Santa Clara University

Office of the President

Convocation Address, 2012

Mission Church, SCU
11 September 2012


Thank you, Provost Jacobs. Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the start of our new academic year. I hope the summer months brought just what you needed to reenergize for the new year. Thank you, Kristin Heyer, for your inspiring and powerful invocation to open our assembly. On this anniversary of 9/11, it is important that we remember all who died on that tragic day.

It is our custom at Santa Clara University to begin our academic year with a Convocation, followed by our Mass of the Holy Spirit. The assembly today affords me the opportunity to welcome new members to our SCU family, acknowledge individual achievements and progress in various projects, and to share thoughts on higher education.

Let me begin with introductions of new members of the University Community. I ask that you please stand and be recognized when your names are called.

Nicholas Ladany has begun as the new dean of the School of Education and Counseling Psychology. Dean Ladany comes to us from Lehigh University by way of LMU, where he paused for two years before joining us. With Dean Ladany at the helm, ECP is positioned to focus on strengthening its signature programs and building on the foundations set by the ECP team.

On July 1, Father Tom Massaro, S.J., began as dean of the Jesuit School of Theology at our Berkeley campus. Father Massaro comes to us from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. As a welcoming present, we asked him to complete the Strategic Planning for JST.

Our new Librarian, Jennifer Nutefall, hails from Oregon State University where she served as Associate University Librarian for Innovative User Services. There she enhanced support for faculty research and student learning, and facilitated the development of a teaching philosophy for the library.

This weekend we also will welcome to campus 1,280 first-year students. The average GPA of the Class of 2016 is 3.64, with average SAT and ACT scores in the top 15% nationally. They come from 36 states and two dozen countries; 40% come from out-of-state. They are joined by 157 transfer students. The gender balance this year is a bit different from last year - 53% male, 47% female. Using the latest federal definitions, 46% students claim some sort of racial or ethnic diversity. Given the ever increasing national competition to enroll the best applicants, I want to thank Mike Sexton and his team in the Admissions and Financial Aid offices for bringing this class to SCU.

Acknowledgements: Achievements and Updates

The work of several task forces has come to or are nearing completion, and they warrant our recognition.
  • Governance Task Force: the final "Recommendations to Enhance Shared Governance," which grew out of the final report of the Governance Task Force, were approved for implementation.   I thank Janie Currie, task force chair, and Mike Meyer, chair of the University Coordination Council, for their respective roles in drafting and seeing these recommendations to fruition.  Now comes the implementation!
  • Classroom Utilization Task Force: the revised recommendations were approved; the net result is the equivalent of four new classrooms.
  • Communication and Collaboration: As announced by Provost Jacobs, I have approved the major recommendations for a new email/calendar/collaboration system. Information Services is preparing extensive plans for implementation now that Google Apps for Education has been selected as the platform. The University is also contracting with outside consultants for the implementation. Thank you to the many people who served on this task force, co-chaired by Terri Griffith and Ron Danielson.
  • Evaluation of Teaching: This fall the UCC will engage University groups in reviewing the final report and providing feedback on the recommendations.  

Another highlight to acknowledge came in June when we signed a fair and equitable union contract. I would like to reiterate my thanks to the grounds and maintenance workers, the University negotiating team, and all who assisted in the bargaining sessions.  Throughout the process, we all strove for a resolution that served in the best interest of all parties.  The negotiations reminded me that we are a community that can engage in discussion and debate while respecting the dignity and the contributions of our valued colleagues. The end result is an agreement that honors the University's commitment to providing employees health care and other benefits, and for that I am grateful.

We also completed two year-long anniversary celebrations: the first century of the School of Engineering and the fiftieth anniversary of the admission of women to the undergraduate program.  Congratulations to Godfrey Mungal and his Centennial team, and to Kathy Kale and her Alumni committee.

In rankings, Santa Clara University is ranked among the top 75 of America's Best Colleges in a list released by Forbes Magazine. SCU is ranked no. 72, dramatically climbing the charts from 318 in 2008. The annual list of the 650 best undergraduate institutions focuses on the quality of teaching, great career prospects, graduation rates, and low levels of debt.

In staff recognitions, Susan Popko, Associate Provost for Global Education, has received a prestigious recognition. The Association of International Education Administrators has selected Susan as one of its three AIEA Presidential Fellows for 2012-2013. Presidential Fellowships involve mentorship of emerging leaders in the field of international education.  Congratulations to Susan on this honor.

As move-in day nears, I want to thank Ed Ryan, for his service as interim Dean of Academic Support Services, which includes the Drahmann Center and the summer Orientation program.

Acknowledgements: Buildings and Grounds

The Patricia and Stephen Schott Admissions and Enrollment Services building has opened its doors for business. It is NOT the President's new office!  It IS the home for Admissions, Financial Aid, the Registrar, and the Bursar – and offers a one-stop shop for current students. The "welcome center" with video and photos will help tell the Santa Clara story to visitors in a dynamic and engaging way. We will host an official dedication in October.

Much to the relief of Jeanne Rosenberger and her staff, the new Graham Apartment complex is ready to welcome 360 students this weekend for the Alpha RLC.

For these and a host of other improvement projects, I salute Joe Sugg and his staff in Facilities for this summer's work to improve and enhance our campus facilities.

We have also been smart about the ongoing maintenance costs of the new buildings by building structures that are energy-efficient and designed to be LEED Gold certified or better. We also generate our own renewable energy from solar, thermal, photovoltaics, and wind that cut our costs.

As you can see, much has been accomplished this past year and through the summer, and I salute all who worked so hard on them.

Reflections on Higher Education

At our president's staff retreat this summer, we read and discussed a chapter from Jerry McKevitt's book, Brokers of Culture. The chapter, titled "'Who Could Have Done Anything Like This in Italy?," described how the Jesuit founders of colleges in the American West established educational institutions, each on a financial shoestring, with a lot of grit and a boldness. These Jesuits found themselves in a new environment where English was a second language for them; with a diverse and underserved population in need of education; when organized authority (their superiors in Europe) favored a traditional curriculum laden with old-world pedagogy; and government was not doing much to provide an education to its residents. This new world demanded they open their eyes to change and accommodation to serve better their students. They were "brokers of culture" who built bridges that crossed ethnic groups, religious traditions, academic pedagogy, and world views.

For example, our Jesuit founders reached across national boundaries to recruit students who would enrich and shape the student body. In our first quarter-century, twenty-five percent of students enrolled at Santa Clara were Hispanic. Asian students also matriculated, along with immigrants and the children of immigrants, and Catholics and people of all faiths.

The Jesuits modified their curriculum to meet the local needs of the community. They recognized that settlers in the American West were more interested in science and commercial training than in Latin and Greek.  The Jesuits also indulged the American predilection for handsome appearances – funding new buildings with pleasing aesthetics and catering to the adage, "First impressions count."

Santa Clara continues to broker diverse and conflicting cultures. Like our predecessors, we are attentive to the signs of the times, to discern if, how, or when to change so that we can better serve our students.     Three movements in particular have held my attention and warrant creative responses informed by our values, our experiences, and our tradition of adaptation: information technology, the return-on-investment mentality that insists upon greater accountability and career preparation; and forces of exclusion vs. access and inclusion. 

A few words on each.

Information Technology

In the heart of Silicon Valley, the informational technology culture surrounds us, serves us, and challenges us.  Innovative mobile devices, digital video, social media, ebooks, etc., are creating new opportunities to deepen, enhance, and extend student learning.  In recent months Stanford University has named a vice provost of online learning, while to the south, President Max Nikias has committed USC to extensive professional and graduate on-line learning.

Santa Clara is uniquely poised to take a leadership role in bridging technology with the kind of education for which we are best known: education in the Jesuit tradition, of the whole person, and for a more just, humane, and sustainable world. Our goal is to leverage technology to broaden learning and to advance our distinctive mission in delivery, in content, and in pedagogy. Several steps have been taken to expand the reach of a Santa Clara education and engage students more deeply.

The Faculty Collaborative for Teaching Innovation is a pilot program in support of excellence and innovation in teaching and learning in the Jesuit tradition. Leadership of the Collaborative is drawn from both Academic Affairs and Information Services.  The goals of the Collaborative include nurturing and supporting innovations in pedagogy among faculty; creating interdisciplinary communities of faculty who will explore and share promising practices and innovations; and establishing a network of mentors who will inform others about meaningful assessment, grants and conferences, and the scholarship of teaching.

The Provost's office has also launched a pilot project focused on collaborative learning spaces. This project explores new classroom designs to support learning.  

Related to the collaborative learning space project is a pilot project exploring the use of mobile technologies to enhance student learning. With the assistance of a Hewlett Foundation grant, iPads have been provided to the faculty teaching in the freshman LEAD  scholars courses and to the 60 first-year students in LEAD Scholars program (first generation students whose parents did not attend college). The pilot project will culminate in a report examining the effect of mobile technologies and collaborative classroom design on student learning related to diversity, justice, ethics, and spirituality, both in the classroom and beyond.

We have undertaken a series of conversations with Apple, Inc., to identify ways to enhance student learning at Santa Clara through educational technologies. The group's first event was a half-day seminar in June with representatives from Apple and 60 members of the Santa Clara faculty and staff. A follow-up meeting at the Apple campus was held in September. We are planning future conversations with Apple to explore further how best to utilize information technology in education.

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics will be experimenting with a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). This is a major movement in higher education, and Santa Clara's hallmark business ethics program makes for a great offering to far-reaching audiences, including our alumni, corporate and professional groups, and our global Jesuit network.

With funding from the World Bank Development Marketplace, the Center for Science Technology and Society has developed an online expansion of the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™) program, a mentoring and training program for social entrepreneurs dedicated to solving major social problems related to poverty, hunger, and lack of power. GSBI Online matches entrepreneurs with mentors, providing interactive training modules to help build sustainable and scalable organizations. The online delivery format extends the successful model developed by the Center by providing training to those unable to travel and to entrepreneurial ventures in earlier stages of development.

These are just some of the major projects underway to leverage new technologies as a way to advance our distinctive mission.  Further objectives articulated in the Strategic Plan include developing partnerships with Silicon Valley companies to enhance student learning; providing state of the art delivery of course content; promoting Jesuit values to enhance the common good within the Silicon Valley community; strengthening academic niches at the graduate level to address the needs of Silicon Valley, both locally and in its global outreach; upgrading facilities to support learning, scholarship, and community; and establishing the University as a leader in Jesuit education.  I thank all those faculty and staff who are taking leadership roles in these exciting new ventures.

Return-on-Investment Mentality

On another front, President Barack Obama has spoken of the need to hold American universities more accountable for graduation rates and job placement of graduates. Various pundits and bloggers have followed up with oversimplifications that equate college education with job and career preparation. These "experts" have not always noted how for-profit and not-for-profit institutions like Santa Clara have vastly divergent standards for admission, care for students, and retention and graduation rates.

The desire for accountability is a realistic expectation of donors, government officials, and the general public. Lumping all colleges and universities together, however, confuses rather than clarifies the dialogue. Expecting our graduates to find gainful employment and to make constructive contributions to society are also reasonable and desirable outcomes. To reduce higher education to job preparation appears a mere gimmick, one that demeans the full range of benefits that universities provide to the American republic and worldwide society.

We train leaders to work for the highest values, both personally and socially, privately and publicly.  A more just, humane, and sustainable world requires the development in each of our students of a personal moral compass and a commitment to ethical decision making.  We know that a Santa Clara education leads to a stunning level of financial success.  We also recognize many graduates contribute as volunteers in their communities and in projects of service around the world.  Here, I believe, lies the fuller measure of our success, the true return on the time, energy, and dedication that we invest in these young women and men.

Being a Jesuit Catholic institution in the vortex of the Silicon Valley brings with it some unique challenges and concerns about inclusion and access.  Governor Jerry Brown's most recent budget made the first cut in the CalGrant program that benefits our bright and economically challenged students from California. He targeted private higher education with a 5% cut in each award, after 10 years of no increases, which amounts to cuts by neglect and inflation.

For Santa Clara, the recent 5% cut in CalGrants amounts to $280,000 annually, or roughly $700,000 over 4 years. Through belt tightening, a modest tuition increase, and increased fund raising, the Trustees approved creation a reserve fund to see us through this fiscal year and to position us better for future cuts in state aid to students. Our students and their families, however, continue to struggle, and this worries me greatly.

Your contributions help in this regard, and I thank you for your generosity. Last fiscal year (2011-2012), you gave over $850,000.  At the risk of embarrassing my Jesuit colleagues, I wish to point out that the Jesuits contributed $375,000 of this total from their salaries (that is 44% of all received from faculty and staff).

Our alumni have helped as well. I am happy to report that undergraduate alumni giving participation reached our goal of 21%. Further good news is the challenge grant we received from the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation. They will give $1 million to the University if 9,000 alumni make a gift this school year.  This is a great opportunity for us to engage our alumni and encourage their support in reaching this goal.

Forces of Exclusion vs. Access and Inclusion

In the President's staff, we recently read two chapters in Marilynne Robinson's collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books. Marilynne Robinson teaches creative writing at the University of Iowa and has authored best sellers such as Gideon and Home.  Robinson celebrates teaching and working at colleges and universities as the opportunities for feeding the imagination and enriching the community. She argues that "Community, at least community larger than the immediate family, consists very largely of imaginative love for people we do not know or whom we know very slightly." Let me repeat that last part of the quotation: community "consists very largely of imaginative love for people we do not know or whom we know very slightly." (p. 21). She believes that higher education in the United States "is based around powerful models of community" (p. 23). The "institutional model" for older institutions of higher learning - such as Santa Clara - rest on "a religious tradition that loved the soul and the mind and was meant to encourage the exploration and refinement of them both" (p. 24).

Community, then, is a work of the imagination so that we are increasingly able to visualize others of slight acquaintance and consider them as included, part of the community, members of our extended kin. Here I hope that you can recognize thinking that mirrors our Santa Clara values. For example, our immersion trips for faculty, staff, and students allow us to accompany people not previously known to us so we come to recognize a wider circle of kinship. Robinson concludes this line of thought by stating, "the more generous the scale at which imagination is exerted, the healthier and more humane the community will be" (pp. 29-39).

To broaden our imagination about community, our Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education is planning for a "place-based initiative" in San Jose. This partnership model is intentional, geographically defined, and maximizes community impact and student learning. The initiative will foster community engagement for students, faculty and staff; strengthen relationships in the local community; and through those partnerships help improve educational achievement among families in the community. The project is in the planning stages for a launch next year. 

To acquaint ourselves more deeply with neighborhood needs, the President's Staff will undertake what I would term a domestic immersion trip. We shall spend a day meeting with groups and individuals in the community with which we hope to partner.  We wish to listen and to learn from people at the grassroots about the needs for which a university might respond.  This project responds to the Strategic Plan's goal of Excellence in Jesuit Education and Justice.

We have also focused efforts in global engagement under the leadership of Susan Popko, Assistant Vice Provost for International Education.  During the past academic year, she coordinated a number of University-wide fora and small group discussions on the University's strategic priority of global understanding and engagement. As a result of these sessions, a set of recommendations for the future was drafted and is currently under review by the Provost.

These recommendations serve to help guide our work in engaging students more deeply and broadly with people and cultures around the world. We are tapping into our international network of Jesuit Institutions as well to build inroads to global communities where we can make a difference. Just as our predecessors reached out to neighboring countries for students, so too are we looking around the world to recruit students to attend Santa Clara.

To form more integrated global planning and services and to help support new international students, International Student Services has joined with the Office of International Programs. They now have offices in Varsi Hall and are working to extend the reach of a Santa Clara education.

International Programs has also partnered with Alumni Relations to sponsor a year-long project, "Study Abroad:  Then and Now." The project has been initiated in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Study Abroad Program at SCU in 2014. The project involves contacting alumni who have studied abroad over the last fifty years; asking them about the impact of the experience; and collecting photos to develop a narrative about the effect of the program on their lives and careers.  I want to thank Barbara Colyar who will help coordinate this project.

These diverse innovations and adaptations recall the heritage of our Jesuit founders.  The continued work of brokering cultures involves all of us at Santa Clara. Our collective efforts to stretch the imagination of who belongs and who has access to higher education are contributions we make to the Silicon Valley. As such, we educate beyond professional competence and job preparation. Our common mission possesses a significance, a holiness, because of its broad implications for the well being of our fellow human beings, our our community, and the care of our planet.

Don C. Dodson Distinguished Service Professorship

To recognize those who have modeled the leadership that Santa Clara cherishes, we have established the Don C. Dodson Distinguished Service Professor. An honorific title, it is to be "bestowed upon one or more exceptional teaching scholars who have greatly enriched the Santa Clara University community through dedicated leadership in support of the institution's multi-faceted mission in teaching, scholarship, and service."  Among the honorees' responsibilities will be to provide advice upon request to senior members of the administration. And the help will be most welcome!

Named in honor of the quintessential Santa Clara administrator, the title recognizes an individual's longstanding service and leadership contributions to the University. These include exemplary academic or administrative leadership, planning, innovation, development, or governance. Don Dodson is the inspiration for such a professorship because he is a person of wisdom and patience, integrity and fairness, who brings out the best in others. Throughout his career here, which continues on a part-time basis even today, he learned that this community is made of great people with so much talent. By unleashing and encouraging people, he worked to create a community in which people can develop to their fullest. And that is leadership in the Santa Clara tradition.

Though Don regrets that he is unable to be present today, I am happy to announce that the inaugural recipient of the Don C. Dodson Distinguished Service Professor.  This honoree's contributions to the mission of Santa Clara are both broad and deep, spanning scholarship, teaching, service to the profession and leadership of high impact initiatives, particularly those in the area of social justice. It is an honor and a privilege to present Jim Koch as the Don C. Dodson Distinguished Service Professor.

A founding director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, and Emeritus Director of the GSBI, Jim is a key player with the GSBI Network in bringing important visibility of the GSBI in the Silicon Valley business community. The GSBI works with social entrepreneurs to empower them and their organizations and to overcome barriers to scale and impact. Since 2003, 121 award-winning social enterprises have attended GSBI and become part of a growing network of path finding alumni for creating a more just and sustainable world.  

In his present role as Director of GSBI Network & Sector Strategy he has directed GSBI's successful sector-based programs on safe drinking water and clean energy.  He also initiated the development of an International Association of Jesuit Schools of Business "GSBI" Network, with a focus on research on social entrepreneurship.  And before there was the GSBI, Jim was busy doing leading edge work with the STS, including as a co-founder of the Technology Benefiting Humanity Awards in collaboration with The Tech Museum of Innovation and with Applied Materials, and as founder of STS Nexus, a semi-annual publication to illuminate the dynamic interplay of science and technology with culture and society.  

Jim's leadership at the University reaches beyond his involvement with STS and GSBI. He has served the University generously as dean of two different schools - Dean of Leavey School of Business and Interim Dean of the School of Engineering. Jim's scholarship on innovation and social entrepreneurship stand out in the field, a point of pride for the University and the Center. He teaches, advises students and has publishes as co-author on papers and case studies with graduate students. A staunch supporter of Santa Clara's vision of educating for justice, Jim was instrumental in the design and delivery of a new and groundbreaking class required for MBA students, Leadership for Justice and Prosperity.

In all of his work, Jim models service with compassion; leadership grounded in the reality of our world; great care for our institution and its members; and a deep commitment as an agent for creative and positive change.  Congratulations, Jim!


As we begin our new academic year, I look for new ways for us to keep alive the spirit of adaptation as we negotiate – broker -competing cultures.  In particular, I seek to strengthen, and deepen the sense of community at Santa Clara, a community that lives an imaginative love, a broad affection for those with whom we work. Our students need our daily examples of active inclusion, of welcoming each person, respecting each person.  For all of you engaged in such efforts, it is a privilege to work with and for you.  God bless you all.

Thank you very much.

Michael E. Engh, S.J.

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