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2011-2012 President's Report
A Letter from the President
Who We Are, Who We Are Becoming, and Are We Happy? This was the title of my most recent State of the University address. I borrowed it from a recent graduate’s quote. “Adult figures… all throughout campus—staff and professors and administrators… took an interest in me just because of me; not because of my major or anything I was doing academically, or what I wanted to do with my life, or where I came from … And that made me feel like what was important wasn’t just how I was doing in school (although that was really important and encouraged), but who I was, and who I was becoming, and was I happy?”
I was moved by his recognition of the widespread commitment of people here to the rigorous yet nurturing education and environment we provide. And, I am using his comments as the framework for this letter.
Who we are: Fundamentally, we are an organization that plans and develops positive learning environments in which our students can thrive. This requires extraordinary dedication and analytical, reflective work. We wrestle with questions that are not easy. How do we structure an integrative curriculum to educate with breadth and depth? How do we manage finances and shepherd investments so that financial aid reaches the most deserving students? How do we cope with cutbacks in state funding that supports our most economically vulnerable students? How do we function more efficiently? How do we best prepare students for life beyond this campus?
Who we are becoming: Santa Clara University is on an upward trajectory. From fundraising numbers to measurements of student and alumni satisfaction, our indicators of success are trending up. This report details some of the quantitative and qualitative measures of what we are becoming.
This past year, we once again broke records for the number of undergraduate applications for admission. Over the last three years, applications to Santa Clara have increased 41 percent. We accomplished this while balancing goals of ethnic, racial, economic, geographic, religious, and gender diversity.
We made impressive progress in fundraising. Cash gifts, pledges, and estate planning commitments all showed notable improvements over last year. We fine-tuned a comprehensive new core curriculum that is quickly becoming a national model. A glance at the Highlights section of this report will show the numerous research grants, awards, and prizes our students and faculty have received. The accomplishments of the faculty are particularly impressive when one considers that they are teaching scholars, strongly committed to classroom instruction.
Finally, are we happy? Happiness at Santa Clara comes from extending the blessing of belonging, of inclusion, of exploration, and searching. As part of this community, our students experience the joy that comes from discovering more of their talents, their values, their true selves, and all that makes up their amazing, God-given individualism.
This joy is reflected in the 91 percent of the class of 2011 who believe their Santa Clara education provided them with good to excellent preparation for life after college. Enthusiasm for our community is seen in the 94 percent of freshmen who return for their sophomore year—a figure well above the national average of 75 percent. We are happy but not complacent. We are committed to continual improvement. We are dedicated to providing the best education possible—one that inspires and transforms our students and equips them with the passion and knowledge to change the world for the better.
Michael E. Engh, S.J.