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Scott Santarosa, Kevin O'Brien, John M. Sobrato on stage at inauguration in robes

Scott Santarosa, Kevin O'Brien, John M. Sobrato on stage at inauguration in robes

Fr. O’Brien’s Inauguration Shines Light on the Campaign and SCU’s Future

Santa Clara’s ambitious Innovating with a Mission campaign themes echoed strongly at President Kevin O'Brien, S.J.,'s inauguration Oct. 11.

After a spectacular week of inauguration events attended by hundreds across campus, the Santa Clara University community watched with joy on Oct. 11, as Kevin O’Brien, S.J., was inaugurated to lead the University.

Wearing the robes of Santa Clara’s late former President and Chancellor, Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., O’Brien inspired a rapt audience of 2,000 with an address that began with gratitude. “You sanctify whatever you are grateful for,” he said, quoting Jesuit mystic Anthony de Mello, S.J.

He then shared his overarching desire that Santa Clara be a place of “generous encounter”—deep and respectful moments of mutual learning.

He invited campus to see through his eyes the promising future he intends for the University—a vision that guides both him as a leader and Santa Clara’s Innovating with a Mission campaign. From making learning come alive for another generation, to ensuring that diverse voices are invited and enabled to attend Santa Clara, to rehabilitating beauty as central to SCU’s work, echoes of Santa Clara’s ambitious Innovating with a Mission campaign filled the arena.

The campaign goals for the pillar Educating the Whole Person, for example, were evoked by O’Brien’s descriptions of the array of places where “generous encounters” transpire: classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, dance studios, athletic fields, offices and chapels. These are “all sacred places,” he said. Likewise, in his call to “rehabilitate beauty as central to the work of the University,” O’Brien noted that “by insisting that our students learn to appreciate both truth and beauty in their endeavors, this becomes an expression of our commitment to cura personalis,” or “caring for each student uniquely in mind, body, and spirit.”

The campaign aspirations for the priority Opening Doors were similarly evoked when he said Santa Clara must be ever more open to diverse points of view. “We are at our best when we make room for encounters that both enliven and challenge, and for conversations that enkindle the mind, stir the heart, and prod feet and hands to action,” he said.

Over the years, O’Brien said, he’s helped ensure “that diverse and often unheard voices are heard, for in diversity is reflected the utter creativity of God.”

And in his assertion that Jesuit education has as its endgame making the world “more just and more gentle and more sustainable” for both people and “our planet, our common home,” one could hear Santa Clara’s Innovating for the World campaign aspirations.

“Santa Clara’s mission summons us to a great adventure in our time, at this moment,” O'Brien said in closing. “We will accomplish much for the greater glory of God and the common good.” 

"And we will do this together." 

To learn more about Innovating with a Mission: The Campaign for Santa Clara University visit


Jesuits West Superior Scott Santarosa, S.J., SCU President Kevin O'Brien, S.J., and SCU Board Chair John M. Sobrato at SCU Inauguration Oct. 11, 2019