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FYI Exclusive: Catching Up with Chancellor William Rewak, S.J., 22 Years Later
Maintaining a garden is not an easy task. However, after some careful tending and determination, one man’s hard work can result in a robust and thriving garden.
Forty-one years after he began “gardening” Santa Clara University, former president William Rewak, S.J., returned as the new chancellor. Rewak, who served as president for 12 years, planted the foundation that has allowed Santa Clara to thrive. Of his many accomplishments, he is best known for his work rerouting the Alameda around campus, spearheading a $50 million fundraising campaign, overseeing the creation of the Eastside Project (now the Arrupe Partnerships), and even unifying the look of the University by having all buildings painted the same tan hue.
“I arrived here in 1970 to teach. Since then, the most obvious change has been growth: the campus has burgeoned—in quantity and quality,” Rewak said. “We see larger and better qualified student body, faculty, and administration, much more professionalism on all levels, a wider breadth of academic studies and opportunities, and many more buildings. I would say that beginning with Fr. Pat Donohoe’s tenure as president in the 60s—he was a catalyst in many ways—Santa Clara has blossomed and has joined the rank of world-class universities.”
The campus is still growing and facing challenges. However, according to Rewak, challenges keep the imagination alive. As chancellor, he is challenged to represent the University’s strategies while maintaining the spirit of Christianity.
“The most challenging aspect as chancellor, and this is true for anybody speaking or acting on behalf of the University, is to represent it fairly, be knowledgeable about the University’s plans and strategies, and especially to make sure that the original vision of Ignatius Loyola—that all of our work and service be consciously motivated by the love of Jesus Christ—always infuse our presentations, always be at the forefront of our imagination,” he said.
In his new position, Rewak has several responsibilities ranging from representing the president at public events to pulling together a campus art committee. Among these tasks, he works to keep former trustees involved with the University, chairs the nomination of commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients, and helps promote University relations.
When Rewak isn’t busy on campus, he’s absorbed in novels by James Lee Burke or Michael Connelly.
“I’m addicted to mystery novels, to thrillers,” he said. “I think it’s because I like puzzles, and I’m gratified to find a solution to the puzzle. I like neat, morally satisfying endings, and mystery stories are the most moral of all stories because, usually, the bad guy loses and the good guy wins.”
If you’re lucky enough, you might spot Rewak at the ice rink, watching the Broncos win.
“I really enjoy ice hockey,” Rewak said. “I like to watch it, I like even better to play it—though at my age I stick to watching.”
While SCU Club Hockey did not exist the last time Rewak was working on campus almost 22 years ago, there are still elements of the University that have not changed.
“It’s still a beautiful jewel-like campus, isn’t it?” Rewak said. “What has remained the same is the vision: it has to be articulated for new generations and in new circumstances, but we are all branches of the Ignatius tree.”