Santa Clara University

Paul Locatelli, S.J.

News Release


Santa Clara University President Paul Locatelli S.J. announces intention to resign

Locatelli accepts expanded role to promote cooperation among Jesuit higher education institutions

SANTA CLARA, CA — March 14, 2008 — Paul Locatelli, S.J., president of Santa Clara University, today announced he will be stepping down. Locatelli will be taking on additional responsibilities with the Jesuit order, the Society of Jesus, in Rome, under the leadership of the newly elected Jesuit Superior General, Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. “I will be working to promote cooperation among Jesuit higher education institutions and research centers around the globe, hence my new position will require more time in Rome and travel across the world,” he said. Locatelli has asked the University’s Board of Trustees to begin a search for his replacement.

Locatelli, who has been serving in a part-time capacity as Secretary for Jesuit Higher Education since December 2006, will stay on as president at Santa Clara until a successor is named during the 2008-09 academic year. He will oversee University affairs and continue through the transition process, until a new president is appointed.

“Paul’s expanded responsibility for Jesuit higher education worldwide is an incredible honor for him and for Santa Clara University,” said Mike Markkula, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “His role in the Jesuit higher education community is recognition of his visionary leadership at Santa Clara and acknowledgment of the tremendous progress on this campus in the last two decades,” he added. “We consider it a great honor for our university.”

Locatelli’s replacement will be selected by the University’s Board of Trustees, which will appoint an advisory committee to help identify and assess candidates for the President’s position. The committee will conduct a targeted search of Jesuits with outstanding educational backgrounds and previous work experience, knowledge, motivation and interpersonal skills. The search committee will recommend its candidates to the Board, which will interview the applicants and make the final decision.

Locatelli, 69, became president of Santa Clara University in 1988 and is the longest serving president at the University, which was established in 1851.

A transformative era

“Over the past 20 years, Paul has led Santa Clara through a transformation to a more diverse and more nationally prominent university,” said Markkula. “This is truly the end of an era — and one that we recognize as extraordinarily successful.” As evidence of Locatelli’s leadership, Markkula cited SCU’s dramatic growth institution-wide, marked by an increasingly qualified student body, facility enhancements, and large gains in the endowment. “The Board is looking forward to working closely with the University community to attract and hire the right person to lead Santa Clara forward and build on its reputation and academic excellence.”

Locatelli is the 27th president of SCU. He was 49 years old when he took the helm of the University. In 2000, he was appointed to an unprecedented third six-year term, and in 2006 was appointed to a fourth term. His departure from the presidency follows a tremendously prosperous 20-year tenure during which time the University evolved into one of the preeminent Jesuit, Catholic universities in the country.

Locatelli connected the University with society at large to an unprecedented degree in terms of a global outlook, connecting with the entrepreneurs and businesses that have so profoundly shaped Silicon Valley, and meeting a broader social obligation internationally and in the Bay Area.

Students find Locatelli remarkably approachable and refer to him affectionately as “Papa Loc.” Locatelli once told a group of undergraduates that his job involved acting as a “CEO, mayor, president, professor, and pastor—sometimes all on the same day.” That day would typically begin with Locatelli rising before 5 a.m. to give himself time for prayer and reflection and a four-mile run before the morning meetings began.

He was the first president of Santa Clara with a business background and one of few Jesuits anywhere who is a CPA. Those elements complemented his work as priest and educator; in 1978, the same year he was appointed academic vice president at Santa Clara, students voted him outstanding teacher of the year.

During his four terms as President, Locatelli worked tirelessly in collaboration with the University’s alumni, parents, friends, staff, and faculty with extraordinary results — SCU’s endowment grew tenfold from $77 million in 1988 to approximately $700 million in June 2007. Facility expansion resulted in the construction of new residence halls, the learning commons and library, the arts and sciences building, the music and dance building, the business school, the baseball stadium, and the athletic center.

With his support, the University developed the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics into an internationally recognized resource; launched the Center for Science, Technology, and Society to address increasingly complex and interrelated questions; and formed the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education to carry the work of faith and justice education into the 21st century. To bolster scholarship and research, Locatelli oversaw the founding of a score of endowed chairs. Above all, he tried to foster the growth of an increasingly diverse student body and faculty; it was, he said, paramount to fulfilling the central mission of the University: the education of students.

“My time at Santa Clara has been extremely rewarding,” he said. “I love Santa Clara and have given it my heart and soul these past 20 years. I deeply appreciate the love, support and assistance I have received from all of you — students, faculty, administrators, alumni and the larger SCU community. Your passion, experience, talents, and energy have helped build Santa Clara’s exceptional legacy. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as the president of Santa Clara University,” said Locatelli.

In his two decades as president, Locatelli has served on the board of directors of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Catholic Relief Services, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and the Bill Hannon Foundation. In addition, he served on the board of trustees of the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and on the International Committee for Jesuit Higher Education for the Society of Jesus.

“Paul’s compassion, dedication, and moral strength are keys to his leadership,” said Leon Panetta, director of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a former congressman, and former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, and a classmate of Locatelli. “It is the legacy he strives to pass on to every Santa Clara graduate. As a classmate and a member of the Board of Trustees, I am proud to call him my friend. For Paul, the purpose of higher education is to make you a better citizen committed to improving the lives of others,” Panetta said.

A leading voice in higher education

“It’s been a privilege to know and work with Paul Locatelli,” said Charles Currie, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. “His vision led Santa Clara University to become an excellent holistic example of a Jesuit university: strong academics, a commitment to justice, pedagogy of engagement, and solidarity.”

Currie noted that Locatelli emerged as an important and leading voice in the world of higher education. “Over the years, he has been involved with the breadth and depth of higher education issues and is very respected by national education associations, such as National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and American Council on Education.” Currie also said that, Locatelli made some tough calls as president: moving fraternities and sororities off the Santa Clara campus and, in an era of expensive athletic programs, discontinuing football. “He is a man of impeccable integrity. He is a visionary–he has his feet on the ground but knows how to accomplish his goals.”

Early on as president, at a gathering of Silicon Valley business leaders, Locatelli articulated a sense of the university as a force for social change. “No longer can a university be indifferent to social problems,” he said. “At a most fundamental level, Santa Clara must serve as a prophetic voice in the community, asking uncomfortable—sometimes even stubborn—questions. Playing the prophetic role does not make anyone comfortable, least of all the University…But not to speak out would mean I am not true to the Jesuit tradition and mission.”

Among the awards Locatelli received during his tenure are: the 2007 Community Builder Honoree from PACT (People Acting in Community Together); the 2005 Distinguished Service award from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley; the Exemplary Community Leadership Award from the National Conference of Community and Justice/Silicon Valley chapter; and the Spirit of Silicon Valley Lifetime Achievement Award from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

According to Pat Mahan, mayor of the City of Santa Clara, Locatelli has done an amazing job at improving “town/gown” relations. “The City of Santa Clara and Santa Clara University have grown up cheek by jowl since the mission beginnings of each in 1777. As we have grown from mission to municipality, the city and the university have faced the challenges of land-use decisions, population growth, and changes in the neighborhoods. With the support and outreach of Fr. Locatelli, there has been considerable collaboration in resolving these issues through increased communication, heightened awareness of some of the problems, and a higher degree of cooperation.”

“Paul is recognized and acknowledged as one of the major leaders in Silicon Valley,” said Ed Panelli, who has served on SCU’s board of trustees for 44 years, 19 as chair. “He is intelligent, decisive, and willing to make difficult decisions, even if the result of his decision is unpopular. This was exemplified with the very difficult decision he had to make with respect to discontinuing the football program.”

When the board appointed Locatelli in 1988, Panelli expressed confidence that Locatelli possessed “the judgment, leadership ability, technical skills, and vision to guide Santa Clara into the 21st century.”

Twenty years later, Panelli assessed, “Paul has raised the visibility of SCU nationwide.” Through Locatelli’s leadership, Panelli said, SCU increased its endowment and was able to provide scholarships to increase the diversity of the student body, as well as move forward with new technology and facilities.

Ethics and social justice

During his leadership of Santa Clara, Locatelli wrote and spoke on topics such as Jesuit education in a globalizing world, educating for justice, Catholic education in the 21st century, and the role of the teaching scholar. He worked with the goal that a Jesuit education provides an “integrated humanistic formation of the whole person.” It’s a vision he traced to the founder of the Jesuit Order, St. Ignatius, with the understanding that the greater world benefits when graduates from Jesuit colleges and universities become “socially responsible, ethical, and moral citizens who would aspire to leaven the community with wisdom, faith, knowledge, and virtue.”

According to Sonny Manuel, Rector of the Jesuit Community at Santa Clara, “A very significant contribution of Paul’s presidency has been his deep awareness of the Jesuit mission and identity throughout the years.” He said, “This new appointment is an acknowledgement of his years of work and dedication to the Jesuit mission. He is even more committed today to the marginalized, the poor, and the work of justice on behalf of people who are in need than he was 20 years ago.”

Manuel added that a hallmark of Locatelli’s presidency is his commitment to ethics, social justice and an emphasis on developing leaders of conscience, competence and compassion. In his inaugural speech 20 years ago, Locatelli emphasized his vision of SCU as an academic and social justice leader in a world of constant change. “Santa Clara fosters character through the excellence of our academic programs and our emphasis on ethics and leaders who make a difference in their communities,” he said.

“Fr. Locatelli is a leader in Jesuit higher education in the United States because of his work at Santa Clara University and beyond. It is precisely because of the genuine success of his ministry and his leadership that the Superior General of the Society of Jesus appointed Fr. Locatelli to serve part-time as Secretary for Higher Education for the International Society at our General Curia in Rome last year,” said John P. McGarry, S.J., Provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus.

He added, “Along with my brother Jesuits, and all those who serve with Paul at Santa Clara, I remain grateful to him for the profound impact of his work on the vitality of Santa Clara University. I feel confident that higher education and the Intellectual Apostolate in the Society of Jesus will benefit from this new mission that Fr. Locatelli has been called to on behalf of the whole Jesuit order.”

First in his family to attend college

Raised in Boulder Creek, Calif., in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paul Leo Locatelli was the first in his family to attend college. He began his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 1958 transferred to Santa Clara, where he completed a degree in accounting and graduated in 1961. After serving in the U.S. Army, he joined the Society of Jesus in 1962. He was ordained as a priest in 1974. After attending seminary, he earned a doctorate in business administration from the University of Southern California in 1971 and a master of divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1974, where his work focused on ethics and values in contemporary society.

Prior to becoming president, Locatelli served as SCU’s academic vice president and associate dean of business, as well as a member of the faculty of the accounting department.

“Paul’s embrace of the larger world, his willingness to seek solutions to its most pressing problems, and his quest for social justice are admired throughout Silicon Valley,” said Mike Markkula, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees “We wish him infinite success in his new role as Secretary of Jesuit Higher Education. While I know we’ll never find another Paul Locatelli, we’re committed to finding the right leader to guide Santa Clara’s continued growth and prominence, and ensuring a smooth transition,” Markkula added.

Locatelli said he is deeply grateful for his time at Santa Clara. “I have been honored to serve as Santa Clara’s president,” he said. “Our University community is a sign of God’s love to this earth, which, as the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins says, is ‘charged with the grandeur of God.’ My hope has long been that together, we have helped make that grandeur come alive in the community. I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve this great University.”

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,685 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice.