The Bannan Center for Jesuit Education was founded in 1982 by three generations of the Bannan family with an initial endowment to honor Louis I. (“Uncle Lou”) Bannan, S.J., a longtime teacher and counselor at the University with the goal of improving and enhancing the Ignatian spirit in the whole University community.
The Bannan family gave an initial endowment of $1.2 million and over subsequent years, the Arline and Thomas J. Bannan Foundation and individual Bannan family members have contributed an additional $3.6 million to the Center’s endowment.
The original title of the Center was the “Louis I. Bannan, S.J., Foundation for Christian Values” (BFCV). Implications of the term “Foundation” suggested an early change to “Institute,” and Fr. Bannan likewise questioned the use of his personal name. Over the years, the name of the Center gradually morphed from its original title to the “Bannan Institute for Jesuit Education and Christian Values” (BI) and finally to the “Bannan Center for Jesuit Education,” when it was named a center of distinction in 1999.
The original purpose of the Institute/Center was to “improve and enhance the Ignatian spirit in the whole University community: faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends.” In its early years, the BFCV sponsored teaching grants and projects related to Catholic identity and Jesuit mission including: the early beginnings of the Eastside Project; the fledgling Religious Studies Pastoral Ministries graduate programs in Catechetics, Pastoral Liturgy, Liturgical Music and Spirituality; and Campus Ministry projects such as departmental retreats and the Christian Life Community (CLC).
The BFCV also invited Jesuit scholars to Santa Clara as Bannan Fellows; over the years, their books, research projects, lectures, and conferences spanned a variety of topics. Within the national and international Jesuit community, this fellowship program helped Santa Clara earn a reputation as a place that fostered intellectual rigor and inquiry around questions of Catholic identity and Jesuit mission.
In early 1997 the newly rechristened BI expanded its efforts to keep Santa Clara’s Catholic and Jesuit vision relevant and vibrant in changing times. As President Locatelli explained at the time, because the BI is “moving to be one of the major centers of distinction on campus,” it needs to have a broader focus in order to “engage faculty and students in every major academic area; enhance learning, the curriculum, faculty scholarship, and service; and contribute to Santa Clara’s excellence and distinction.”
As a center of distinction since 1999, the Institute/Center has gradually evolved into a fully staffed mission and identity office on campus. Annual reports will show its varied programmatic activities all directed to that end: Bannan Grants, explore journal , Bannan Visitors, Bannan Fellowships, Santa Clara Lectures, Bannan Retreats, a series of Justice Conferences, Western Conversations, and more. These and many more programs like them make up the programmatic efforts of the present Bannan Institute to promote the Catholic identity and Jesuit mission of the University as a part of the larger Ignatian Center.