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fyi Exclusive: What You Didn't Know About the President

What did you learn from the staff and faculty coffee sessions?

The coffee sessions with faculty and staff have been great opportunities to get better acquainted with the university at the grassroots level. There are so many things going on that by the time they get up to Walsh Hall, there’s a lot of filtering that goes on, condensing, and summarizing. What comes through most is the dedication to this place, passion about Santa Clara, passion about what they’re doing, concern about how we can improve, a lot of constructive suggestions, questions for clarifications, and even a few complaints. I had many questions about the core curriculum and many discussions about finance and university economics.

What was the biggest surprise this past year?

This was probably more unexpected than a surprise, but I’d say the number of times that people have recognized me off campus and in places where I wouldn’t expect like Target and restaurants. I’m not used to it. On campus? Yes, but off campus? No. Most recently, I was getting a hair cut and the barber said, ‘Aren’t you Father Engh?’ [Laughs] I didn’t get a discount, but it surprised me.

What are your favorite five spots on campus?

I love the Learning Commons – I think it’s a fabulous place, and I love showing it off to people. I also like the St. Clare Gardens, the Mission Gardens, and Mission Church. I’ve also been really intrigued by the Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., Student Activity Center. I’ve gone over there more times to check it out to see how the construction is going.

What is your favorite food at the Jesuit Residence?

The food is okay [laughing]. The cookies are great – I hate peanut butter, but they do make great chocolate chip cookies. At Benson, I do like the burritos, and actually, I like the fajitas at the Jesuit Residence. We rarely get Mexican food there, so that’s why I go over to Benson a lot. It’s closer than Henry’s and cheaper, too.

Now that people have had a chance to get to know you better, what would still surprise us about you?

Oh, I’d probably say my taste in music – I like everything from classical to country/western.

Do you own an iPod?

No, I gave it away. [Laughs] I’m not very technological, but I do use a Blackberry all the time. I love my Blackberry – it’s got a great camera, it’s got a calendar, and it sends e-mail.

When do you pick up the Blackberry? In the morning? Right after you wake up?

No, I have a rule with myself. I don’t read my Blackberry until after breakfast. I exercise, I pray, I have breakfast, and then I pick up the Blackberry, because if I open it before then, I’m toast.

Which student events did you manage to attend this past year?

I went to the Sacramento State Invitational to watch Santa Clara men’s and women’s teams compete a few weeks ago. I enjoyed that very much. I went to women’s basketball; I was the invited coach and sat on the bench – I enjoyed that. I’ve been to men’s water polo, men’s baseball, and the Associated Students’ transition ceremony…from the old student government to the new student government. I loved the Luau – it was terrific – the dinner show was wonderful. I went to the 49ers forum but couldn’t stay for the whole thing. I went to a composition recital last week for two of our graduating seniors. I’ve been to the choral concerts at Mission Church, the Jazz ensemble back in March, and a number of music events – they’re great…they really do a great job.

Have you been to Henry’s or the Hut?

Henry’s? Yes! I like Henry’s very much, and I like it because they take my ACCESS card. I’ve had lunch there with students a number of times. I’ve not been to the Hut, and I have no plans to go to the Hut. I won’t be there on graduation morning either. It’s the one tradition I wish would die out.

How do you relax on campus?

One thing I like, especially since it’s spring and now with summer coming along, I like taking a walk on campus after dinner in the early evening. It’s quieter and I can check out what’s going on. It’s a beautiful campus to walk on during the week and on the weekends too.

What do you do for fun off campus?

I’ve gone hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains a number of times now with one of the faculty. He’s been introducing me to various trails and parks in the area. We’ve been three times. The most recent trip I took was to the San Francisco Bay wetlands – I enjoyed that a lot.

What was your favorite movie this year?

I haven’t been to a movie. I went to one last year [laughs], but I couldn’t tell you what I saw. I don’t watch TV either; I’m not into that. The only time I watch movies is on Turner Classics in the mornings when I exercise. I’ll watch whatever old flick that’s on.

What professional games have you been to?

I’ve been to a Giants game, and I went to a 49ers game. I haven’t been to the A’s, Warriors or the Sharks games. I’ve been invited to a Sharks game but didn’t get over there.

What are your summer plans?

Well, every Jesuit makes an annual retreat, a silent retreat for eight days. Most of us do it in the summer. I’m doing mine in July. There’s a monastery way up in the redwoods near Eureka where I go, no cell phone service, no available telephone. It’s really quiet. And then vacation, I’m going up to the Sierra Nevada with some friends.

Any plans to go to Los Angeles to see your family?

I go to L.A. about every five to six weeks, because of meetings, to see people, and to see my family. I didn’t get home for Mother’s Day this year, though. I don’t think I’ve missed Mother’s Day in 22 years.

Beer or wine?

Both. Who wants to make a choice? How can you have a Mexican dinner and not have a bottle of beer? And how can you have an Italian dinner and not have a glass of red wine? My favorite beer is Negro Modelo, and wine – I like pinot noir and zinfandel, no particular vineyard.

Salsa or guacamole?

Why choose? I mean really. What’s Mexican food without salsa and guacamole?

Button-down or polo shirt?


Do you own a pair of flip flops?

Yes. Who doesn’t? I haven’t worn them to work yet, but I wear them if I’m going to go to the beach or around the house at night to go down and get a snack. They’re comfort shoes.

Comments Comments

vchristie said on Jun 2, 2010
Great issue. Loved the Fr. Engh interview. Also, loved the idea that so much of the issue highlights our student's achievements/accomplishments. Good job. Ronnie
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