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.

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  •  Never Underestimate the Power of Santa Clara's Logo, Social Media, and Alumni

    Debra Newton was boarding a flight back home to Florida at JFK International Airport in December of 2009, when she noticed a thumb drive jetting across the floor in front of her. She had unwittingly kicked it. Newton didn’t think much of it at the time, but she picked it up and put it in her bag.

    When she arrived in Florida, she asked someone at the gate what she should do. The attendant thought the thumb drive was broken because it had been mashed. Rather than tossing it out, Newton put it back in her bag and forgot about it until last month. When she popped the thumb drive into her computer, it was working perfectly well and was full of family photos that appeared to have been taken at a family reunion.

    “Something came over me, and I thought what a novel idea it would be to try to find its actual owner,” says Newton.

    She didn’t know how she would track down anyone in the photos or the person who lost the thumb drive. Newton’s cousin, though, recognized the Santa Clara logo on someone’s shirt and suggested she contact the University, prompting Newton to post a message on SCU’s website.

    Communications Director Deepa Arora read Newton’s note and turned to social media for help. Arora posted the photo on SCU’s official Facebook page the following morning and also forwarded it to Carey Deangelis with the Alumni Association so she could do the same on Alumni’s Facebook page.

    Not too far from SCU’s campus in San Jose, Dan Hunter had just returned to his office from lunch. When he logged into his Facebook account, he saw the posting:

    “Do you know the man wearing the SCU t-shirt? A good Samaritan found a thumb drive with family reunion pictures at an airport in New York, and she wants to get it back to the owner. Is he an alum, a professor, a parent? Help us solve this mystery!’”
    “I clicked on the photo and almost fell out of my chair laughing! It was Marty De Ruyter, who lived next door to me at Swig Hall!” says Hunter ’81. “I hit the comment button to identify him and then I tried looking for Marty on Facebook. I couldn’t find him so I sent him an e-mail.”
    De Ruyter and Hunter have always kept in touch throughout the years at reunions, sent each other Christmas cards, and e-mailed each other from time to time.
    De Ruyter, who now lives in Kansas, couldn’t believe the e-mail.
    “The only time I’ve been at JFK was on February 10, 2010 when I was returning from a medical mission in Haiti following the earthquake disaster,” says De Ruyter, ’81. He said that he didn't know how a thumb drive could have ended up at the airport before his trip. 
    As if finding the person in the photo weren’t enough, Newton also discovered that up until six years ago she and De Ruyter both lived in the same county in Florida and that both work in the medical field­—she as a nurse and he as an anesthesiologist.
    “I don’t know if we ever ran into each other, but I wouldn’t be surprised if our paths crossed at one point or another,” says Newton.  The discovery of De Ruyter drove Newton to joyous tears, happy she could help return the photos and thumb drive to their rightful owner.
    As it turned out, the thumb drive actually belongs to another family member: Marty's sister, Marie De Ruyter '84, who was standing in the photo that Newton used to identify Marty as an SCU grad. Also, amazingly enough, Marie also lives in Jacksonville, FL, a few minutes away from Newton.
    De Ruyter says the photos are from a family reunion that took place in the summer of 2008 during his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration at Lake Tahoe.
    Nevertheless, he was fortunate enough to have been wearing his SCU shirt at the time; otherwise, tracking anyone down would have been impossible.
    “I have a lot of Santa Clara t-shirts and wear them pretty frequently. In fact, I wore it to a hardware store in Kansas just six months ago, and someone stopped me because he, too, was an SCU grad,” laughed De Ruyter.
    As for Hunter, he was hoping to see De Ruyter at their 30th reunion in October, but De Ruyter will be in the Dominican Republic for another medical mission that’s scheduled for the same weekend as the Grand Reunion.


  •  The Making of a Flash Mob

    The flash mob is a phenomenon of the YouTube age, an amusing moment in which people decide to do something very much random for no particular reason other than the fun of it; often the acts of these “mobs” are videotaped and end up online. The number of people involved can be anywhere from 50 to thousands, and the mob does anything from pillow fighting to freezing in place.

    One of Swig Hall’s Resident Ministers, Sean Gross, began a program entitled Random Acts for this school year which encourages random acts of kindness (the next one planned involves delivering Valentine’s Day cards to people in a nursing home or hospital), but also simply random, fun acts in general. He holds weekly Hospitality Hours in Swig which have mostly involved watching the hit FOX musical-comedy Glee. One episode of the high school show revolved around the students planning and participating in a flash mob, and multiple people there collectively asked, “Wouldn’t it be fun to be a part of a flash mob?” But as many ideas go on a college campus, nothing more was made of it for a while.

    As Gross developed the Random Acts program further, the idea of a flash mob popped back up. He had met senior Diana Bustos at a choreographer’s gallery and asked her over the winter break if she would be interested in choreographing a flash mob. She had already developed and taught one to students in SCCAP to the tune of Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” the theme song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. 

    Amazingly, the whole routine only took about 45 minutes to teach and learn. The plan was for the mob to dance to “Waka Waka” during peak lunch hours at the Benson Memorial Center. After clearing things with various groups to make sure the performance wouldn’t be interrupted, the group dispersed themselves in Benson at 12:10 p.m. on Friday, Jan, 14.

    At 12:15, the siren call that opens “Waka Waka” went off, and the participants ran toward Mission Bakery. The choreography, which Gross called “Diana’s genius,” went off without a hitch and, after two-and-a-half minutes of rousing dancing, the flash mob bowed and went back to their normal routine. Though some dancers were nervous, they were reminded that this was all for fun, and the video, which is now posted on the Santa Clara Facebook page, shows proof of the fun they all clearly had.

    Meanwhile, the captive Benson audience had a mixture of different reactions, as seen on the periphery of the video.  Some students barely looked up from their lunch, others were clearly entertained and enraptured, while a large group was just rather confused. Regardless of the reaction, though, the dance was generally well received by the crowd.

    Swig 9th floor Community Facilitator Alexandria LeeNatali said that she “really loved doing the flash mob,” pointing out that it “brought some much needed excitement to the otherwise dull winter quarter.”

    Both LeeNatali and Gross say they’d love to do it again, and Gross admitted that though nothing is officially planned, “it would be a lot of fun,” and the third Random Act has yet to be planned.

    Gross believes “events like this help people to see that resident ministry is about a lot of things, like creating community and helping to make some great memories, along with helping out during the hard times.”

    So if you’re walking across campus and see a large group of people doing something completely inexplicable, it may very well be another flash mob in action.

    Watch a slideshow of the flash mob.

  •  NCAA Review of SCU Intercollegiate Athletics

    The NCAA requires a decennial review of all Division 1 intercollegiate athletic programs, at the conclusion of which the NCAA will certify a school’s program, certify it with conditions, or deny certification. The process for review of Santa Clara’s programs is underway and will culminate in an NCAA decision in winter or spring of 2012. In two previous cycles of the review, the NCAA certified the University’s athletic programs without conditions.

    The critical part of this review is the University’s preparation of a self-study, using a self-study instrument prescribed by the NCAA. The instrument articulates Operating Principles with which the athletic program must comply in the areas of governance, commitment to rules compliance, academic integrity, gender and racial diversity, and student-athlete welfare. With respect to each of those areas, the University must respond to a series of questions designed to elicit information about whether its athletic programs comply with those Operating Principles. 

    A University committee charged with preparing the self-study welcomes your comments about or contributions to the self-study as to any of the questions contained in the self-study instrument, which you may view at

    Your comments or contributions should be submitted by using the form provided at Comments should be submitted no later than the first week in March if they are to be meaningfully considered by the committee preparing the self-study.


  •  The Power of Wind Now at Santa Clara University

    At a quick glance, many people may think that Santa Clara University recently installed a giant fan atop of the Facilities building, but guess again. It’s not a new cooling system of any kind, but instead a wind turbine that generates clean energy. It’s one of the many ways Santa Clara University is reaching climate neutrality by the end of 2015, as promised by President Michael Engh, S.J.

    Weighing 185 pounds and measuring 7 feet high and 6.5 feet wide, the unit is capable of producing 1,500 kilowatt hours per year, which is enough to power an average American household for about 49 days.

    Joe Sugg, assistant vice president of university operations, and his team of engineers and technicians have been turning the Santa Clara campus into a more sustainable institution by using such innovations.

    “We’re converting the University from an energy-consuming campus to a power-generating source,” he says.

    The wind turbine can begin generating power at a low speed of .5 miles per hour (mph), instead of the 7.5 mph that’s traditionally required by other wind turbines. The unit also has an auto shut-off mechanism that kicks in at 38 mph, protecting it from any damage that could be caused during a wind storm.

    Since the turbine’s energy output is dependent only on the wind, SCU is testing the unit—which is now in its third month of operation—in order to determine how much energy it can realistically produce. Sugg hopes the results will show a significant level of production that will ultimately call for more wind turbines.

    “It’s possible that we could see more of them on this building, as well as others on campus, but we don’t have any immediate plans to purchase additional units in the near future.”

    SCU is often recognized nationally for its efforts and commitment to green power purchases. The University recently purchased 22,512 megawatt hours of green power, which is enough to power 2,529 average American homes and equivalent to taking nearly 3,000 cars off the road for one year.


  •  Residence Hall Energy Challenge 2011

    This winter quarter, both on- and off-campus residents will compete in Santa Clara University’s 2nd Annual Residence Hall Energy Challenge. This year’s slogan is “Kill-a-watt, $ave-a-lot!”

    Rather than rivaling against one another, houses and residence halls will attempt to reduce their buildings’ electricity consumption in comparison to data from previous years.

    Students who live on campus will be able to keep track of their residence hall’s electricity use by visiting this site and seeing their buildings’ consumption in real-time through SCU’s Electricity Graphing System. In the spirit of the game and competition, the 10-week challenge will also include other activities to unify both the Residential Learning Communities (RLCs) on campus and off-campus residents under the message of the importance of energy conservation. Activities include:

    • Low-Carbon Diet Dinner
    • “Hoe Down” dance party + eco-fashion show
    Check back often to see each building’s progress, and join the Facebook fan page. Read more.
  •  New Website Aims to Educate Catholics on the Death Penalty

    A new website sponsored by Santa Clara University and California Catholic Lawyers Against the Death Penalty (CCLADP) seeks to inform Catholic opinion regarding the death penalty in California, and to actively promote the repeal of California’s death-penalty law.

    CCLADP is a newly formed organization headed by Santa Clara University School of Law professor Gerald F. Uelmen, who teaches criminal law at SCU and previously directed a state-wide commission on California’s justice system.

    Uelmen received a grant from the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at Santa Clara University to organize and launch the website. CCLADP will be directed by an advisory board, which includes many leading Catholic lawyers in California, such as former Attorney General John Van de Kamp, former state public defender and Sacramento federal defender Quin Denvir, Newcastle attorney Paul Comiskey and San Jose attorney Thomas Hogan. Read more.


  •  Book Club Helps Readers Explore Beyond the Pages

    When Mayra Salvador, a student at Evergreen Valley College, was considering changing her major from civil engineering to sociology, she found good, supportive advice from members of her book group—a group started by Jill Goodman Gould, senior lecturer in English at Santa Clara University.

    When Gould pioneered the group, called The Chelsea Literary Society, in 2006, she hoped it would provide this sort of mentoring in addition to literary discussions. The group grew out of a class Gould taught at Downtown College Preparatory High School, the first charter school in San Jose. A number of Santa Clara students who helped with the class wanted to stay in touch with the students.

    The high school students they worked with “didn’t read a lot in English and hadn’t had a lot of experience with books,” Gould said. So she formed a book club and started by reading The Kite Runner by author Khaled Hosseini, an SCU alumnus.

    The Kite Runner was such a big hit in the mainstream, it was nice for the girls and for us to be able to be part of that,” said Claudia Vásquez, who graduated from Santa Clara in 2000 and is now finance controller for Bill Gould Design, an architecture firm.

    Salvador, who graduated from Downtown College Prep in 2007, was one of the original book club members—and remains a member today.

    Today the group includes current and former students from both Santa Clara and Downtown College Prep. In addition to monthly book discussions—for which they take turns choosing books, bringing food and preparing background reports on the books—the group occasionally goes to author lectures (they heard Hosseini speak), plays and movies. 

    “We’re really trying to expose them to as much as possible, letting them know that there’s this world out there,” Vásquez said.

    Gould has seen the participants grow—and not only in their ability to read and analyze books. “I think the students who have been coming are more aware of literature,” she said.

    Vásquez, who is a first-generation college graduate, said she hopes being part of the book discussions will help the high school students learn to be comfortable in new situations. “You always think you’re the only outsider,” she said, but books open up a world of other experiences, including those of other people who have felt like outsiders in other situations.

    Salvador said being part of the group has changed her reading habits: “Now I read on my own time, instead of watching TV.”

    But she also likes the social support she gets from the group: “Most of the ladies that are in it either already graduated from college or are in college,” she said. “If I need help I know that they’re able to help me."


  •  Victor Vari Shares His Love for Teaching and His Extended SCU Family

    It is entirely fitting that Victor Vari, Ph.D., is the distinguished figure who regularly leads the University’s most august ceremonial processions, as the carrier of the historic mace of Santa Clara University. Not only is he the University’s longest serving professor—as the tradition of the mace bearer requires—he is also an undisputed jewel in the crown of Santa Clara University.

    Dr. Vari, who is approaching his 91st birthday, has been teaching at Santa Clara for 64 years, almost his entire professional career. He is also the walking epitome of many of SCU’s most-treasured values.

    As a person, he is well-rounded, having traveled extensively around the world, and was educated in London, Paris, Mexico, Switzerland, and the U.S. In addition to his seven decades of teaching at SCU, at various times he has been an Olympic-caliber competitive fencer, fencing coach, a journalist, actor, radio announcer, military intelligence agent, and elementary school teacher.

    As a professor, he is devoted to the advancement of students.

    “Dr. Vari’s dedication to his students, his work on behalf of SCU, and his zest for life are precious gifts to the community he loves,” said interim Provost Don Dodson. “He is one of Santa Clara’s great teachers.”

    A man who thrives on interpersonal relationships, he shares his gifts generously and often, sometimes for free, especially when he sees a need. For years throughout the 1950s he gave private language lessons, for free, to disadvantaged students of the San Jose Unified School district. During his military training, he taught English to soldiers with limited education and taught fencing to the officers.

    He is also a Knight Commander of the historic Knights of Malta, a Catholic group with origins in the 12th century. From 1947 to 1952, Dr. Vari coached the Santa Clara fencing team, which won the Pacific Coast Championship for Novices.

    Vari was born on Feb. 22, 1920 (George Washington’s birthday, he notes with pride) in San Francisco. His father was a waiter and avid stock-market investor, and his mother was a homemaker. In 1929 the family figured they were well-off enough that they could live a cushy expat life. But then came the stock market crash, wiping out much of his father’s wealth. Vari, his mother, and his grandparents stayed in Italy because it was a better life than the Depression-plagued U.S. But all along, Vari said, “I felt very, very American.” Sure enough, his family moved back to the U.S. in 1936, when he was 16.

    After a few months of catch-up high school, he graduated Galileo High and started tutoring sons of Italian immigrants at Dopo Scuola. That lasted until World War II, when suspicion of Italians caused the school to be shuttered. It also caused Italian-born disc jockeys to be shipped to internment camps, leaving an opening for American-born Vari to spend a year as a night-time DJ, translating news into Italian and playing opera.

    In 1942, Vari received his undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University. When World War II began, he joined the Army, and after basic training was sent “of all places, to Arkansas,” recalls Vari with a laugh. “I couldn’t relate to that culture at all,” imitating—with a heavily Italian-tinged southern accent—a banjo-like ditty that his fellow soldiers used to play.

    He considered his fellow soldiers uncouth at first. But then a colonel asked him to teach the soldiers to read, and Vari quickly learned that it was a lack of schooling, not a lack of intelligence, at work. “It gave me tremendous pleasure to help them,” he said.

    Vari’s trilingual skills also earned him a spot in intelligence school, where one of his classmates was Henry Kissinger. He spent a year in England and France, attending the Sorbonne too, before the war ended in 1945.

    He did his graduate work at the Sorbonne University in Paris and Lausanne University in Switzerland, then started attending and student teaching at Stanford. While there, he met his future wife Julia. They didn’t marry until seven years later when Vari was finally ready to settle down. “She was the right woman for me, but I wasn’t ready at first.”

    He received the call to teach at SCU while he was at Stanford, and he could hardly resist the $1,600 a year salary he was being offered. In 1946, Vari began teaching elementary French, and in the ensuing decades has taught all levels of Spanish and Italian language and culture as well as literature, including Dante’s Divine Comedy.

    He received his master’s degree from Stanford University in 1952. He completed his Ph.D. (summa cum laude) at the University of Madrid in Spain in 1961.

    After marrying Julia, the couple became fully immersed in SCU life, chaperoning dances and other activities including modeling for the Catala Club. He brought Italian opera to SCU radio and campus, led tours of Europe, and assisted the Army in launching the first military intelligence unit at SCU in 1949, which later became part of ROTC. He initiated and taught at the successful summer program in Assisi that lasted from 1982 to 2004.

    “It was the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to us,” he says of his long tenure at SCU. “We’ve done so much for the University, and the University has done so much for us.”

    Never having had children himself, his legions of students and alumni are his extended family. He keeps multiple scrapbooks of letters, mementos, and important correspondence from and to students. Typical letters express boundless gratitude for how Vari introduced a student to the abundance and richness of Italian culture and language. One young man wrote how Vari “influenced some of my life’s greatest moments,” adding, “you have become like a member of the family to me, and the thought of ever letting you down stings, with the same bitterness as does the thought of failing the rest of my family.”

    He loves to tell stories about his students, even better if the story involves a student poking a bit of fun at him—like the young woman who looked at her watch one too many times during Vari’s reading of Italian poetry. “I asked her, ‘Lauren, am I boring you?’” The student replied, “No, Professor Vari, you are scintillating, and I just want to know how many more minutes of enjoyment I have left.”

    He is thrilled to see his students succeed, including Francisco Jimenez, noted author and Fay Boyle Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, who has become a highly respected peer alongside him on the faculty.

    Despite his age, Vari has a vivid memory and adapts well to change, calling himself “a realist.” So while he dislikes technologies, such as e-mail, and the discourteousness they can engender, he doesn’t begrudge other evolutions on campus, including the erosion of student interest in his beloved Italian opera, or the diluted Italian focus of the Casa Italiana residence hall he helped create. 

    “The important thing is to be happy,” he says, his Italian accent turning even more poetic. “To love and be loved.”


  •  The de Saisset Museum Explores the Practice of Veiling Through a Thought-provoking Exhibition

    The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University will explore the topic of the veil through a provocative exhibition of contemporary women artists. The Veil: Visible and Invisible Spaces will open to the public Jan. 15 and will be on view through March 11.

    The veiling of women, men, and sacred places has existed in countless cultures and religions throughout history. Veiling expands far beyond Islam and the Middle East, yet is vastly misunderstood. This traveling exhibition features more than 30 works of art that examine the veil from myriad perspectives. Divided loosely into three thematic sections—the sacred veil, the sensuous veil, and the sociopolitical veil—the show aims to transcend popular clichés and stereotypes about the practice of veiling and to present the subject in a broader and more universal context.

    Composed of works by 29 national and international artists, The Veil addresses issues such as modesty, oppression, liberation, freedom of expression, spirituality, nature, and magic. The artists represent diverse backgrounds, spiritual practices, and points of view. Through their work, they challenge, condemn, embrace, and praise the veil. Read more.


  •  Donate Your Gently Used Shoes to Those in Need Around the World

    The West Coast Conference and have announced it will be kicking off the third annual WCC Shoe Drive to collect shoes for Soles4Souls, a non-profit organization that donates footwear to those in need around the country and the world.

    This season Santa Clara University is setting its sights high, with the goal of collecting more than 3,500 shoes—slightly more than last year’s winner, Loyola Marymount University, collected in 2010. To accomplish this goal, Santa Clara’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has come up with several innovative strategies and incentives to mobilize the SCU student body and the greater Santa Clara community to donate.

    “SAAC just didn’t really see the point in setting a goal that wasn’t going to win this competition,” said Bronco Associate Athletic Director Staci Gustafson. “They really believe that with greater SAAC involvement, and campus and community presence this goal could easily be achieved.”

    SAAC, which is made up of representatives from SCU’s 19 sports, collected 240 shoes the first year it participated in the shoe drive. Last year, students collected 623. Thus, in order to collect 3,500 shoes this year, they’ll have to reach out to hundreds of more people across campus and beyond.

    Donation boxes are located at every RLC, as well as at Leavey and Malley Centers. Read more.


  •  Santa Clara University Scores Above National Average in 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement

    From academics to community service and social functions, Santa Clara University (SCU) received exceptionally high marks and praise from their own students in the 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the most comprehensive assessment of effective practice in higher education.
    Since 2000, the NSSE has measured student involvement in key practices related to learning, persistence, and graduation. Each of the 603 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada that participated in the survey received scores from some 400,000 randomly selected first-year and senior students in five benchmark categories.
    SCU scored significantly higher than the national average in all five areas:
    Categories SCU Freshmen National Freshmen SCU Seniors National Seniors
    Level of Academic Challenge 62.2 54.1 65.2 57.5
    Active and Collaborative Learning 48.2 43.7 58.2 51.4
    Student Interaction with Faculty 37.7 35.2 48.5 42.4
    Enriching Educational Experiences 33.9 27.9 57.6 40.5
    Supportive Campus Environment 67.9 62.5 65.1 59.6

    An overwhelming number of SCU students were satisfied with their overall educational experience, with 90 percent of freshman students reporting a favorable image of the University and 88 percent of seniors saying they would choose SCU again if they could start their college career over. When asked to what degree studying and spending time on academic work were emphasized, 83 percent of first year students cited substantial emphasis. Read more.


  •  SCU Students Operate NASA Satellite Missions After Liftoff

    Santa Clara University students are running mission operations for two NASA satellites that have launched into space. The satellites that were aboard a Minotaur IV rocket blasted off from Kodiak Island, Alaska, on Nov. 19.
    The students will operate Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses nanosatellite, known as O/OREOS, for NASA for a year and then for several more years for educational and engineering experiments at SCU. The goal of the O/OREOS mission is to be able to conduct low-cost astrobiology science experiments on autonomous nanosatellites in space. Scientists will apply the knowledge they gain from O/OREOS to plan future experiments in the space environment to study how exposure to space changes organic molecules and biology. These experiments will help answer questions about the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe.
    O/OREOS includes a novel de-orbit device that was designed by an SCU graduate student. The device accelerates its de-orbit, which has been an issue in trying reduce the amount of junk in space.
    The SCU team will also operate NanoSail-D2, which is a solar sail that could potentially change spacecraft travel and the way NASA brings down old satellites, thereby cleaning up space junk. The NanoSail-D2 will eject from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT. This will test the ability to deploy an enormous but fragile spacecraft from extremely small and compact structures. When fully deployed, the NanoSail-D2 has a surface area of more than 100 square feet and is made of a material that’s no thicker than single-ply tissue paper. Read more.



  •  Twenty-seven Santa Clara University Alumni Serving as Jesuit Volunteers

    Twenty-seven recent graduates of Santa Clara University are spending the next year serving as volunteers in schools, health and legal clinics, and nonprofit organizations through two U.S. Jesuit Volunteer Corps organizations.
    During their time as Jesuit Volunteers, they will be dedicated to living simply and working for social justice in a spiritually supportive community of other volunteers.
    “The very fact that so many of our alumni choose this less-traveled path reflects well on their SCU experience,” said Fr. Jack Treacy, director of Campus Ministry at SCU. “Their commitment to dedicate this time to live in solidarity with those who struggle and live on the margins of society speaks to the core of SCU’s Jesuit values.”
    SCU’s JVC volunteers are among nearly 500 young adults who started their year of volunteer work in late summer, living in dozens of communities in the U.S. and six other countries across the globe. Their work saves the communities an estimate of well over $6 million each year, in comparison to the cost of a salaried employee. Read more.



  •  Meeting the Congressman: A Rare and Important Opportunity for SCU Political Science Students

    U.S. Representative Mike Honda stopped by Santa Clara University last month to help students gain a better understanding of Congress, especially for Professor James Cottrill’s class whose students play the roles of members of Congress and respond to hypothetical bills throughout the quarter.
    “My main motivation was to allow students to speak to an actual member of Congress about the day-to-day responsibilities and pressures faced by members of Congress as they try to represent their constituencies,” says Cottrill.
    Honda discussed how he became involved in politics, the importance of integrity, and working across party lines. He also fielded questions from students who asked about everything from national security to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s future.
    Sach Egan, who is a junior studying economics and political science, asked Honda to share his thoughts on minority candidates, such as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Governor-elect Nikki Haley, who change their name and religious beliefs for the sake of running for political office.
    Honda responded that all American citizens need to be more accepting of individuals from diverse backgrounds and work together to create the kind of change this nation wants. Although those words were inspiring enough, Egan was moved when Honda later approached him.
    “Congressman Honda put his arm on my shoulder, and said, ‘Hey, don’t change, and just do the right thing.’ Simple as these words may have been, I didn’t take them lightly. They reminded me that, although we could sit for hours discussing the challenges presented against progress and change, ultimately it would be up to us to make things happen,” says Egan.
    Although scheduling Honda took several tries and a few years, Cottrill hopes to invite more members of Congress from the Bay Area. Students agree that having more opportunities to meet government leaders can have a greater and lasting impression than reading about them in their books or learning about them from their professors.
    “I absolutely think more politicians should come speak to students, especially as young voters who are still in many ways developing beliefs and opinions. This is an environment where people are interested in learning and asking questions, and I think every politician could benefit from that,” says Kurt Wagner, a communication junior.
    “Active, hands-on learning is often thought of as being important, but I believe that hearing the insights and inspirations of leaders who are out there ‘in the trenches’ is also paramount,” says Egan.


  •  The Discovery to Faster, Easier Research at the Library

    The power of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing has more college students turning to the Internet for research rather than their campus libraries. That’s no surprise, considering the ease of typing keywords into a single search box versus navigating through hundreds of article databases, indexes, and the complicated library catalog.

    Librarians like Elizabeth McKeigue at Santa Clara University recognize the growing problem and hope to change that trend through the use of discovery systems that allow students to easily search for everything at once, including books, magazine and journal articles, DVDs, and archives.

    “Librarians are competing against Google for attention. We have better content than Google, but students don’t always realize that,” says McKeigue.

     Following the paths of Penn State, Columbia, and University of Michigan, SCU is looking at various software systems that can simultaneously search across all article database content and local library collections. Using the library’s extensive resources can be daunting and requires training. With discovery systems, librarians wouldn’t need to devote as much time teaching the basics of how to search. They simply type the keywords into one simple search field, much like you would with Google or Yahoo.

    SCU students, faculty, and staff are testing a number of discovery systems, including EBSCO Discovery System, Summon, Encore Synergy, and Primo Central. The library will gather feedback at the end of the quarter and weigh the pros and cons that will determine the next phase of the project.

    McKeigue wants the University to invest in a discovery system, because she believes it will ultimately increase usage of the library’s databases and indexes, which has been relatively flat in the past few years.


  •  Illuminating the Bible

    Deborah Whiteman, head of Archives and Special Collections in the University Library, is anxiously awaiting the publication of the latest volume of a new edition of the most popular book ever written. No, not a remake of Harry Potter, but rather, the handwritten, lavishly hand-illuminated New Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible, known as The Saint John’s Bible. “It’s written in calligraphic script, but it’s also illuminated in the same way that a 12th century medieval manuscript would have been illuminated; the initial letters are large, brilliantly colored and frequently decorated in gold,” Whiteman explains. “There are also full-page colored illuminations of key points in the text—such as Creation, the Fall, and the Ten Commandments. That was typical of large 12th century bibles as well.”

    Though she has not yet seen the original manuscript (which is at St. John’s University, in Minnesota), Whiteman is able to view SCU’s fine art reproduction of The Saint John’s Bible, known as the “Heritage Edition,” every day at work since it is on public display in her department in the southeast corner of the Learning Commons. Santa Clara’s set of The Saint John’s Bible is one of only 299 such copies. Thanks to a generous donor, the University currently has four of the seven volumes of the massive tomes. The University will acquire the remaining three as they become available. The open book measures a sizable two feet by three feet. “The Heritage Edition has been produced with the same care and attention that goes into a fine press book and it’s absolutely gorgeous,” says Whiteman.

    The Saint John’s Bible was commissioned by the Benedictine monastery at Saint John’s Abbey and University in 1998. The calligraphy and illuminations have been executed by a team of scribes, headed by world-renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson. The Bible is set for completion in May 2011 with the publication of the final volume, Letters and Revelation. The one-of-a-kind original is the work of a dozen scribes writing with turkey, goose, and swan quills on calfskin vellum using natural handmade inks, hand-ground pigments, and gold and silver leaf. SCU’s copy, an exact replica, was reproduced digitally using a special high-tech Heidelberg press. The gold and silver foil were laid on afterwards using a technique that closely matches the hand-embossing used by Jackson on the original leaves. “The pages literally sparkle,” Whiteman says.

    Though this version of the Word of God may be modeled on medieval works, it is truly a Bible for the 21st century. Whiteman says: “A very contemporary view has been taken in the illuminations. For example, Adam and Eve are presented as Ethiopian. The imagery is taken from Navajo weaving basket designs, Persian rugs, Turkish architecture, Christian symbolism, Buddhism, modern science—everything.”

    Whiteman urges faculty, staff, students, and the general public to come see the Bible for themselves. The Saint John’s Bible, Heritage Edition, is currently the centerpiece of the exhibition, Scribes, Saints & Scholars: The Bible, 1150–2010, on display through January 2011, in the Third Floor Gallery of the Learning Commons. The Prophets volume is featured in this show. And if visitors walk next door to the Department of Archives & Special Collections (adjacent to the Gallery), they will see yet another volume of the Bible. The Saint John’s Bible will be on permanent display here, housed in a specially made case. One volume will always be open, resting on a large glass-protected lectern. A Special Collections staff member turns the page every day. The other volumes rest in drawers underneath. “We frequently take them out for people to look at,” Whiteman says. “The illustrations are incredibly powerful. People react to them. We’d really like people to feel that they can come here and use these special acquisitions. They’re here for them.”

    Visit the website for more information about The Saint John’s Bible.

    Visit SCU’s website for more information about the Archives & Special Collections.


  •  Student Ambassadors Play Important Role at SCU

    Sophomore Ryan Clark is one of the three leaders of Santa Clara Student Ambassadors for the 2010–11 school year. The program is here to give people the students’ point of view concerning what SCU really is.
    “It’s a chance for them to hear the honest truth from people who genuinely live and study here.” The 24 ambassadors have three duties that they generally perform: they greet people at various events and locations, sit on student question and answer panels, and, most frequently, guide campus tours. They also play a prominent role during both Preview Days and Open House.
    As a leader of the program, Clark, along with sophomore Nicky Nienow-Birch and senior Makensy Smith, does the behind-the-scenes work like scheduling and event planning, along with personally working on the ambassadors’ Web presence. On that front, his current project: revamping their Facebook page.
    The panel allows students and parents to ask specific, often pointed questions and hear the ambassadors “infuse the factual data with personal experiences” after the tour covers the basics of SCU. He also mentioned that the ambassadors sometimes have to field some strange questions from parents during tours and panels. They try their best to answer truthfully while also representing the University in the best light.
    They are currently conducting interviews for their winter quarter crop and looking for well-rounded, confident students involved in a variety of activities that will be able to hold in reserve a wide variety of knowledge about the University, and can direct parents and students to the right people if they don’t have the answer themselves.
    According to Clark, the ambassadors are an interesting group. “We’re a very fun-loving bunch of outgoing students. What makes this unique is that we’re looking to fill in all niches when hiring since we have to represent the whole school. That makes this group as diverse as you can imagine and as an ambassador you meet all these people you wouldn’t normally.”


  •  The Power of a Smart Microgrid at Santa Clara University

    Imagine a campus, a neighborhood, or a town where all of the electricity is generated, controlled, and measured onsite from one computer screen. It’s one of the many things a smart microgrid can do to help communities like Santa Clara University manage energy consumption, production, and become a more sustainable and climate-neutral campus. 

    SCU is one the first universities in the Bay Area and the first Jesuit university in the U.S. to install a smart microgrid, which ties its power source, transmission, distribution, and even consumption data to weather reports, thereby maximizing energy savings. The power source can be solar, wind, geothermal, essentially any kind of electricity generator. The smart microgrid can also deliver data in real time and measure carbon emissions. In the event of a major power outage, SCU would be able to remain operational, even during prolonged periods of time, and generate enough electricity to power nearby homes and businesses.

    “This technology is going to dramatically decrease energy use and costs and simplify the way we manage our buildings,” says Joe Sugg, assistant vice president of University Operations. “The University’s current system allows us to only control HVAC systems and temperatures. With a smart microgrid, we can instantly turn off lights and equipment in any building, ration electricity during prolonged power outages, and all from your desk.”

    In the first phase of the project, SCU installed sub-meters into 14 buildings and integrated the smart microgrid’s onsite alternative energy sources, such as solar, fuel cells, and mico-turbines. The next phase will connect the entire campus to the campus microgrid. Once the launch of the smart microgrid is complete in December 2011, it’s estimated to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent and save the University about 20 percent in energy costs.

    SCU is collaborating with Sustainable Silicon Valley, Cisco, and Serious Energy (formerly Valence Energy), which was founded by SCU alumni who competed in the 2007 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C.

    As outlined in his inaugural address in 2009, President Michael Engh’s vision for the University is a commitment to sustainability and environmental justice. The integration of the smart microgrid is one of the many ways SCU is becoming more sustainable and climate neutral. SCU also recently installed solar panels, instituted Zipcars, and purchased 22,512 megawatt hours of green power, which is equivalent to taking nearly 3,000 cars off the road for one year.

    With stewardship and education an important part of Engh’s plan, SCU also launched a graduate certificate in renewable energy that includes a course called Introduction to the Smart Grid. SCU Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new curriculum for a master’s degree in Sustainable Energy within the School of Engineering starting in the 2011–12 academic year. The Office of Sustainability will use the smart microgrid’s real-time data to raise awareness and change the way students, faculty, and staff live and work.

  •  Ten Years of Turning Out Ace Students

    Ten years ago, leaders at the Leavey School of Business, including then-dean Barry Posner, decided that the school needed a new competitive edge to attract and retain top business students to SCU. Soon after, the ACE program was born.

    Short for Accelerated Cooperative Education, ACE is an invitation-only program of mentoring, leadership, and internship preparation for students in the top 10 percent of their class. Qualifying students are invited to join in their freshman year, and then spend their sophomore, junior, and senior years as ACE students involved with special workshops, community service work, and prepping for internships and jobs.

    "ACE was right on target with the Jesuit mission of leadership and service to others,” said Posner, who retired as dean in 2009 and is now a professor of leadership at Leavey. “It doubled and almost tripled the number of students of distinction who were admitted and joined us.”

    The program, which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary, has graduated more than 250 students. Alumni have founded their own charitable nonprofits; interned for micro-lender Kiva in Sierra Leone; attended graduate school at the London School of Economics; spent a year at Teach for America; and landed jobs in accounting at Ernst & Young, Internet advertising at Google, and risk analysis at Marsh.

    “ACE is a fast-track program for students to learn advanced business skills,” explained Brenda Versteeg, assistant director of undergraduate programs at Leavey, and ACE’s staff director. “But it’s also an intensified immersion into SCU’s Jesuit values—educating the whole person, recognizing one’s responsibility, discerning one’s vocation.”

    Business students in the top decile of their class in their freshman year at SCU are invited to join ACE. While they don’t have dedicated academic classes to complete for ACE, they attend about 20 to 30 workshops over three years—tackling everything from leadership development, community engagement, resume polishing, interview skills, and risk-taking exercises. One such exercise: jumping for a ball while suspended 30 feet in the air—protected only by a rope secured by one’s ACE peers.

    True to Santa Clara’s “educating the whole person” approach to learning, ACE students also spend their sophomore year in community engagement, such as leading Junior Achievement business-education classes for elementary school students.

    One year, for instance, athletes and ACE students Ross Smith and Alex Bon—both well over 6 feet tall—spent a quarter teaching third graders about the economics of cities.

    “When you get in there, you realize there’s a lot of pressure on you as a teacher, with twenty to twenty-five kids just listening and hanging on your every word,” said Smith, a 2010 graduate who now works for Ernst & Young and who called his ACE training “awesome.” 

    “It makes you realize how much work, effort, and preparation teachers put into every day,” he added.

    Other students immerse themselves in Arrupe Partnership placements, such as the student who spent a quarter in the Mountain View day-worker program, speaking Spanish and learning what life is like when one’s work prospects are dependent on the whim of a revolving door of employers.

    Junior year in ACE is spent preparing for internships, often at one of the business partners that have formally worked with ACE over the years: Lockheed Martin, Hitachi Data Systems, Marsh, Target, and Yahoo. The partners come to campus in February to recruit interns for the summer, occasionally leading to full-time job offers at the end of the internship. In other cases students learn what sorts of jobs they are or are not suited to do.

    During their internships, the students also spend several sessions reflecting on the internship experience. They describe the culture of the companies; discuss whether it was a good fit for them; and write “case studies” of incidents or projects that went well or poorly, and what they learned from them.

    “They use this reflection, these case studies, as tools for their interviews when they are looking for full-time work,” said Versteeg.

    Senior year in ACE is about the hunt for full-time employment. In addition to hardcore resume polishing and interview honing, students get mentoring from volunteers from Leavey’s advisory board. Mentors take the students to lunch, share their career stories, and introduce them to key contacts.

    At the end, there’s usually a job, and a senior dinner attended by the dean and the University president. But there’s also a bond between classmates that lasts well beyond graduation. ACE alums stay connected through a newsletter, share their stories and tips when they come back for visits, and often stay friends for years.

    While it is demanding, the ACE program is rewarding for the faculty and staff as well, said Leavey School of Business Dean Drew Starbird.

    “Teaching ACE students is a real pleasure for business school faculty,” said Starbird. “Their thought-provoking questions and passionate perspectives transform an ordinary classroom exchange into a dynamic discussion.”


  •  Santa Clara University Freshman Wants Everyone to 'Be a Part'

    While most teenagers are looking forward to college, hanging out with their friends, and planning their weekends, two young women are focused on helping millions of young girls who are forced into marriages.

    Santa Clara University freshman Cami Winding and her friend Isabella Chartouni launched a nonprofit organization last month called Be-a-Part. They were shocked and devastated after watching a PBS documentary, “Child Brides: Stolen Lives,” that detailed how girls were sold and bought into marriages with older men. According to the film, many child brides are abused and face high risks of pregnancy-related deaths.

    “Our goals are twofold: first, to fund educational programs and health services for victims of child marriages,” explained Winding. “Second, we want to raise awareness and inspire other young girls to ‘be a part’ of the solution.”

    To raise awareness and funds, Winding and Chartouni designed hip and fashionable t-shirts that carry the message of hope. The “Got Your Back” shirt is heather gray, featuring a gold feather and the phrase, “Got Your Back.” The “Heart Mind Body” style is white and repeats inspirational words including “heart, soul, diverse, motive, love…” in a pattern to form the outline of India, a country where child marriages are prevalent. Each shirt sells for $30, and 50 percent of the money collected will be donated to children’s humanitarian organizations.

    The shirts were unveiled at the Be-A-Part launch party at Bloomingdales SOHO in New York City on Oct. 28. Actress Tea Leoni, NBC Today Show’s Ann Curry, and film producer Dina De Luca hosted the event.

    Visit the Be-A-Part website to learn more about their cause.

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