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SCU President Locatelli says education should integrate search for truth and bread

Friday, Sep. 17, 1999

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept.17, 1999 — As Santa Clara University prepared to begin a new school year, President Paul Locatelli, S.J., called for increased dialogue, diversity and social commitment at all Catholic, Jesuit colleges and universities.

In a morning speech entitled "Justice in Jesuit Education Today: Integrating the Hunger for Truth and Bread," Locatelli echoed themes consistent with the Jesuit tradition, which he said is anchored in "the fundamental question of humanistic education: ‘How ought I to live?’"

Locatelli, entering his 11th academic year as SCU president, also serves as president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

Locatelli’s convocation address, at 10:30 a.m. today, occurred one year before SCU kicks off its 150th anniversary celebration as the oldest institution of higher education in California.

His speech presaged the "Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education" theme of a regional conference of clergy and educators at SCU Oct.15-17. The Santa Clara meeting will be one of three regional conferences around the U.S. this fall, co-sponsored by the SCU Bannan Institute for Jesuit Education and Christian Values.

Santa Clara University will join Boston College and the University of Detroit Mercy in sponsoring a national conference on the same topic at Santa Clara in October 2000, the kickoff event for SCU’s sesquicentennial.

Locatelli reminded his SCU colleagues assembled in Mayer Theatre that the distinctive purpose of Jesuit education at the dawn of a new century is to demand "that we expand our intellectual inquiry to include the full range of human experience: from technological progress and a global economy to the hunger and frustration that plague an ever increasing number of poor."

"No university can pretend to be preparing its students for life in the 21st century global society unless it educates them for conscience and compassion as well as for scholarly competence," he said.

Locatelli called for improved dialogue among students and faculty, that is "characterized by both candor and scholarly inquiry, to discover the truth of justice."

Genuine dialogue on college campuses, the SCU president said, has become increasingly difficult, as faculty research agendas "are often set more by the interests of the guild and grantsmanship than by the needs of students or society."

"Socrates might be concerned about character development, but regrettably, Socrates would not publish enough to get tenure."

Locatelli said diversity must be an important component of campus dialogue. "We have a better chance to hear truth when the dialogue includes a diversity of voices," said the president. "Conversation among people from a variety of religions, cultures, classes and experiences will enhance our understanding of truth."

In Silicon Valley, "individuals and families are feeling the strain of increasing work loads and commute times," the SCU president warned. "What impact is this having on children, marriage, and life-beyond-work?"

"White-collar immigrants come to the corporations while others cross the border to work in our fields. Manufacturing goes off-shore and capital flows through global channels as some local corporations get bought up."

Locatelli offered a vision of a university that occupies a leadership role in Silicon Valley:

"Imagine bringing scholars from a variety of disciplines together with leaders from business and the community, from politics and the professions. Imagine beginning a dialogue on these issues not from assumptions about markets or economic methodologies that drive the conclusions, but with the experience of people who are directly affected."

Locatelli said the SCU 150th anniversary celebration will offer new opportunities for such dialogue.

In addition to the "Justice" conferences on higher education next month and one year from now, SCU will host in early 2001 a national conference on ethics in the contemporary world, focusing especially on justice in the workplace and moral development of young people. In the spring of 2001, SCU will host a national conference on technology and society, examining how new technologies impact the quality of life.

"My hope is that our dialogue will integrate the hungers for truth and understanding, knowledge and faith, justice and bread," the SCU president said. "Then we will be educating graduates who will fashion a society more humane and more just."

Santa Clara University, the oldest institution of higher education in California, is a private Jesuit university with approximately 4,400 undergraduate and 3,400 graduate students, located in Santa Clara. For the 10th consecutive year, SCU this month was ranked second among all regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.

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For a complete text of President Locatelli’s 1999-00 convocation speech, go to http://www.scu.edu/President/Speeches/convocation99.html. For more information about Santa Clara University, see http://www.scu.edu, e-mail, news@scu.edu, or call Barry Holtzclaw, Director of Media Relations, 408-554-5126. For information about the university’s 150th anniversary celebration, go to http://www.scu.edu/news/150.

Tags: convocation

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