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Santa Clara University Names New Provost

Monday, May. 9, 2011


SANTA CLARA, Calif. May 9, 2011—Santa Clara University announced the selection of Dennis Jacobs as the new provost and vice president for academic affairs. He will begin his duties this summer.
Jacobs will be the chief academic officer of Santa Clara and provide leadership and management of all aspects of academic and student life programs, information services, and athletics. Jacobs, who comes to Santa Clara from the University of Notre Dame, where he served as vice president and associate provost for undergraduate studies since 2004, will report directly to University President Michael Engh, S.J.
“With enthusiasm I welcome Dennis Jacobs to Santa Clara University and look forward to working with him to advance the University and its strategic plan,” said Michael Engh, S.J. “His record of success augurs well for continued and greater success here in the Silicon Valley.”
At Notre Dame, Jacobs worked to implement the core curriculum, launched new study abroad programs, and established the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement to cultivate scholars and enhance research opportunities for students. He initiated a Residential Scholars program to help bridge the divide between academic and residential life. He also helped recruit a more diverse undergraduate student body through a variety of strategic initiatives including modifying Notre Dame’s financial aid packaging.
“I feel privileged to have this opportunity to be a part of the next exciting chapter at Santa Clara University,” said Jacobs. “Santa Clara has all the academic ingredients to make a significant and lasting impact here in the Silicon Valley and globally.”
Jacobs is drawn to Santa Clara’s holistic approach to education informed by its rich Jesuit and Catholic tradition. “The aim is to develop outstanding leaders and professionals who are committed to form a more humane, just and sustainable world,” said Jacobs. “Santa Clara is distinctive in the way it blends an ethical perspective and the principles of social justice with intellectual inquiry and technological innovation.”
In addition to guiding the vision of Notre Dame’s undergraduate program, Jacobs has been a chemistry and biochemistry faculty member at Notre Dame since 1988. His research has focused on studying reactions relevant to semiconductor processing in the microelectronics industry. For the past decade, he has taught a community-based learning course in which student teams visit families who live below the poverty level to test for lead contamination in their homes.
Jacobs has published extensively and received numerous grants and awards. Among his many accolades are the Kaneb Teaching Award at Notre Dame, Carnegie Scholar of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the prestigious Professor of the Year for Doctoral and Research Universities awarded by CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The CASE award honors dedication to teaching, commitment to students and creative approaches to education. It is the only national award to acknowledge teaching excellence.
Jacobs, who played jazz piano in college, views his role at Santa Clara much like the director of a jazz band—one who inspires and draws upon the talents of each musician in the ensemble to create a unique composition. Jacobs reflected, “In order to bring coherence and vision to the university, the provost needs to recognize the diversity of strengths and talents across the campus, and leverage them strategically to advance programs in support of the university’s goals.”
After spending 23 years in Indiana, Jacobs is excited to return to California, where he was born and received his entire education. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University and his bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and physics at the University of California at Irvine.
Jacobs is married with three children, two of whom are in college and the youngest in high school. His wife, Thea, is pursuing a teaching credential in elementary education.
About Santa Clara University          
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see
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Tags: Dennis Jacobs, new provost

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