Santa Clara University

Office of the President

State of the University Address


State of the University Address
Mission Church, SCU
24 February 2010

Thank you, Lucia, for the introduction.  Thank you all for gathering here this afternoon.  I am grateful also to Lulu Santana for the Invocation.  Prayers are always welcome.  Let me also thank Sean Brochvogel for his remarks, as well as for his advice and active leadership of the undergraduate students.  Let me express my appreciation to Ryan Brandau and the University Chamber Singers for enhancing this annual convocation.

One year ago I stood here during the onslaught of the economic recession.  If you remember, Stanford was laying off faculty and staff; San Jose State soon cut admissions by 3,000 students; and the University of California system cut faculty salaries.   As a newcomer to office, it was my awkward duty to announce economies needed to meet our own fiscal challenges.  Though difficult decisions, fortunately, none were as daunting as those at these other institution.  Your responses were understanding, supportive, and a true measure of your dedication to Santa Clara and our students.  We avoided involuntary layoffs and maintained our competitive faculty and staff benefit plans.  You donated back another $1 million to the annual fund and for various university needs.  This is an example of how much you believe in Santa Clara and how connected you are to our educational mission.

Through the hard work of the staff of University Relations, we have raised a cumulative $1.9 million to help keep 190 students enrolled who would otherwise have had to drop out of school.  Such accomplishments heartened me greatly and deepened my appreciation of your commitment to this institution.

These accomplishments revealed to me the Santa Clara spirit of faculty and staff.  You place students first.  You take education seriously.  You believe strongly that a Santa Clara education opens minds and changes lives for the good of the individual and the betterment of the wider world.  You put into action the animating spirit of St. Ignatius to touch hearts, one person at a time.  I hear this repeatedly from students whose lives you touch so powerfully.  I hear of your work from parents who report how pleased they are when you show an interest in a son or daughter.  I have heard many things over the past year, and I am proud of you and of Santa Clara and the work we do here in the classroom, on the playing field, and in all the various places on campus where students are educated and served.

In the year since I last met with all of you in this setting, I am pleased with the progress we have achieved on so many fronts.

The Re-accreditation Process with WASC 

This past week, the Provost, Diane Jonte-Pace, our Accreditation Liaison Officer, and I met with the WASC commissioners.  We answered questions about our Capacity Study Report, the Visiting Team’s Report, and our responses.  As you recall, we received strong and well-earned commendations for our achievements.  At the meeting, we also garnered accolades for our accomplishments in many different areas.  They were especially impressed with our academic quality and financial stability.

We have not yet reached perfection, however, and the Visiting Team submitted six recommendations to assist us.  On two matters they wish to see progress on their return visit in one year.  They have asked that we review our de-centralized approach to promoting diversity and inclusive excellence, and consider how we might reach a consensus about a definition of inclusive excellence.  We shall do so, and scope out the areas where we can move forward.  Further, the Visiting Team wishes to see continued progress in assessment.  We shall not rest on our well-earned laurels; we shall continue to improve and continue to be a learning organization.

One area to which I wish to give particular attention is the status of lecturers.  As we conduct our capacity review for the Strategic Plan, I want to pay attention to this issue.  To that end, I look forward to receiving the report of the Faculty Affairs Committee, prepared under the leadership of Eileen Elrod.  I understand the report will be presented to the Faculty Senate Council at its next meeting, and I look forward to this important measure.  Let me thank Eileen and the members of the Faculty Affairs Committee for their hard work on this important matter.

Integration of JST into Santa Clara 

Few universities are adding graduate programs during the economic recession.  In numerous institutions, programs and even departments are being downsized, slashed, or closed.  Our fiscal strength enables us to add a graduate school with the integration of the Jesuit School of Theology.  The more I have visited JST, the more I am impressed with the faculty and students.  With 40% of its student body coming from outside the United States, the school educates for religious leadership in their churches around the world.  This year, JST has enrolled women from African countries so that they, too, can return to their nations to minister and advance the cause of women in the Catholic Church.  Another JST graduate will return to Beijing to teach in the national seminary of China.

Sonny Manuel and Rob McChesney coordinated the first phase of the integration.  They identified all offices here that corresponded to offices there; they brought together responsible people as partners; they coordinated the establishments of tasks to be accomplished and deadlines to be met.  One example is in IT.  The software of JST and SCU need to be integrated for the sake of data exchange in the offices of the registrar, the bursar, student life, the library, and university relations.  The issues are identified, the timelines established, the tasks are being pursued.  And so it continues in many areas.

The next phase of the integration is the responsibility of the Provost,  Vice Presidents and their staffs.  Lucia Gilbert has established an Academic Integration Council for the coordination of the Faculty Handbook and a myriad of issues.  Here are some examples. Molly McDonald in Human Resources met with JST staff, welcomed them in advance as SCU employees, and reviewed the staff handbook with them.  Harry Fong in the Finance Office is working with JST’s finance officer.  Ron Danielson is installing video conferencing equipment to link administrations at both campuses, with a completion date of April.  The work of integration proceeds on course, thanks to the labor of so many of you here and at JST.   I thank you for that work.

Enrollment Management 

In September of this academic year, Mike Sexton joined us as Vice President for Enrollment Management.  He has worked with an able and competent staff, made various adjustments in procedures as needed, and added some new practices.  We have long needed a new enrollment services building suitable to the University’s standing and aspirations.  This building, which will house Enrollment Management, Undergraduate Admission, Financial Aid, the Bursar’s Office, and the Office of the Registrar, was in our previous Master Plan, and was the only building not constructed from that plan. Now, if donors can be identified, I would like to proceed with that building, while at the same time identifying other facilities needs to incorporate into our next Master Plan for the campus.  Trust me: the Deans are vigorous advocates for new facilities, and yes, new classrooms.  This is a need that will not be forgotten.

Back to enrollment: for the incoming freshman class, Mike Sexton has reported an increase of 15% in the number of applications.  Schools such as Boston College and Fordham University report increases of 6-7%.  (Early Action applications were up 20% here.)  Mike and the hardworking staff have set 19 March as the deadline to send out admission decisions to the 8,000-plus regular decision applicants who are waiting to hear from us.  Financial aid packages will follow shortly thereafter. 

Next steps include contacting accepted students, congratulating them, and encouraging them to visit and eventually enroll.  This is being done by a small army of alumni, faculty, staff, and student volunteers who are phoning admitted students.  All of us will hear from Mike and his staff about how we can help secure the best students for the first-year class, with a campus-wide effort during preview days on April 10-11.  You are always very generous with your time, and I deeply appreciate that.

Revision of the Strategic Plan 

Thanks to the hard work of Don Dodson and Chad Raphael, the revision of the Strategic Plan progresses steadily.  Most recently, the draft document was reviewed by the Board of Regents.  The goal for June is still to present the draft document to the Board of Trustees for comment and discussion.  Don and Chad are developing mission-based metrics to link goals and aspirations to specific projects and outcomes.  The Capacity Review and the Facilities Master Plan Review will be factored into the final draft of the Strategic Plan and guide us in determining how much of what we desire we might actually achieve over the coming five years and through the next Capital Campaign.

Recovery of the University Endowment 

In mid-2007, our endowment reached a high of $700 million and then sank to a low of $533 by January of 2009.  Since then, endowment investments have rebounded to approximately $588 million as of 23 February 2010.  After accounting for each year's spending from the endowment, the fund is only 10% below its 2007 peak of $700 million. Our investments are moving in the right direction, and I am grateful to the careful oversight of John Kerrigan and staff.  We have had to continue to support scholarships and endowed chairs where the corpus sank in value, and we still depend on income from those funds.  As the wife of one donor told me over the weekend, “I do not understand this economy, so I just pray.”  Not a bad idea!


On 12 February, the University Board of Trustees adopted a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year.   This budget includes a 3.8% undergraduate tuition increase, a modest increase in undergraduate enrollment, and, happily, a 2% merit pool increase for salaries of faculty and staff.  No new faculty or staff positions were authorized in this budget.   Searches for replacements can continue.  The Provost is working with the deans on the reallocation of faculty positions to support the new Core Curriculum and to provide growth in selected programs.  The trustees also approved bond funding for the renovation of Swig Hall and three other residence halls. Capital funding is also provided to support classroom upgrades and technology improvements. Bob Warren will offer an expanded overview of the budget at the annual Budget Forum which he will hold on 5 March in the Williman Room.  He assures me that he welcomes all your questions.

At the board meeting, we also announced a major gift for the Jesuit School of Theology.  One of the directors of JST anonymously donated $1 million to JST for student scholarships and other needs.  This gift will be used to attract matching gifts from other donors.

In addition to the searches underway to replace faculty and staff, two others are taking place for administrators.  In the Leavey School of Business, Hirsch Shefrin has headed a committee that has finished its work of recommending candidates for a new dean.  Bob Warren, Vice President for Administration and Finance, is leading a search for a new Vice President for University Relations.  For this latter search, I wish to thank the Faculty Senate Council and the Staff Senate, respectively, for their recommendations to me for representatives on this committee.  Fr. Mick McCarthy and Fred Smith generously agreed to serve on this committee.

In the Alumni Association, serious concern has arisen about the decline in the percentage of alumni supporting Santa Clara.  To investigate this matter, I have appointed a task force to examine the causes, compare data with other institutions, review successful practices elsewhere, and bring me recommendations for action.  As you know, the percentage of alumni participation is a matter that foundations examine when we submit grant proposals.  Alumni participation also figures into national rankings determined by popular college guides, such as U.S. News, Princeton Review, and others.  I want to thank Art Liebscher for agreeing to co-chair this task force, and faculty participants Jim Sepe, Aldo Billingslea, and Sukhmander Singh.

Let me comment on students.  In my coffee session this morning was Tom Service, coach of the women’s cross country team.  Last year the captain of that team, Noelle Lopez, won a Rhodes Scholarship.  This year, Stephanie Wilson, a junior English major, brought home the first All-American title in women’s cross country at Santa Clara.  Something special is happening on that athletic team! I also learned that Stephanie was a Campus Ministry intern, both a Canterbury and Donovan fellow, and the recipient of the Second Harvest Food Bank Outstanding Youth Award.

These examples of our students’ accomplishments make it easy to talk with alumni and donors about the value of Santa Clara.

In November I had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Casa de la Solidaridad.  It was also the 20th anniversary of the Jesuit martyrs.  Over 100 of the 400 alumni of the program returned for days of reflection, service, and celebration.  It gave me the opportunity to see the spirit of people with keen intellects moved by their service to the poor and committed to act to make the world a better place.  This is just another example of the impact of Santa Clara on student lives.

Let me conclude by asking you a question, jeopardy-style:  This Santa Clara freshman from San Jose, California, was the youngest college student to compete in Jeopardy’s College Championship, and he brought national attention to SCU for his success.  The answer: Who is James Hill III.  James, please stand and be recognized.


In the past 12 months I have hosted more than 45 listening sessions and morning coffees.  Many fine ideas have surfaced, many suggestions made, many topics raised.  A group gathered this morning to continue the dialogue.  Your values, your insight and wisdom, your love of learning, and your commitment to our students impress me profoundly.  As I stated at the beginning of this address, I am proud of the great good that is accomplished here, and from here, out to our world.

Thank you for your generosity, for all you do in our shared mission of Jesuit, Catholic higher education.  I shall call on you for assistance in our many projects.  I am excited and happy to work with you and to help lead the remarkable individuals who comprise the faculty, staff, and students of Santa Clara University.

Thank you very much.


Michael E. Engh, S.J.


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