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The Spring of Hope:
A Jesuit University in Silicon Valley
The 2002 Fall term began with an insightful lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The New York Times, Thomas Friedman. It struck me that Friedman touched on a 21st century adaptation of Dickens' hope and despair when he said: "Globalization is everything and its opposite." This challenge is symmetrical with the ideal of Jesuit education: to educate leaders with a "well-educated solidarity" for this time and world.
As a Jesuit university, we have a deep commitment to intellectual excellence that leavens society for good, locally and globally. Such a distinctive education must prepare students to be leaders who understand hope and despair, everything and its opposite, faith and its promotion of social justice for all, especially the poor.
How do we do this? Let me mention some of the ways. Throughout the 2002-03 academic year, we are offering what may be the most inclusive, thorough, and challenging examination of the condition we call "globalization" ever mounted by a single university in a single year. The programs range from academic courses to art exhibits, from conferences such as "Globalization From the Perspective of Developing Countries," to influential thinkers such as Friedman, Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for economics, and Fr. Bryan Hehir, former dean of the Harvard University Divinity School and current head of Catholic Charities USA.
Our location in Silicon Valley, where technological innovation, bursts of intellectual energy, and a diverse, international community are a way of life, enhances the University's sense of being part of a globalizing world. Silicon Valley provides the stage for learning, which, because of its innovative spirit, encourages in Santa Clara's faculty a deep and abiding commitment to research and to the best learning pedagogies.
Our interaction with Silicon Valley and the world helps students see the importance of the contributions they can make. They comprehend the importance of learning to use science and engineering for good while preserving the environment. We actively explore making ethical decisions while considering the world's disadvantaged and working to be ethical corporate citizens. Our students and faculty write poetry to enlighten minds while showing our human goodness and foibles, and others learn how to use the law to make society better by speaking the truth and being moral persons.
As a Jesuit, Catholic university, our commitment to the intellectual life demands we ask not the narrower, but the greater and broader questions about life and God, about hope and despair, and how we can engage with all aspects of life. We encourage our students to examine and develop a view of the world that incorporates the ideal of faith that values both interreligious dialogue and the promotion of social justice. With St. Ignatius, Jesuits believe that one's relationship with God is reflected in one's relationship with people, that one honors and serves God by also honoring and serving people-all people, and especially people with the greatest need.
Young people are attracted by the ideal of doing good, and our students embrace this part of their education for life, whether or not they are part of the Catholic faith tradition. We encourage students to participate in academically rigorous, community-based learning courses as well as in community service programs. The University actively promotes international learning opportunities for undergraduates, both in traditional study abroad programs and at Casa de la Solidaridad, the El Salvador junior year abroad program.
After all, all over the globe, people face the same fundamental issues: how to raise healthy children, how to preserve ecologically balanced environments, and how to improve the fabric and the economic foundations of local communities.
In October, we announced the largest fund-raising campaign in Santa Clara's history. Our goal is sometimes defined by the dollars to be raised, but the real goal is to improve the University as a place where students and faculty, friends, and neighbors learn. The goal is Jesuit excellence in education. This is why we mapped our $350 million fund-raising priorities to Santa Clara's strategic priorities that focus on students and faculty, academic programs, and the learning environment.
Increasingly, our objectives include strengthening the role global perspectives play in a Santa Clara education. At the campaign kick-off celebration in the Mission Gardens on Oct. 5, 2002, I noted that 10 years from now, because of this campaign, Santa Clara will be known around the world for educating moral, responsible, global citizens. These leaders will change the world by finding better ways to overcome ignorance and prejudice, to alleviate poverty and hunger, and to end divisions that are caused by religion, national origins, or languages.
The differences between developed and developing nations and peoples can be overcome. A spring of hope can emerge from a winter of despair. It is both that challenge and that opportunity that Santa Clara University embraces as it carries forward its mission to challenge minds, inspire hearts, and transform lives in the heart of Silicon Valley and beyond.