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.

  •  SCU Donors Step Up for Challenge

    “All in for SCU” 24-hour campaign March 18 builds on previous success and sets new bar with more than 4,000 donors and $1.2 million raised

    During a 24-hour period, the university raised $1,221,016 from 4,855 donors -- more than a 50 percent increase over the previous year’s record-setting showings for single-day proceeds.

    The early goal was to reach at least 4,000 donors – 1,027 more than last year – in order to capture a $500,000 challenge grant from an anonymous alumni couple from the 1972 and ’73 classes. The SCU community met that goal at 6:50 p.m., with 855 additional donors making gifts throughout the night. The largest single gift was for $10,000. During the peak of the day, SCU received about eight gifts per minute.

    “SCU’s Day of Giving was an inspiring and overwhelming show of support by Santa Clara Broncos – from the first gift of the day of $10,000 to the final stretch when donations were still coming in strong,” said Vice President for University Relations James Lyons. “The comments we received throughout the day reinforced what we’ve long known: Broncos are proud of their school, want to give back, and want SCU’s unique blend of excellence and Jesuit values to thrive for years to come.”

    The total of 4,855 donors was a 63 percent increase over the previous year’s record of 2,973 donors. The $1,221,016 represented a 53 percent increase over last year’s $795,785 total.

  •  Martin Sheen Visits SCU in April

    Actor Martin Sheen and Sister Helen Prejean are this year’s distinguished speakers for the 2015 College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Leadership Forum

    On Monday, April 13, SCU’s College of Arts and Sciences welcomes Sister Helen Prejean, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, and anti-death-penalty activist and educator. Author of Dead Man Walking and The Death of Innocents, Sister Helen has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the death penalty and helping to shape the Catholic Church’s vigorous opposition to state executions. Sister Helen will present a lecture that is open to the public at 7:30 p.m. at the Louis B. Mayer Theatre.


    On Tuesday, April 14, we welcome actor Martin Sheen, political, social, and Catholic peace activist. In 2010, Mr. Sheen spoke to 18,000 young student activists at the We Day event sponsored by Free The Children, explaining that, "while acting is what I do for a living, activism is what I do to stay alive." Mr. Sheen will join Sister Helen during the day in a conversation with students from 2-3 p.m. at the Benson Center’s Williman Room, speaking on Catholic social activism. They will also participate in a second, invitation-only conversation with leaders from the local community. In the evening they will join a moderated question-and-answer session at 7:30 p.m. at the Louis B. Mayer Theatre.

    Both evening lectures are free and open to the public. Reservations are required.


  •  Grants, Awards, and Publications

    SCU faculty and staff receive recognition for their outstanding work

    Jane Curry (Political Science) co-edited the Third Edition in 7 years of Central and East European Politics, Rowman and Littlefield, 2014 with Sharon Wolchik, George Washington University. It is completely rewritten, given the changes in East Europe and includes a new chapter on Transitional Justice by Peter Rozic, SJ who just finished his Jesuit Legacy Postdoc here. Curry will also be speaking at the Pontifical Institute of the Orient in Rome in late March on "Churches and Religious Leaders as Leaders in 1989 and Tomorrow.

    Linda Garber (Women's & Gender Studies) published an article titled "Claiming Lesbian History: The Romance Between Fact and Fiction" in the Journal of Lesbian Studies.

    Cynthia Mertens (School of Law) has received a $23,701 grant from the State Bar of California Legal Services Trust Fund Program.  This grant will allow the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center to continue to provide legal services in the areas of workers' rights, immigration and consumer protection matters to low-income persons in the south Bay Area. She also received a $38,172 from the State Bar of California to support the Alexander Community Law Center Legal Assistance for Consumer Rights. The Consumer Rights Project will provide assistance to low-income individuals, composed largely of limited-English-speaking immigrants who require assistance in obtaining information, advice, and legal representation for problems involving consumer protection including auto fraud, unfair credit and debt collection practices, and unfair business practices.

    Rose Marie Beebe (Modern Languages and Literatures) and Robert Senkewicz (History) have published a new book. It is entitled Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and The Transformation of a Missionary. The publisher is the University of Oklahoma Press. They have both been awarded Mayers Fellowships at the Huntington Library for academic year 2015 – 2016. The fellowships will support their current research on Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo.

    Caroline Chen (School of Law) has received a $12,400 grant from the Internal Revenue Service.  This grant will fund the continued operation of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic located at the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center.

  •  All in for SCU

    Alumni couple pledges $500,000 if 4,000 donors give to SCU in 24 hour challenge

    The Power of One Day? How about a half-million dollars?

    Santa Clara University is hoping to top last year's strong showing for its second annual online giving challenge, All In for SCU.

    This year's 24-hour giving challenge kicks off on Wednesday, March 18, and has a goal of 4,000 donors during that time.

    That's more than last year's record showing of 2,973 donors—but one couple is betting a half-million dollars that Broncos are up to the task.

    An anonymous alumni couple from the classes of 1972 and '73 has pledged $500,000 to SCU's new Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building—provided 4,000 other donors also step up and make gifts on March 18.

    SCU is counting on supporters from all corners of campus to meet the goal—be it the Santa Clara Fund (which funds scholarships, study abroad, and other student and academic programs), specific schools or centers, or Bronco Athletics. All gifts count, even if you've already given this year.

    On the day of the challenge, check in at to see live updates on SCU's progress toward 4,000 gifts. On social media, you can also learn who else is giving by following the hashtag #allinforscu.

  •  College of Arts & Sciences Gets a New Dean

    Deborah Tahmassebi is named the new dean for the College of Arts and Sciences

    Santa Clara University has recruited Deborah Tahmassebi from the University of San Diego to serve as Santa Clara’s new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She will begin her duties on August 1, 2015.

    Tahmassebi will provide overall academic, administrative, and financial leadership for the College of Arts and Sciences. She will report directly to University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Jacobs.

    “I feel privileged to have an opportunity to become part of Santa Clara University at this creative and exciting time,” said Tahmassebi. “Santa Clara’s bold new vision, its integrated strategic plan Santa Clara 2020, new interdisciplinary initiatives, and innovative approach to liberal arts education, are all critical components that will allow it to make a lasting impact in Silicon Valley and around the globe.”

    The University’s College of Arts and Sciences—with 3,140 students, 350 faculty members, and 130 full- and part-time staff—is the largest academic unit on the Mission Campus. The College’s 24 departments and academic programs offer more than 35 undergraduate degree programs and help provide a liberal arts curriculum to all Santa Clara undergraduates.

    Tahmassebi has served as associate dean of program development in the College of Arts and Sciences, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and special assistant to the provost at the University of San Diego, a private Catholic university of 8,300 students. Her contributions included the development and support of new College programs and initiatives, oversight of assessment efforts, expansion of undergraduate research, and record growth in sponsored programs. In 2012–13, she was selected as an American Council of Education Fellow to work with President David Burcham at Loyola Marymount University.

    Tahmassebi joined the faculty at the University of San Diego in 1999. As an organic chemist with interests in the synthesis and structural analysis of biologically relevant molecules, she studies novel nucleosides and amino-acid derivatives. Tahmassebi has mentored several undergraduate students in her laboratory and coordinated the Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience program, an initiative which supports socioeconomically disadvantaged students to attend the University of San Diego and become involved in research early in their academic careers.

    “Dr. Tahmassebi comes to Santa Clara with an impressive record in curricular innovation, faculty development, and promoting undergraduate research. Her leadership in these areas, commitment to Jesuit educational values, and her exceptional collaborative style make her a terrific addition to the University community. I look forward to welcoming her as our new dean,” said Santa Clara University President Michael Engh, S.J.

    Tahmassebi will succeed W. Atom Yee, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who served 10 years as dean and will return to the faculty to continue his scholarship and teaching. For the 2014–15 academic year, Professor of Political Science Terri Perretti has served as acting dean.

    Tahmassebi earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Washington and her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of California, San Diego.

    Tahmassebi is married with two daughters. Her husband, Sam, is an attorney specializing in intellectual property law.

  •  Big Business Learns Right from Wrong

    Markkula Center for Applied Ethics helps businesses and nonprofits address ethical issues

    Silicon Valley companies and nonprofits face big ethical questions, from how to handle customers’ data to how to create an ethical culture for an aggressive company. Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is expanding its focus and programming to address these and other issues.

    Ann Skeet has joined the Center as director of leadership ethics, joining a team led by ethics expert Kirk Hanson, executive director.

    With Skeet’s hiring, the Center has broadened its program to more explicitly include nonprofit ethics as well as business ethics. Skeet, who has an MBA from Harvard, was vice president of marketing at the San Jose Mercury News and has run two nonprofits. She is also working across several of the Center’s focus areas on leadership ethics.

    “She is a well-respected expert in ethical issues that arise in leadership in many sectors of society,” Hanson said.

    Skeet and Hanson identify a number of critical current topics in business ethics, many of which can also apply to nonprofits:

    * Big data: How can companies use the data they collect? What notice do they need to give to consumers?

    * Cyber security: What is a company’s obligation to protect customers’ data, and what is its obligation when that data has been hacked?

    * Marketing techniques: The rise of big data has led to other questions, such as when marketing becomes too aggressive and intrusive. “If that sweater I looked at online at Target now appears every time I visit any website for the next three weeks, is that intrusive?” Hanson said.

    * Supply-chain ethics: This isn’t a new question, but it still arises. “We’ve never resolved the question of the ethical responsibility for the behavior of your supply chain,” Hanson said. “Yes, we know you shouldn’t employ child labor. But there are many other questions about the ethical behavior of your supply chain.”

    * Compliance: Skeet said companies are investing more resources into making sure they comply with regulations—but “one of the challenges is to make sure that part of the discussion is not just what’s legal but what’s right.” Skeet is especially interested in working with more companies in their earliest days to explore how successful companies do this work well.

    * Startup culture: Policies created early in a company’s life can have long-term ramifications—but the growth-oriented culture that gets companies off the ground may not be conducive to reflections on ethics.

    * Personal vs. professional: How much should bad behavior in an executive’s private life affect his or her employment?

    Hanson and Skeet also noted that there are ongoing questions about fair practices and disclosure by financial institutions, political spending by corporations, how the moral beliefs of company owners can influence their business practices, businesses’ response to climate change, and best practices for management in creating an ethical culture.

    The Center runs a variety of programs to help businesses sort through these issues and create an ethical culture. Skeet is also helping develop new programming aimed at nonprofits.

    “Part of my early work in the area of nonprofit ethics is helping the Center to think about how we could create the most knowledge and help transmit it in a way that would make sense for a Jesuit university in Silicon Valley,” Skeet said.

    Current business ethics initiatives include:

    * The Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership helps participating companies learn to create and sustain an ethical organization. It holds quarterly meetings for member companies where they can hear in-depth discussions of current ethical issues. Participating companies also receive yearly presentations—to their board or clients, for example—organized by the Center. And the Center is adding shorter events, such as breakfasts or lunchtime discussions.

    * Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are “one way of taking our insights about business ethics and delivering them to a wider audience,” Hanson said. The Center has created two courses: Business Ethics in the Real World, an introduction to the topic; and Creating the Ethical Organization, a course for managers.

    The courses are not graded, but students write an essay that is evaluated by three other students. Each course takes about eight hours to complete and students work at their own pace. In the three years the courses have been available, about 5,000 people have taken them. At any one time, about 100 different countries are represented among the students.

    Although the MOOCs do not offer academic credit, some universities have adopted them as a piece of a larger course. The courses are free: “This is not a money-maker for us,” Hanson said. “This is a service.”

    “It’s been an eye-opening experience to see the interest level of the participants, especially given the diverse range of locations, professions, and ages,” said Patrick Coutermarsh ’13, an economics and philosophy major who is now the business ethics program coordinator at the Markkula Center.

    Before his current work on the MOOCs, the BOEP and other business ethics initiatives, Coutermarsh experienced ways that the Center encourages students to explore ethics. In his senior year, he received a Hackworth Fellowship, which supports students doing ethics-related projects. His project was to work with a faculty member to start a Santa Clara Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team.

    * Hanson lectures at other universities and conferences several times per year. The Center helped launch the first business ethics center in China: the Center for International Business Ethics at the International University of Business and Economics in Beijing. Hanson has given an address at the Beijing center most years since it opened.

    * The Center is experimenting with social media as a way of reaching out to business executives and managers.

    * The Center is working to help companies and nonprofits learn to sustain an ethical culture. “We’re moving our focus from the internal management of the organization to the leadership, which means the board and the CEO’s oversight of ethics,” Hanson said. “Among the most important questions is what is the board’s responsibility for the ethical character of the organization?”

    The Center worked with one large Silicon Valley company to develop an instrument for measuring the quality of a company’s ethical culture, and it hopes to expand this service to other companies.

    “We go in and do a series of interviews and research, with the goal of reporting back to the board of directors,” Skeet said. She noted that the company they worked with to development the assessment was not facing any sort of ethical crisis but rather wanted to develop benchmarks in ethics. “I think that’s healthy, a sign of development in that area.”

  •  A Partnership Made for Three

    SCU’s HR department teams up with the Ignatian Center and community nonprofits

    Collaborative projects with off-campus partners thrive at SCU, where the Jesuit ideal of community engagement filters through every department. Two-way alliances are common—and sometimes there’s plenty of room for three.

    Since 1986, the Ignatian Center has joined with local nonprofit agencies to provide students with hands-on work experience and opportunities to learn about real-world social issues. Through the Center’s Arrupe Weekly Engagement Program, nearly 1,200 SCU students participate each year in the program.

    Several years ago, the Arrupe Weekly Engagement Program—now paired with more than 50 nonprofits and public schools throughout the community—added a third player to the team: the SCU Human Resources Department.

    Accepting an offer from Charlie Ambelang, interim assistant vice president of HR, Arrupe staff invited their partners to a free, one-hour professional development workshop coordinated by the HR department. “It was a great benefit,” explained Rosa Guerra-Sarabia, one of the program directors of community-based learning at the Ignatian Center. “Most of our community partners don’t have extra funds to pay for this type of training; they saw it as a wonderful opportunity.”

    From this initial outreach, a series of semiannual lunchtime workshops offered by HR and organized by Arrupe evolved, with each session attended by 10 to 30 managers and supervisors from local nonprofit agencies and schools. The most recent course was held in December and focused on how to avoid job burnout, according to Guerra-Sarabia.

    “The topics are all about common workplace issues and can be easily adapted to the nonprofit sector,” she said. “Such things as team-building and balancing home and job obligations are relevant to nearly everyone.”

    About four years ago, the success of the workshops led to HR staff offering a full, two-day retreat for Arrupe’s community partners titled “The Challenge to Lead.” The subject of the retreat was based on the research and writings of two well-known Leavey School of Business associates—Jim Kouzes and former dean Barry Posner. All facilitation fees, materials and food for the event, held at SCU, were provided at no charge to participants. Their response was enthusiastic.

    “I am so thankful to the Ignatian Center for making this opportunity available to me,” noted Graciela Mann, community development director at Sacred Heart Community Service. “The Leadership Challenge came just at the right moment, as I was taking on more responsibilities at my organization.”

    According to Becky Pestarino of Santa Clara Adult Education Center, “It is always validating and inspiring to see the areas where one excels and where one needs to grow.” She added, “Being in a leadership position can be draining; attending a workshop like this one energizes you to push on and to continue the good work. I really appreciate all of the professional development classes I have taken at SCU.”

    Additional one-hour workshops will take place this year, and the HR department could offer another multi-day retreat in the future, said Cheryl Johnson, leadership development specialist.

  •  Human-Trafficking Victim Advocate to Receive SCU Alexander Law Prize

    Martina Vandenberg’s career-long fight for justice for the victims of human trafficking and violence will be honored at SCU

    A lawyer who has spent nearly two decades fighting for victims of human trafficking around the world will be the recipient of the 2015 Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara University School of Law. The award honors top legal advocates who have used their careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity.

    The Alexander Law Prize will be presented to Martina Vandenberg, president and founder of The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center in Washington, D.C., at a ceremony March 24, at Santa Clara University’s Adobe Lodge. A reception will be held at 5 p.m., with the presentation of the award and a discussion taking place at 6 p.m.

    Vandenberg has dedicated her life to combating violence against women, rape as a war crime, and human trafficking. She testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, the Helsinki Commission, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Armed Services Committee.

    In 2012, she established The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center (HT Pro Bono), which links victims to skilled pro bono attorneys who help hold traffickers accountable and help victims rebuild their lives. HT Pro Bono received generous support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF) Fellowship Program, where she was a fellow from 2012 to 2013.

    A former Human Rights Watch researcher, she spearheaded investigations into human rights violations in the Russian Federation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uzbekistan, Kosovo, Israel, and Ukraine, and authored the first published report documenting human trafficking for forced prostitution into Israel.

    She is the author of two Human Rights Watch reports, “Hopes Betrayed: Trafficking of Women and Girls to Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution,” and “Kosovo: Rape as a Weapon of ‘Ethnic Cleansing.’” While living in the Russian Federation, she co-founded Syostri, one of Russia’s first rape crisis centers for women.

    Vandenberg was formerly a partner at Jenner & Block, where she focused her pro bono practice on representing victims of human trafficking in immigration, criminal, and civil cases. She served as a senior member of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. She received the 2006 Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Pro Bono Award for her successful representation of trafficking victims in United States federal courts and her advocacy before Congress.

    “Martina Vandenberg shows us what it means to discern injustice in the world and devote one’s time, talent and life to eradicating it,” said Santa Clara University School of Law Dean Lisa Kloppenberg. “We are proud to present the Alexander Prize to her.”

    Vandenberg received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, a master of philosophy in Russian and East European studies from Oxford University, and a B.A. in international relations from Pomona College. She also is a Rhodes Scholar and a Truman Scholar. Vandenberg is originally from Gilroy, California.

    Photo by Jeff Hutchens

  •  Fever Pitch

    A fast-paced weekend competition combines the talents of SCU students in formulating new startup businesses

    More than 60 students will descend on Lucas Hall in the coming days, for a “Startup Weekend,” which combines the spontaneity of a hackathon, the business-building of an incubator, and prizes that would catch the eye of any contestant on Shark Tank.

    The event is the brainchild of third-year Santa Clara Law student Adam Brutocao, who has long wanted to have a startup gathering on SCU’s campus that would bring together students from Santa Clara’s law, business, and engineering schools—joining forces to create fresh new businesses befitting SCU’s location in the heart of Silicon Valley.

    The three-day event is kicking off Feb. 27 at 6 p.m with the help of sponsors, including Google for Entrepreneurs, Coca Cola,, Seagate, Plug and Play Ventures, the Founders Institute, and Tech CU. It will culminate on Sunday night with a competition for the best startup developed during the weekend. Judges will base their decision on several criteria, including: quality of the product or service offering and the viability of the startup's business plan, which will be drafted during the weekend.

    On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, representatives of SCU’s Entrepreneur’s Law Clinic will be manning a booth for free answers to questions on legal issues such as incorporation, term sheets, or management structure.

    Attendees will kick into startup mode immediately. Those who have a startup idea upon arrival will get on stage and pitch their idea in 60 seconds. Brutocao estimates that about half the attendees will do so.

    The other half are “potential co-founders”—students with self-identified skills like marketing, coding, or legal counsel, who will pair up with the startup idea people. An app called loopd—created by one of the event's co-sponsors—will enable participants to digitally find each other based on data uploaded to a wearable-device.

    As the groups proceed for the rest of the weekend to create winning business plans for their startups, they’ll have access to a broad range of resources provided by Startup Weekend and some originally developed by Adam, himself, including a new YouTube lecture series called "Startup Talks." Startup Weekend Santa Clara sponsors, like the One Page Business Plan Company will provide software products and services to facilitate the development of each startup's business plan. In addition, five mentors, including—Maxime Prades of Zendesk and big data consultant Sujee Maniyam—will float from group to group offering advice.

    The prizes:

    First Place: A chance at $25,000 in seed funding and an invitation to Plug and Play's "Startup Camp" Accelerator Program (Plug and Play Ventures); 20 hours of legal services (Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, LLP); and 10 hours of one-on-one executive consulting from The One Page Business Plan Company.

    Second Place: Co-working space during a three-month membership (Pacific Workplaces) and 15 hours of legal services (Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, LLP).

    Third Place: 10 hours of legal services (Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, LLP).

    Other members of the Startup Weekend organizing committee are law students Nellie Amjadi, Steve Chao, Alexandra Louderback, Rebecca Sullivan, and Hossein Sajjadi and undergraduate business school students Julian Novais, Noah Belkhouse, and Matt Rosendin. Adam's younger brother Blake Brutocao assisted the team with social media marketing and Adam's cousin Morgan Brutocao designed the company's marketing material.

    More information:

  •  Grants, Awards, and Publications

    SCU faculty and staff receive recognition for their outstanding work

    Prashanth Asuri (Bioengineering) has received a $ 31,704 subcontract from SE3D Education LLC on a NSF prime award to support his "Low Cost 3D Bio-Printer Toolkit for STEM Education" project. Prof. Asuri will co-advise student projects and experiments involving characterization of biomaterial properties. Experiments will include measurements of shear viscosity, shear elastic modulus, and compression modulus. In addition, he will co-advise the development of syringe based extrusion system for printing hydrogel-based biomaterials.

    Silvia Figueira (Computer Engineering)  has received a $20,000 NIH subcontract from ISIS Ventures, Inc. to support the project entitled "Youth Street Connect". Santa Clara University's students under the supervision of Prof. Figueira will collaborate with the ISIS Ventures Inc. team’s to develop a dual purpose mobile phone application for homeless and unstably housed youth and their providers.  This project is innovative and has major potential for improving the health and well-being of homeless youth.

    Chad Raphael (Communication) has published a book, Deliberation, Democracy, and Civic Forums: Improving Equality and Publicity (Cambridge University Press). Co-authored with Christopher F. Karpowitz (Brigham Young University), the book analyzes innovative forums that integrate citizen deliberation into policy making, which are revitalizing democracy in many places around the world.

    Thomas Massaro, S.J. (Theology) has been published in “The Role of Conscience in Catholic Participation in Politics since Vatican II,” pp. 65-83 in Erin Brigham, ed. and The Church in the Modern World: Fifty Years After Gaudium et Spes (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. 2015). Kristin Heyer (Religious Studies) also has an essay in this volume called “Immigration and Family Values: A Post-Conciliar Moral Assessment” pages 87-110.

  •  Hack for the Homeless

    SCU leads a hackathon that creates useful apps for the homeless

    How much help can students give the homeless while spending 24 hours writing computer code? Santa Clara University is preparing to host its second Hack for the Homeless from Feb. 28 to March 1. The event is a hackathon during which students spend 24 hours coding mobile apps that the homeless can use.

    Last year, about 50 students participated in the University’s first hackathon, which included students from Santa Clara and San Jose State University. This year, the organizers are casting a wider net, inviting students from other Bay Area schools. They are hoping about 100 students will participate. Most participants are studying computer science, computer engineering, or web design.

    The University works with the Community Technology Alliance, a nonprofit that uses technology to help address poverty and homelessness, to define the projects students are asked to work on.

    Last year, for example, there were three suggested categories: finding health clinics, food notifications, and medical reminders. One team created an app that would help users self-diagnose medical problems, then connect them to local pharmacists and clinics. It would also help keep track of users’ medications and allow users to set reminders for taking them.

    This year’s project is to help with a CTA program called Mobile4All.  Several companies have donated phones that will be given to the homeless, and students are going to be coding apps for those phones that will help the users find services, food, and shelter. At the hackathon, they divide into teams (or work on their own) to create apps.

    “These kids are really savvy,” said Silvia Figueira, associate professor of computer engineering. She is head of the University’s Mobile Lab, which does mobile development for social benefit, finding ways to use mobile technology to help poor communities in Africa and Asia. “They know beforehand what the problem is to solve. They organize themselves. It’s amazing what they can do in 24 hours.”

    The hackathon is a student-led effort, with students doing everything from recruiting participants to ordering food.

    Vincente Ciancio ’16, a computer science and engineering major, organized both last year’s and this year’s hackathon. He said the focus on helping the homeless gets students to think beyond the apps they would use and consider a different perspective. “For the Hack for the Homeless, you have to think, over 60 percent have cellular phones, but only half of those have access to data,” Ciancio said.

    “What kind of apps can we create that don’t need data?” Although it may seem counterintuitive that someone who can’t afford rent would have a phone, Figueira said a number of services help people pay for phones, since they can be an important tool in rebuilding a stable life.

    “How do you get a job if you don’t have a phone?” Figueira said. “The phones can help them get out of poverty. They can also talk to friends and family, which helps prevent isolation.”

    One benefit of the project is that it brings together students studying computer engineering with those studying computer science in the College of Arts and Sciences, said Natalie Linnell, lecturer in the mathematics and computer science department.

    “One of the things that employers are looking for is experience working on projects that are larger than some of the things we do in a lot of classwork,” said Linnell. “Working on a hackathon is an opportunity for students to be exposed to larger projects.”

    The University has two goals for the hackathon, Linnell said: to provide an enriching experience for undergraduates, and to advance the work of the partner organization—in this case, CTA and its work on technology for the homeless.

    Students donate the code they write to the University, which donates it to the nonprofit interested in deploying it. The code produced at the hackathon is more like a prototype, not ready to use.

    Judges watch a demonstration from each group at the end, rating the projects on criteria such as user interface, functionality, and level of difficulty. The first place prize last year was $1,000.

  •  SCU's Ethics Bowl Team Advances to National Competition

    Santa Clara’s ethics bowl team joins 31 other universities in national competition

    After beating more than a dozen teams in analyzing ethical questions such as whether children should be able to choose euthanasia or whether “Batkid Day” was an appropriate use of state funds, Santa Clara University’s Ethics Bowl team is headed on to the national Ethics Bowl competition Feb. 22 in Costa Mesa, California. 

    SCU’s team placed third in the California Regional Tournament of the Ethics Bowl. That qualifies them to square off against 31 other teams at the national competition.

    “We’re extremely proud of our students for demonstrating a thoughtful and creative approach to ethics, which won over the judges in Santa Barbara,” said Kirk Hanson, executive director of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, which co-sponsors the team with the SCU philosophy department.

    Ethics Bowl is a team-based competition in which students analyze ethical cases in areas such as business, personal relationships, or social and political affairs. During the competition, teams offer their moral analysis and answer questions about cases they are given. Judges evaluate teams based on the quality, relevance, and logical rigor of their analysis.

    SCU’s ethics team went 3-0 in the preliminary rounds of the California Regional in December, placing third in the tournament.

    Team members Ryan Barry, Paris Coyne, Stephanie Thatcher, Eric Johnson, Kelly Shi, Kat DeLong, Alex Arnold, and Andrew Weaver worked intensely throughout the fall to prepare for competition. They studied cases and practiced arguments as part of the philosophy department’s Ethics Bowl course (Philosophy 180), a new five-unit course that deals with ethical theory and argumentation. SCU faculty helped by participating as mock judges in November practice sessions.

    The team was instructed and coached by Erick Ramirez, assistant professor of philosophy; Brian Green, assistant director of campus ethics programs at the Markkula Center and engineering lecturer; and Patrick Coutermarsh, business ethics program coordinator at the Markkula Center.

    SCU’s team will be joined at the national competition by two other California schools: Azusa Pacific University and Cal Poly Pomona.

  •  Opportunity and Transformation

    Pulitzer Prize winning women’s and human rights advocate, Sheryl WuDunn, speaks at SCU Feb. 12

    SCU’s Public Health Program will feature Sheryl WuDunn as its inaugural Valeriote Goldman Symposium on Public Health speaker, discussing global citizenship and how one can make a difference through activism and philanthropy. Those topics are from her new book with her husband, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity.

    The event is being held at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 12 at the Louis B. Mayer Theatre. Free tickets are available online.

    “Santa Clara’s Public Health Program seeks to educate our students on health, science, and environmental and social factors influencing human well-being,” said Craig Stephens, chair of the program. “We are honored and excited to have such an accomplished and dedicated advocate for global health on campus to bring these issues alive.”

    WuDunn is a business executive, journalist, and bestselling author, as well as the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, stemming from reporting by her and Kristof on China’s Tiananmen Square protests. WuDunn and Kristof also have co-authored several bestselling books, including the widely acclaimed Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which has helped bring international attention to the plight, needs, and economic potential for women in developing countries. 

    With her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and an MPA from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, she currently works with entrepreneurs in new media, media technology, and social enterprise. She also runs FullSky Capital, which focuses on socially driven investing.

  •  Alexander Law Center’s Lynette Parker Receives Top FBI Award

    Lynette Parker recognized for more than a decade of advocacy for victims of human trafficking

    Nearly 15 years ago, a young woman walked into the Katharine and George Alexander Law Center, seeking immigration-law advice from attorney Lynette Parker and her students. A student noticed that the woman and her brother seemed to have been working under suspicious, possibly coerced circumstances. The young woman quickly became the Center’s first human-trafficking client.

    Parker would soon learn that human trafficking is a persistent problem in the Bay Area and beyond. Traffickers profit by forcing victims—who are often bought and sold like slaves—to work in service or hospitality jobs, as domestic servants, or sometimes in agricultural or sex-industry jobs, often under deplorable and abusive conditions.

    She has worked tirelessly ever since to combat human trafficking in myriad ways. She was honored for her advocacy and hard work by the FBI at a Jan. 30 ceremony before a roomful of colleagues, current and former students, and community supporters, where she received the 2014 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award from the FBI San Francisco Field Office. The award is given annually to individuals and organizations that make extraordinary contributions to crime and violence prevention and education in their communities.

    Among Parker’s outstanding work on human-trafficking issues: 
    *In 2005, she helped form the multi-agency South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, which meets monthly and shares information and resources to meet the housing, legal, and support needs of victims.
    *She and other coalition members have spoken before hundreds of social-services, legal, and other groups to educate them on the problems, signs, and resources for trafficking victims.
    *She’s referred numerous cases to law enforcement, helping the San Francisco FBI office launch at least two major trafficking-ring investigations.
    *She and her team have helped more than 80 families get “T-Visas” that enable them to stay in the U.S. legally while trafficking cases are prosecuted.
    *She has helped launch numerous classes at Santa Clara University dealing with human trafficking.

    “It is an honor and a privilege to recognize Lynette Parker for her contributions to the community, to end human trafficking,” said San Francisco FBI Field Office Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson.  “Her advocacy to address victim needs such as housing, employment, and immigration issues embody the true meaning of this award. The FBI commends Parker for her immeasurable work, resulting in two of the San Francisco Field Office’s most significant and impactful human trafficking investigations. This kind of partnership is rarely seen, and it is that kind of significant involvement that helps the FBI perform its civil rights mission.”

    “I am so proud of the work our office has done in partnership with the FBI to identify human trafficking victims and to serve them through a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach,” said Parker, who noted her surprise and gratitude for being nominated. “This award recognizes the importance of our collective efforts.”

  •  Engineering the Perfect Children’s Book

    Carol Reiley ’04 blends science and art to write a book helping kids view failure as a stepping stone to success

    Exercise will make you smart—if it’s your brain getting the workout. That’s the message behind a new children’s book by SCU alumna Carol Reiley ’04 (computer engineering).

    Her book, Making a Splash, is due out in February. In academic terms, the book promotes the concept of a growth mindset—a belief that intelligence and talent are not fixed at birth, but through hard work can be learned and developed for unlimited human potential. The book helps children (and their parents) grasp this notion through a simple, colorfully illustrated story featuring two siblings learning to swim.

    Growth mindset is not a new theory, but when Reiley went looking for a related book to read to her young niece a few years ago, she couldn’t find one. She decided to write her own storybook and last November launched a funding campaign through Kickstarter. Her project reached and surpassed its goal in 20 days.

    “One of the reasons the book succeeded was because there’s nothing out there like it now,” she explained. “All the literature about growth mindset is written for adults. Kids need real-world examples … instead of just telling them to persevere when things get tough or that your brain grows when you struggle, you have to step them through concrete examples. What better way than through stories?”

    After graduating from SCU, Reiley earned a master’s degree in computer science at Johns Hopkins University and is now completing a Ph.D. program while working at a robotics startup in the Bay Area. Her research interests include designing and testing surgical robotics, surgical skill evaluation, and human-robot interfaces. She is also the founder of Tinkerbelle Labs.

    “Looking back, I think there’s a strong tie between growth mindset and my own education,” she noted. “I love being on the steep slope of the learning curve.”

    As an SCU undergraduate, Reiley recalled how she put her brain through its paces. “One good piece of advice I received was to always be learning something new and to get in that novice mindset. It keeps you inquisitive and sharp and pervades every aspect of your life.”

    Fear of failure, she said, sabotages the growth mindset and leads to people regretting things they haven’t done. “I always view risk as an opportunity to learn,” she noted. “Engineering and entrepreneurship are incremental, so you’re constantly failing and needing to get back up. At Santa Clara, I took upper level classes not just in my major, but in biology, law, and business for fun. Those short courses really gave me a chance to grow and see things from a wider perspective.”

    Scientist that she is, Reiley took a “prototype approach” in developing her book, testing it in classrooms and homes across the country. “After each iteration, I’d go back and tweak the book and go back and test. We finally got a version that kids and parents loved.” The book is being sold on Amazon and through the website, Her second children’s story is planned for release in a few months.

    For now, Reiley hopes Making a Splash will help young readers understand that “it’s not about how smart you are; it’s about how smart you can become,” and to view failure as a stepping stone to greater things, not a stumbling block.

    “I grew up in a trophy generation,” she said. “I think we need to switch to a culture where we accept mistakes and encourage risk-taking instead of collecting trophies.”

  •  SCU Thought Leaders Showcased

    A new blog gives a platform to 12 leaders in SCU’s community of faculty, staff, and alumni

    Santa Clara University’s Alumni Association recently launched Illuminate—a blog showcasing bright ideas from SCU thought leaders. The 12 initial thought leaders represent faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as a broad mix of schools, departments, and topics.

    Current posts explore topics like: the physics of temperature, the psychology behind a job interview, understanding the Millennial generation, and Pope Francis’s effect on Catholicism.

    “We wanted to engage alumni in a unique way and establish Santa Clara as relevant in their everyday life,” said Kathy Kale, assistant vice president of Alumni Relations. “The excitement about Illuminate from alumni and the University at large proves there’s a real interest in sharing great work and ideas within our Bronco community. We hope the site encourages lifelong learning and enhances our reputation as a distinctive University.”

    The Illuminate website makes it simple for folks to share articles on social media or via email. Share Illuminate with your network of friends and family today! (

    The Alumni Association plans to expand the number of thought leaders to include more departments and areas of expertise in the coming months. If you have any suggestions on topics or a thought leader recommendation, please contact Melissa Brotherton (

  •  New Class of Social Entrepreneurs

    Twenty Social Entrepreneurs Chosen for the Class of 2015 Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) Accelerator

    Twenty social entrepreneurs, working all over the world from Namibia to Nepal, have been selected to receive mentoring, training, and on-campus instruction as part of the Global Social Benefit Institute’s (GSBI) 13th annual GSBI Accelerator program.

    The entrepreneurs are using nonprofit or for-profit businesses to help solve major social problems, which include unsanitary water conditions, lack of employment or business opportunities, youth unemployment, and maternal health care.

    Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society has been training social entrepreneurs online and in-person since 2003.

    “The incredible sophistication and accomplishments of this year’s class of social entrepreneurs is a reflection of the maturation of the social entrepreneurship field,” said Cassandra Staff, director of GSBI programs at Santa Clara. “We are very excited to play a role in helping them reach their goals for scale and impact.”

    The acclaimed Accelerator program pairs one leader from each social enterprise with two experienced, startup-savvy Silicon Valley executives and advisers for a total of 10 months. The aim is to help the entrepreneurs focus on and solve the largest obstacles keeping their businesses from “scaling,” or reaching exponentially more beneficiaries.

    Read more at:

  •  Grants, Awards, and Publications

    SCU faculty and staff receive recognition for their outstanding work

    Angelo Collins (Education and Counseling Psychology) has received $100,000 from the Sobrato Family Foundation to support "Excellence in Catholic Education and Leadership ExCEL Program". This award, which is the result of collaboration by many individuals,  will support the School of Education and Counseling Psychology in the design and launch of a new program, Excellence in Catholic Education and Leadership (ExCEL).  ExCEL is designed to increase the number of high-quality, credentialed teachers initially serving Catholic School classrooms in the Diocese of San Jose. Focusing on schools that enroll a high proportion of underrepresented Latino children, ExCEL adapts an innovative operational model pioneered by the University Consortium for Catholic Education (UCCE) that helps overcome traditional barriers to attracting and retaining top college graduates to Catholic school teaching careers. Through direct partnerships with local dioceses, this model creates a pathway for aspiring teachers to be concurrently admitted into a university master’s degree program and assigned a supervised teaching placement at an appropriate parochial school site. ExCEL also addresses the cost of tuition and housing, fosters spiritual growth, develops a sense of self in community and prepares graduates to meet the eligibility requirements for a California Teaching Credential.

    Tim Myers (English) has had a new book of adult poetry, Nectar of Story, accepted by BlazeVox Press.  His "A Death-Defying Love:  Versions of the Orpheus Myth" appears on the Los Angeles Review of Book site, his essays "Cordal's Skeletal People" and "Excusing the Sins of the Father" are at, and "Do We Underestimate the Power of Story?" is part of "Reading Today Online" from the International Reading Association.  His "Cousins to Siblings:  Storytellers and the Literary World" appeared in Storytelling Magazine.  He's also published poems with Writing the Whirlwind and Dappled Things and satirical pieces with and and

  •  Celebrating 60 Years

    The de Saisset Museum: six decades of art, history, and community

    In February 1972, visitors attending the opening of a special exhibition entered the de Saisset Museum and came face to face with a little Fiat 500 parked on a beautiful 19th century rug. Behind the wheel sat San Francisco artist Tom Marioni, sipping champagne with the driver’s window rolled down. In the back seat was a microphone and in one corner of the gallery was a video camera. The installation was called “My First Car,” and as the tape rolled, people came up to the window and talked to the artist.

    Today the video from that 40-year-old exhibit can be found in the de Saisset’s permanent collection, along with 280 other rare videos and films that represent the museum’s pioneering efforts to acquire and showcase video art when the medium was still in its experimental stage.

    “It really was a game-changer,” said Chris Sicat, exhibition project coordinator at the de Saisset. “In many ways that video represents to me the museum’s first attempt to embrace contemporary issues; it also shifted the public to participate in the actual production of the work itself—a foreshadowing of social practice in the arts today.”

    This month, Santa Clara University’s on-campus museum will celebrate its 60th anniversary. Reflecting on that milestone, staff members spoke about the museum’s collection—now numbering more than 11,600 pieces—and noted some of the items especially dear to their hearts. For Sicat, it’s that snip of video art from the early ’70s. For Lindsey Kouvaris, assistant director of exhibitions and programs, it’s an “elegant and enticing” gelatin silver print called “Cactus” by the late California photographer Wynn Bullock, “who was on par with artists like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Imogen Cunningham, but whose work is not as broadly known.” And for Museum Director Rebecca Schapp, who has served the de Saisset for 32 years, it’s the prominent Ohlone tule house replica, emblematic of the museum’s focus on California history.

    “I was here in the mid-1980s when the house was built on-site,” she recalled. “It was a community engaged project. Our contract specialist and museum volunteers were involved in the collecting and drying of tule reeds. Over a three-day period the construction process was open to the public with the culmination of Ohlone descendants performing a ritual blessing of the house; that was a goosebumps moment for me.” Today, the authentic tule house “continues to tell the story” of Santa Clara Valley’s first inhabitants, she explained.

    In its 60-year existence, the de Saisset has had only eight directors. When Schapp arrived on the scene in 1982, she said the museum’s holdings included about 8,000 pieces. Today, that number has increased by 50 percent, with the largest segment of the collection consisting of works on paper—prints, photographs, drawings.

    The entire eclectic collection includes scores of fascinating art and historical pieces, from 17th century paintings and liturgical vestments to 21st century prints and sculptures. Every century and art movement in between is represented, with works by both internationally renowned and under-recognized artists.

    Schapp said the museum’s charter comes directly from its benefactor, Isabel de Saisset, who, upon her death in 1950, bequeathed property to the University for a museum “of high repute” in honor of her deceased brother.

    The de Saisset Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1955. “For more than two decades the focus was on art. Prior to the museum opening, Santa Clara University had the Galtes Museum located in the basement of O’Connor Hall. Over time the accumulation and exhibition presentation of Santa Clara Mission artifacts grew,” explained Schapp.

    While the museum is certainly distinguished by its significant holdings, Schapp said there are many other reasons why, during the past six decades, the de Saisset has become such a special place for the SCU community and for Bay Area residents.

    “We’re a university museum, employing 15 to 20 students who learn professional museum practices on a daily basis,” she said. The museum’s mission to educate also extends beyond the campus, to thousands of school children who visit every year and see California history come alive on docent-led tours.

    “Throughout the years, the de Saisset’s commitment to emerging artists has been to help with establishing their careers,” said Schapp. The museum mounts approximately 13 exhibitions each year with a focus on California artists. The exhibitions showcase the diversity of art and history, address issues in contemporary society, and highlight the strengths of the permanent collection.

    The SCU facility is distinguished among other museums as well. It was the first of only three museums in the South Bay to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM); it is one of only 60 accredited museums in the state. The de Saisset earned that rating in 1979, and to maintain the prestigious status, it undergoes a rigorous re-accreditation process every 10 years.

    According to Ford W. Bell, AAM president, the significance of museum accreditation is not to be taken lightly. “Attaining accreditation involves taking a hard look at yourself, allowing your peers in the field to do the same, and being judged to be superior in all areas. The Santa Clara community can take great pride in the fact that their local institution is one of America’s premier museums.”

  •  Can’t Thread a Moving Needle

    Santa Clara University debuts new tool to combat sexual violence

    Santa Clara University is unveiling a first-of-its kind tool in combatting sexual assault on college campuses. Can’t Thread a Moving Needle is a complex and intriguing film adapted from the play written by SCU Theatre Professor Barbara Means Fraser. Much like The Laramie Project, the play was written based on interviews of victims, survivors, perpetrators, family, friends, counselors, professors, and attorneys. Fraser, one alumnus and nine students from her Playwright’s Workshop course, gathered stories and commentary from over 100 people from a variety of states, including California, South Dakota, Texas and New York.

    “We believe this project will help reduce sexual attacks on campuses across the country,” says playwright and SCU Theatre Professor Barbara Fraser. “While the horrific truth is we’re a long way from stopping sexual violence altogether, Can’t Thread a Moving Needle really forces members of the campus community to think about situations they encounter daily and what role they play in keeping each other safe.”

    Beginning in 2008, Santa Clara University freshmen watched the play as part of their orientation to the University, and the vast majority say they would recommend it to a friend. The movie is also available on a free website with other sexual assault prevention and education resources. The interactive site will also be a resource to help universities comply with the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE Act.)

    “This movie is a means to engage people in conversation about a very difficult topic,” says Matthew Duncan, associate dean for SCU’s Division of Student Life. “A big part of Jesuit education is going beyond that and engaging in action to make a difference in the lives of others and our communities. We are proud of the potential this project has to make that kind of difference.”

    The play was written in 2007 after SCU received a “Reducing Violence Against Women” grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. A grant awarded in 2013 from the AVON Foundation for Women made the production of the movie possible this summer. The movie premiered at a private event on campus and was made available free to the public and other colleges and universities online on January 12.

    “Sexual assault is everyone’s problem. It’s not a women’s issue or a men’s issue, but everyone’s issue,” says Director of Can’t Thread a Moving Needle and SCU Communication Professor Mike Whalen. “To make a film that will help more people recognize that has been a rewarding journey. “

    View the trailer:

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