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.

  •  Time to Shine

    The 2013 SCU Solar Decathlon team builds on the University’s legacy

    The 2013 Santa Clara University Solar Decathlon team is in its final push to bring home a first place finish. The team is currently at the site of the international competition in Irvine, where they are rebuilding Radiant House, SCU’s newest entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. 

    Twenty college teams from Arizona to Austria are competing to design, build, and operate the most cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered house. The teams will show off their hard work at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., Oct. 3 through 13.

    This is the third time that a team from SCU has competed in the Solar Decathlon. In previous years, Santa Clara’s entries received impressive third-place awards, besting larger technical colleges and top-ranked universities from around the world. 

    “In 2007 the team focus was on engineering. In 2009, it was on design. This year, we’re shooting for the best of both worlds,” explained Jake Gallau, the student project manager for Radiant House. “Our solar house will be about 20 percent bigger than the last one and will be built for about two-thirds of the cost.” The frugal $300,000 construction budget will garner high marks from decathlon judges, who assign points in 10 competitive categories.

    Beyond affordability, Radiant House has other attributes that set it apart from its predecessors, according to Gallau, who will graduate in June with a degree in mechanical engineering. He cited a number of advanced technological features throughout the structure, right up to the rooftop.

    “In designing this year’s house, we made a conscious decision to innovate,” he explained. “We looked at technology that we liked and tried to find ways to improve it to meet our needs. We didn’t want to just use existing bells and whistles; our goal was to build a modern home that people would actually want to live in.”

    Up on the roof

    In searching for other ways to reduce material costs and apply effective technologies to their design, students found an all-in-one roof structure by Sunplanter with built-in solar panel rails. A passive cooling system below the panels prevents overheating, while the rails capture and divert heat from the warm air circulating below the panels. This pre-heated air is sent to Radiant House’s clothes dryer, which uses up to 20 percent less energy than a traditional dryer.

    The solar panels are connected in a series, explained Gallau, and if a panel is underperforming, an energy optimization system creates a bypass option for that panel. This allows the photovoltaic roof array to operate at its full potential. “At any time, a resident can log into an account and see a graphical display with real-time energy output for every panel,” he said. “It’s one more user interface tied into the control system."

    Blowing hot and cold

    In most homes, ambient air is used to heat and cool interiors. SCU students designed their model with radiant panels that use hot water to heat the house and cold water to cool it. Developed by Messana Air-Ray Conditioning, the method creates a more uniform air flow without the usual blasts of air found in traditional systems. “A forced-air system dries you out,” said Gallau. “It may give you instant relief, but it’s not as comfortable as our system.” Student engineers say that not only is their water system highly efficient, it is also less expensive than standard HVAC options.

    Banking on bamboo

    Perhaps the most innovative design feature of Radiant House is its use of bamboo as a construction material throughout the entire building. Typically relegated to flooring and decking, bamboo has a much larger role in Radiant House. Raw, unprocessed (and therefore more sustainable) bamboo can be found in the house’s joists, stud walls, and shear walls. “It’s strong and lightweight, and the industry has spent the last 10 years trying to make it a structural building element,” said Gallau. “We found a way to do that; we’ve done the testing, submitted the paperwork, and matched all of the elements required by the building code.”

    Normally the round shape of bamboo and its hollow culms, or stems, make the plant viable for forming “tiki hut-type structures” in tropical lands, but not for building much in other parts of the world, according to Gallau. Through a faculty member in SCU’s civil engineering department, the student team found a type of bamboo in Vietnam that makes the plant far more useful.

    “It’s a particular strain of bamboo, smaller—about an inch around instead of three inches—and with a solid, not hollow culm,” Gallau explained. Because bamboo is both elegant and highly sustainable, it is usually integrated in some way within most solar house entries. But Gallau said Radiant House is the first to fully use the plant’s potential as a construction material. “With the type of bamboo we’re using, we can square off a large piece and make one-inch rods that can be woven together for a flat surface,” he explained. “It’s much less labor-intensive than chopping up chunks and gluing pieces together.”

    Throughout the process of designing and building the 1,000-square-foot, net zero energy house, Gallau said three words have guided the effort: efficiency, elegance, and economy. During the past 18 months, about 200 undergraduate students, faculty, staff, community sponsors, and industry advisors have contributed in some way to the project.

    Charles “Charlie” Hernandez, a construction manager for Plant Construction in San Francisco, is on the decathlon team’s advisory committee. He said the students’ work will be valuable experience in the field. “Learning and constructing leading-edge building technology at this early point in their lives will allow them to join Bay Area builders in the near future, engaging quickly to have an impact on the sustainable and innovated delivery of construction.” A board member for the SCU Bronco Builders Association, Hernandez said he’s enjoyed observing the students. “It’s been fun to watch Jake and his core team plan and implement a very detailed schedule while learning about real life challenges.”

    Gallau heads a primary group of sub-team leaders in charge of everything from plumbing to public relations. He said 25 students were hired to work over the summer and many more labor on voluntarily. “Everyone,” he noted, “is in love with this project.”

    Radiant House Fine Points

    • 964-square-foot house featuring an open, modern design for sustainable California lifestyle
    • Native, drought-resistant landscaping surrounding the house
    • Sustainably sourced furnishings and unique, repurposed fixtures
    • House’s entire center module can be opened to the outside by pressing a button, increasing living and entertainment space
    • User-friendly control system with simple, large icons provides feedback on home energy use and suggestions for saving energy
    • Design incorporates an electric fueling station where a new, all-electric Nissan Leaf will be parked during the competition
    • SCU team promotes solar energy education in dozens of elementary school classrooms by using video conferencing to show youngsters how Radiant House is taking shape. See the last one here!
    For more updates follow the School or Engineering's Solar Decathlon Blog and the team's Facebook Page.

     More on the Team's Design:


    Top five reasons Governor Brown should visit Radiant House:

  •  Walk This Way

    Palm Drive Turns into Pedestrian Mall

    SCU community members returning this quarter were greeted with a beautiful new makeover on Palm Drive. The street that leads to Mission Church from El Camino Real is now a pedestrian walkway and will be complete with a beautiful new fountain in November.

    The change will make the campus safer for pedestrians and will allow visitors to focus on the beauty of the Mission Church instead of on traffic and parked cars.

    Alviso Street is also now one way: Traffic enters campus from the north on Franklin Street and exits onto Santa Clara Street at the south end. After commencement in 2014, Alviso Street will close as well. It will reopen as a pedestrian mall after Labor Day in 2014.

    A new parking structure will open along Franklin Street on November 15 creating more parking spaces than were lost following the street closures. More handicapped parking spaces are also being added throughout campus. All the pedestrian malls are accessible to emergency vehicles, and Palm Drive is still available for some ceremonial events.

  •  Exploring Shared Values

    2013 President’s Speaker Series kicks off with sold-out lecture and an added event

    During this year’s President’s Speaker Series, audiences will be taken inside the White House after the 9/11 attacks, discuss the relationship between professional sports teams and their communities, and explore the gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to Muslims in America. 

    The series enters its eighth year and will feature former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York, and author Eboo Patel offering their perspectives on this year’s theme: “Shared Values in the World, the Nation, and the Community.”

    All events will be held in the Louis B. Mayer Theatre. General admission tickets are $25 each and available to staff and faculty at a discounted rate of $20. Tickets for the Condoleezza Rice event is sold out. For tickets or more information, go to or call 408-554-4015. 

    Special Event with Reza Aslan Added

    A special, free-admission event has been added to this year’s lineup. Reza Aslan, author of the New York Times and Amazon No. 1 best-seller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, will be on campus for a conversation with Catherine Murphy, author of The Historical Jesus for Dummies, on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. The event will be held at the Louis B. Mayer Theatre. No ticket is required.


  •  New Rankings

    U.S. News & World Report Ranks Santa Clara No. 2 in the West

    Santa Clara University’s School of Engineering is now in the top 10 undergraduate engineering programs offered by master’s universities across the country. In the newly released U.S. News & World Report rankings, SCU jumped four spots to No. 10.

    “This is an important milestone for our engineering program as we continue to gain national recognition for our commitment to engineering with a mission,” says School of Engineering Dean Godfrey Mungal. “With our mix of Jesuit, Catholic values, rigorous coursework, and hands-on, project-based learning, Santa Clara University educates engineers of integrity, who are engaged citizens of the world."

    Santa Clara University maintained its second place overall among master’s universities in the West. Santa Clara’s overall score has dramatically increased to 99 out of 100 from a score of 90 just five years ago. At 94 percent, SCU has the highest freshman retention rate of any master’s university in the country and maintains an 86-percent graduation rate.

    SCU also made great strides in several key areas this year.

    • 81 percent of SCU freshman were in the top 25 percent of their high school class in 2012, up from 75 percent in 2011.
    • More students recognize the quality of an SCU education and are applying. SCU’s acceptance rate dropped 3 percent.
    • SCU cultivates proud and generous alumni and saw an increase in average alumni giving from 18 percent to 20 percent. 

    Santa Clara University also made the list of “Great Schools at Great Prices.”

    The Top Five Master’s Universities in the West

    1. Trinity University (Texas), score: 100 

    2. Santa Clara University (Calif.), score: 99

    3. Loyola Marymount University (Calif.), score: 92

    4. Gonzaga University (Wash.), score: 87

    5. Mills College (Calif.), score: 86

  •  Grants, Awards, and Publications

    David Hess (Biology) has received an additional $153,782 funding from the National Science Foundation to support "RUI: Utilization of Natural Variation in Domesticated Strains of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae to Elucidate Metabolic Specialization." Total funds awarded to date now total $470,971.

    Robert Henry (Chief Information Security Officer) made two presentations at the EDUCAUSE Security Professionals Conference in St. Louis, April 15–17. Henry's topics were "Securing Information Stored in Google Apps," co-presented with Cloudlock, and "When to Declare an Information Security Incident and How to Respond When You Do," co-presented with Dr. Kees Leune, CISO at Adelphi University in New York. The Security Professionals Conference was attended by 500 higher education information security practitioners from North America, Asia, and Europe.

    Farid Senzai (Political Science) and Hatem Bazian researched the Muslim community in the Bay Area. His study, The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Identity and Community, was featured in a ISPU (Institute for Social Policy and Understanding) news report release.

    Michael Whalen (Communication) has received recognition from ESPN Deportes. His film Gringos at the Gate will be featured as part of their next season.

    Dale Larson (Counseling Psychology) made two presentations: “Secrets at the end of life,” at the 35th Annual Conference of the Association for Death Education and Counseling on April 24 and "A person-centered approach to grief counseling," at the 27th Meeting of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement on April 30 in Victoria, BC, Canada.

    Angelo Ancheta (School of Law) has received $15,066 from the International Institute of the Bay Area to support “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” This grant will help provide legal services toward undocumented youth who are eligible for the Obama Administration's “deferred action” initiative for undocumented youth who were brought to this country as children.

    Alma Garcia (Sociology) was awarded the national Susan Koppelman Award for Best Anthology for “Contested Images: Women of Color and Popular Cultures.” 

    Justin Boren (Communication) co-authored a study published in the April 2013 issue of Southern Communication Journal called “Examining the Relationships Among Peer Resentment Messages Overheard, State Guilt, and Employees’ Perceived Ability to use Work/Family Policies.”

    Tim Myers (English) had four new children's books accepted by various publishers. An excerpt from his Glad to Be Dad coming out in September in the New York Times parenting blog. He was a runner-up for the 2013 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for fiction, and has also placed three poems, one short story, and five non-fiction pieces in various periodicals. 

    Please submit your grants, awards and publications to

  •  Panetta's Advice for the Class of 2013

    Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivered the 162nd Commencement address at Santa Clara University on June 15, 2013. Panetta received his bachelor's degree in political science and his law degree from SCU. He also met his wife of nearly 50 years, Sylvia, on campus. Hear the story of how they met, Panetta's bright forecast for SCU students and his plea for students to hold politicians accountable.

  •  Talkin' Turkey


    One new SCU grad prepares to use his Fulbright award to teach English

    Aven Satre-Meloy, class of 2013, took two courses during his sophomore year that sparked an interest in Turkey—and ultimately led to his winning a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in that country for next year.

    After Satre-Meloy graduates with a double major in political science and environmental studies, he will go to Turkey for nine months to assist English professors at the university level. Satre-Meloy, who is from Helena, Mont., is also completing a minor in international studies. He doesn’t know yet where he will be in Turkey, though it will likely be in one of the country's smaller town.

    As a sophomore at Santa Clara, Satre-Meloy took courses in world geography and Middle Eastern politics.

    “In both of those we were given flexible projects to write term papers on,” Satre-Meloy said. “In both I decided to write specifically about Turkey.”

    This led to his interest in the Global Fellows Program run by the Leavey School of Business, which places students (from both the business school and other parts of the University) in internationally focused summer internships.

    As part of the program, Satre-Meloy spent six weeks in Turkey between his sophomore and junior years, interning for a nonprofit cultural foundation. He also learned to speak a small amount of Turkish. When he returns to the country this fall, he hopes to take lessons to learn the language.

    The six-week program gave Satre-Meloy a taste of intercultural interaction, and he came away wanting more. “I was really interested in interacting with students who lived in Turkey their whole lives,” he said.

    The Fulbright program’s English Teaching Assistantships seemed like a good way to pursue this goal. The program places English teaching assistants in dozens of countries. Applicants apply for positions in particular countries, so they have to explain their interest in the country where they hope to teach.

    Satre-Meloy views teaching English as an important tool for increasing cross-cultural understanding. Because the teaching assistants are native speakers, professors often rely on them to spend a lot of time conversing with students in English. Satre-Meloy hopes to use discussions of current events and American news to increase not only his students’ language proficiency but also their cultural knowledge of the United States.

    Satre-Meloy’s strong academic record in a broad range of coursework—and his ability to see connections between different subjects—made him a strong candidate, said Dennis Gordon, professor and chair of political science. Gordon wrote a letter of support for Satre-Meloy’s application.

    “What struck me was the ability to combine the technical part of environmental studies with his interest in policy,” Gordon said.

    Although Satre-Meloy’s primary responsibility will be teaching, some teaching assistants are able to do research as well. He hopes to have the opportunity to research the intersection of religion and politics in Turkey.

    “Turkey is a secular and democratic nation, but they have seen a transition back toward a more religiously conservative government,” Satre-Meloy said. “I’m going to be looking at that, and at what people’s experiences with religion are in a country that is secular and democratic.”

    With so many interests, Satre-Meloy has a number of ideas about his long-term goals. “I am very interested in this aspect of cultural exchange and cultural dialogue and am potentially interested in looking at where I could fill a role in public service,” Satre-Meloy said. But he is also interested in environmental issues, including solar power. Graduate school in international relations, public policy, or possibly law is a possibility in a few years.

    “These experiences are going to help me confirm and narrow down what I’ll be doing,” Satre-Meloy said.

  •  Grants, Awards, and Publications

    David Hess (Biology) has received an additional $153,782 funding from the National Science Foundation to support "RUI: Utilization of Natural Variation in Domesticated Strains of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae to Elucidate Metabolic Specialization." Funds awarded to date now total $470,971.

    Robert Henry (Chief Information Security Officer) made two presentations at the EDUCAUSE Security Professionals Conference in St. Louis, April 15–17. Henry's topics were "Securing Information Stored in Google Apps," co-presented with Cloudlock, and "When to Declare an Information Security Incident and How to Respond When You Do," co-presented with Dr. Kees Leune, CISO at Adelphi University in New York. The Security Professionals Conference was attended by 500 higher education information security practitioners from North America, Asia, and Europe.

    Farid Senzai (Political Science) and Hatem Bazian researched the Muslim Community in the Bay Area. His study, "The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Identity and Community," was featured in a ISPU (Institute for Social Policy and Understanding) news report release.

    Michael Whalen (Communication) has received recognition from ESPN Deportes. His film Gringos at the Gate will be a featured as part of their next season.

    Dale Larson (Counseling Psychology) made two presentations: "Secrets at the end of life," at the 35th Annual Conference of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, April 24 and "A person-centered approach to grief counseling," at the 27th Meeting of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement, April 30 in Victoria, BC, Canada.

    Angelo Ancheta (School of Law) has received $15,066 from the International Institute of the Bay Area to support "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals." This grant will help provide legal services toward undocumented youth who are eligible for the Obama Administration's "deferred action" initiative for undocumented youth brought to this country as children.

    Alma Garcia (Sociology) was awarded the national Susan Koppleman Award for Best Anthology for “Contested Images: Women of Color and Popular Cultures.”

    Justin Boren (Communication) co-authored a study published in the April 2013 issue of Southern Communication Journal called “Examining the Relationships Among Peer Resentment Messages Overheard, State Guilt, and Employees’ Perceived Ability to use Work/Family Policies.”

    Please submit your grants, awards and publications to

  •  All Ears for Arabic

    Fulbright scholar puts listening to the test to research cultural conflict in Jordan

    During her freshman orientation four years ago, political science major Emily Hawley ’13 told her advisor that she’d always been interested in Arabic. Professor Timothy Lukes “helped me get the courage to try it,” she recalled.

    That beginning language class led to a yearlong study abroad program in Jordan and then, this spring, to a prestigious Fulbright fellowship—one of the world’s most competitive awards for international education exchange. “My college years have always driven me toward the Middle East,” explained the honors student.

    Fulbright recipients design their own research projects, and when Emily leaves in mid-August for another year in Jordan, she’ll be equipped with a proficiency in Arabic, a list of Jordanian contacts, and a burning desire to test her theory that the country’s tribes have a leading role in the success or failure of democratic reforms.

    “When I was studying last year at the University of Jordan, I saw how tribal conflicts could so easily shut down the whole school,” she said. “It might just be someone throwing a snowball at the wrong person, but suddenly, havoc would break out.”

    The troublemakers, she explained, would be expelled, but then reinstated by the king, “because they came from powerful families.”

    Such incidents led Emily to wonder what influence Jordan’s strong tribal system has on promoting or impeding the democratic reforms promised by King Abdullah II. “It’s an under-researched topic; the tribes often have an incentive to keep the system at its status quo,” she noted.

    Emily’s academic curiosity puts her in a small circle of students Lukes considers to be his best. “Simply put, she is an intellectual,” he said. “It speaks well of her Jordanian hosts that they are disposed to receive this perceptive and inquisitive scholar.”

    Emily will tackle her research project during the second half of her stay, after spending several months in intensive Arabic classes in the capital city of Amman. She plans to travel throughout the country, talking and listening to the people she meets.

    “It will be important to approach this topic of tribal influence with a lot of awareness,” she explained. “It’s easy for an outsider to offend, but I’m a good listener and the connections I’ve made will help.” One of those connections is Mohammad Momani, a high-level government official recently appointed to the king’s Cabinet, who will help guide her research.

    “Jordan is a nation of storytellers; they are great hosts,” Emily said, “and many will be happy to talk to me.” In addition, she noted that she’ll back up her conversations with statistical evidence in an effort to quantify her findings.

    After spending so much time already in Jordan, Emily isn’t worried about traveling independently. “Jordan is safe as long as you take precautions; you have to know when taking public transportation is okay and when hiring a car is better,” she explained.

    Her focus will be on maintaining the right mental attitude and developing “a higher consciousness of the Middle East,” a goal she believes to be critical for all Americans. Eventually, she hopes her research and experiences in Jordan will lead to work with the U.S. Foreign Service.  

    While Emily will miss not being able to wear shorts when she goes running—in fact, she’ll need to be totally covered, even in the hottest weather—she said there is much to look forward to in Jordan. “I really love the people and I’m eager for the interaction with them; they are truly amazing, so hospitable and generous.” And then, there’s the food.

    “They do wonderful things with the simplest ingredients, like pita and hummus; we don’t have anything like it here.”

    The next fyi will feature Fulbright recipient Aven Satre-Meloy. Find out how he will use the grant to teach English in Turkey.

  •  Silicon Valley Inspiration

    Google’s top legal officer has advice for 2013 SCU Law graduates

    What is difficult and worthwhile “always seems impossible until it’s done,” Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond told the 340 graduating students from Santa Clara University School of Law.

    The law school’s commencement took place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 25, in the University’s Mission Gardens. Drummond, a 1985 undergraduate alumnus of Santa Clara University, is senior vice president and chief legal officer of Google, where he leads the company’s global teams for legal, communications, government relations, and corporate and new business development. He joined Google in 2002 as vice president of corporate development from a partnership position at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

    Speaking on a sunny breezy morning, Drummond drew his quote from South Africa’s famed Nelson Mandela, telling graduates that in activities from advocating against apartheid on Santa Clara University’s campus in 1981 to helping Google decide in 2010 to pull its search engine out of China over its repressive activities, “it’s always  impossible until it’s done.”

    He added that change doesn’t have to come from outside agitation. “Plenty of change can, and often is, sparked from the inside,” he said.

    He said of Google—which he noted is a giant company despite its casual dress, free food, and pinball machines—“because it’s a big company doesn’t mean I can’t fight to make sure that this big company sticks to its principles, that its continual march toward openness and progress and fairness mirrors the marches I participated in 30 years ago on this campus.”

    Drummond served as Google’s first outside counsel, and worked with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to incorporate the company and secure its initial rounds of financing.

    He encouraged the students to speak up if they see justice under attack. “No matter how loud the beliefs roil inside of you, if you don’t speak up, no one will hear you.”

    Outgoing law school Dean Donald Polden acted as master of ceremonies, and University President Michael Engh, S.J., spoke to the graduates, urging them to “make our world better as people of conscience.”

    The graduating class comprised 48 percent women and 52 percent men. Half the graduates identified as Caucasian, with 31.5 percent identifying as Asian; 10 percent Hispanic; 5.5 percent multi-ethnic, and 2 percent African-American.

    Sixty-seven graduates received certificates in various areas of high-tech law; another 33 received certificates in public-interest and social-justice law; and 20 specialized in international law.

    Among the awards for outstanding graduates given earlier in the graduation season, student Taylor Victoria Young received the Inez Mabie Award for the Outstanding Graduate based on academic performance, scholarly activities, leadership, and service roles at the law school and in the community. Sepideh Mousakhani received the ALI-CLE Scholarship and Leadership Award, presented to a student who exemplifies exceptional character, leadership, and professionalism. Benjamin Broadmeadow received the Dean's Outstanding Student Leadership Award for his many contributions to the law school and the greater community.

    Drummond received an honorary doctorate of laws at the event. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Santa Clara University in 1985, and his J.D. from Stanford Law School.  He has been named to InsideCounsel’s Power Brokers list of the 50 most influential in-house attorneys in North America, and Ebony magazine’s Power 100.

  •  Smarts and Social Sense

    The Santa Clara University Alumni Association just wrapped up another successful season of its “Life After SCU” events. The series of events teaches graduating Broncos about everything from finances to theology of marriage to entertaining on a budget.

    “We already know Santa Clara University educates some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley,” says organizer Taylor Thorn, assistant director of Student and Young Alumni Programs. “These events allow them to relax and bond a little as they round out their SCU experience.”

    Check out highlights from one of the most popular events, Life After SCU: Wine Tasting.

  •  Blended Learning

    New School of Education and Counseling Psychology certification brings more tech and personalized learning to Catholic classrooms

    In a move designed to improve strategic outcomes at Catholic schools in the Diocese of San Jose, more than 100 teachers and administrators at seven area Catholic schools will participate in a year of professional development to receive a new Certificate in Blended Learning.

    The yearlong program is being offered starting June 2013 through a new Academy of Blended Learning, a collaboration between the Diocese of San Jose and the School of Education and Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University. The academy is part of the Saint Katharine Drexel School Initiative, an ongoing project to revitalize Catholic education in the Diocese of San Jose.

    Both the Drexel School Initiative and the academy are being funded by a generous grant from the Sobrato Family Foundation, as part of the foundation's commitment to leadership in "building a strong and vibrant Silicon Valley community." 

    Blended Learning

    “Blended learning” encompasses a set of tools and practices that aim to maximize the use of technology and advanced content to make students’ learning experience more flexible, personalized, and lasting. It has been shown through research and field experiences to be effective, efficient, and of greater relevance to students.

    “I am very excited about the possibility that teachers, students, and parents will all have an opportunity to learn in the most promising ways we have available today,” said Kathy Almazol, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of San Jose. “This really brings us into the 21st century, while still holding on to everything we love about Catholic schools.”

    The benefit of blended learning is to personalize the process so students learn what is important in the ways they can best learn, according to Steve Johnson, the director of the academy at Santa Clara University. It allows learners, and those who support their learning, to select from a very large set of content and tools, he said.

    “Learning and teaching have changed in today's world of ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning,” said Johnson. “Blended learning brings together the best of what teachers, parents, and classrooms have to offer, with the best that technology and the entire world can offer.”

    Educator Experience

    During their year in the academy, teachers and administrators who work with kindergartners through eighth graders will engage in their own personalized, blended learning experience, choosing from a rich menu of intensive summer workshops, ongoing support, and activities available throughout the year. 

    Because teachers in the participating schools have long blended face-to-face, digital, and community-based learning experiences, the academy will focus on more comprehensive and skillful use of technologies, particularly in reading and mathematics.

    “We are very much looking forward to the opportunity of working together with teachers and administrators in the diocese,” said Nicholas Ladany, dean of the School of Education and Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University. “The Academy of Blended Learning is a wonderful expression of Santa Clara University’s own mission to develop excellent, ethical, and compassionate professionals for our schools.”

    Also, the academy will further support the long-term aims of the Saint Katharine Drexel School Initiative by helping refine the blended-learning curriculum, assessment tools, and teaching methods for future academy training. 

    “Learning programs for education professionals—such as this academy—transform participants’ views of technology from something they have to something they use every day to benefit their students’ learning, now and for their future,” said Pedro Hernández-Ramos, chair of the Department of Education at Santa Clara University.

    More about the Saint Katharine Drexel School Initiative can be found at

  •  Calling All Social Entrepreneurs

    Applications are now being accepted for GSBI Online, the online version of Santa Clara University’s highly regarded, 11-year-old training program for worldwide social-entrepreneur ventures, the Global Social Benefit Incubator or GSBI™.

    Applications are due July 15, and can be found at

    Up to 20 ventures will be selected and given a scholarship for the six-month program. Those selected will be notified in early September.

    GSBI Online helps early-stage social enterprises that have the potential to create significant social impact through financially sustainable operations. The structured curriculum uses a methodology honed at GSBI over the past decade, while also incorporating the best practices of today’s on-demand, online learning.

    Each entrepreneur accepted into GSBI Online will be guided by two mentors: an experienced Silicon Valley corporate-level executive as well as a local in-country executive, each of whom provides hands-on assistance and mentoring throughout the program.

    The rigorous curriculum will last from October 2013 through March 2014. Successful participants will graduate from the GSBI Online program armed with a fundable plan for scaling their organization, which includes a business-plan summary presentation, an “elevator pitch,” a one-year operating plan, and an innovation profile.

    GSBI Online modules will enable participants to: clarify business objectives including mission, opportunity, and strategies; examine the external environment affecting the business; segment the target market; analyze the “value chain” of vendors and partners; properly organize and staff the business; develop a business model; identify appropriate success metrics; produce a one-year operating plan; and explore financing strategies.

    “Having mentors from their home countries as well as Silicon Valley helps GSBI Online entrepreneurs better navigate their local cultures and economies, while taking advantage of Silicon Valley’s unique startup acumen, global perspective, and culture of innovation,” said Cassandra Thomassin, senior program manager for the GSBI program.

    “We are indebted to Applied Materials for their support of this cohort and enabling us to take this next step in bringing our world-class GSBI program to more social enterprises in frontier markets,” continued Thomassin.

    “The GSBI Online program was a wonderful experience. We learned a lot and maintained a fast tempo every day,” said Santosh Ostwal, CEO and founding director of Ossian Agro Automation Pvt. in Pune, India, a recent graduate of GSBI Online’s second cohort. “The GSBI team worked with me throughout the process. It was a lot of hard work, excitement, and fun, as well as tension, fear, and worry—but now I know I will accomplish the dreams GSBI expects from us.”

    For more details about the program, visit the Center for Science, Technology, and Society’s website at For questions regarding the program please send an email to

  •  Million Dollar Bronco

    Santa Clara University alumna Brienne Ghafourifar, ’12, is celebrating her 18th birthday at the end of April in a way not many of her peers can match: Checking off a goal of raising $1 million in venture funding for her mobile-communication startup, Entefy.

    For Ghafourifar this milestone is the latest in what has been a string of outsized achievements for this preternaturally bright Bronco:

    *Attending college at age 14, check.

    *Getting accepted at SCU as a 15-year-old transfer business student, check.

    *Graduating at 17 with an economics degree, check.

    *Co-founding a startup with her equally precocious brother Alston, check.

    *Setting up shop on Page Mill Road, a mecca for tech startups, check.

    A cool million for said company?


    Ghafourifar views her rapid graduations from high school and college not so much as a sign of her brilliance, but rather an expediency—a way to get right to her and her family’s longtime passion for pursuing something that really has an impact on the world. “I’m really into efficiency and optimization,” she says.

    Her father Mehdi, is a veteran capital, management adviser, serial entrepreneur, and author of a book on global progress. Her mother Jillayn has been working in partnership alongside her husband for decades. Her 20-year-old brother Alston—Entefy’s CEO—also sped through high school and college and became president of a nonprofit, Schools for Humanity, before teaming up with his sister.

    Ghafourifar said she came to Santa Clara University after hearing from a counselor at a community college that SCU excelled in things she cared deeply about: social entrepreneurship, innovation, and networking among global leaders trying to effect social justice through business. After being accepted as a transfer student, she started attending networking and entrepreneurship events offered through places like the Center for Science, Technology, and Society’s Global Social Benefit Incubator and the Global Women’s Leadership Network, affiliated with the business school.

    She hung out for fun with professors like management professor Jennifer Woolley, veteran economics professor Mario Belotti, and microeconomics professor William Sundstrom—each of whom she credits with supporting and nurturing her passions and ambitions.

    “That was really important, and now that I’m out of college I’m still keeping those connections close,” she said.
    “Connections” loom large in Ghafourifar’s priorities, and Entefy is her and her brother’s effort to make it easier for others to find connections that can change their lives, she says.

    Entefy’s product—which she sometimes calls an “uber app”—seeks to make each person’s communications life more efficient, integrated, and connected: Instead of having to hopscotch around your computer or smart phone between your phone mail, social media, professional connections, voice mails, or cloud storage—Entefy bundles it all. The key is centering the offerings around the people—not the technology—that are most important in your life.

    “We like to say it’s people, not protocols,” said Ghafourifar.

    The company is housed on the third floor of a building on Page Mill Road that’s straight out of a young startup entrepreneur’s dream: An array of startups populate the ultra-hip, modern space complete with a fish-tank pillar; airy lobby with layered, carpeted pallets for seating; loft-style open plumbing adorning the ceiling; large flat screen TVs flashing colorful signage; and, of course, foosball. Entefy and the other startup tenants provide a 24/7 energy that is highly contagious and invigorating.

    “It is dreamy,” admits Ghafourifar. “Our investors can come here at 10 p.m. and know that we’ll be here.”

    Entefy means “bring to life” she says, and the product—to use Silicon Valley parlance—is still in “stealth mode,” while they meet with investors and advisers to finalize their launch plans. So only a select few get a peek at the prototype. But those who do, she says, often delight her by saying “why isn’t this around yet?” or even better, “I want it!”

    Woolley told the Palo Alto Daily News, which wrote a story about the siblings, that Brienne “is going to achieve a lot. This is just a milestone. She is going to be tremendous."

  •  Warped Reality

    The summer blockbuster season is taking over theaters faster than you can say “air-conditioning” in Vulcan. This weekend brings the opening of Star Trek into Darkness and while many viewers may be dazzled by the special effects or smoldering stares of the attractive cast, they may not think about the science behind the journeys of The Enterprise. Believe it or not, some of the concepts in the film could be a reality. Santa Clara University Professor Phil Kesten explains the concepts that make “warp drive” physically possible.

    click here to watch the video!

  •  What’s the Word?

    The Jesuit School of Theology welcomes America magazine writer for commencement

    A noted professor of Old Testament studies and expert in biblical literature will be the commencement speaker at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST) May 25 at 3 p.m.

    Sister Dianne Bergant, CSA, the Carroll Stuhlmueller, CP Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, will address the 2013 class of more than 40 graduating students and their family and friends, at a ceremony taking place at 3 p.m. at Zaytuna College (2401 Leconte Ave., Berkeley, Calif.).

    “We are delighted to welcome Sr. Bergant as our commencement speaker this year,” said Thomas Massaro, S.J., dean of the Jesuit School of Theology. “Her impeccable scholarship on the Old Testament and her wonderful skills at communicating her insights on scripture to wide audiences will be a true gift for our graduating students.”

    Sr. Bergant for three years wrote “The Word” column in America magazine. Also, for more than 15 years, she was the Old Testament book reviewer of The Bible Today magazine, where she was a member of the editorial board for 25 years, five of them as general editor.

    “I am honored to speak to the graduates of the Jesuit School of Theology,” said Bergant. “This opportunity fits perfectly within the ministry I have been privileged to be a part of most of my life, namely, the formation of future ministers of the church.”

    She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Biblical languages and literature from St. Louis University. She also holds a B.S. in elementary education from Marian College, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

    She is the former president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America and the Society of Biblical Literature.
    For the past 20 years, she has been an active member of the Chicago Catholic/Jewish Scholars Dialogue and serves on the editorial board of Biblical Theology Bulletin, and Chicago Studies. She is currently working in the areas of biblical interpretation and biblical theology, particularly issues of peace, ecology, and feminism.

    She has written numerous articles and chapters in books, as well as more than a dozen volumes on topics including the Old Testament, scripture and liturgy, ecology and worship, and Hebrew narrative and poetry.

    The students graduating from JST will be receiving advanced degrees including Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.), Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Theology (Th.M.), Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.), Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.), and Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.).

    During the commencement event, Sr. Bergant will receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from JST.

  •  Celebrating Heroes

    Congratulations to our 2013 Alumni Anniversary Award recipients. The Santa Clara University Alumni Association honored the following distinguished alumni for their service to humanity, the University, and the Alumni Association at The President's Dinner on April 27. Watch videos to learn more about the award recipients.

    • Maria Arias Evans '81 and The Honorable Robert J. Higgins '80, J.D. '93 are this year's Ignatian Award recipients. The Ignatian Award was established in 1981 to recognize alumni who live the SCU ideals of competence, conscience, and compassion, and have been a credit to the Alumni Association and the University through outstanding achievement in their service to humanity.
    • Steve '88 and Deanna Erbst received this year's Louis I. Bannan, S.J., Award. Established in 2000 as a way to pay tribute to the heart and spirit of one of Santa Clara’s most dedicated supporters, Louis Ignatius Bannan, S.J., this award recognizes an alumnui couple each year for their service to the Alumni Association and Santa Clara University.
    • Louis '60 and Jane Castruccio are the 2013 Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., Award recipients. This award recognizes a single Santa Clara University employee or affiliate who has given distinguished and outstanding service to the Alumni Association and University.
  •  How Tweet it is

    Many in the SCU community are putting why they love SCU into 140 characters. Here are just a few of our mentions in the Twittersphere.


  •  Frugal Innovation Lab

    Technology for humanity on a shoestring

    A former multipurpose room is now used by SCU students and researchers for a single function: developing solutions to address the world’s critical social problems.

    The Frugal Innovation Lab (FIL), located within the Bannan Engineering Labs building, began operating two years ago, but settled into its permanent home only last April. Since then, the program—fully managed by the School of Engineering—has flourished.

    FIL’s mission is to design “accessible, affordable, and appropriate” products and technologies for people living in underserved communities across the globe. Much of the work centers on clean energy, education, and health care solutions. The lab serves as a collaborative space for students and faculty to work with local corporate partners and SCU’s extensive network of social entrepreneurs.

    Many of those laboring in the FIL are graduate students and seniors fine-tuning their design projects. “All the lab projects are geared to a need that has already been identified,” said Elizabeth Sweeny, the FIL program manager. Students are in close touch with alumni from the University’s Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI) project who, in the course of their work in different countries, may pass along problems in need of solutions. “The GSBI folks often need a team of smart people working alongside them, and many of our students have traveled abroad to help implement the ideas they’ve developed.”

    Sweeny said FIL began with one graduate course in 2011. Today, the program encompasses six graduate and 13 undergraduate courses. “We interact with every incoming freshman majoring in engineering,” she said. “They’re required to take Engineering I, in which they go through eight different modules, and FIL is one of them.”

    Early exposure to the concept of frugal innovation has resulted in an enthusiastic response from both students and faculty, according to Sweeny. “We have up to 20 different projects in the works at any given time, and teachers keep coming up with ideas for new classes,” she said.

    Heading up FIL is Radha Basu, a leading corporate executive for more than 30 years and founder of two social enterprises based in India. “The academic environment is new to me,” she said, “but it flows well to combine corporate skills with nonprofit experiences in the frugal lab.”

    Particularly impressive, she continued, is her students’ eagerness to learn how technology applications can benefit humanity. “While we live in Silicon Valley, many of the students are interested in the problems of the developing world and emerging markets both outside and inside the U.S. The nexus of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, technology innovation, and SCU’s social justice focus make it perfect for the Frugal Innovation Lab.”

    Among projects to come out of the FIL are several mobile applications, including one that offers agricultural data for poor farmers in Kenya. Currently, an interdisciplinary team of engineering students is working on a device that can be dipped into water anywhere in the world, then plugged into a phone and instantly display water quality results.

    “The bioengineers developed a probe that detects pathogens in the water,” said John Seubert, a graduate student who began working on the project two years ago. “The electrical engineers are working with a microcontroller that connects the probe to an Android phone; as the computer engineer, I worked on an Android app that analyzes the data.” Known as Lab-on-a-Chip, the device incorporates FIL’s 10 “core competencies,” including affordability: it costs about $3 to produce the students’ paper sensor with its gold nanoparticles. Traditional plastic or glass sensors are made for hundreds of dollars.

    “The goal is not to design something that sits on a table and looks pretty,” Sweeny said. “It must be scaled for production and implemented in the field.”

    Lab-on-a-Chip is one example of students from different fields working together, and Basu is eager to introduce FIL to more non-engineering students. “The best success of frugal innovation will come from multi-disciplinary teams across engineering, business, public health, communications, law, etc.,” she said. “In fact, we do have a few such projects and these are rich and can be far-reaching. Eventually, I would like to make Intro to Frugal Innovation part of the curriculum for all incoming freshmen.”

    Many of the projects from the Frugal Innovation Lab will be on display for the School of Engineering Senior Design Conference May 9th.

  •  Baja Kayak Expedition

    ** Editor’s Note: The following is a student perspective by Aven Satre-Meloy ’13 about his experience with the SCU Baja Program as part of study abroad.

    I never thought I would spend spring break in college diving with sea lions in the Sea of Cortez or circumnavigating an island by kayak with 18 classmates and two professors. The SCU Baja Program takes students on a 10-day sea kayaking expedition to explore and write about the natural history of Isla Espirítu Santo in Baja California Sur. I was a student first and then a peer educator for the program, and these two trips may be the most memorable experiences of my entire college career.

    The SCU Baja Program, or “Baja” as it is better known by students, is run through the Environmental Studies and Sciences (ESS) Department. The program includes two courses taken simultaneously during the Winter Quarter followed by ten days of camping, kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking on and around a small archipelago off the coast of La Paz in Baja California Sur.

    Students enroll in BIOL 144, Natural History of Baja, and ENVS 142, Writing Natural History. Coursework consists of studying and presenting a report about individual species that become each student’s “amigos” during the expedition. Throughout the quarter students also practice close observation of nature coupled with weekly journal entries that develop a literary voice and engage in self-reflection. During the trip, students tackle daily writing prompts ranging from specific descriptions of a species’ behavior to a natural history of the species’ body.

    My first time through the program, I learned so much about the ecology and natural history of Baja California Sur prior to the trip south, but lectures and PowerPoint presentations could not prepare me or any of my classmates for the true beauty of this place. We kayaked through pods of dolphins and next to sea turtles, we hiked up to osprey nests hanging deftly onto cliff walls, and we snorkeled with King Angelfish in crystal blue water. I remember waking up one morning at dawn on the edge of the beach, hearing ecstatic calls from our group in response to a 40-foot humpback whale that had just breached a mile or so off the coast. On the last day of the trip, a pilot whale accompanied us in the late afternoon sun as we kayaked toward a two-mile long beach at the southern end of the island where we would make camp.

    For a student of natural history who spends 10 weeks learning how to distinguish the color, shape, texture, smell, and (sometimes) taste of natural geography and wildlife, the trip often leads to a sensory awakening, which is chronicled in small, leather Moleskine journals that are coated in sand and damp at the page edges. I felt this awakening most profoundly when I would sit on the beach at sunset and watch the sun plunge into the ocean, sending forth an explosion of reds, blues, and oranges across the sprawling sky. After my first time on the trip, I knew I had to go back—to return to that serene classroom on the island.

    As a peer educator, my role differed slightly in that I was there to help students engage with their “amigos” on the island and also to make sure the logistical aspects of the trip went smoothly. It was during this second trip, though, that I became attuned to a more subtle delight of Baja. I think my attention was focused more on the learning and writing on my first trip, but as a peer educator, I was able to see a close-knit community take shape as we all kayaked long days, helped each other cook, set up tents, and shared amazing views together. This, I think, is the real value of Baja. Not only does it provide students with an educational experience they will surely remember for the rest of their lives, it also allows them to connect with each other and the natural world in a deep, meaningful way.

    In the Environmental Studies and Sciences department, we learn about the relationship between the human and natural world. We confront difficult challenges about how these two worlds are often at odds and we try to think of creative approaches to this problem. In my mind, Baja is the perfect approach. At the very least, students return from the trip with a powerful appreciation for the natural world, and they experience a connection with that world that is hard to find in a classroom or on campus. I felt that connection, and I returned to Baja because of it. I hope to go back again soon, and I am excited that even more students will be able to expand their sense of community to include this strikingly beautiful place.

Printer-friendly format