Santa Clara University

Office of the President

State of the University Address, 2013



Michael E. Engh, S.J., President
Santa Clara University
Mission Church
12 February 2013

What Matters to Me

Thank you, Dennis, for the introduction, and congratulations to Jenna Saso on your remarks.  I am pleased to learn about the progress you and the Associated Student Government are making with a University-wide Honor Code. I also appreciate the inspiring music of our University Chamber Singers under the direction of Magen Solomon, and thank you for enriching our experience.


Last quarter I was invited to address faculty and staff at a lunchtime program entitled, "What Matters to Me." This ongoing series of the Bannan Institute presents speakers who share their thoughts on what guides them in their work at Santa Clara. The thematic question – What Matters to Me - stimulated extended reflection.  I spent a number of hours pondering how best to express my core beliefs and the experiences that molded my ideals as priest and as president.


Turning to this address today, I took up again that query to formulate "what matters to me" at our University. I wish to reflect with you on our current situation in which we serve as the stewards and animators of the mission of Santa Clara University. We embody the spirit of the institution, its dynamism and contemporary expression.  I find ample evidence of our mission-driven activities in the recently released President's Report for 2011-12. Ably prepared by the Office of Marketing and Communications, the report is well titled as "Momentum – Indicators of Success." Never have I heard so many positive comments from alumni and friends of the university. Readers have been delighted, amazed, and proud of what all of you are doing with and for our students, and I share their sentiments.


The most obvious indicators of success are concretized in construction on campus.  Since I last spoke to you in the fall Convocation, we have dedicated the Schott Admissions and Enrollment Services Building; opened and occupied the new Graham residence hall; relocated Human Resources to new quarters on El Camino Real; and expanded facilities for University Relations and the School of Education and Counseling Psychology. We have initiated construction on a new parking garage, and completed the first phase of the softball stadium. Many thanks go to Joe Sugg and all the people in the Facilities division for so much work, on time and under budget.


Another measure of progress appears in the nearly 15,000 applications being processed by our hardworking Admissions staff for next year's first-year class.  Demonstrated need has also risen, but I am heartened by the recent bequest of $8 million from the estate of the late Emma Shane Anderson.  This gift is timely because the state of California continues to reduce its support of students with greatest need who attend non-profit private higher education. The state of California will reduce Cal Grants again, this time by 1.5%, and the following year by 11.5%, so we bless the memory of Emma Anderson (member of Catala Club, women's support group).


As the national government grapples with its budgetary woes, the future remains unclear for Pell Grants.  University Relations staff have diligently worked to increase donations, particularly for student scholarships, to help us retain students with the greatest need. I want to salute the staff in University Relations for the improved revenues in annual giving and in all other metrics for success such as planned giving. Future presidents will hold your names in benediction.


I mention the decline in state aid because this diminishment of support will continue. As you know, there is a national discussion about the rising cost of higher education. Here at Santa Clara we are blessed by an attentive and dedicated Board of Trustees.  Board members carefully review income and expenses to balance our budget with an annual salary merit pool, but with the lowest possible tuition increases. They, too, read the national press, the blogs, and other media about the expense of collegiate education and they insist on the greatest efficiencies possible.


Recently I read an intriguing essay in the Huffington Post, with the provocative title: "When is Disruptive Change Good for a College?"  The author challenged university communities to tackle the non-functional business model of higher education. Success in this endeavor requires widespread collaboration and open communication between Trustees and campus constituencies. Happily, this past Friday after their meeting, the Trustees once again invited the Faculty Senate Council for lunch and for informal conversation. Last year, the Faculty Senate Council also invited the Chair of the Trustees to meet with them, which I hope will continue. Such contacts bode well for Santa Clara.


At their meeting on Friday, the Trustees approved a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year. Given the decline in enrollments in certain of our graduate programs, revenue from graduate tuition is projected to continue to fall. Along with the decrease in state support, and the increases in the basic costs of operating the university, the budget is very tight. For the future, however, it is imperative that we develop additional revenue streams, such as online education in selected graduate programs, which I shall discuss later in this address. I thank Charlie Erekson and Robin Reynolds for their important assistance to Bob Warren and Harry Fong in preparing this budget.


In a proactive step, in the Fall the Planning Action Council met for an extended presentation on how information technology is affecting American higher education. Many see information technology as a panacea to cure the budgetary woes of higher education. Our speaker from the Education Advisory Board, Matthew Pellish, presented, however a far more sophisticated overview of information technology and higher education. He explained the rise of providers like Coursera and EdEx which have enlisted elite universities into consortia to provide on-line course content. To date, these courses are free and, with few exceptions, carry no academic credit. Entrepreneurs are seeking ways to monetize these courses, while others search for a way to provide academic credit for this new means of instruction.


In our discussion after the presentation, the question arose: how does on-line instruction fit with our Jesuit tradition of student-focused pedagogy? As a student-centered institution, we saw certain benefits from a mixed delivery model that retains a strong commitment to in-class education and that incorporates technology-enhanced pedagogy. We further acknowledged that on-line courses and degrees might be better suited to our graduate programs in order to provide greater flexibility of access for students and improved competitive advantages for recruiting.


In that spirit of innovation, Provost Jacobs and his staff have launched several initiatives, such as the Faculty Collaborative for Teaching Innovation; the Collaborative classroom project; the mobile technology project; and a series of conversations with Apple and Google. Online course development has begun in select graduate programs (the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministry, Education and Counseling Psychology, Engineering, and the Executive Development Center in the Leavey School of Business). Our first MOOC - a Massive Open Online Course - will launch in several days out of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. The Center for Science, Technology, and Society is exploring how to offer a portion of its Global Social Benefit Incubator program in a MOOC format.


These pilot projects will allow us to test our developments to see what works, what needs improvement, and what best suits Santa Clara's Jesuit philosophy of education. Our goal is one of "continuous improvement," to use the phrase we learned from our last WASC accreditation. We are innovating to provide the best instruction possible for our students, as well as to engage our faculty in the latest developments in instructional technology.  We also work to grow and to adapt Santa Clara's educational mission in order to keep it a living, vibrant, and contemporary tradition.


By cultivating an array of high-impact learning experiences for our students, we prepare them with the skills and the desire to help fashion a more humane, just, and sustainable world.  Through the assistance of the Career Center, 70% of Santa Clara students engage in at least one internship during their undergraduate years. I am particularly pleased to report that despite the challenging economic times, 86% of Santa Clara graduates who pursued an internship had a full-time job at graduation. This remarkable success story, is, no doubt, a result of our students' impressive achievements, as well as the Career Center's phenomenal record of bringing over 9,500 employers to campus every year.


In this spirit of continuous improvement, I wish to note the updating of the University's wireless network. We have made the switch to Google Apps for Education, which provides many new tools for collaboration. I wish to acknowledge the hard work of Ron Danielson and his staff in Information Services for planning, supervising, and handling all the challenges to move the University forward. Also, it is important to thank the Task Force on Communication and Collaboration that last year surveyed possible providers and recommended Google Apps for Education, and that task force chaired by Terri Griffith.


The Provost's office is also engaged in articulating the specifics of the educational vision in our university's strategic plan. With much input from the past two years, a set of advisory committees are currently identifying concrete, aspirational goals and objectives. From these we shall develop funding targets for the proposed capital campaign in order to achieve our strategic objectives. Besides this project, the seven recommendations received from the Task Force on the Evaluation of Teaching are currently under review in each of the schools and the college. The Provost has moved forward on one of the recommendations by establishing a new task force to revise the online instrument used to solicit student evaluations of teaching.

My congratulations go to Provost Dennis Jacobs and his able team for coordinating all these projects. Such is the rather unglamorous but essential groundwork that enables a university to review, evaluate, and improve how it serves students and engages faculty and staff. To all faculty and staff who have or are presently serving on these task forces and advisory committees, I extend the gratitude of the university for your generous service.


Across the University innovation thrives in multiple endeavors.  In the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, Mick McCarthy and his colleagues in the Bannan Institute presented a well-received public lecture series on Sacred Texts. The Center is also exploring a possible place-based initiative south of downtown San Jose.  Hundreds of our students are already working there through our Arrupe Partnerships with agencies and schools in that area.  A focused outreach will allow the University to do what universities do best: observe, dialogue, gather data, analyze, and propose and test solutions to issues. To learn more about this neighborhood, my staff and I spent a day of immersion to acquaint ourselves with the lived experiences of the residents. I shall return to this moving experience later in my remarks.


In Athletics, Dan Coonan and Staci Gustafson have initiated the Bronco Leadership initiative for 50 of our student athletes.  The program focuses on uniting, inspiring and motivating team leaders to create a department-wide culture of winning at Santa Clara.  The student-athletes have loved comparing notes with leaders of other Santa Clara teams and building a stronger bond.


On a more challenging topic, our Office of Environmental Health and Safety and director, Sean Collins have led a team to develop an Active Shooter protection program. A year in planning, notices have been posted in all classrooms, and a training program will soon be available on-line and through in-class presentations. I urge all of you to acquaint yourself with this proactive resource for personal safety in case of, God-forbid, some possible crisis.

In the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, Thane Kreiner has launched the Global Social Benefit Fellows Program. Last summer was the first year of this program that pairs Santa Clara students with social benefit entrepreneurs around the world. Twelve students piloted this program and will showcase their work in the spring quarter. I want to mention that philanthropist Ann Bowers funded this program with a gift of $1.8 million dollars as a memorial to her friend, the late Father Paul Locatelli.

In that spirit of serving humanity, Don Dodson, Presidential Professor of Global Outreach, has worked for more than a year as Provost Pro Tem for a proposed Jesuit liberal Arts college in Hong Kong. Last week I returned from the first meeting of that school's board of trustees. The opening community seminar was titled, "Higher Education for Combating Poverty: Local and World Experiences." President Jack DeGioia of Georgetown and I delivered the keynote addresses. In my remarks, I talked about all of you and all that you are doing to promote social justice through the core curriculum, other courses, your research, and your service projects. Liberal arts education is a novelty in Hong Kong, as is the concept of educating students to combat poverty and injustice. (We made headlines in Hong Kong newspapers.)


Elsewhere around the globe, the chair of Santa Clara's Board of Trustees, Bob Finocchio, was invited to Rome, by Father Adolfo Nicolás, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus.  For two days, Bob and representative presidents, provosts, and board chairs briefed Father General on the model of Jesuit higher education in the United States. They explained how the 28 American Jesuit universities are not owned by the Jesuits, but by boards of trustees who operate them as a public trust. This is not the case in other countries where the Jesuits directly operate their institutions.  Fr. Nicolás will offer his reflections at an address in Chicago at the October meeting of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.


On the domestic scene, over a year ago the Ford Foundation funded a research project to explore how Jesuit colleges and universities serve undocumented students. Fairfield University in Connecticut, Loyola University of Chicago, and Santa Clara partnered in this study. I am grateful to Laura Nichols in Sociology and Cynthia Mertens in the Law School for leading the SCU contribution to this undertaking.  Their participation continued our university's long commitment to assisting undocumented students.


The Ford Foundation funded this and other research to ground its public policy recommendations concerning undocumented immigration. As President Obama and the Congress tackle the issue, I am pleased that Santa Clara has contributed to possible solutions that are humane and just. Such research provides the nitty-gritty work required to help our nation live up to its highest ideals. This research will be presented in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill in two weeks, and I shall be present with our delegation of students and faculty where we shall meet with Congressional leaders.


All of the above examples of growth and dynamic education matter greatly to me.  You and your work are what make my job stimulating, inspiring, and personally meaningful.  We share a passion to educate students to be leaders to change our world, a passion enfleshed in classes taught, research undertaken, students counseled, creative arts performed, and work going on in offices and in sports arenas. We pursue an ideal of creating a better world through a search for truth and for the Author of Truth and the Source of Beauty who animates us.

I know that I thrive best when I see our common mission come alive in our students.  Two months ago, one of our undocumented juniors completed the process to obtain his temporary legal residency. Brought to this country as a child, he grew up in San Jose, attended public schools, and received a Hurtado scholarship to enroll at Santa Clara. Here he has excelled, and it was my privilege to stand as his sponsor for Confirmation last year. I ran into him on the day he received his papers for legal residency, and he was so excited that he could hardly contain himself. His exclaimed that now he could get a driver's license. Now he was eligible to get a job in a profession after graduation, something that no one else in his family had achieved. Now his dreams were coming true, thanks to people at Santa Clara who had taught him, counseled him, and believed in him.


Reflecting on that encounter, I recalled the accented voice of my immigrant grandfather who came to this country at age 18. Knowing little English, Peder Engh risked all to escape the economic depression that gripped his homeland of Norway.  Recently, while reading through his citizenship papers, I discovered that few of the facts matched from one document to the next. It became clear to me that he had maneuvered around the laws of the time to gain entry to this country. Was he legally admitted? I cannot say, but his experience was not unlike those in our own time who have fled poverty to find a better future.


What matters to me also concerns what we do in the broader community.  As mentioned earlier, in December my staff and I spent a day in the Washington neighborhood in San Jose. We met many people, at schools, social service agencies, in their homes.  Most moving for me was listening to the half-dozen mothers who spoke to us at Washington Elementary School.  Each woman had one, two, or three small children with her. Addressing us in Spanish through an interpreter, they explained their deep belief in giving their children the best education possible.


We learned that over 100 of the mothers meet weekly at the school to encourage one another and to support the principal and the teachers. These women spoke of their desire to see our university work more closely with them in their neighborhood.  They also dream of the day when their children will attend college, a goal none of them have attained. No communication is as moving as listening to mothers speak of their love for their children.
Recalling that session, I am reminded that our Jesuit predecessors founded Santa Clara in 1851 to remedy the lack of education available to immigrants, the Spanish speaking, people of color, and others who were newly arrived in California.  The same mission of higher education is alive today.  The plan of the Ignatian Center for a closer partnership with the Washington neighborhood provides one more example of how the mission of our University continues to meet real needs in our contemporary society.


That matters to me.  I know such experiences matter to you.  That is why we do what we do, why we work so hard with our students and with our colleagues.  We are using the latest technology, the most recent research, the best training in our respective fields to build a more just, humane, and sustainable world. We have created momentum here, and we should acknowledge these indicators of success at Santa Clara.  We have much more to do. Our world needs us. That matters to me. I am glad you joined me today to recognize and affirm what matters so deeply to all of us.


God bless Santa Clara, today and for centuries to come.


Thank you.