Michael Engh, S.J.

Michael Engh, S.J.

An Uncloudy Future

President Michael Engh, S.J., outlined points of optimism and hope for Santa Clara in his 2017 State of the University address.

Evoking wishes for an “uncloudy day,” Santa Clara University President Michael Engh, S.J., outlined the steps the University is taking to emerge from a short-term financial downturn and to be a model of civility, compassion, and discourse in a divided national environment.

Engh addressed the challenges and opportunities he has identified for the University at his annual State of the University address, which took place at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Mayer Theatre.

“Our country is experiencing more disruption and division than anytime I can remember since the Vietnam war,” he said. “Rhetoric is more heated; voices are louder; trust in our fellow Americans is lower; and fear for the country’s future is more prevalent.”

He said numerous University developments give him reason for optimism and hope, including:

  • University accomplishments such as the first place showing of the engineering school’s Tiny House entry in the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District competition; Prof. Jane Curry’s Medal of Honor award from the University of Warsaw for her work in Eastern European politics; Prof. Pancho Jimenez’s exhibition being named one of the Bay Area’s top 10 art shows for 2016; the Miller Center’s Cordes Innovation Award; and the Orradre Library’s  Excellence in Academic Libraries award.
  • A change in direction for the Sustaining Excellence committee, to focus on revenue-generating ideas in the midst of unexpected budgetary shortfalls.
  • The production of a milestone report on diversity and inclusion at SCU, which will be shared with the University later this month. It contains 37 recommendations for the next 20 years to improve recruitment, training, and data in pursuit of making the University more diverse and inclusive.

Engh also revealed publicly for the first time who the speakers and honorary degree recipients will be for SCU’s commencement events later this year:

  • Undergraduate: Juan Felipe Herrera, former poet laurete of the U.S., speaker; Mike and Mary Ellen Fox, philanthropists and Brother Guy Consolmango, S.J., director of Vatican Observatory, honorary degree recipients
  • School of Law: Leon Panetta, '60, JD '63, former Secretary of Defense, CIA Director and Congress member, speaker
  • Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University: Bishop Robert McElroy, '85 STL, bishop of San Diego, speaker

The president of the Associated Student Government, Lydia Diaz-Fong '17, also addressed some recent incidences of campus vandalism head-on, noting that “these events directly impacted our sense of community.”  She noted proudly that students had engaged in healing circles, protests, walks of solidarity, and other acts of compassion in response to  those acts.

“We must look deep into our founding values and actively examine our traditions,” she said. “Our student body is strong,” she added, but “our work is far from over.”



SCU President Michael Engh, S.J., delivering the 2017 State of the University address, Feb. 15, 2017. Photo by Joanne Lee