Santa Clara University

FYI - Faculty and Staff Newsletter

fyi - News for the Campus Community

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.

  •  Many Hats for the Solar Decathlon Students

    For the Santa Clara University 2013 Solar Decathlon team, the challenge of building a solar house is testing more than just design and engineering skills. The U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial competition is putting the students in many roles they have never explored.

    “We really are like a startup company,” says Project Manager Jake Gallau, ’13. “Everyone has to wear many hats on this team. The person in charge of our plumbing is an economics major and our public relations team mostly consists of engineers. We’re all learning skills completely out of our realm."

    For the first time, the team is also getting help from SCU business students through several classes. Marketing Professor of Practice Charles Byers is having students in two of his classes create comprehensive marketing plans for the team.

    “I think it's very insightful that the DOE sees marketing as an important component in the discussion of solar energy and put a marketing component in the competition,” says Byers. “This will give students a real-world experience by treating the team as a client and creating marketing plans that will see the light of day. The goal is to give the team some great ideas to pick and choose from in addition to a platform to recruit a fresh batch of volunteers.”

    Students in any course of study can work on SCU’s solar house project. More than 200 students are involved right now. This summer, a core group refined their construction skills by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The students also met with members of the 2007 and 2009 teams and have strong support from Bronco alumni who participated in the Solar Decathlon.

    “A lesson we have learned is that having an outside space that is a part of the house is a big plus,” says Jay Dubashi, ’15. “The back deck in the 2009 house was a hit, and for 2013 we are going to try and go even further with that and really integrate the outside spaces.”

    The nearly finalized design plans are due to the Department of Energy in October. The students plan to release the house name in the weeks to come, but are keeping much of their design plan under wrap. They do share that this year the focus is on affordability and accessibility. It may be the experience and skills gained outside their areas of expertise that will prove to be the real payoff.

    “We have people to cover every aspect of the competition, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” says Gallau. “I encourage anyone motivated to try something new and gain leadership skills in the process to join the team.”

    Visit the SCU Solar Decathlon website to learn more about the team.

  •  Welcome Law Students

    Santa Clara University School of Law welcomed its newest class of first-year students on Aug. 13.

    The 202 full-time and 41 part-time students come from 21 states and 14 foreign countries including Korea, Canada, India, Russia, and Taiwan. 

    “We are pleased to welcome our newest class of Santa Clara Law students,” said Donald Polden, dean of the school that celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2011. “Our new class is highly diverse, has demonstrated academic excellence at undergraduate and graduate institutions, and includes community leaders. Their education at Santa Clara Law will build on these competencies and values and will help shape them into outstanding lawyers.”

    The class is 54 percent male and 46 percent female, with 47 percent identifying as ethnic minorities. Of those students, 59 percent are Asian, 32 percent are Hispanic, and 7 percent are African American.

    They attended 98 different undergraduate institutions, with Santa Clara University, University of California Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz comprising the top undergraduate alma maters.

    Eleven percent of incoming students have advanced degrees, including one Ph.D., 13 M.S., eight M.A., two MBA, one MPAcc, and one LL.M. in international law. Among those expressing an interest in obtaining certificates in the school’s areas of specialty, 29 percent are seeking certificates in high-tech law, 28 percent in public-interest law, and 26 percent in international law.

    About 3,200 people applied for spots in this year’s class. The class has a median age of 24.


  •  National Recognition

    From Alumni satisfaction to bang for your buck, Santa Clara University’s reputation for excellence grew stronger with the latest round of rankings.

    • SCU ranked tops in a new college rating system based on alumni surveys. The Alumni Factor ranked SCU first among regional universities and 43rd nationally. The online guide calls SCU “an excellent school that is emerging on the national scene and will rapidly grow in popularity and notoriety.”
    • SCU holds strong at No. 2 among master’s universities in the region, according to U.S. News & World Report. The School of Engineering jumped from No. 21 to No. 14 in top programs for undergraduate engineering. Santa Clara also placed in a new category for best value.
    • SCU is ranked among the top 75 of America’s Best Colleges in a list released by Forbes Magazine. SCU is ranked No. 72, dramatically climbing the charts from 318 in 2008.


  •  Grants, Awards, and Publications

    Angelo Ancheta (School of Law) received additional funding of $27,922 from County of Santa Clara to support the "Unmet Civil Legal Services Program".  

    David Hasen (School of Law) received a one year funding of $75,000 from the Internal Revenue Service, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Program to support the "Santa Clara University Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic" to be run by Caroline Chien at the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center.  

    David Hess (Biology) received an additional $154,664 funding from the National Science Foundation to support "RUI: Utilization of Natural Variation in Domesticated Strains of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae to Elucidate Metabolic Specialization." 

    Nam Ling (Computer Engineering) has received $60,000 from the Huawei Technologies, Co., Ltd. to support "High Efficiency Video Coding - Next Step.”

    David Hess (Biology) received a four year contract from the University of Washington on a NIH prime award that provides $71,712 to support "Genetic Basis of Stress Tolerance in Natural Populations of Yeast." 

    Ahmed Amer (Computer Engineering) received $109,986 from the National Science Foundation to support "SHF:  AF:  Small:  Collaborative Research:  RESAR:  Robust, Efficient, Scalable, Autonomous Reliable Storage for the Cloud."   

    Shoba Krishnan (Electrical Engineering) received an additional $8,333 in subcontract funding from the University of Minnesota, Department of Energy Prime to support "A Nationwide Consortium of Universities to Revitalize Electric Power Engineering Education by State of the Art Laboratories."   

    Elizabeth Dahlhoff (Biology) has received an additional $66,862 from the National Science Foundation to support "Collaborative Research:  RUI:  Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to Environmental Change in Sierra Nevada Populations of a Montane Willow Beetle."

    Betty Young (Physics) received year two funding of $39,015 from the National Science Foundation to support the "Cryogenic Detector Work for SuperCDMS and Beyond."   

    Yuling Yan (Electrical Engineering) has received an additional $44,031 from UC Berkeley/NIH Prime to support "High-Contrast Imaging of Single Molecules in Live Cells.”

    Steve Suljak (Chemistry) and John Birmingham (Physics) have received additional funding from Research Corporation for Science Advancement that provides $38,219 to support "Investigating the Role of Neurohemal Biogenic Amines in Shaping Stomatogastric Motor Programs of the Crab Cancer Borealis."  This is the final installment of an award that totaled $75,000.

    Virginia Matzek (Environmental Studies) has received an award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture/USDA to support "Riparian Forests as Ecological and Economic Buffers to Climate Vulnerability in Flood-Prone Agricultural Systems."   

    Chris Kitts (Mechanical Engineering) received additional funding from NASA Ames Research Center that provides $425,000 to support "Small Spacecraft Division Microsatellite-Nanosatellite Technology Research & Development Support." 

  •  A Fond Farewell

    After 66 years at Santa Clara University, beloved professor Victor Vari will be retiring this year at the age of 92. On May 12, the University held a farewell celebration at the San Jose Fairmont that included former students, colleagues, and even a pair of opera singers among the well-wishers. 

    “[Y]ou have facilitated for us the sophistication of culture, the maturity of mind that discerns well the good, the true, the beautiful,” said SCU Chancellor William Rewak. “Thank you for being a part of us, you have helped make the idea of the University flesh and blood.”
    Professor Francisco Jiménez ’66 was both a student and a teacher alongside Vari. “I recall that his classroom had the atmosphere of a friendly gathering presided over by a loving and masterful teacher. He addressed each of us in class by name with affection and needed individual words of encouragement, inquiry, or kindly admonition,” Jiménez said. “He taught what he cared about, and what he cared about taught us a lot about him—that he was and is an extraordinary, passionate, caring, and loving teacher, and the question of human value was always in the foreground of his thought.”
  •  Master's Degree for Future Teachers

    For nearly 40 years, well-trained teachers fresh out of Santa Clara University have gone on to command classrooms throughout Santa Clara County and within the Diocese of San Jose. And soon, budding educators and local schools will be giving even more points to the University’s highly regarded teacher credentialing program. 

    Starting in June, SCU will introduce MATTC (fondly known as “mat-cee”), a program that combines a master’s of art degree in teaching with a teaching credential.
    “We’ve been doing teacher prep for a long time but for many years, SCU has not granted an academic degree to students completing the program,” said Pedro Hernández-Ramos, chairman of the department of education. “MATTC puts us on a level competitive field with neighboring institutions that offer an academic degree to students who complete their teacher preparation programs.”
    Responding to student demand
    An earlier version of MATTC back in the 1970s was not open to prospective elementary school teachers and soon faded away. The new degree program is available for students pursuing careers as elementary, middle school, and high school teachers. It offers several advantages both for students and for the University.
    Candidates going through MATTC have greater access to financial aid sources geared toward graduate programs. Currently, SCU’s credential-only pathway blocks students from applying for that restricted funding. And, with the enhancement of a master’s degree, students will likely earn a higher salary in their first teaching jobs.
    “The response that we’ve had from the University has been incredibly positive,” said Lisa Goldstein, education professor and director of teacher education and University coordinator of CTC (Commission on Teacher Credentialing) programs. “It makes sense to offer the master’s because people now in the credential program are doing graduate-level work.”
    With Hernández-Ramos, she believes that SCU needed MATTC to remain competitive with other colleges in the area. “Many local institutions, like Stanford, UC Santa Cruz and USF, are already using a version of the program, and we were losing excellent candidates who understood that if you can get a master’s degree and a teaching credential simultaneously, you can save both time and money.”
    Presented with an opportunity to attract the most academically gifted credential students, and to increase the diversity of the applicant pool, SCU administrators approved the degree program in February this year—about a year after Goldstein and her team began drawing up a proposal.  
    “It’s always a very rigorous and carefully scrutinized process to add a new degree program at SCU,” Goldstein said. Eventually, though, MATTC received the okay from both the Academic Affairs Committee and the Board of Trustees.
    Creating a more efficient education
    Under the new degree program—which will accommodate about 50—a student can earn a combined credential and master’s degree in 10 to 12 months.
    Currently at SCU, most teaching credential candidates are new to the profession and are pursuing a license to teach. Others are full-time Catholic school teachers who are required to earn a credential after they are hired by the Diocese of San Jose. In order to accommodate the schedules of those already working in the field, Goldstein said that MATTC courses are held in the evenings and at times when summer schools are not in session.
    “SCU has a very close relationship with the Diocese of San Jose,” she explained. “We’re here to serve the Catholic community—it’s an important mission for SCU.”
    In designing the curricula, Goldstein said, “We took the academic demands and intellectual rigors associated with master-level work and compressed it all together, so that every course is enriched and fully integrated with the teacher preparation experience.”
    The result, she continued, was like “taking it all to a personal trainer and getting back a program that is very muscular, with no fat.”
    Building from a strong base
    Over the years, SCU’s teaching credential program has earned an exemplary reputation, and Goldstein said it provided a sturdy framework for MATTC. 
    “We used the structure of our existing program and tinkered with it until we had the things we valued most—the things that are central to SCU. We looked at each course and we made it more engaging, more challenging.”
    As an example, she explained that almost every classroom in California today mixes students who are fully proficient in English with those who are newcomers to the language, and those who range in between.
    “There is an entire repertoire of strategies for dealing with the challenges of teaching in these situations,” she noted. “Our program now includes a commitment for every single method course to address the needs of English learners in the classroom.”
    Student teaching, which requires candidates to gain practical experience for an entire school year remains “the centerpiece of our program,” said Goldstein. The training includes a stint of solo teaching and seminars on the “nuts and bolts” of classroom management and the ethics of teaching practices.
    One important new element of the combined credential-degree program is a skill set that will help novice teachers prepare for today’s rising academic expectations. “Learning that used to be keyed to the end of first grade is now keyed to end of kindergarten, and there are a lot of tensions around such things as testing accountability,” said Goldstein. “By mashing a teaching credential together with the cognitive skills of a master’s degree, our students will be better equipped to meet these demands when they’re in the field."


  •  New Apps Launched by SCU Alumni

    OptTown App: Avoiding less than ideal deals 

    Amanda Arthur ’11 loves finding the perfect daily deal, just a bit more than she hates how many undesirable deals clog up her inbox.
    Now the SCU alumna believes she’s found a business and consumer solution to this problem. Working with her father, Tom Arthur, she helped launch a new mobile app called OptTown in February. OptTown is an app that organizes and prioritizes all of the daily deals, news, events, and loyalty programs at local businesses.
    “As a consumer you don’t want 15 different apps for all your favorite places. With OptTown, it’s all in one place,” said Arthur.
    What started out as a dinner table conversation five years ago has now grown. Since its launch in early February, OptTown currently has over 700 downloads and maintains relationships with over 30 participating local businesses including Jasmine Thai, Blondie’s Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream, Zanotto’s Express Deli, and Mio Vicino. 
    Arthur explained that it was beneficial to launch in a college community because if favorite local businesses are involved, then students, faculty, and staff will want to download the free app. Eventually Arthur hopes the app will expand outside of college campuses, but for now they are sticking with universities, expanding to San Jose State University, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis this summer.
    “It’s great because I already know the undergraduate community and have relationships with some of the popular retailers around here, helping stimulate downloads,” said Arthur.
    Using OptTown a retailer can create a deal, while the app compiles all of the analytics behind the promotion, calculating how many customers use the loyalty program or which deals consumers responded to the most.
    “We are essentially changing how marketing is done,” said Arthur. “With an ad in the newspaper, you don’t know how many people see it or read it and then you know even less about the amount of consumers who choose to act on it.”
    Bluelight App: A simple way to be safe
    Preet Anand ’11, had just stepped foot on the Mission Campus when what would become the inspiration for a new mobile app hit him.
    “The inspiration for the project came during my freshman orientation,” said Anand, currently a product manager at Zynga, who is the founder of 4taps, the company behind a smart phone app called Bluelight. “I heard that one in four women are victims of attempted sexual assault, and it really stuck with me… I thought, if I could reduce that by 50 percent, what could that mean for the world?”
    Anand tried several ideas, including merging pepper spray with photo technology.
    “None of them stuck,” he said. “Finally, shortly after graduation, I noticed that folks were more likely to leave their purses behind than their phones. Talk about a sticky device that would follow the user anywhere.”
    Smart phone owners set Bluelight for the length of time needed to arrive at a destination, select a contact they trust and set an alert. Once users reach their destination, they check in with Bluelight. Bluelight sends a text message or email with the user’s most recent location to their emergency contacts if they fail to check in or do not arrive at their destination safely.
    “It only takes four taps, from pocket to help, for the app to make a phone call and share your GPS coordinates with up to three emergency contacts,” Anand said. “Think of it as an I’ll-call-you-when-I-get-there 2.0.”


  •  School of Law Commencement

    Listen to that inner voice that compels you to intervene on behalf of those whose rights are being violated, said Paul van Zyl, a key architect of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to the 300 graduates of Santa Clara University School of Law on May 19. “My work on human rights in over 35 countries across the world has convinced me that there is no such thing as the erosion of rights for only some people,” said 2012 commencement speaker van Zyl, who is now CEO of the social-entrepreneur business Maiyet. “I believe how a country treats the weakest and the worst offers a telling window into its soul… Once the violations begin, they set a precedent, diminish moral outrage, and are seldom confined to that infinitely malleable definition of ‘the enemy’.” More on his speech and the event can be found at


  •  Calling Attention

    When Santa Clara University communications Professor Jonathan Fung first learned about human trafficking at a conference five years ago, his thoughts instantly went to his own daughter and how horrified he would be if she were ever subjected to the atrocities of trafficking, which affect thousands of girls and young women everyday around the world. 

    Several years later, when Fung decided to take action using his medium of choice, film, it was a bit ironic that he cast his daughter—now 8 years old—to play the lead in his 15-minute film (he says she was not aware of some of the darker implications of her role).
    The resulting short film that spotlights human trafficking and follows a man’s moral dilemma will premiere at 7 p.m. in SCU’s Recital Hall June 1.
    “I believe we can use the arts to bring a consciousness to modern day slavery,” said Fung.
    The statistics about human trafficking are appalling, Fung noted. Around the world today there are over 30 million slaves as a result of human trafficking: 80 percent of those slaves are women or children. Victims of human trafficking are often subjected to forced and coerced sexual exploitation and/or forced labor.
    Hark is a project that Fung has been working on over the past 15 months and he believes that its premiere is just the beginning of the education and dialogue that is necessary to take action against human trafficking. Fung eventually hopes to take Hark into middle schools, high schools, and churches to advocate against human trafficking and to build awareness, serving as a call to action against this social justice issue.
    “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.
    This is Fung’s second project focusing on social justice and human trafficking. His first was an art and video installation in 2009 called Down the Rabbit Hole. This installation took place in the heart of the Tenderloin in San Francisco and presented a shocking, heart-wrenching look into child sex trafficking.
    Hark was filmed last September from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. over five nights in San Francisco. There was a cast of six actors and 40 crewmembers, many of who were unpaid. Among the crewmembers were six SCU students and two SCU alumni who got to experience working on the set as costume designers, production assistants, and casting directors.
    “Everyone involved really believed in the story that the film presents,” said Fung.
    Robert Tomaszewski, colorist at FotoKem in Burbank, Calif. color graded and mastered Hark and, while watching the film, was deeply affected by Hark’s imagery and the power of the film’s message. According to Fung, Tomaszewski’s connection with Hark stemmed from having two young children of his own and realizing the harsh reality of this social injustice.
    “If everyone has a reaction like that, that is what I’m looking for,” said Fung. “I want the viewer’s heart to open and soften for this issue.”
    Fung received funding for Hark from a private investor, four University grants, Kodak, and FotoKem—as well as raising over $3000 on the online fundraising platform

    Hark’s premiere showing will be followed by a panel discussion featuring delegates from the International Justice Mission and the Freedom House as well as Detective Jeremy Martinez, SJPD Human Trafficking Task Force.

  •  A New Dean for the Jesuit School of Theology

    A distinguished moral theologian and ethicist will become the new dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University on July 1, 2012. 

    Thomas J. Massaro, S.J., is currently professor of moral theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry.
    “We are delighted that Fr. Massaro will be leading the Jesuit School of Theology as a premier national and international center of graduate theological teaching, research, and ministerial formation,” said Dennis Jacobs, Santa Clara University’s provst. “As a teacher, scholar, and Jesuit priest, Fr. Massaro brings great passion and a commitment to excellence in all that he does.”
    Fr. Massaro’s teaching interests include Catholic social ethics, theories of economic justice, sociology of religion, and the history of Christian political thought. His scholarly pursuits also flow from his deep commitment to hands-on social activism, particularly in labor justice and the promotion of peace.
    “I am very eager to start my work as dean of the Jesuit School of Theology,” said Fr. Massaro. “The extraordinary reputation of the school as a leader in theological education is well deserved. For decades, it has been preparing men and women for learned ministry in a distinctive way, one that is culturally aware and intellectually rigorous. What a privilege it is to help prepare Catholic lay and religious leaders for tomorrow’s church.”
    Fr. Massaro is the author or editor of five books, a regular columnist for America magazine, and sought-after public intellectual. He lectures frequently on the moral evaluation of public policies regarding domestic and international issues such as foreign policy, anti-poverty efforts, and globalization.
    Raised in New York, Fr. Massaro graduated from Regis High School in Manhattan and received his Bachelor’s degree in economics, political science, and religion from Amherst College. In 1983, he entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained a priest 10 years later. He received a master’s in philosophy at Fordham University, M.Div. and S.T.L. degrees from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass., and a doctorate in Christian social ethics from Emory University in 1997.

    Fr. Massaro began teaching at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in 1997. In 2008, he became a professor in Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry.

  •  Life After SCU

    Across the country, graduating seniors are on the brink of being booted from the comfy college cocoons they’ve inhabited for the past four (or more) years. As they don cap and gown—and ponder life without a student ID card—some soul-searching questions may come to mind: “How will I eat?” “Who will pay for cable TV?” “Where are the jobs?” 

    At Santa Clara University many of the doubts about transitioning from student to self-sufficient adult are aired and addressed in a program called Life After SCU.
    Coordinated by the University’s Alumni Association, the course targets June graduates and involves a series of sessions offering helpful tips on everything from barbecuing to budgeting. 
    Held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from April through May, the sessions are usually conducted by SCU alums. Most of the classes are free, although a few carry a $5 fee, and seniors may attend any or all of them.
    “I’d say the most popular session is our Wine Education one,” said Kristina Alvarez, assistant director of chapters and student outreach in the alumni office. “We’ve had 125 students attend, and this year, we’re looking for 200 participants.” At this session, which is the final one in the series, students learn tips and techniques for tasting wine and go home with a Class of 2012 wine glass.
    Another highlight of the course is the annual Career Connect event, where SCU alumni meet with students and give them a chance to practice their networking skills. “It’s a very friendly environment and a great way for seniors to meet former students who are out there working,” said Alvarez. What’s more, she noted, “The alumni really enjoy coming back to campus; they’re more than willing to help out.”
    Having former Broncos lead the Life After SCU sessions keeps them involved in their alma mater, according to Alvarez. “They’ve been there, done that. They want to give back to the University and they can relate very well to the current students.”
    Session topics this year include “City Living,” with hints on how to find an apartment in a big city; “Barbecue Basics,” in which an alum and his dad share the secrets of grilling delicious food; “Traveling Abroad,” with four alums offering advice on maximizing time abroad; and “Personal Finance,” with tips on money managing by an SCU professor who is also an alum. Other sessions cover such topics as personal relationships and job searching.
    SCU’s after-college course began in 2004 and has been running ever since. According to Alvarez, most of the sessions are repeated each year, but a few are replaced to keep up with emerging trends. This year, for example, a new session called “How to Tap into Your Bronco Network” focuses heavily on the use of social media to make career connections.
    Easy access to such handy and practical advice is one reason why the Alumni Association’s course is so popular with graduating seniors. And for these fledgling grown-ups poised for flight, another reason just might be the free food and beverages at every session.
  •  Graduating Engineers Shine at Senior Design Conference

    Robots, a hybrid racecar, dozens of solar panels, these things are not unusual sights around Bannan Engineering Building, the home of Santa Clara University’s School of Engineering. Rather, it was the number of engineering students dressed in formal wear that was downright weird.

    On May 10, senior engineering students put on their most professional duds for the 42nd Annual Senior Design Conference. Projects ranged from a hybrid racecar to a high efficiency clothes dryer and were presented throughout the afternoon during both classroom sessions and outdoor demonstrations.
    “This is our centennial year, so we’re looking for special performances from our students,” said Godfrey Mungal, the School of Engineering’s dean. “We’re trying to raise the bar for senior design projects.”
    Mungal cited a new faculty initiative as helping to achieve this goal. For the first time, faculty received teaching credit for advising student projects. This included the Formula Hybrid, a project where 20 students and 6 faculty advisors collaborated to compete in the international competition. Teams from around the world designed, built, and then tested open-wheel, single-seat, electric or hybrid-electric racecars against each other during the 2012 competition in New Hampshire.
    “It was an exciting experience to compete with teams from universities in Canada and Spain,” said Robert Kozak, a mechanical engineering student.
    The SCU team ended up placing 16 out of 44 universities. According to Kozak their performance impressed judges. In order to compete, teams must first have their car vetted by judges as adhering to the competition’s stringent guidelines. “The judges told us that most first year teams don’t pass inspection,” he said.
    Other projects on display were the results of continuing research started by previous senior classes. One such example was the Roverwerx: Robomedic for Triage. This robot is designed to enter disaster areas, search for survivors, and then assess their medical needs in order to assist emergency responders.
    “When we started work on it, the robot didn’t move and the arm had less mobility,” said Kelsey Brunts, a bioengineering major.

    Brunts and seven other students across four disciplines were able to get the robot moving and add several degrees of arc to the robotic arm attachment, which can be outfitted with various medical sensors, such as one that detects respiration. For Brunts the hardest part of the project was communication—and not between herself and some of the lay audience at the day’s outdoor demonstration.
    “Communicating across disciplines is challenging,” she said. “We work with other disciplines on homework all the time, but to work on an actual physical, three-dimensional robot in a very collaborative project is a big challenge.”
    For a complete list of 2012 Senior Design Conference Winners, go here.
    For more information about this year’s capstone projects, view the 2012 conference program here.
  •  Wozniak and Kanter Tabbed for Commencement Addresses

    Steve Wozniak, the iconic co-founder of Apple Computer, current chief scientist at Fusion-io, and one of the original architects of the personal-computing industry, will be the commencement speaker for SCU’s undergraduate class of 2012 on June 16 at 8:30 a.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium. The event will mark the University’s 161st commencement, as well as the centennial celebration for the University’s School of Engineering.

    The day before, the woman President Obama is counting on to help educate America’s workforce of the next decade, Martha J. Kanter, will address SCU’s graduate students at their commencement ceremony. The graduate event will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the University’s Leavey Events Center.

    Wozniak’s career is the stuff of Silicon Valley legend. In 1976, he and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. with Wozniak’s Apple I personal computer. The following year, he introduced the Apple II personal computer, with features like a central processing unit, a keyboard, color graphics, and a floppy disk drive. The development of the Apple II proved to be an integral step to launching the PC industry.

    “I look forward to speaking to Santa Clara’s graduating class as they close this academic chapter of their lives and embark on the many adventures that await them in the next chapter,” said Wozniak, a longtime supporter of education, especially math, electronics, and science education for school-age children in the Bay Area. He will receive an honorary degree of Doctorate of Engineering Leadership.

    He has spent many years supporting causes to spark a passion for math and science education in grade school students and their teachers, teaching grade school, stressing hands-on learning, and encouraging creativity for students. He “adopted” the Los Gatos School District by providing students and teachers with teaching tools and donations of state-of-the-art technology equipment. He also was the founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet, and Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.

    “We are pleased to welcome Mr. Wozniak back to campus, as a reminder to our students that following their passions and nurturing their talents is a path to becoming men and women for others,” said Michael Engh, S.J., the president of Santa Clara University. Wozniak was last on the Mission Campus as a guest speaker for the President’s Speaker Series in January.

    Kanter is the under secretary of education for the U.S. Department of Education, nominated to the post by President Obama and confirmed in 2009. She was formerly chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which serves more than 45,000 students with a budget of about $400 million.

    “[Under Secretary Kanter] has dedicated her career to improving both access and quality of higher education—goals that have also been part of Santa Clara since its founding,” said Fr. Engh.

    At the undergraduate ceremony, the University will also award honorary degrees to renowned theologian Michael J. Buckley, S.J., and Mary Somers Edmunds, who will represent the pioneering women in undergraduate education at Santa Clara. This year marks the 50th anniversary of women in undergraduate education at SCU. 

    Paul van Zyl, CEO of PeaceVentures, will give the commencement address for the School of Law, and Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J., will speak at commencement for the Jesuit School of Theology. Both commencements will be held on May 19.

  •  Santa Clara University Students Embark on the Adventure of a Lifetime

    Seasoned travelers often say the best way to truly experience a place is to walk it. If that’s so, 15 students from Santa Clara University and their professor will be on very familiar terms with a 225-mile stretch of California this summer. The group will spend two weeks in June walking from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park.

    Beginning at Ocean Beach, the route leads to several places not found on any tourist map: a garden sowing seeds for food justice in Oakland, a farm workers’ labor camp in Stockton, a Me-wuk Indian reservation in Tuolumne.

    David Popalisky, associate professor in SCU’s department of theatre and dance, is leading the “Walk Across California” class. The long trek across the state marks the culmination of a 10-week class he’s teaching this spring.

    “The class is designed to cultivate each student’s sense of wonder,” explained Popalisky. “We’ll focus on sustainability, environmental justice, and social activism, as we prepare to walk among California’s diverse populations and through its natural landscapes.”

    Since last summer, Popalisky has been scouting the group’s route, setting up scheduled meetings and meals with various community members along the way. The itinerary, from June 15 through 30, now includes talks with farmers, teachers, park rangers, artists, shop owners, and Native Americans. Among highlights are a lunch with food activists from People’s Grocery in Oakland; dinner in Tracy with organic farmers; a visit to a farm workers’ labor camp, with talks by workers and labor activists in Stockton and Farmington. The class will also stay overnight in Copperopolis and learn about the region’s copper mining history dating from the Civil War before heading on to meet members of the Me-wuk tribe and a water conservation educator in Groveland.

    Although these activities are already set, Popalisky said much of the walk will be “discover as we go.” He emphasized that the trip belongs to the students. “It’s their job to help plan; I want them to build community from the ground up.” Small student groups will be responsible for structuring elements of each day’s walk. Then they’ll weigh in with the larger group and decisions will be made collectively.

    Popalisky estimates the hikers will log 15 miles a day, walking for about five hours. The students, along with four faculty members, will travel light, carrying day packs and accompanied by a van filled with their food and camping gear. Ideally, they’ll start hiking at around 8:30 each morning and call a halt at mid-afternoon.

    Through their interactions with both humans and the environment, students will gain a better understanding of many social justice and sustainability issues facing the state, Popalisky believes. And, to deepen their awareness, he’s included a personal component in the Walk Across California project.

    “Students will take the time to both observe the landscape and hear people talk, to hear their stories,” he explained, “then using various art forms, they’ll reflect on and share what they’ve experienced during the day. These personal insights may relate to beauty, knowledge, or understanding, for example, and be expressed through any chosen artistic medium, such as poetry, drawing, song, or dance. It’s an ongoing aesthetic reflective process that we have begun in the classroom.”

    Journal writings, short creative works, dance and poetry readings are among class activities that contribute to preparing student sensibilities for the journey, while a series of training walks throughout the course will boost their physical stamina.

    As a dancer who is also an experienced camper and backpacker, Popalisky said he himself is relatively fit and active, but has never been on a two-week walk. He described his California trek as “a leap of faith,” modeled on parts of different immersion trips he’s taken. “Originally, I hoped to get 10 students to sign up, but the number quickly grew to 15, my original class maximum,” he noted. The project was also embraced by many community members near SCU and along the route who were eager to be a part of the students’ learning experiences. “The overwhelming response was, ‘wow, let’s help,’” said the professor.

    To be accepted in the Walk Across California class, students first had to fill out an application explaining why they wanted to participate. They answered questions relating to their comfort level for such things as camp cooking, sharing a tent, not showering for several days, and bugs. Popalisky also asked them about physical and emotional challenges, artistic pursuits, and experience in crisis management.

    One junior majoring in biology wrote: “My life is surrounded by routine comforts. I rarely have the opportunity to act outside a certain set of experiences, to choose to do things for their own sake. As much as I am middle-class happy, part of me restlessly desires something more. I do not usually think in literary references, but my first thought when I heard about Walk Across California was: It’s like Walden in motion. I instantly wanted to do the walk, just to do something I found beautiful rather than something the rest of life found expedient.”

    Another student, a junior majoring in engineering, cited his experiences hiking in the foothills of his Boise, Idaho home as good preparation for the walk. And, a sophomore business major talked about his “commitment to becoming educated about ways that I can help to restructure the way food is currently produced.” He noted, “It is clear that today’s methods cannot be sustained much longer. I feel responsible to work and make sure that we can adapt and stay fed. Meeting and learning about the people that do this every day seems like a perfect opportunity.”

    In the end, a broad cross-section of SCU students representing a number of different fields and interests signed up and were accepted for the class.

    The main goal, according to Popalisky, is for each student to “witness the state’s environment and its people, and to understand the privileges that they may take for granted; students must understand the historical reality of their surroundings, and be conscious about each decision they make.”

    Beyond that, he said, “It’s an adventure they’ll remember for a lifetime."

  •  Alumni Awards Dinner Recap

    On April 28, the Alumni Association held the seventh annual Alumni Awards Dinner, honoring five Santa Clara graduates for outstanding achievements and service with the Ignatian, Louis I. Bannan, and Paul L. Locatelli Awards. These alumni were Robert Downey ’92, Dori Rose Inda J.D. ’00, Larry McDonald ’66, Nick Livak ’59, J.D. ’62, and Francisco Jimenez ’66. 

    The Ignatian Award

    This award recognizes those Santa Clara University alumni who live SCU ideals and have been a credit to the Alumni Association and the University through outstanding achievement in their service to humanity.

    Robert Downey ’92 utilizes his outstanding skills as a teacher and laboratory scientist to help others across the globe. Since 2004, Downey has been traveling to Haiti three times a year on a voluntary basis to provide laboratory services to needy people there, including rapid testing for major infectious diseases such as HIV, as well as routine blood chemistry tests that are otherwise unavailable to this population. His lab also provides malaria screening, pregnancy testing, and the diagnosis and monitoring of the common, serious illnesses of the rural poor. In addition to doing the lab work himself, Downey trains volunteers in basic lab techniques so they can run the lab in his absence.

    Downey has also helped improve and modernize laboratories in the national hospital and other regional hospitals in Tanzania. In addition, he is a deployable volunteer member of the CA-4 Disaster Medical Assistance Team, a part of the National Disaster Medical System run by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of the CA-4 DMAT is to set up medical teams that can be self sufficient in a disaster area for up to 72 hours. His team was deployed to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1989, Dori Rose Inda J.D. ’00 worked for over ten years as a social worker with homeless men and women and foster families in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. She began law school at Santa Clara University in 1997. During her three years of study, she commuted fifty miles from Watsonville to Santa Clara to attend classes and intern at the school’s legal clinic while raising two school-age children. As a law intern, she assisted on a consumer fraud case in which many of the victims were from the Watsonville area. These clients were unable to obtain legal representation locally, and this brought to light the critical gap in legal services in Watsonville.

    She then dedicated herself to founding the Watsonville Law Center (WLC), modeling it after the legal clinic at Santa Clara. The WLC is a non-profit dedicated to providing essential legal services to low-income families and individuals. WLC focuses on addressing issues related to worker rights, consumer protection and barriers to employment.

    Larry McDonald ’66 was recruited as a pitcher to Santa Clara on a baseball scholarship in 1962. He majored in business and met his wife of 45 years, Karen, when they were both students on campus. 

    In 2007, McDonald was ordained a deacon. After ordination, the Archbishop of Seattle appointed McDonald administrator of a new parish. The parish was to serve a diverse community of business people, the poor living in the streets or shelters, as well as Catholics living in new multi-million dollar high-rise condos. He managed to fundraise, create a marketing plan, recruit volunteer leadership, and undertake a major building project—and in August 2010, Christ Our Hope became the first new parish to be established in the archdiocese in over 40 years.

    In addition to his responsibilities at Christ Our Hope, McDonald continues his diaconal ministry at his home parish. He is also a Trustee of the Fulcrum Foundation in Seattle, which provides financial assistance to promote and support Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle primarily through tuition assistance, assistance to schools in need, and initiatives that promote academic excellence and faith formation. He has also served on the Board of Regents at SCU, been a member of the Bronco Bench Foundation, and in 1996, established the Larry and Karen McDonald Family Endowed Scholarship here at Santa Clara.

    The Louis I. Bannan, S.J., Award

    This award recognizes a single individual or couple who has given distinguished and outstanding service to the Alumni Association and Santa Clara University. Nick Livak ’59, J.D. ’62 has supported Santa Clara for more than 50 years. He currently serves as a Trustee on the Bronco Bench; attends many University events each year; is a vocal supporter at all men’s and women’s basketball games, among other sports; has served on his committee each reunion year; is active with the SCU School of Law in fundraising and activities; is a volunteer with the New Student Calling Program; and was an SCU Ambassador. Nick is well known around the campus and among alumni, and has given back to the University with both his time and financial support consistently since he graduated.  

    The Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., Award

    This award recognizes a single Santa Clara University employee or affiliate who has given distinguished and outstanding service to the Alumni Association and Santa Clara University. Francisco Jimenez ’66 was recognized for his longstanding and distinguished career as a scholar and author, and also his unwavering commitment to Santa Clara alumni. He maintains strong connections with his former students, is a speaker at many Alumni Association events, attends association and University events as an alumnus, and consistently participates in Grand Reunion weekends as both author and lecturer.

  •  SCU Wheels Out First Hybrid

    Team Killajoule prepares to race SCU's first ever hybrid racecar at the Sixth Annual Formula Hybrid International Competition.

    Santa Clara University’s longtime commitment to sustainability is picking up more speed. 

    Meet the University’s very first SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Formula Hybrid—an open-wheel, single-seat, plug-in hybrid-electric racecar. The project is Santa Clara’s first foray into an annual design and engineering competition to create a high-performance hybrid racecar.
    Students say it is destined to pave the way for a new generation of student engineers interested in high-performance alternative transportation.
    “There is no precedent for this project at SCU,” explained Keenan O’Flaherty, senior project leader. “We are laying the groundwork for future Formula Hybrids.” 
    On its way to inspiring new engineers, the car will make a pit stop at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.—site of the Sixth Annual Formula Hybrid International Competition from April 30–May 3. Here, the six-member SCU team will line up its machine against entries from 38 other teams, representing six different countries.
    The event challenges college and university students to design and build fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles, and then compete in performance events testing acceleration, autocross, and endurance.
    O’Flaherty’s group, named Team Killajoule (a play on the common engineering term, kilojoule), knows the physical competition will be fierce, but more challenging, they say, is the rulebook—about 140 pages of very intricate technical instructions.
    “The judges and tech officials will do their best to find any fault or problem that might disallow a car from competing,” explained the team’s leader. As a result, the SCU students have spent hours poring over the rules to ensure compliance and give them a chance to participate.
    “If we have no rules issues, we should be able to compete in the top 10 overall,” said O’Flaherty. But, since this is SCU’s first time on the circuit, he added, “There are likely obstacles we have not foreseen that may make that prediction totally inaccurate.” If all goes smoothly though, the vehicle SCU puts on the course will be “a dependable, simple, and fast car.”
    How fast? The car isn’t limited by its top speed in the rulebook, according to O’Flaherty, but the track is designed so that the highest speeds are typically no greater than 70 mph at the competition. “Our car,” he noted, “is geared to hit 138 mph if we wanted it to.”
    SCU’s hybrid project encouraged interdisciplinary teamwork and drew students with backgrounds in electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering. Many of those classmates, however, found themselves exploring new territory when they set to work on the car. “Designing the vehicle was the most challenging task because SCU does not have any undergraduate classes that cover electric vehicle technology,” said Jules Salvador, one team member. “Prior to the project, I had little experience with automotive design, and a lot of the information I had to pick up on the way.”
    Five faculty advisors, each with a special area of expertise, were drafted to help on the project. Shoba Krishnan, an associate professor of electrical engineering, said the hybrid forced students and faculty to look beyond their normal, narrowly defined fields.
    “As electrical engineers, for example, we don’t usually think a lot about safety issues,” she explained. “But, this is a high-voltage project, and safety is huge—it took months to figure out what we needed to do to pass inspection by the safety officer who will be judging us.”
    The experience of building the hybrid, according to Krishnan, “helped students explore the technology that is now current in the industry.” She noted, “They came to understand such things as the pros and cons of different types of batteries; the competition itself is a bridge from academic research leading into an industry perspective.”
    As for the car itself, O’Flaherty describes it as “a diesel-electric, plug-in hybrid that will run using B100 bio-diesel, having extremely low emissions, being highly sustainable, and still being a reasonably affordable and fast vehicle.”
    After the competition, the hybrid team will present its project to sponsors, families and the SCU community during the School of Engineering’s 42nd Annual Senior Design Conference on May 10. Then, “the car will be passed on to the next classes for use and educational purposes,” explained O’Flaherty. “There is already a team coming together for the 2013 competition.”
    O’Flaherty and his group find immense satisfaction in the fact that their groundbreaking work will continue after they graduate. Initially, the hybrid project was viewed with skepticism, he noted, so watching the idea transform into “something that so many people are excited to see completed has been amazing and truly rewarding.” And, with the simple turn of a key, the Formula Hybrid team attained another goal: “We wanted to start a new sustainability legacy at SCU focused on transportation.”
  •  Capital Ideas

    Ross Pimentel is among many student engineers to head to Washington, D.C. with visionary designs and the memory of late Professor Daniel Strickland

    Two teams of student engineers from Santa Clara University will head to Washington D.C. this month, packing project designs that could change the way people around the world use energy. 

    The travelers are bound for the National Sustainable Design Expo, an annual showcase of cutting-edge technologies developed by college students and their faculty advisors. The Expo takes place on the National Mall from April 21–23. It features a judged competition called P3—short for People, Prosperity, and the Planet—which is sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    SCU students, along with peers from some 40 other colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, will vie for bragging rights and a $90,000 grant award to help them advance their design, implement it in the field, and move it into the marketplace. Already, each of the contending teams earned an initial grant of $15,000 to jumpstart their work.
    “The competition will be a time for us to relax, mingle with the social entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and show off the work we’ve completed,” said Michael Sizemore, SCU senior and project leader for one of the school’s two entries. “After the challenges we’ve experienced and the work we’ve done to get to the place we are now, the competition is going to be a breeze.”
    Among those challenges was the sudden, tragic death last fall of the team’s advisor, a young assistant professor with a passion for fuel cell technology. Daniel Strickland’s enthusiasm and knowledge inspired Sizemore and four other seniors to form a team and develop a new type of fuel cell—one capable of a continuous, sustainable energy supply that could meet the demands of rural communities in developing nations where reliable energy grids are lacking.
    When Strickland died in an auto accident, his students were devastated and the fate of their unfinished work was uncertain. According to Ross Pimentel, a student who helped develop the project’s electrical design, the team “pulled through … and decided to continue to work on the project to show everyone that Strickland’s idea of replacing batteries with reversible fuel cells is possible. This project has not only shown the skills and knowledge we all gained from class, but also our strength and willingness to see the project to its end.”
    Sizemore spoke of the satisfaction in completing and testing “a never-before-tried technology.” He said the team “collaborated with companies around the world, to make a brand new clean energy system designed solely by us.” Strickland, he said, “gave us the opportunity to innovate and we took it.”
    Following Strickland’s death, Shoba Krishnan, an associate professor of electrical engineering at SCU, stepped into the role of faculty advisor for the fuel cell team. A strong proponent of applying classroom theory to real-world, community solutions, she sees several advantages in student design competitions such as P3.
    “These events help students put in perspective what they’ve learned in class,” she explained. “In order to achieve their goal, they must have teamwork, organization, time management, and project planning skills, as well as a strong work ethic.”
    She said the Expo experience will give students a small taste of what to expect in the workplace. “They’ll be judged by a certain set of rules, a clear standard of quality; it isn’t just about engineering—there is a lot of interdisciplinary learning going on.”
    SCU’s second entry in the P3 competition is led by faculty advisor Hohyun Lee, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Like Krishnan, he finds value in student design contests. In order for his students to complete their project, he noted, “They must enhance their understanding of renewable energy and mechanical engineering disciplines, and throughout the competition, they will develop their communication skills, as well as their breadth of technology.”
    At the Expo, Lee’s five-member team of senior students will present a high efficiency solar absorber/exchanger that can bring low-cost energy to residences that have limited space for solar collectors.
    “The key element of this project is to develop an economically viable solar absorber, combined with heat exchanger, that has fewer parts and takes up less space,” explained Lee. According to team members, solar energy is currently abundant and easily accessible, but high costs and low yields are stumbling blocks for many homeowners. The SCU students have designed a system that is one-third the size of an equivalent photovoltaic system, at half the total cost.

    Like the fuel cell team, Lee’s group has been working on its project since last August. The advisor believes the experience of learning together as they develop an essential product is an important lesson in itself. “This early exposure to research, and to its social benefit, will prepare them to become true engineers,” he said.

  •  Art on Wheels

    As temperatures rise and skies clear, you may be tempted to dust off the bike and take it for a ride. If so, point your handlebars to the de Saisset where a pair of shows explores the art and local history of biking. Clunkers to MTBs: The Evolution of the Mountain Bike and Chain Reaction: Artists Consider the Bicycle both run from April 13 to July 1, 2012.

    Clunkers to MTBs traces the roots of the mountain bike, or MTB, in the Bay Area back to its origins in the 1970s with “clunkers” speeding down Mt. Tamalpais and enthusiasts traversing the trails in Cupertino. “We felt that was a historical moment and a historical connection to this area. Since the de Saisset is an art and history museum, it made a lot of sense for us to look at MTBs through the lens of history,” notes Lindsey Kouvaris, curator of exhibits and collections at the museum.

    Visitors can view photographs of many of the sport’s early participants, historic bikes, ephemera of the grassroots Repack Races, as well as design sketches and prototypes through the final product of MTB advances.
    Chain Reaction takes more of an artistic look at the bike. “It’s much more in line with what our usual curatorial, thematic bent is in that it showcases fine artists working in multiple media who deal with the bike through the imagery, through the inspiration, or through the actual components of the bike in their fine art work. Photographs. Paintings. Sculpture. Works of that nature,” Kouvaris explains.
    For example, Katina Huston draws shadows in her pictures. “So the bicycle for her is an object that casts an interesting shadow. It’s not so much about the bike as it is about the form of the object itself,” Kouvaris says.
    Together the two shows will have a broad appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds, including cyclists, entrepreneurs, inventors, historians, and art enthusiasts, Kouvaris says. “There are a lot of threads for people to connect with in these exhibitions.”
    Also showing at the de Saisset is Indelibly Yours: Smith Andersen Editions and the Tattoo Project,the brainchild of Paula Kirkeby, a longtime supporter of the museum and owner of Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto. The exhibition presents a selection of 30 prints inspired by the tattoo aesthetic and created by 10 different artists—five known for printmaking and five known for tattooing.
    “[The pieces] are all colorful and graphic,” Kouvaris says. “It’s a fun exhibit.” Indelibly Yours runs until July 1, 2012.
    The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays. No charge for admission. For special programs, closing dates, and more information, visit
  •  UNITY RLC Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

    UNITY celebrates its two decade milestone of commitment to diversity, community learning, and, of course, unity

    Before Santa Clara adopted the concept of Residential Learning Communities (RLCs), the Walsh and McLaughlin residence halls partnered with the Multicultural Center (MCC) to form UNITY, the first themed dorm on campus. This student-driven initiative sought to provide a support structure for minority students at Santa Clara. Twenty years later UNITY has developed into the unique RLC that it is today, focusing on student diversity and civic engagement, promoting a concern for the common good among its residents. 

    This spring UNITY is celebrating its anniversary with plans to commemorate two decades of diversity, community learning, and, of course, unity.
    To honor this milestone, UNITY hosted “UNITY at 20” exhibit in the Multicultural Reading Area of the Library. This exhibit includes pictures and written testimonials from past and present UNITY residents and staff, providing a historical look at the RLC. Other events around campus included an anniversary reception, an in-hall event, “Misa en Espanol,” for UNITY’s current residents, and MCC cultural shows like LOVE JONES and Intandesh. A celebration will also be held during SCU’s Grand Reunion this fall.
    Six of the 10 MCC organizations at SCU today were originally involved in the creation of UNITY 20 years ago. Now UNITY hosts and supports many of these club’s social events and community outreach programs, as well as providing a home for many of the students involved. Those involved with UNITY are proud of the fact that they are no longer one of the only beacons of diversity on campus.
    “UNITY provides a safe place for people to come a discuss things that have bothered them like social justice issues,” said Brandon Brackett, UNITY resident director. “It’s a jumping off point that can bring major issues to the rest of campus.”
    Like most RLCs, UNITY hopes to foster a co-curricular learning environment where students can live, take classes, and attend RLC events that cater to a common theme. But UNITY is unique in that it provides students the opportunity to live in an environment that constantly promotes and encourages diversity. Over the years, this environment has become more inclusive of students who aren’t ethnic minorities, recognizing that diversity can be ethnic, religious, gender-based, geographic, sexual, or biological.
    “UNITY is a place where people hold the door open for each other,” said Pancho Jimez, Drahmann advisor and UNITY faculty director from 2003 to 2009. “It’s a place where students can share in their diverse experience.”
    UNITY has also worked hard to support SCU faculty and staff by supplementing the various courses that speak to the themes of diversity and civic engagement. Initiated by Jimez, UNITY’s faculty programming helps fund relevant field trips or programs that can contribute to a UNITY resident’s diversity education. Recently the residents had the opportunity to partner with four other RLCs and Professor Hsuan Tsen’s “Land, Place and Environment” class to go to Golden Gate Park and apply what the students learned in class. Professor Tsen lectured on the diversity of the park’s landscape and the students had the chance to visit the Japanese Tea Garden and the De Young museum.

    While events like this are not unique to UNITY, the RLC is proud of its ability to bridge the gap between professors and students, in addition to encouraging residents to celebrate diversity and civic engagement. After 20 years, the UNITY founders and alumni can celebrate how their efforts changed SCU and how UNITY continues to inspire diverse, socially conscious on-campus living.

  •  Remembering a Tragedy


    A group of students, staff, alums and faculty members at Santa Clara University will rise with the sun on Monday, April 16, and gather to commemorate those who lost their lives in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. The daybreak tribute—in the form of a play by Erik Ehn called “What a Stranger May Know”—involves 76 members of the SCU community, acting in concert with colleagues from at least 13 other universities around the country.
    Ehn, an internationally known artist-activist, is the director of playwriting at Brown University. He also taught playwriting at SCU and has appeared multiple times on campus as a speaker in the Guest Artist Series, hosted by the university’s Justice and the Arts Initiative (JAI). His latest work is a suite of 32 plays—one for each of the shooting victims—to be performed at 7:30 a.m. across the U.S., on the fifth anniversary of the tragedy. The SCU production takes place on the St. Ignatius lawn near the center of campus.
    “Erik Ehn is deeply connected to Santa Clara University,” said Kristin Kusanovich, a lecturer in the theater and dance department and co-director of JAI. “He contacted me directly last summer to see if the university would be interested in participating in this project; we’ve worked together before on a number of other events.” Kusanovich is serving as co-artistic director of the SCU performance, along with Michael Zampelli, S.J.
    According to Kusanovich, SCU’s production will follow Ehn’s ambitious, plays-within-a-play format: the student, alum and faculty actors are scattered in different stations across the lawn. They read their scripts simultaneously. Another group of witnesses sits before the players, watching and listening. The “real” audience is also witness to the action, as visitors are free to move about, wandering through the scenes, or staying with one drama as the stories unfold. Out of respect for five of the families of those lost in the tragedy who declined to participate, SCU will be performing 27 of the 32 plays that were written, and holding the other five victims “in our hearts,” as Kusanovich noted.
    “Erik wrote witnesses into the script to create the feeling of a memorial shared by many people,” said Kusanovich. “Within this setting, you get a sense of time stopping as you come to know each of the victims. There is cacophony, but there is logic too.”
    She explained, however, that listeners may not immediately understand everything they are hearing. “The scripts are drawn from public record, from the facts that each family wants us to know about their loved one—that’s ‘what a stranger may know.’” Ehn used the public record when he wrote the scripts, but he “infused it with poetic ideas,” she said. “He took a single word from the record and created scenes of imagery from it, expanded on it in the form of an imaginative journey; these ideas are woven into the entire text.”
    The monologues are about 90 minutes in length, and Kusanovich said, “At the end of the cumulative text, you’ll have a surprisingly holistic sense of the person—their character, their interests, what their plans were for the future.”
    At certain times throughout the performance, the SCU memorial will feature singing and live music, conducted by SCU music teacher David Duenas. Among the cast and crew are seven assistant directors, each rehearsing with a small group of actors. Kusanovich said many students were eager to participate, and some were chosen because of their ability to handle French or German or the other languages found in the scripts. There are references to these languages, as well as to the subject of hydrology, in the scripts because most of the shootings at Virginia Tech took place in a hall where languages and engineering were taught.
    Following the event, audience members and participants may gather in a designated area to talk about the play, write their reflections in journals, meditate or pray. SCU’s Campus Ministry will be on hand to provide spiritual counseling for those who want it.
    “The play can be very powerful, not only because of the Virginia Tech victims, but for anyone who has felt a personal loss,” said Kusanovich. “The plays came to us borne out of this particular tragedy, but by a playwright deeply immersed in discerning the position of art in the post-genocidal reality of Rwanda and many other global conflicts. They are about Virginia Tech but also about the unknowable nature of lives lost and our asymptotic journey to only get closer to knowing. The space for mourning the kinds of deaths lost in non-war related violence is, however, the focus. We don’t know what it will stir up, what sort of an impact the play will have, but we want support to be available if it’s needed.”
    Other universities that will perform “What a Stranger May Know” on April 16 are spread throughout the U.S. They include Brown University, City College of New York, Brandeis University, University of Ulster, The New School, University of Texas at Arlington, Whittier College, University of Minnesota, Brooklyn College, and Whitman College.


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