Things are looking up—and prayers are always welcome

Things are looking up—and prayers are always welcome

By Steven Boyd Saum

For the wider world: President Michael Engh, S.J. Photo by Charles Barry

The State of the University 2010

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

Read the 2010 State of the University Address.

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.

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