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Fr. Locatelli’s letter to the Santa Clara Community
March 14, 2008
Dear Members of the Santa Clara Community
I want to share some important news with you.
This morning I let the Board of Trustees know that I will be stepping down as President of Santa Clara University during the 2008-09 academic year and asked them to begin the search for a new president immediately. I wanted the Santa Clara community to know of my decision before any public announcement, because you are such an important part of my life.
As many of you know, I have been in Rome attending the General Congregation, an international meeting of Jesuits, where Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, the newly elected Superior General, confirmed the recommendation of the Congregation to expand my responsibilities as Secretary for Jesuit Higher Education to include the “intellectual apostolate.” What does this mean? From the time of Ignatius, Jesuits have been committed to learning and the highest degree of knowledge possible for one’s work as essential to all of their ministries – education, pastoral, social work, Jesuit Refugee Services, retreat work, etc. The commitment to learning, research, and the use of knowledge for good, the life of the mind, and critical thinking are central characteristics not only of Jesuit education but also of all other Jesuit ministries and of the education of Jesuits themselves. All Jesuits are committed to and responsible for the “intellectual apostolate” in their respective work. My task is to foster cooperation in the quest for excellence among Jesuits and their colleagues. Because of these expanded responsibilities, the position of Secretary will require spending more time traveling globally.
I will work with the Santa Clara Board of Trustees through the transition process and remain as President until a successor is named. My replacement will be selected by the Board of Trustees, who will also appoint a search committee to help identify and assess candidates for the President’s position. The committee will include trustees, faculty, administrators, and Jesuits and will focus on a targeted search of Jesuits who have a commitment to academic excellence which is enhanced by ethical, theological, and spiritual excellence. One quality the person will have is the capacity to move Santa Clara to a new level of distinctive excellence.
Over the past few weeks, I have reflected on what is best for Santa Clara. It became painfully evident that stepping down is the only fair and right thing to do, because I cannot divide my time and energy between two jobs and do what is best as President. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as the President. Santa Clara University has been part of my life for 50 years. I visited the campus in spring of 1958 and enrolled that fall, returned in 1974, on the faculty and then again in 1988 as president. These have been 20 wonderful and remarkable years. I am deeply grateful for the love, support, and assistance from all of you - students, faculty, administrators, trustees, other board members, alumni, friends, and the larger Santa Clara community. Your passion, experience, talents, and energy have helped build Santa Clara’s exceptional legacy. In large part, it’s because of you and the clarity of our passion for excellence as a Jesuit university that got the attention, first, of Fr. Kolvenbach, the former Superior General, who appointed me as Secretary for Higher Education; and now, of Fr. Nicolás, the current Superior General, who expanded my responsibilities.
In 1989, in an article for Santa Clara Magazine, I wrote about how Santa Clara has more to contribute to the critical enterprise of higher education - “more” or the Latin word, magis, that is, “in a higher degree.” As I transition to my new responsibilities to work globally for Jesuit higher education, and look back over the milestones of the past 20 years, I say with humble pride that we have accomplished very much together. Thank you.
Paul Locatelli, S.J.