Santa Clara University

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Mission Matters

 

Things are looking up—and prayers are always welcome

The State of the University 2010
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When President Michael Engh, S.J., stood behind the lectern in the Mission Church on Feb. 24 to offer his State of the University address, he began by saying, “Prayers are always welcome.” He was thanking Lulu Santana, Campus Ministry’s director of faith formation, for her invocation. But his quip also set the tone for his talk: SCU appears to have made it through the worst fiscal straits in recent memory, but help is still needed—particularly for students whose families have been hit hard by economic crisis.

“One year ago I stood here during the onslaught of the economic recession,” Fr. Engh said. “If you remember, Stanford was laying off faculty and staff; San Jose State soon cut enrollment by 3,000 students; and the University of California system cut faculty salaries.” Though SCU had to institute new economies to weather the past year, “fortunately, none were as daunting as those at these other institutions.”

How much you believe
One factor that helped minimize austerity measures: SCU faculty and staff donated a combined $1 million back to the University last year. “This is an example of how much you believe in Santa Clara,” Fr. Engh said, “and how connected you are to our educational mission.”

Thanks to an additional $1.9 million in donations, emergency funds were found to “help keep 190 students enrolled who would otherwise have had to drop out of school,” he said. “These accomplishments revealed to me the Santa Clara spirit of faculty and staff. You place students first. You take education seriously. You believe strongly that a Santa Clara education opens minds and changes lives for the good of the individual and the betterment of the wider world. You put into action the animating spirit of St. Ignatius to touch hearts, one person at a time.”

JST, the Strategic Plan, and the Alumni Task Force
Other areas Fr. Engh discussed were the ongoing reaccreditation process by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, the further integration of the Jesuit School of Theology into the University (e.g., making information technology systems on the Mission and Berkeley campuses cooperate), developments in enrollment management (applications were up 15 percent this year), and revision of SCU’s Strategic Plan.

President Engh announced that an Alumni Task Force would look at alumni giving participation. This team will examine the causes for the decline in giving participation during the past eight years, compare data with other institutions, review successful practices elsewhere, and bring recommendations for action. Readers of this magazine have seen discussion of that in recent issues; the “Bronco Meter” showing how alumni giving participation is doing this year appears on page 41.

One concern for many private universities during the downturn is how badly the endowment has been hit. “In mid-2007, our endowment reached a high of $700 million and then sank to a low of $523 million by January of 2009,” Fr. Engh noted. “Since then, endowment investments have rebounded.” As of press time, the endowment stood at $620 million—less than 10 percent below its 2007 peak.
Steven Boyd Saum

 

Construction boom 2010

Locatelli Student Center—the home stretch
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Opening soon: the new Locatelli Student Center
Photo: Charles Barry
By the time you read this, the Paul L. Locatelli Student Activity Center will nearly be complete. The two-story building is slated to be ready for move-in by the end of June. It is named in honor of Chancellor Paul Locatelli, S.J. ’60, who served as president of the University from 1988 to 2008. The second floor of the building will be home to various student organizations, while the ground floor encompasses a 6,000-square-foot open hall for events. Expect one of those events to be a grand opening and dedication this fall.

 

Swig and Benson—the inside story
The Benson Memorial Center is getting a $7 million interior makeover this summer. Workers will be tearing down a few walls in dining areas—joining the main Market Square dining area, The Bronco, and Mission Bakery—and putting in a new ceiling and lighting. A downstairs renovation is in the works, too.

Next door stands towering Swig Hall, which is being completely redone inside. The 11-story residence hall opened in 1966, and this summer’s $10 million renovation will be its first major overhaul. Layout will be reconfigured and new electrical and heating infrastructure installed, along with new kitchens, sinks, paint, furniture—the works. Naturally, the top floor will still have a dazzling view.

Front and center—what’s next?
“We have long needed a new enrollment services building suitable to the University’s standing and aspirations,” President Engh noted in this year’s State of the University address. Said building is already on the drawing board; in fact, it was in the previous University Master Plan. It would house Enrollment Management, Undergraduate Admission, Financial Aid, the Bursar’s Office, and the Office of the Registrar, and it would be located near the main entrance to campus to allow visitors easy access. “If donors can be identified, I would like to proceed with that building, while at the same time identifying other facilities’ needs to incorporate into our next Master Plan for the campus,” Fr. Engh said.
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Drew Starbird MBA ’84 at the helm of Leavey School of Business.

star_100After serving the past year as interim dean for the Leavey School of Business, Professor Drew Starbird MBA ’84 assumes full responsibility as dean in July. Starbird has taught at Santa Clara since 1987, teaching operations management, statistics, and business analytics at the undergraduate, MBA, and executive MBA levels. His research interests focus on the economics of information about quality with a particular interest in food safety, and he has served for more than a decade on the board of the Second Harvest Food Banks of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. (See the Summer 2009 SCM for more.)



Michael Zampelli, S.J., new rector of Jesuit Community

zamp_100Also in July, Associate Professor Michael Zampelli, S.J., will assume responsibilities as the head of the Jesuit Community at Santa Clara. He has taught in the Department of Theater and Dance since 1998. He follows Gerdenio “Sonny” Manuel, S.J., who completes six years of service and will begin a one-year sabbatical from teaching duties in the Department of Psychology. Fr. Manuel will continue his duties as provincial assistant for Higher Education and director of studies in the California Province of Jesuits.
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Two new Jesuits on board

John P. Koeplin, S.J.
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Photo: Roger de la Rosa, S.J.

Associate professor of accounting in the School of Business and Management at the University of San Francisco.
Fr. Koeplin was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1991. He is a certified public accountant and holds a B.A. in accounting from San Jose State University, an M.A. in divinity and theology from the Regis School of Theology, an MBA in taxation from Golden Gate University, and a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of North Texas.

Gilbert Sunghera, S.J.
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Photo: Will Crocker

Assistant professor of architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy and director of UDM Liturgical Space Consulting Service.
Fr. Sunghera holds a B.A. in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine; a master of architecture from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; a master of divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley; and a master of Sacred Theology from the Institute of Sacred Music, Worship, and the Arts, Yale University.

SBS
 

Service, value, and undergrad business

Community service honor roll

During the 2008–09 academic year, students at Santa Clara University completed more than 100,000 hours of academic service learning and community service—efforts that put SCU onto the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is the fourth year in a row that SCU has been on the list, which singles out schools for community service programs and student involvement. Beginning in fall 2009, community-based learning became even more central to an SCU education: With the new Core Curriculum, it’s now a graduation requirement for incoming students.

Bang for the buck

The folks at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine put SCU in the top 10 percent of best values in higher ed in their most recent survey, the results of which were released in December. The 2010 Best Values in Private Colleges ranks the top 50 private universities and the top 50 liberal arts colleges in terms of academic quality (admission, retention, graduation rates) along with affordability (tuition costs, financial aid, and average student debt).

Undergrad B-school Top 40

The yardstick used by Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine places the undergraduate program in SCU’s Leavey School of Business at No. 39 in the nation. The magazine’s Best Undergrad B-Schools list is based on surveys of students, recruiters, and data such as test scores and starting salaries for new graduates. SCU’s business school earned straight A’s from the editors in the three categories: teaching quality, facilities and services, and job placement.

Deborah Lohse
 

Santa Clara Snapshot: 1951

“In California, where everything grows fast, even colleges and universities can become giants within a few years. But California’s oldest college has never gone in for bigness.”
Time Magazine, March 1951
  • 4 years of philosophy required as part of every student’s course of study
  • 14 number of mission-style buildings comprising the campus
  • 21 Santa Clara’s rank, in terms of size, among 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States
  • 32 Jesuits on faculty
  • 1,130 students
  • $400,000 endowment
 

Best in the West

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Above: Gracie Binder ’11 (No. 22) and Jenna Choquette ’10 (No. 26) square off against U.C. Davis.
Photo: Alan Everitt ’11 for The Santa Clara

Powered by National Player of the Year Krista Shaw ’10 and five other All-Americans, the Santa Clara Women’s Lacrosse team topped coaches’ polls and earned their first ever Western Women’s Lacrosse League title, outscoring opponents 46 to 18 in the playoffs. Alas, a loss in the quarterfinals of the national championships in May derailed chances of an ever bigger trophy, but the Broncos still finished fifth in the land.

Sam Scott ’96

 

 

Zip it

Hybrids for hire on campus through Zipcar
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Hybrid wheels: A Zipcar Prius
Photo: Charles Barry

Folks at Santa Clara are fortunate to be in a region where the temperate climate and relatively robust transit network often make it possible to commute to school or work, or run errands, without a car. But for those times when the carless could use a set of wheels, SCU faculty, staff, and students can now rent one of two fuel-efficient Toyotas or a Honda Insight available through Zipcar.

A private company that runs programs in cities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Zipcar also works with businesses and universities that sponsor their own programs on campus. The SCU program, which launched in January, is one element in the University’s plan to become a carbon-neutral campus, says Sustainability Coordinator Lindsey Cromwell Kalkbrenner ’04, MBA ’13. “Reducing the number of cars on campus will help us reach our goals, by reducing the emissions associated with transportation.”

How does Zipcar work? SCU faculty, staff, and students first register online at the Zipcar website. Approved members (students must be at least 18 years old) receive a membership card in the mail used to rent one of the cars waiting in reserved spots in the parking lot located in front of Bannan Hall. The cars are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

SCU Zipcar members pay $35 to join and then $8 per hour or $66 per day weekdays and $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends. The rates include gas, insurance, 180 free miles, and roadside assistance.

Senior Christopher Woodhouse ’10 was one of the first to sign up. “I became interested in Zipcar because of its convenience. I live off campus, and I don’t have a car, so I ride my bike to get to work and class every day. Zipcar gives me the freedom to run errands a few times a month on my own schedule and at a low cost.” Woodhouse, initially attracted to Zipcar out of a personal commitment to sustainability, says he was quickly won over by its no-hassle sign-up and reservation process.

Zipcar offers students—especially freshmen, who can’t bring cars on campus—more flexibility to make off-campus trips. It should also save the University a nickel here and there; faculty and staff can sign up for the program through their departments and, for official travel, use the Zipcars instead of getting reimbursed for mileage, which can cost a bit more.

Justin Gerdes
 
Declaring neutrality

Santa Clara took another concrete step toward becoming carbon neutral on Jan. 15 when the Office of Sustainability submitted the University’s “Climate Neutrality Action Plan.” The plan was a requirement of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which SCU signed in 2007.

Leslie Gray is executive director of SCU’s Environmental Studies Institute and co-chair of the Sustainability Council. “The plan will reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions through energy conservation, efficiency, and sustainable design,” she says. “We also will use this as an opportunity to integrate environmental issues into our curriculum, using our campus as a living laboratory.”

JG
 

Duty, honor, country

A MacArthur Award for the Bronco Battalion. Plus honors to SCU’s own Pallas Athene.
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Morning run: John Lamey ’13, left, and other cadets from SCU, San Jose State University, and elsewhere take their laps.
Photo: Ryan Selewicz ’13 for The Santa Clara

Ah, summer: parachuting out of airplanes, learning mountain survival, interning with an Army unit. That’s how Santa Clara students in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) might spend their vacation. As a unit, the Bronco Battalion is a pretty sharp bunch—good enough to have been honored with the prestigious MacArthur Award earlier this year, which marks them as among the top units in the nation.

The award is presented by the U.S. Army’s Cadet Command and the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation, and it is named after the late general. It was presented in February and takes into consideration the battalion’s physical fitness, navigation skills, leadership, and success in commissioning officers after ROTC.

Along with the entire unit being honored, a number of cadets were recognized this year for individual achievements—including Second Lt. Brittany Clark ’09, who garnered the Pallas Athene Award, presented to the top female cadet in the West. She followed that up by competing in the Bataan Memorial Death March this spring, when competitors carry a 35-pound rucksack on a grinding 26.2-mile march/race in White Sands, N.M. How’d she do? Seventh overall.

SCU Military Science Department Director Lt. Col. Shawn Cowley notes that the University makes critical contributions to the unit’s success, both logistical and academic. Cadets are permitted to study abroad during their sophomore year, because their junior year includes a heavy training regimen. In classes, David Pinault in SCU’s religious studies department teaches cadets about Islam; David DeCosse of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics teaches military ethics; and historian George F. Giacomini ’56, a former SCU regimental cadet commander, teaches military history.

What SCU brings to ROTC is, Cowley says, “what the Army really needs. They are looking to increase the percentage of science, technology, and engineering majors among the officer corps … and we need officers who are more culturally aware.”

A few notable SCU ROTC alumni: CIA Director Leon Panetta ’60, J.D. ’63; Rita Tamayo ’76, the first female ROTC cadet commander in the nation; and Lt. General Joseph Peterson ’72, the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces Command.

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This Band of Brothers shoots birdies.

Out on the links with some sibling duffers
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Par six: From left, Adam and Tyler Ichikawa, Rick and Scott Lamb, Danny and Jimmy Cacho
Photo: John Medina

There was a familiar theme running through the roster of this year’s Santa Clara men’s golf team. Six of the 10 players on the team were part of a sibling pair: seniors Jimmy and Danny Cacho; juniors Adam and Tyler Ichikawa; and freshmen Scott and Rick Lamb, who are identical twins.

Coach Robert Miller just laughs at what he calls a strange coincidence. It’s common to recruit players whose younger brothers want to follow their footsteps, he says, but much rarer for them to be as good—or for the team to have space.

The roster may have seemed primed for sibling rivalries, but everyone concerned says the brotherly bonds only strengthened camaraderie. As Miller says, the brothers wouldn’t have chosen to play with each other if they didn’t get along.

Still, having so many brothers on the team has an effect on group dynamics. The twins have their own way of communicating with one another that can be tough to pick up on, Miller says, though he’s well versed on dealing with the situation. His stepsons Matthew Duchesne ’05 and Christopher Duchesne ’06 are identical twins.

Rick Lamb jokes that Miller has stumbled on a new way of recruiting: targeting players with talented siblings. But it may just be that the coach has a thing for people with the same last names. Next year, Ronnald Monaco, a rising junior from Southern California, will be joined on the team by Bobby Monaco, a freshman from Oregon, who is no relation.

“As I get older, my memory is not as good,” Miller explains with a laugh. “I need to recruit people with the same last name.”

Sam Scott ’96
 

Who is James Hill III?

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Front and center: James Hill
Photo: Courtesy “Jeppardy” Productions, Inc.
In the semifinals of this year’s Jeopardy! College Championship, the contestants from Penn and Brown were no match for SCU freshman James Hill. Whether the category was Capital Cities (What is Tokyo? What is Moscow? What is Baghdad?) or Movie Objects (What are ruby slippers?) or Graphic Novels (What is The Surrogates?), Hill showed himself to be the true trivia vet.

The match kicked off with Hill struggling to get the rhythm of the buzzer; but by the first commercial break, he found his groove. He led the way going into Final Jeopardy, confident that the category was one he knew well: Olympic Venues. The confidence was well placed. He was, in fact, the only contestant to get it right. The answer: “At above 7,000 feet, this Western Hemisphere city had the highest altitude ever of a summer Olympics host city.” The question: “What is Mexico City?”

A communication major and San Jose native, Hill wore Santa Clara colors for the 2010 Jeopardy! College Championship, which aired Feb. 1–12. He made his debut in the quarterfinals with a show that aired on Feb. 3. For the broadcast, scores of SCU students gathered in the basement of Graham Residence Hall to watch and cheer him on.

At 17 years old (18 this June), he’s the youngest student ever to compete in the college tournament. But he carries years of experience in the trivia arena; as a student at Bellarmine College Prep, he founded a quiz bowl team and, his senior year, led a team to win first place in the Bay Area Quiz Kids television show competition. For that victory, he won a trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua last summer.

It was also last summer that he took the online test for the Jeopardy! college tourney. He’d taken the test for Teen Jeopardy! twice before but was never invited for an audition. This time, though, everything fell into place, and early January found him in the Jeopardy! studios for two days of taping.

After Hill won his quarterfinals game, in a semifinals match that aired Feb. 8, he squared off against students from the University of Minnesota and Washington University in St. Louis. Hill outplayed both students in regular play and led going into Final Jeopardy, with the category Ranks & Titles: “Owain Glyndwr, who died circa 1416, was the last native of his country to claim this title.”

Alas, it was not the King of Scotland, as Hill guessed. “Who is the Prince of Wales?” was the correct question—and it’s what Nick Yozamp, the student from Wash U., wrote. No doubt Hill lost to a worthy competitor; Yozamp went on to win the whole championship.

But James Hill is far from done with quiz competitions. He has aspirations to found a college bowl team here.

Santa Clara trivia buffs are well aware that Hill is not the first Bronco to appear in the College Championship. So here’s your Final Jeopardy answer, readers: “This Santa Clara grad appeared in the Jeopardy! college tournament in 1998.” The question: “Who is Bryan Stofferahn ’98?”

SBS
 

Mathematical model

Brittany Markert ’10 takes on the runway and reality TV
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Photo: Courtesy of Laura Tillinghast MUA: Lisa Strutz

Hailing from Livermore, Calif., the stunningly photogenic Brittany Markert ’10 landed a coveted spot on the wildly popular reality-TV series America’s Next Top Model, which aired last fall in its 13th season. Armed with her good looks, competitive spirit, and sensible attitude, the 21-year-old took on 13 other contestants in the challenge to be the country’s next “it” girl; the winner receives professional management and a contract with cosmetics company CoverGirl.

Used to being at the top—Markert was her high school’s valedictorian and achieved a perfect math score on her SATs—she was, alas, heartbroken to have been eliminated two-thirds of the way to the season’s finale. But not one to give up on her dreams, she said, “Right now I’m giving my heart to modeling. I’m going to shoot and go to agencies and try to get work, because it’s what I love doing. I’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot, and I’m going to give everything to modeling.”

Markert spent the winter modeling in Mexico City, welcoming frequent work, and appearing in fashion spreads for Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire. She returned to SCU for the spring quarter to finish her degree, with plans to return to Mexico in the summer, keeping an eye on Asia in the fall.

Marisa Solís and Molly Gore

 

To serve God by serving others

Literary scholar Andy Garavel and historian Paul Mariani professed their final vows as Jesuits. It is the last step in their long formation process, and also seems a good opportunity to offer SCM readers a glimpse of the mind and heart and spirit that animates each man.
Andrew Garavel, S.J.

Assistant professor of English

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Accepted and confirmed: Paul Mariani, left, and Andy Garavel
Photo: Charles Barry
Has taught at SCU since 2005, with a focus on British and Irish literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Data: Raised in Danbury, Conn. Entered the New England Province of the Society of Jesus, 1981. Professed first vows, 1983. Ordained a priest, 1992. Professed final vows, Oct. 23, 2009, in the Jesuit chapel at SCU.

What’s the significance of final vows? The initiative comes from the Society. You don’t apply for it as you do with first vows or ordination. Instead, you are invited to become fully incorporated in the Society. So there was for me a very real sense of being accepted and confirmed in my vocation to serve God and the Church as a Jesuit and a priest.

This issue of the magazine includes an essay on pilgrimage. As a Jesuit and literary scholar, what are the connections you’d make with that? The image of pilgrimage is central to the Jesuit and Christian imagination. For example, St. Ignatius in his spiritual autobiography refers to himself as “the Pilgrim.” The word I associate with my own pilgrimage is “gratitude.” I could never have imagined all the experiences and blessings I’ve received as a Jesuit, including teaching here at Santa Clara, and I cannot think of those things without profound thankfulness to God and to the Society.

Paul Mariani, S.J.

Assistant professor of history
Began teaching at SCU in 2009. An expert on religious policy and conflict in the People’s Republic of China—particularly Christian resistance in Communist China.

Data: Raised in Montague, Mass. Entered the California Province of the Society of Jesus, 1991. Professed first vows, 1993. Ordained a priest, 2002. Professed final vows, Feb. 2, 2010, in the Mission Church.

What does it mean to you personally to take final vows? Taking up and receiving is a great theme for this Presentation of the Lord, which occurred on Feb. 2. The introductory rite for the feast includes the line: “We receive, O God, Your mercy, in the midst of the temple.” Suscipere, Latin for “to take or receive.” All Jesuits know those words “Take, Lord, and receive,” from a prayer by St. Ignatius called “Suscipe.” In my research on the Shanghai church of the 1950s, I discovered that the feast of the Presentation was the privileged date for taking final vows for the heroic Jesuits there. Some of those priests spent decades in prison, and some died there. Why did the Shanghai Jesuits suffer so greatly? They were willing to endure that suffering because they felt taken up by God and could not help giving back to God. They had to bring the light of Christ to the nations. They had to tell a dark and lonely world that Christ has come as light.

Ron Hansen M.A. '95
 

Major developments

New degree programs—and putting together the pieces
WEB DESIGN ENGINEERING

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THE WHAT: Based in the Department of Computer Engineering, the major puts together courses in computer engineering with studio art, communications, sociology, and English.

THE WHY: Students come out fluent in the computational infrastructure of the web and savvy in the social, political, ethical, and legal implications of their work in that medium. The major builds on Silicon Valley’s strengths in engineering and innovation and takes them into the realm of human connection.

ALSO COOL: The focus has been especially appealing to female students— 75 percent of the first-year students admitted to the major for fall 2010 are women, compared with just 17 percent of those admitted for the bachelor’s program in Computer Science and Engineering.

PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENCE

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THE WHAT: Interdisciplinary coursework includes classes in public health science, natural science, social science, mathematics, and statistics.

THE WHY: Brings together understanding and management of biological, environmental, and social factors that affect health. Growing concerns over global pandemics have underscored how crucial the expertise is that this program develops.

ALSO COOL: Among class offerings: “History of Plagues, Epidemics, and Infections.” And there’s a 100-hour internship requirement in a health-related position, preferably in community health working with an underserved population.

ETHNIC STUDIES

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THE WHAT: Coming Fall 2010: Study the environment, politics, education, healthcare, and immigration from different ethnic perspectives. This is a companion major, which means students need to declare another major as well.

THE WHY: The latest development in the 40-year evolution of ethnic studies at Santa Clara. Student protests in the late ’60s led to development of a course Racism in America: The Etiology and the Dynamics of Institutionalized Racism in America. (See below for more on this tumultuous time in SCU history.) Complements the diversity requirement in the new Core Curriculum.

ALSO COOL: “We’re training students, regardless of their racial background, to understand those key issues that face the very multiracial, multiethnic, global community that is our nation,” says James Lai, associate professor of political science and director of the Ethnic Studies Program. This major brings greater breadth to other fields of study—from political science to web design.

Anne Federwisch
 

Race matters

When Antonio Estremera ’72 came to Santa Clara in 1968, he intended to major in history, not make it. But when an article using wording insulting to minorities appeared in the student newspaper in January ’69, he and some others felt compelled to respond.

The article, introducing a new English course in basic communication skills, described its prospective students as “disadvantaged” and “underprivileged,” and their home environments as “functionally illiterate.” It suggested that they had difficulty with abstract thought. Ethnic tensions were already rife in the Bay Area, with student protests not uncommon elsewhere; that article sparked a minor explosion on the Mission campus.

Several weeks later, Estremera and students from the Black Students’ Union, Mexican American Student Confederation, and Students for Democratic Action, as well as a few faculty members—about 30 people in all—demonstrated in the cafeteria during dinner. Using a speaker system, each group made its demands known to the administration, including review of the newspaper before it went to press and new courses in both Black history and Chicano history.

One month later, the administration responded to lingering discontent by organizing group discussions between faculty and students about the “minority perspective.” Ethnic studies courses were developed as part of the undergraduate curriculum that fall and a director of an Ethnic Studies Program appointed.

Thirty years after Antonio Estremera graduated, his son Michael Estremera ’02, J.D. ’06 studied at SCU —as an undergraduate and as a law student. Notably, in recent years the law school has ranked in the top 10 schools nationally in terms of diversity.

AF
 

Restore and rebuild

There are stories of legal injustice in Haiti that have never been told. Two law students traveled there to listen and to document. Then an earthquake brought the nation’s suffering before the eyes of the world.
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Stories to tell: law students Daniel Zazueta and Caitlin Robinett
Photo: Charles Barry

Even before the earthquake, Caitlin Robinett J.D. ’10 knew Haiti was going to be a lifelong commitment. Not that she has a long history with the Caribbean nation; only last spring did she and classmate Daniel Zazueta J.D. ’10 meet human rights attorney Mario Joseph, a Haitian who was at SCU to accept the Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize, an award recognizing worldwide efforts to alleviate injustice.

Joseph was central in prosecuting the soldiers and thugs responsible for the Raboteau Massacre, a 1994 raid on a pro-democracy slum in northwest Haiti. The massacre left an untold number of dead—many were shot as they fled into the sea, where their bodies were never recovered. Through the legal system, Joseph pursued the killers at home and abroad, collaborating in an effort to use U.S. law to sue a fugitive colonel after he won the lottery in Florida. In that case, in 2008, one of the Raboteau widows received $430,000 in compensation.

Joseph’s story transfixed Robinett and Zazueta, both of whom had recently returned from a trip to study the justice system of El Salvador. What most caught their attention was Joseph’s comment that no law journal had ever fully explored the twists and turns of the massacre’s cases. So with guidance from law professor Cynthia Mertens and financial support from SCU’s Bannan Institute, Robinett and Zazueta planned a trip to gather information for a law journal article that would reach a wider audience.

The students left Christmas night for two weeks in Haiti. There they interviewed victims, attorneys, and others associated with the cases. They learned lessons in the inspiring power of community: They met Marie Jeanne Jean, the true winner in the lottery money case, who split the money she received with her fellow victims. They also learned the profound limitations of legal justice: The SCU students had come to document a victory for human rights but were struck that no matter how the attackers had been punished, their victims generally remained in abject poverty.

Haiti’s lack of roads, sewage and trash collection, and general infrastructure was breathtaking. One Sunday, they saw small girls in their Sunday best rummaging for food in piles of trash. Robinett says, “It left us with the question, ‘What is justice for people who don’t have the basic necessities?’”

Some small measure

Robinett and Zazueta came back to Santa Clara wondering what they could do to bring attention to the country’s plight. They hadn’t even unpacked when the Jan. 12 earthquake hit. They knew instantly that they had to go back and began raising money.

They departed for Haiti again during spring break, bringing $1,500 in donations and three 50-pound boxes of soaps, toothbrushes, plastic bags, and clothing requested by Matthew 25, a Catholic guesthouse in Port-au-Prince where they had stayed. It now stood beside a tent city filled with thousands of homeless.

The gifts were a small gesture—the kind some critics decried as ineffectual in the wake of the devastation. Indeed, a reporter for USA Today asked Robinett about “do-gooders” dropping by when serious help was needed. Robinett didn’t understand the premise of the question.

“What am I supposed to do?” she says. “Go in five years when they don’t need the shampoo they’ve asked me to bring?”

The two found ways to chip in: taking blood pressure and temperatures, and talking to patients still stunned by the trauma. But their main efforts were directed toward helping the caregivers. Even small gestures carried large weight. The couple who ran Matthew 25 had turned gray and gaunt from the exhausting attempts to aid others after the disaster. Zazueta and Robinett got to work organizing the chaos of the house; they uncovered much-needed soap and food in a storage room.

On March 8 Robinett and Zazueta returned home. It won’t be long, Robinett says, before she goes back.

Sam Scott '96