Brief History

In 2005 the University brought its most uniquely Jesuit programs together to form the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education. Two formerly distinct “centers of distinction,” the Bannan Center for Jesuit Education and the Arrupe Center for Community-based Learning, merged to become one. Each of these Centers had a special role in the University as a center of distinction and a particular history

A Center of Distinction

In its 1996 Strategic Plan (revised in 2001), Santa Clara University set the following expectations for centers of distinction: “they will advance the University’s mission and competencies; engage faculty and students from every major academic area as well as experts and leaders from the community; form partnerships to provide leadership in addressing significant public issues; enhance student learning and faculty scholarship; sustain themselves through external funding, and contribute to the University’s overall excellence, Jesuit character, and national recognition. Centers of distinction will serve as a major point of interaction between the University and society.”

The University also established three Strategic Initiatives, which guide not only its broader development but provide a mandate for the centers as well:

  • Building a community of scholars
  • Providing an integrated education
  • Focusing resources for excellence

In addition to the Ignatian Center, the University has two other centers of distinction: the Center for Science, Technology, and Society and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Why the merger?

The decision to merge the Bannan and Arrupe Centers came as the result of a year-long, collaborative process with the staffs of both Centers, the Bannan family, and many of the Centers’ university and community partners. The move to unite the Centers sought to increase the many benefits that Bannan and Arrupe had experienced through their increasingly close collaboration in the months and years leading up to the merger.

Philosophically/theologically, the union made sense because the Ignatian tradition has always espoused the ideal of being “contemplative in action.” Although certainly not totally bifurcated in this way, certainly Bannan tilted more in the “contemplative” and “faith” direction and Arrupe tilted more in the “action” and “justice” direction. Combining the strengths of Bannan and Arrupe promised to enhance the new Center’s ability to integrate faith and justice in a scholarly way, and to combine theoretical reflection (contemplation) with community engagement (action).

With the creation of a new Ignatian Center, formerly separate units had to be renamed as departments of the Center. These departments are the Bannan Institute for Jesuit Educational Mission, the Arrupe Partnerships for Community-based Learning, and the Kolvenbach Solidarity Program.

Bannan Institute

The Bannan Center for Jesuit Education was founded in 1982 by three generations of the Bannan family with an initial endowment of $1.2 million to honor Louis I. (“Uncle Lou”) Bannan, S.J., a longtime teacher and counselor at the University. Over subsequent years, the Arline and Thomas J. Bannan Foundation and individual Bannan family members have contributed an additional $3.6 million to the Center’s endowment.

The original title of the Center was the “Louis I. Bannan, S.J., Foundation for Christian Values” (BFCV). Implications of the term “Foundation” suggested an early change to “Institute,” and Fr. Bannan likewise questioned the use of his personal name. Over the years, the name of the Center gradually morphed from its original title to the “Bannan Institute for Jesuit Education and Christian Values” (BI) and finally to the “Bannan Center for Jesuit Education,” when it was named a center of distinction in 1999.

The original purpose of the Institute/Center was to “improve and enhance the Ignatian spirit in the whole University community: faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends.” In its early years, the BFCV sponsored teaching grants and projects related to Catholic identity and Jesuit mission including: the early beginnings of the Eastside Project; the fledgling Religious Studies Pastoral Ministries graduate programs in Catechetics, Pastoral Liturgy, Liturgical Music and Spirituality; and Campus Ministry projects such as departmental retreats and the Christian Life Community (CLC).

The BFCV also invited Jesuit scholars to Santa Clara as Bannan Fellows; over the years, their books, research projects, lectures, and conferences spanned a variety of topics. Within the national and international Jesuit community, this fellowship program helped Santa Clara earn a reputation as a place that fostered intellectual rigor and inquiry around questions of Catholic identity and Jesuit mission.

In early 1997 the newly rechristened BI expanded its efforts to keep Santa Clara’s Catholic and Jesuit vision relevant and vibrant in changing times. As President Locatelli explained at the time, because the BI is “moving to be one of the major centers of distinction on campus,” it needs to have a broader focus in order to “engage faculty and students in every major academic area; enhance learning, the curriculum, faculty scholarship, and service; and contribute to Santa Clara’s excellence and distinction.”

As a center of distinction since 1999, the Institute/Center has gradually evolved into a fully staffed mission and identity office on campus. Annual reports will show its varied programmatic activities all directed to that end: Bannan Grants, explore journal , Bannan Visitors, Bannan Fellowships, Santa Clara Lectures, Bannan Retreats, a series of Justice Conferences, Western Conversations, and more. These and many more programs like them make up the programmatic efforts of the present Bannan Institute to promote the Catholic identity and Jesuit mission of the University as a part of the larger Ignatian Center.

Arrupe Partnerships

The Arrupe Center for Community-based Learning was founded in 1986 as the Eastside Project by Sonny Manuel, S.J., Steve Privett, S.J., Dan Germann, S.J., and Peter Miron-Conk. Their mission was to establish a mutually beneficial partnership between Santa Clara University and the Eastside neighborhood of San Jose, California that would ultimately fix the concern for justice firmly within the University’s curriculum.

In 2000 the Eastside Project became a center of distinction and was renamed the Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Center for Community-based Learning in honor of the former Superior General of the Jesuit order. The SCU Jesuit Community ($2 million) and the Bill Hannon Foundation ($1 million) are among the major contributors to community-based learning initiatives at Santa Clara.

More than twenty years later, this partnership has yielded more than 50 community-based learning (CBL) sites at schools, parishes, and agencies across Silicon Valley where students and faculty learn from the unique challenges they encounter as they contribute their work and interact face-to-face with members of the community. These opportunities advance the Jesuit tradition of the service of faith and the promotion of justice, while uniting and transforming both university and community in a common effort to respond compassionately and self-critically to those most in need.

Through the Arrupe Weekly Engagement Program, students choose from a variety of placement sites appropriate to their academic discipline and course material. These include homeless shelters, multilingual/ESL educational programs, law clinics, immigrant service centers, schools, church parishes, health care agencies, and senior centers. Each year approximately 1,200 undergraduates participate in community-based learning. These students participate at the placement approximately two hours each week during eight weeks of the academic quarter, or in a variety of projects specially adapted to course requirements. Together, faculty partners, community partners, and students reflect on both classroom and placement learning, yielding tangible benefits to the community as well as an integrated educational experience.

As the Center grew, it began to guide the development of immersion trips (now housed in the Kolvenbach Solidarity Program) and also offered grants for social justice projects, ministry internships, and programming for the Loyola Residential Learning Community.

Kolvenbach Solidarity Program

In 2005 the Kolvenbach Solidarity Program was launched as the third department of the Ignatian Center (along with the Bannan Institute and Arrupe Partnerships) with the goal of formalizing and enhancing the existing immersion opportunities which had developed across campus since the early 1990s. For much of the 1990s, though Campus Ministry served as the institutional home for University sponsored immersion trips, many other trips took place which were planned and facilitated solely by students. Only during the academic year 2000-01, did a collection of trips that had evolved over the years begin to coalesce into a nascent immersion program. Responsibility for immersion trips migrated among several Offices of Student Life before it found a permanent home in the Arrupe Center. The University’s immersion program then existed as a subset of the Arrupe Center’s offerings from 2002 until 2005.

In 2003 the University received a $2 million Theological Exploration of Vocation grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. and launched its own exploration of vocation—christened DISCOVER—for students, faculty, and staff. Among several DISCOVER programs, the now solidly developing immersion program was handsomely funded, enabling it to increase significantly in both depth and breath. In 2006 the University received an additional $500,000 (sustainability) grant from Lilly; a large part of this grant continues to support University sponsored immersion trips.

Immersion experiences, and the profound reflection to which they naturally give rise, are privileged moments of vocational discernment during which participants are invited to consider their place in the world. Through this direct contact, the Program seeks to realize the Jesuit higher education mission—restated and renewed by Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Jesuit order, in 2000 at a conference held at Santa Clara University—of forming women and men of well-educated solidarity. The Kolvenbach program facilitates immersion experiences for approximately 325 participants each year. Immersion experiences are offered in collaboration with trusted community partners in:

  • El Salvador
  • Ecuador
  • Mexico
  • New Orleans
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Mississippi
  • Appalachia
  • Navajo Nation

These trips are offered throughout the year—during the summer as well as Thanksgiving, winter, and spring recesses. Weekend Urban Plunge experiences into neighborhoods of San Jose and San Francisco are offered on multiple occasions throughout the academic year.

(Sources for this Brief History of the Ignatian Center include: Louis I Bannan, S.J., “The purpose, the Ignatian Character and the Perpetual Nature of the Institute” (on file at the Ignatian Center); Robert Senkiewicz, “The Origins of the Bannan Institute—the Bannan Foundation for Christian Values: Concept and Creation,” explore, fall 1997, Vol. 1, no.1, pp 6-8; Catherine Wolff and Sonny Manuel, S.J., “Showering Down Like Blessings: The History and Development of Immersion Experiences at SCU,” explore, spring 2006, Vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 5-11.)

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