will cover “Sacred Dialogues Across the Qur'an,” including the role of that text in the daily lives of Muslims.
“This winter lecture series seeks to promote an ethic of dialogue across religious traditions,” said Michael C. McCarthy, S.J., director of Santa Clara University’s Ignatian Center. “[It] offers an opportunity to go beyond the surface of popular and sometime polarizing rhetoric, so that we might collectively engage issues of public import through the resources of diverse sacred texts and traditions.”
Also as part of the series, the Ignatian Center will host an exhibit Feb. 15 to June 30, featuring art celebrating and created from sacred texts. More on the exhibit can be found at www.scu.edu/ic/institute/exhibit.
Gupta said the lecture series is an important opportunity for audience members of any faith. Such dialogue has value “in a way that publishing a paper in an obscure journal would not,” he says. “It’s the balance of bringing academics into conversation with the larger world, and one religion into conversation with another.”
The series begins on Jan. 22 and continues through March 14. A full list of events, dates, and times can be found at www.scu.edu/ic/institute.
Rose Marie Beebe is a much-loved Spanish professor at SCU as well as an alumna (’76). Beebe is married to history professor Robert M. Senkewicz and this month they will discuss “Women in 19th-Century Mexican California” at the January 22 Literary Cuisine event, hosted by the University Library and Bon Appétite.
Why did you pursue Spanish as a field of study?
I learned to speak Spanish as a child thanks to the close relationship I had with my grandparents, Manuel and Inés Sunyer, who lived across the street from my family. When my grandparents came to the United States from Cuba, my grandfather eventually learned English but my grandmother did not. I spent so much time at their house that learning Spanish was something that “just happened!”
My grandmother and I used to play school together, in Spanish. She taught me how to read Spanish by using copies of Selecciones (Reader’s Digest magazine in Spanish) as our textbook. My grandmother instilled in me the love of learning as well as an appreciation of our family’s Hispanic heritage. She is always with me in spirit when I am in the classroom!
What keeps you coming back to teach year after year, especially after attending SCU as an undergraduate?
As a child there was something about SCU that grabbed me. My grandparents had friends who worked here as gardeners so I was familiar with the campus. Whenever we visited them on the campus I would tell my grandfather, “I want to go to this school.” His reply was always the same: “You can’t because they only let boys study here.” I guess at the age of 6 I knew something he didn’t know!
Three professors at SCU had a profound influence on me during my undergraduate years. Norman Martin, S.J. (Latin American history), Andrew I. Rematore (Latin American literature), and JoAnn Vásquez (dean of CP&E) were the best professors and mentors I could have hoped for. Their passion for their subject area and the way they transmitted their love of teaching and learning to their students have inspired me throughout my 35-year career at SCU. I hope to be able to do the same for my own students.
What is it like working with your husband, Robert Senkewicz, as you are in the Beyond the Traditional Kitchen event this month?
Working with my husband and best friend is an amazing gift. It is also a lot of fun! We have been working together for 23 years and are still learning so much from one another.
Our latest effort is a two-volume set on the life and writings of Fr. Junípero Serra that will be published by the University of Oklahoma Press in a year or so. As if that weren’t exciting enough, I received a full-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to translate and annotate Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo’s five-volume memoir on the history of California. There are no signs of our slowing down on research and writing any time soon!
If you could correct one misconception about or in your field, what would it be?
My research and writing involves a great deal of translation work–Spanish to English. There are some people who believe that just because a person knows another language, it isn’t hard at all to do translation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The primary sources that I work with are 18th and 19th century documents. They include letters, reports, and ecclesiastical material written by Franciscan friars; judicial proceedings or interrogations prepared by high-ranking soldiers or other administrator types; documents written by presidio commanders; diaries; etc. Without a strong background and understanding of the history, culture, and society of the period in which the documents were written, the chances of producing a translation that preserves the voice and intent of the writer of the original document are slim. Translation is not a process, it is an art.
What is your favorite Mexican recipe to cook or to eat?
My favorite recipe to cook and eat is arroz con leche (rice pudding). I learned how to make this dessert by helping my grandmother prepare it. Her admonition to lower the flame so as not to burn the milk (Hay que bajar la candela para no quemar la leche) echoes in my head every time I make arroz con leche.
From an Olympic water polo medal to designing systems for the rocket that put men on the moon: the life and work of engineering professor Dragoslav Siljak was profiled in Santa Clara Magazine.
Dragoslav Siljak should be so lucky to write another book with the staying power of one of his earlier efforts. In 1991, he published a mathematical bible for those trying to understand, control, and predict the kind of vast decentralized systems that increasingly rule modern life—such as electric power systems, communication networks, and mobile robot formations. Two decades later, that landmark guide, Decentralized Control of Complex Systems, had fallen out of print, but it still topped Amazon’s best-seller lists in two technical categories, with used copies selling for as much as $800. The title was republished earlier this year.
“I hit the gold mine,” says Siljak, the Benjamin and Mae Swig Professor of Electrical Engineering. His life’s work has been dedicated to bringing control and understanding to highly complex systems, some with thousands of variables. “It’s a perpetual topic.”
Now as Siljak, the author of four books and hundreds of papers, enters retirement after nearly 50 years at the University, his thoughts have turned to a different kind of writing—his memoirs for his grandchildren to read. He may not conjure another best-seller, but Siljak—a man with a shock of white hair, square jaw, and a you’ve got to hear this intensity—definitely has tales to tell.
Please click here for the entirety of the article by Sam Scott ’96.
Testarossa Winery is helping support the Santa Clara University Solar Decathlon team through the sale of a limited release chardonnay. Proceeds from the sale of a custom-labeled 2010 Testarossa chardonnay benefit the team’s 2013 Radiant House project.
“As a young Jesuit I picked grapes on the hills behind the Testarossa winery and worked there during the wine-making season. I couldn't be happier to be teamed up with Testarossa and the long tradition behind it,” says Jim Reites, S.J., a faculty advisor for the decathlon team.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are attractive, cost-effective, and energy efficient. Santa Clara University’s 2013 Radiant House team is comprised of qualified students from several disciplines.
“This is a fun and exciting endeavor for us,” said Testarossa owner Rob Jensen. “We have a very personal connection with the team, as our son Nick is an engineering student at SCU and is helping to build the house. He’s putting into practice all the construction odd jobs he’s done at the winery during his school breaks.”
Testarossa and its owners have a long history with Santa Clara. Rob and Diana Jensen met at SCU as undergrads in the electrical engineering program. And when their small winery business needed to expand, Testarossa moved into the historic Novitiate Winery in Los Gatos. The priest who married Rob and Diana, John Geary, S.J., went to seminary at the Novitiate in the 1930s. Geary’s father, an architect, first expanded the winery after Prohibition was repealed.
“The education and opportunities we received at Santa Clara University not only brought us together, but set the table for our success as business owners,” says Diana Jensen. “We are proud to be able to give a bit back to the University.”
Only 100 cases of the limited Radiant House Chardonnay are available. It sells for $20 a bottle in the Testarossa tasting room in Los Gatos and online.
What inspires a person to create? Taking cues from her life and reflecting on the nature of creativity, Amy Tan explores the events that made her a writer as she comes to SCU on Jan. 17 for the President’s Speaker Series.
The soon-to-be-released The Valley of Amazement is Amy Tan’s seventh novel since her debut in 1989 with The Joy Luck Club. Over this time, Tan has adapted her work for film, television, and even the opera, but her latest is a return to her roots—her first novel since 2005. Tan’s work speaks to millions with its universal themes of family relationships, generational change, and personal history.
Amy Tan’s other books include The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life, and two children's books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat, which was adapted as an Emmy-nominated PBS series. Tan was also a co-producer and co-screenwriter of the film version of The Joy Luck Club, and her essays and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her work has been translated into 35 languages.
This year’s speaker series, Enlivening the Whole Person: Head, Heart, and Body, kicked off on Oct. 11 with Reza Aslan ’95, who spoke about the legacy of the Arab Spring. Tan is the second featured speaker, followed by former FDA commissioner David Kessler on April 9.
The event will take a conversational format, and be followed by a book signing. Staff and faculty can get discounted tickets for $20, available online.
Santa Clara University is continuing its commitment to helping those in need, and you can help. Last year, SCU brought in over 200 donations to help the Family Giving Tree fulfill the wishes of 61,000 low-income children and individuals. You can stop by the Learning Commons lobby, pick a tag off the giving tree and participate by bringing an unwrapped gift for the child, teen, elderly or homeless person mentioned on the tag. You can also choose a green or yellow card for a monetary donation. The deadline for donations is Monday, Dec. 10. Gifts can be dropped off at room 215 in the library.
On an overcast day in July, a dozen SCU faculty and students boarded a colorful flotilla of inflatable rafts for a 105-mile trip down the Nenana River in Alaska. The watery journey marked the first phase of a long-term partnership with Hero Projects—an organization that combines outdoor adventure with meaningful volunteerism.
“The rafting experience helped us to become acclimated to the Alaskan wilderness,” explained Bill Mains, Leavey School of Business leadership lecturer and primary coordinator for the excursion. “It gave us a better understanding and appreciation of the resources that were all around us.”
From the river, the SCU group embarked on the second leg of the trip—meeting Alaskans, including business leaders, university faculty, government officials, and environmentalists—to introduce the idea of bringing renewable energy to the state’s rural communities.
“Many Alaskans today are dependent on fossil fuels; much of their energy comes from burning wood and diesel fuel,” said Mains. “They might spend $8 to $12 a gallon on diesel, so there’s quite a bit of interest in creating sustainable energy sources.”
The SCU group included faculty and students from the Leavey School of Business and from the School of Engineering. Also co-sponsoring the 15-day immersion trip was the Center for Science, Technology, and Society. Two film students from Hero Projects documented the trip.
Mains emphasized the importance of community building before asking people to make a change as significant as switching to a new form of energy. “Any small town is going to be a little suspicious of unknown people approaching them,” he noted, “but the local meetings we had helped to demonstrate our commitment.”
The outreach efforts eventually led to the town of Galena, population 600, and the site of a former Air Force base. In September, just two months after returning from Alaska, Mains traveled back to Galena to further discuss SCU’s role in bringing renewable energy to the town. Next summer, he’ll return with another group in hopes they can begin work on an actual installation. Within this group, engineering students could be involved in designing the project, he said, while business students could help the community understand the economics of it.
One engineering student, Theo Schapp, plans to be among those revisiting Alaska next year. He and another student, Elliott Martin, are working on a senior design project that could have implications for remote, off-grid areas. Their idea involves generating energy from hydrokinetics or the natural motion of water through waves, tidal streams or ocean and river currents.
Schapp acknowledges that bringing such a system anywhere in Alaska will involve many more trips and in-depth community involvement. “With any project, you can’t just go on one trip and expect to be implementing something the next year,” he said. “It takes time to build trust; we would work as a resource to help communities achieve their own goals.”
Shoba Krishnan, an associate professor of electrical engineering, is advising the two seniors and working with Mains on cultivating SCU’s alliance with Hero Projects. As the instructor of a course called Engineering Projects for the Community, she said the Alaska energy program is right up her alley. “I like projects that help local people continue their way of life without radically involving them in Westernized practices standards that could be unhealthy for them and their environment,” she explained.
Mains is equally well-suited to the Alaska project. As a co-leader of the business school’s CLASP (Contemplative Leadership and Sustainability) program, he arranges student activities and service trips related to sustainable development.
Among those students who went on the first immersion trip to Alaska, Mains said their feedback was heartening. “For many of them, it was an eye-opening experience. They have a better understanding of what it means to develop a sustainable product.”
Schapp noted similarities between the SCU travelers and the people they met. “Nobody is on the outside when we’re all pushing for the health of the environment,” he said. As for rafting down the Nenana River, “It showed me what Alaska is really like, how strong and vast a force nature truly is. It helped me realize that I am just one person in this world of many, and that in order for me to make a difference, I have to push harder than I thought.”
Santa Clara University joins the world of open online education with the premiere of a business ethics course exploring the common and difficult decisions that confront professionals. This course will explore such daily dilemmas as pressure from management to falsify reports, resume white lies, and bullying rivals to get ahead.
Partnering with the new Instructure open online platform Canvas Network, Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at SCU, will teach Business Ethics for the Real World. The network is another outlet for the growing popularity of massive open online courses or MOOCs. The idea is anyone with Internet access can enroll in courses taught by some of the brightest minds in the world.
“We look forward to pioneering the MOOC concept both for Santa Clara and for the topic of business ethics,” says Hanson. “We can give the public a feel for the quality of education Santa Clara University students receive every day. We’re also thrilled the ethical framework we developed at the Markkula Center will be highlighted.”
While MOOCs have primarily focused on math and science, Business Ethics for the Real World will explore the role of ethics in business and offer practical advice on making decisions in the work place.
“This course is more than a standard lesson in business. It is driven by what we have learned from tackling real ethical issues with Silicon Valley companies. Anyone from San Jose to Shanghai can participate in the ethical dialogue taking place in Silicon Valley,” says Hanson.
While the course includes some ethical theory, it is designed to be approachable by anyone from the seasoned manager to someone just beginning a career. The course is the first of several being planned at Santa Clara. Future MOOC’s will address areas of SCU’s special expertise, including social entrepreneurship.
Enrollment will be limited to 500 people for the pilot course running Feb. 25 to March 25, 2013. The University and Instructure are hoping to launch classes with unlimited enrollment after the pilot. Ten other schools, including Brown University, are participating in the initial course offerings. Enrollment is open now on Canvas.net.
David Popalisky is a professor of dance history, modern dance, and choreography. Popalisky has choreographed, performed, and taught throughout the United States, Central America, and Asia. He is currently choreographing and preparing students for the annual Images performance in February. Many of Popalisky’s choreographic works deal with social justice issues like his “Barred from Life” collaboration with the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) to bring attention to wrongful imprisonment. This summer, he led 14 students on a 225-mile journey from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park.
1. In spring you taught the course Walk Across California. Were you happy with how this project turned out and do you have plans to take a similar journey next year?
I was very excited about how my Walk Across California course turned out. Last June the students came together as a group to have fun and work to respect every walk member, no matter what major or traditional student group they came from. The challenge of the walk took its daily toll and everyone was there for each other with a pick-up snack, some extra foot tape, encouragement to hang in there, or a song to pass the time. We met incredible Californians like Fr. Dean in Stockton, Calif. who introduced us to the brave and struggling members in his community. We also met farm workers who shared their stories of working the fields and Miwok Indian elders who spoke of connecting their pasts with the present. Arriving in Yosemite and witnessing the students’ artistic reflections on the trip was so powerful. Using poems, songs, drawings, and photos each described the journey and its personal meaning with Half Dome draped with pine trees as our backdrop. Incredible! The walk staff included Rebekah Bloyd, Edward Rooks, and Diana Bustos who were the charts in every way. I am hopeful to repeat this class and trip in June of 2014.
2. You just came back from the DUMBO (Down Under Manhatten Bridge Overpass) Dance Festival in New York. How is the art and culture scene different there then it is in California?
In NYC there is art everyday almost everywhere. DUMBO Dance Festival was one part of a huge, community-wide, indoor, and outdoor performance scene located in Brooklyn. In California there is an equally diverse art scene, it is just more spread out in place and time. I was thrilled that so many SCU alums made the trek to Brooklyn to see my dance—a considerable effort that New Yorkers take in stride as they embrace the vitality of that metropolis. In both shows that included my dance the theatre had overflowing audiences—can’t beat that.
3. What SCU projects are you working on now? (Any that faculty and staff can attend and help with?)
My current project is a new dance and theatre work on the theme of Futurism, an early 20th century artistic movement, in collaboration with Jeff Bracco, my theatre colleague. We are working with SCU student dancers and actors to get this show ready for Images ’13 in early February. Hope to see everyone there.
4. How has technology changed the dance industry? (Ex: YouTube, Life Forms, Flip Cameras, etc.)
Any dance choreographer who wants to have a successful, live presence in a theatre needs a sophisticated web presence as well. Choreographers need to know how to film, edit, and package their very best work in short excerpts to attract potential audiences. A plus side of technology is that a much wider audience is witnessing dance through the web. On the negative side, audience’s patience and focus on the real time takes for a sophisticated live dance performance to unfold is being challenged. But the technical possibilities for creating dance specifically for projection (ex: from iPad to film) are unlimited and really fun. All this is part of the inevitable evolution of a vibrant art form that celebrates and reveals the truly miraculous human body.
5. What is your favorite Bay Area venue for performances?
There are many but I particularly like to see touring dance companies at the Yerba Buena Novellus Theatre in SF. This medium size theatre allows choreographers great flexibility on stage and all seats in the house are relatively close, creating an intimate experience with the performers. I regularly take students in my dance classes to this theatre and at times performers that I know, like Bill T. Jones, come out after and speak with our group.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale spoke to campus in a program sponsored by the Unity RLC, Provost’s Office, Igwebuike, and the Office for Mulitcultural Learning. Check out a video of the speech and a wrap-up of his comments by Santa Clara Magazine.