Santa Clara University

letters
An influential time at SCU

Winter 2004 issue

I was saddened to see the notice of the death of Professor Witold Krassowski in your Winter 2004 edition.

Witold arrived on campus about the same time I did, he on the faculty, and I as SCU’s alumni director, then director of admissions. During my 12 years at SCU, Witold was one of a small group of faculty who had a huge influence on the intellectual growth of the University. Witold, along with some others—John Drahmann, Fr. Ted Mackin, Mario Belotti and others I will be chastised for forgetting—brought excitement to their work, a powerful desire for progressive change in the academic program, and a deep love for SCU.

These faculty pushed for changes such as the introduction of a three-term calendar with three or four courses per term. They found a willing listener in then-President Patrick Donohoe, whose appointment in 1958 and fairly brief tenure of about 10 years revolutionized SCU.

So, it is fair to say that Witold Krassowski was “present at the creation” of a new Santa Clara fully realized —and still growing—in today’s University.
Dick Jonsen ’55
Louisville, Colo.

Where are SCU’s Catholic roots?

I’m curious: Is Santa Clara University still a Catholic school, or has it finally devolved into a completely secular institution? Reading this magazine and other publications, one would not be able to tell the difference between it and most other public institutions of learning.

There are articles singing praises to alumni politicians who strongly support abortion, even for minors (Janet Napolitano), and break state law to force same-sex marriage (Gavin Newsom). Articles are splashed on the SCU homepage advising same-sex marriage advocates how to best utilize the legal system to realize their goal (Prof. Brad Joondeph). And the list goes on. It saddens me to see former Catholic institutions of learning falling one by one to the secular culture. Where can devout Catholics send their children to receive a truly Catholic education any longer? Certainly not SCU.
Jeremy McCarthy ’91
San Francisco

Searching for common ground

David Forslund (“Don’t forget the country’s Christian foundations,” Letters, Winter 2004) might be less puzzled if he were a little better informed.

It may be true that the culture of the American colonies was infused with the ethics of Christians who migrated here seeking religious freedom, but the thinking of our founders and much of the spirit of the revolution were more explicitly linked to the secular enlightenment.

In a letter to a friend, Thomas Jefferson cited pre-Christian Saxons as the primary historical antecedent for American law, concluding, “...Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

More to the point, the Treaty of Tripoli, initiated by George Washington and signed by John Adams, asserts “The Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion.”

John Adams and Thomas Paine were particularly critical of Christianity. Paine declared in The Age of Reason that, “My mind is my own church.” Benjamin Franklin identified with Deism, a decidedly non-Christian, humanist philosophical movement. And James Madison denounced the establishment of chaplains in the Congress and armed forces as unconstitutional.

I am Catholic and my values are fueled by the challenge of the gospels. I thank the thoughtful ethical and theological studies I received at Santa Clara for helping to keep that challenge before me. The Christian mandates for compassion and tolerance lead me to value the civil liberties on which our country was founded. Fundamental to those liberties are the rights of minorities (religious and non-religious). The common ground that allows us, in all of our diversity, to enjoy these liberties is the Constitution.

And common ground is something that we desperately need today.
Michael Williams ’87
Alameda, Calif.

American culture needs scapegoats

David Forslund (Letters, Winter 2004) forgets that the Christian foundation of this country was based on the pilgrims’ exodus from England in order to pursue freedom of religion. Mr. Forslund has a right to his beliefs of homosexuality as a sexual preference, but the constitution prevents him from imposing his beliefs on me as a gay person.

Ironically, Mr. Forslund’s letter appears in the same issue as the article on “Leaving Communism Behind.” American culture is based on the
dysfunctional need for scapegoats. Now that we don’t have the communists as the common enemy we have substituted gays and lesbians as the scapegoats.

What amazes me is how fragile heterosexual identity seems to be that gays and lesbians threaten the institution of marriage so much. If the government allows my partner of 27 years and I to marry, how is that a threat to heterosexual marriage? Are heterosexuals lining up ready to “jump ship” as soon as same-sex marriage is allowed?

Thank God for the Constitution and the foresight of our forefathers and mothers to create a separation of church and state.
Fernando J. Gutierrez J.D. ’94
Miramar, Fla.

Art has a history at SCU

I enjoyed your recent article on Howard Anderson ’71 (“An Artist With A Mission,” Winter 2004), but I was sorry that you didn’t remind your readers that students have been able to major in art and/or art history for some time now at Santa Clara. We have nine tenured or tenure-track faculty members and more than 100 majors active at any given time.

As a matter of fact, we celebrated Fr. Gerald Sullivan’s 33 years of teaching in our department in January. Ironically, he arrived at Santa Clara in 1971!
Kathleen Maxwell
Associate professor and chair, SCU Department of Art and Art History

Article was a gift well-received

Tom Beaudoin’s thoughts on the spirituality of gift giving (Winter 2004) definitely resonated with me. The idea of bringing God into our gifting of others is an important idea, one that was well outlined within Tom’s words.

It seemed that his description of searching for the reality behind his cup of morning coffee culminated in the quote: “This was an object lesson in how my gift giving and receiving was caught up in the control and denial of life for others.”

Thank you for a great article.
Tom Hofstedt
San Mateo (submitted through santaclaramagazine.com)

Clarifications

In the Winter 2004 issue, SCU Political Science Professor Jane Curry was misidentified as an associate professor in the byline of her story. Also, Professor Bob Senkewicz’s and former faculty member Mary Gordon’s names were misspelled in a story on Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.

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