Santa Clara's early curriculum reflected its 19th-century ambience. Father John Nobili, the first president of the College, described Santa Clara's goals in terms typical of his era: "To cultivate the heart, to form and cherish good habits, to prevent and eradicate evil ones."7 Natural science and liberal arts - especially rhetoric, philosophy, theology, and classics - constituted its core, which was supplemented by offerings in business education.
When U.S. higher education shifted toward more pragmatic goals at the beginning of the 20th century, Santa Clara College expanded its curriculum and opened the Schools of Engineering and Law. In 1912 it became Santa Clara University, and 14 years later it established the College of Business Administration.
Enrollments at the University were deliberately kept low. "Santa Clara believes that its greatest usefulness in the field of education can be achieved by functioning well as a small university, [to foster] family spirit and close contact, pupil with pupil... and pupil with professor," observed one of its presidents. It was not until after World War II that student enrollment broke the 1,000 mark.
In 1951, when the University celebrated its 100th anniversary, Time magazine wrote, "California's oldest college has never gone in for bigness."8
In 1961 Santa Clara became California's first Catholic university to admit women undergraduates. In 1976 a Phi Beta Kappa chapter was approved for the University, which made it the first Catholic university west of St. Louis to be so recognized.
Today Santa Clara comprises 104 contiguous acres and enrolls about 8,000 students, with almost even numbers of men and women, graduates and undergraduates.