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.
Findings from Ford Foundation-Backed Study on Undocumented Immigrant Students Unveiled in Washington, D.C. Research conducted by Fairfield University, Loyola University Chicago, and Santa Clara University adds to debate on policies for undocumented students.
Like any student, A.J. Bastida was thrilled the day he learned that he would be one of four high-achieving students to receive a scholarship to attend Santa Clara University in California’s Silicon Valley. But unlike others, this scholarship was virtually his only chance to attend college – because from the age of 5, A.J. had lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, making other forms of financing or aid unavailable to him.
Now pursuing a law degree at SCU and a grateful recipient of the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Bastida spoke Tuesday, Feb. 26 about the many challenges and occasional triumphs of pursuing higher education as an undocumented student.
“I am a true testament to what Jesuit education really means,” said Bastida.
In an effort to understand and help students like A.J., about 150 Jesuit university and college presidents, students, faculty, administrators and representatives from Congress member’s and Senator’s offices attended an event Tuesday titled “Immigration: Undocumented Students in Higher Education.”
At the event, held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, researchers from the three universities unveiled a new Immigrant Student National Position Paper, which included findings about the obstacles faced by undocumented students, as well as recommendations for new practices, procedures, and a model of leadership in higher education regarding access to education, particularly for the undocumented.
“At the heart of the Immigrant Student National Position Paper is a call for improved institutional practices at Jesuit institutions in the United States to help these young people flourish on campus and off,” said project leader Richard Ryscavage, S.J., a Jesuit priest, sociology professor and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University.
“Ultimately, this project presents a way of proceeding on this area of immigration that informs and helps shape the national educational discourse. Our findings revealed that a pathway to citizenship will not solve all of the challenges these student face. Additional policies that address the needs of the students as well as their families are critical.”
Leavey School of Business offers two new master's degrees.
Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business will begin offering two new Master of Science degrees this summer, one in finance and one in entrepreneurship.
The two new master’s degrees will complement the Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Information Systems that are currently offered as advanced degrees.
“With our nationally acclaimed faculty, location in Silicon Valley, and deep alumni ties, it was a natural for us to offer these two master’s degrees,” said S. Andrew Starbird, dean of the Leavey School of Business. “The finance degree is ideal for students seeking deeper analytical understanding for today’s venture-capital and financial marketplace. And the entrepreneurship degree will give students vital knowledge to find new market opportunities, evaluate customer needs, and understand what’s required to ‘scale up’ a good idea.”
The M.S. in finance will include classes introducing students to sophisticated financial-statement analysis and understanding of U.S. and international financial markets and institutions. The M.S. in entrepreneurship will offer classes in managing innovation, intellectual property, and economics for business decisions. Both degrees will incorporate Santa Clara University’s longstanding emphasis on business ethics, including a course in business integrity and society.
Cinequest taps SCU filmmaking talent in pair of short films.
Santa Clara University will have a strong showing at the 23rd Cinequest Film Festival kicking off this week in San Jose.
Communication Lecturer Jonathan Fung’s film Hark will be screened. The film calls attention to human trafficking and first debuted at SCU last summer.
“We are a visual culture and film and the arts can serve as a scholarly medium to educate, challenge, and mobilize a community,” said Fung, who cast his young daughter to play the lead in the film. Hark will screen on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 4:15 p.m.; Sunday, March 3 at 10:00 a.m.; and Tuesday, March 5 at 9:30 p.m. at the Camera 12 Theaters in downtown San Jose.
A student documentary by Sofia Coyiuto ’12, Thicker than Blood, was also selected as part of the festival. It’s part of a selection of short films themed around the role of family. It runs Wednesday, March 6 at 9:30 p.m. and Friday, March 8 at 9:30 p.m. at the San Jose Repertory Theater.
Assistant Professor of Communication Mike Whalen is also part of the documentary jury.
Angelo Ancheta (School of Law) has received $15,066 from the International Institute of the Bay Area to support "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals." This grant will help provide legal services toward serving undocumented youth who are eligible for the Obama Administration's "deferred action" initiative for undocumented youth who were brought to this country as children. He has also received a one-year renewal of $33,533 from the Equal Access Fund of the State Bar of California Legal Services Trust Fund Program. The funds will be used to support the “Consumer Rights Project” which provides legal assistance to meet the legal needs of low-income individuals, especially limited-English-speaking immigrants.
Rich Barber (Physics) has received an additional $20,569 in subcontract funding from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to fund year four of an anticipated four-year grant totaling $95,724. The work funded by this grant involves the study of various highly correlated metal systems using a one-of-a-kind Josephson Scanning Tunneling Microscope (JSTM).
Gangshu Cai (Operations Management and Information Systems) has received $52,826 from the National Science Foundation to support "Collaborative Research on Studies of Multichannel Opaque Service Enterprise" to conduct an in-depth study of multichannel opaque service enterprises, which have uncertain demand and supply.
Colleen Chien (Law School) has received $35,000 from the New America Foundation to support "Startups and Trolls."
Perlita R. Dicochea's (Ethnic Studies) manuscript, "Discourses of Race and Racism within Environmental Justice Studies: An Eco-racial Intervention," was recently published via open access with Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World: A Review Journal.
Elizabeth Drescher (Religious Studies) has been awarded a journalism fellowship on the Social Science Research Council's New Directions in the Study of Prayer Project, which is funded by the Templeton Foundation.
Leslie Gray (Environmental Studies) has received $25,000 from the Sharks Foundation to support "Bronco Urban Gardens (BUG)." The funds will be used to further develop existing sites while expanding strategically to serve additional areas in need.
Tim Hight (Mechanical Engineering) has received $50,000 from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and U.S. Dept. of Energy to support "Solar Decathlon 2013: Solar Home 3.0." This is the first phase of funding of an anticipated two-phase grant for SCU’s participation in the Solar Decathlon 2013.
Thane Kreiner (Center for Science, Technology, and Society) has received an additional $250,000 from the Skoll Foundation to support "Skoll Foundation—GSBI Partnership." The goals of this award are to develop a resource engine for the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI); create a unified platform to innovate, drive, and scale collective social impact; and share GSBI programmatic learnings, networks, and knowledge.
Hohyun Lee (Mechanical Engineering) has received $15,000 from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to support "Phase Change Material in Automated Window Shades."
Tim Myers (English) published a full-length poetry book entitled Dear Beast Loveliness. He also won the 2012 Magazine Merit Award for Fiction from the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators. Myers is also nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Literature by Third Flatiron Publishing.
Tom Plante (Psychology) wrote an article entitled “The 2005 Vatican instruction on homosexuality in seminaries: Are we in a "don't ask, don't tell" world on this topic?” that was published in Human Development.
Tom Plante (Psychology), David Feldman (Counseling Psychology), Shauna Shapiro (Counseling Psychology) and Diane Dreher (English) all wrote chapters in the book Religion, Spirituality, and Positive Psychology: Understanding the Psychological Fruits of Faith.
The Santa Clara, the University’s student-run weekly newspaper won a Pacemaker award for the 2011–12 academic year.
Jerrold Lee Shapiro (Counseling Psychology) reviewed a new book about men in therapy called Beyond the Crisis of Masculinity: A Transcultural Model for Male Friendly Therapy that was published on the American Psychological Association Div. 51 website.
Betty Young (Physics) has received year one funding of $392,027 from The Regents of the University of California and National Science Foundation to support "R&D Toward SuperCDMS at SNOLAB".
Santa Clara University has been nominated again as one of the “Best Places to Work in the Bay Area.”
An independent firm, Quantum Workplace, is conducting the survey and tabulating results on behalf of the Silicon ValleyBusiness Journal, and the San Francisco Business Times. Quantum staff members will communicate the findings in a summary report to SCU.
Quantum does not release your individual responses to the Business Journal, Santa Clara University, or anyone else. Your honesty is critical and appreciated.
The survey does not require you to enter your name or any personal information, and it is completely confidential. Your participation will help SCU be recognized as a great place to work.
In order for SCU to be included in the final group highlighted in the Business Journal’s special “Best Places to Work” publication, a significant number of SCU employees (15 percent) must complete an online survey.
The deadline for taking the survey is Thursday, Feb. 28. If you have any questions, please email Charles Ambelang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Oh sugar pie, honey bunch, you know Supertonic loves you!” SCU’s oldest a cappella group, "Supertonic!," delivered singing grams to people across campus on Feb. 13 and 14, wishing all of SCU have a very happy Valentine’s Day. The group’s rounds included Campus Ministry, on-campus dorms, and even faculty offices.
“There may be a lot of blushing,” warned junior Sam McCarthy, Supertonic member.
Supertonic hopes the singing grams raise money for the SCU a cappella club, as well as generate publicity by providing some mood music around campus.
With TV shows like Glee and movies like Pitch Perfect gaining popularity, it is no wonder a cappella has taken SCU by storm. Supertonic was started in 2006, followed by three more a cappella groups, Vocalicious, Audio Sync, and Measure Up.
The SCU A Cappella student organization manages all four groups. Seniors Chloe Wilson and Elysia Chu are co-presidents of SCU A Cappella as well as members of Supertonic.
Students of all majors are involved in campus a cappella clubs. In fact, though Supertonic originally consisted entirely of music majors, today only two singers are music majors. Past Supertonic members have become musical theatre professionals and started their own post-collegiate a cappella groups.
“You become so close when you sing with someone,” said sophomore Anna Prestbo, Supertonic soloist. “You lose your boundaries and can make instant connections with a group of people.”
Supertonic is the only SCU a cappella group delivering Valentine’s Day singing grams this year. They are excited to start a new tradition at SCU.
“I hope people enjoy it and recognize that we are taking the time to make sure everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day,” said McCarthy.
Having fun and spreading the love is Supertonic’s hope with this project. Support Supertonic and keep your eyes and ears open Feb. 13 and 14 for love-filled serenades around campus.
This year, SCU headed into uncharted fundraising territory when the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation offered $1 million on the condition that 9,000 undergraduate alumni make a gift to SCU before June 30.
This was the first participation grant in SCU’s history, and raised questions. How would alumni respond? One year after a record 8,145 alumni donated, could SCU raise the bar again?
With the academic year at the halfway point and just over 6,000 gifts already accounted for, the early returns on the Leavey Challenge show that alumni are well on their way to securing $1 million for their alma mater. Another encouraging fact is that the challenge has inspired nearly 400 alumni, from the class of ’62 to ’12, to make their first-ever gift to the University.
“Alumni have shown amazing school spirit and generosity since we announced the challenge in September” says Mike Wallace, assistant vice president for development. “It would be a terrific fundraising milestone to meet and exceed the University’s first major participation grant.”
According to Wallace, many corporations and foundations view alumni participation as a clear indication of satisfaction with the educational experience provided by their alma mater and a validation of the direction of the University.
There’s still work to be done with 3,000 gifts needed before the June 30 deadline. But thus far, alumni are showing foundations and corporate donors that they are more than up to the challenge of participation grants.
For more info about the grant, the Leavey Foundation, and to keep up to date on the Leavey Challenge visit www.scu.edu/LeaveyChallenge.
Shoba Krishnan is an associate professor of electrical engineering at SCU. Originally from Hyderabad, India, Krishnan is the current faculty advisor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) student chapter at SCU, involving them and other clubs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach in the community. She has a strong interest in the future of engineering education, and is committed to increasing the participation of women and underrepresented groups in engineering.
What made you decide to come to the U.S. and pursue electrical engineering?
My love for math and physics made me an electrical engineer. I always knew I wanted to pursue higher studies and was a very independent person. So pursuing a higher degree with an opportunity for research was something I wished to do in the U.S.
What is one of your long-term goals for increasing underrepresented groups in engineering?
I strongly believe in women in engineering and do my part in trying to contribute towards this. I have been working with girls and teachers in middle schools and high schools to run STEM curriculum that is fun and interesting. I also work with the Girl Scouts through their Girls Go Tech program.
How do you think electrical engineering will evolve in the next 50 years? Give us your sci-fi prediction.
Our race will try to be biologically and technologically the most advanced—sort of like the Borg, but hopefully in a nice way!
How do you incorporate social justice into electrical engineering?
I try to motivate my students to work on projects for the community that not only help them develop technical skills, but help make the world a better place.
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.