Looking back, moving forward

Looking back, moving forward


Photo by Clay Hamilton
The cover stories of 2012—and what happened next.

The past year marked a big change for the digital edition of Santa Clara Magazine. It became, for the first time, more than just an online version of what we've long done in print. It's now a living, breathing, changing, growing publication, with new stories published weekly.

More important, is going places where print can't go. There are special video features, related photo galleries, and “channels” that allow you to explore topics and ideas in depth.

All those changes, along with a redesigned look that makes SCM in the webosphere the best-looking publication it's ever been, have brought lots more readers to the mag. They also earned gold medal accolades from our colleagues: In 2012, the folks at the Jesuit Advancement Administrators lauded for the best use of electronic, digital, and social media at any Jesuit university in the country.

Good stories are a big part of what makes the mag a place worth visiting—and coming back to. So as we move into 2013 (and, since it's February, the year of the snake), let's take a moment to recap our cover stories of last year and give you an update on what happened after the presses began to roll.


The American Dialect Society, the go-to source for words-of-the-year, may have proclaimed hashtag as the most pivotal word of 2012, but one of our favorites was legalum commonsensum. That's the quality Leon Panetta '60, J.D. '63, U.S. Secretary of Defense and cover man of the winter 2012 issue, suggested law graduates should have in dealing with others and solving problems. (Sure, he'd used the phrase some years back; we'd like it back in vogue.) Prior to becoming the secretary of defense, Panetta already had a pedigree that included serving in the House of Representatives, acting as the chief of staff for Pesident Bill Clinton, and being the director of the CIA. The story about Panetta, “My fight, my faith,” received some of the highest traffic of all the stories in the online mag.

When the story was written, Panetta faced the challenge of reducing the defense budget by $450 billion as part of Congress' debt ceiling agreement. A strategy was developed with a budget built around it. But when the Super Committee failed to reach a deficit reduction agreement, an additional half-trillion-dollar defense sequester, the “meat-axe cuts,” became an issue that has yet to be resolved.

Panetta now calls the situation a “perfect storm of budget uncertainty.” He explained to the American Forces Press that while the United States faces a number of adversaries around the world, “the most immediate threat to our ability to achieve our mission is fiscal uncertainty: not knowing what our budget will be, not knowing if our budget will be drastically cut, and not knowing whether the strategy that we put in place can survive.” Such is life inside the Beltway these days.

But the man who once stood up to a Jesuit professor on the subject of theology continues to take things in stride, especially since his time as SecDef is nearing an end. “The time has come for me to return to my wife, Sylvia, our three sons, their families, our six grandchildren, and my walnut farm,” he recently announced to reporters—and then with a sly smile added, “dealing with a different set of nuts.” Clay Hamilton

Mane Event

The spring 2012 cover story, “Bucky Bronco confidential,” revealed some of the secret history of Santa Clara’s lovable mascot. We shared confessions from Bucky fans (and Buckys themselves) past and present. And the story elicited some new confessions. Here are a few: Pat Carr ’66 recalled “the fleeting era of ‘Benjamin B,’ to my knowledge the only live equine mascot in the history of the university.” Kim (Malley) Belotti ’79, the creator of Benny Bronco,  remembered a run-in with the St. Mary's crowd, while Greg Antonioli ’87 recalled a similarly rowdy group of opposing cheerleaders that took exception to the SCU mascot’s hijinks during a football game in 1984. But it wasn't until a last-minute call was made to Suzy (Pollack) Loftus '96 that we learned how the old Benny had been pulled out of the mothballs, sterilized with whiskey (no joke), and transformed into the Bucky we know today, just in time to cheer on a winning Steve Nash '96.

In an odd coincidence, following the Bucky headshot gracing the cover of SCM, horse-head masks took the Internet by storm. First there was an outbreak of people wearing horse-head masks in Asia. Then an East Coast news station caught a shirtless man jogging through Hurricane Sandy sporting a mask vaguely reminiscent of the early Benny headgear. Let’s face it, everyone just wants to be a Bronco.

Bringing focus back to the mane event, this January our beloved Bucky riled up a record crowd at the annual big game against Gonzaga. A raucous 4,907 Bronco fanatics cheered the men’s basketball team as SCU fell just short of upsetting the No. 10 ranked Bulldogs. Jeff Gire

The globalization of art

For the summer 2012 edition, we asked, “What does it mean to teach the arts here and now?” in our cover story, “The Makers.” Veteran arts writer Jesse Hamlin roamed through the studios and performance spaces on the Mission Campus to offer a glimpse at a few of the folks who change the way we listen and see and are moved by the world of the imagination.

Here are a couple more makers who have recently joined SCU's Department of Art and Art History. They're particularly interested in helping students explore cultures and histories that might seem far-flung but offer fascinating insights into what connects us as humans.

Takeshi Moro, professor of photography,  has traveled the world with his cameras; and in class, he tries to help students capture bigger ideas behind the deceptively simple actions of day-to-day life. Some of Moro's recent work has been in Finland, where he uses the lens to look at how Finns “cope with everything from the short days in winter to the stress of regular life.” One important part of the answer: the sauna. “It was fascinating how people use it as a vehicle for finding psychological well-being,” Moro says.

Art historian Tobias Wofford examines globalism through his research—by connecting the past and the present. Wofford focuses on how African-American artists invoke Africa in their work, and how we understand that in terms of diaspora and globalization.

“When we’re talking about the Middle Passage and the entire history of slavery, the connections for individual artists have often been forgotten or lost,” Wofford says. As an art historian, he wants to help reestablish those links. It's about remembering the past—and shaping a future. Patrick Dutcher

Withstanding the heat

Our fall 2012 cover featured an artistic rendering of the Curiosity rover beginning its descent to the surface of Mars. The flight plan looked crazy—it was crazy—and gave us new terms like “sky-crane” and “Seven-Minutes-of-Terror.” Robin Beck '77 was responsible for the heat shield—the only thing protecting years of work by a multitude of engineering teams from burning to a crisp during entry. In “Can you stand the heat?” she told the story of developing that heat shield and the challenges they encountered. Despite some last-minute concerns over microscopic cracks, there was no need to worry—the heat shield worked perfectly.

In the months since its landing, the rover has been analyzing soil samples and taking selfies (that's self-portraits, for those of you without teenagers). The time was also spent allowing Curiosity's earth-bound control team to get comfortable moving the rover's arm extensions and operating its onboard analytical instruments from millions of miles away. The rover will soon begin a trek from its landing site to locations around the Gale crater, a place where different soil types and rock outcrops appear.

Scientists have already been thrilled with the results gathered. Evidence was found that the surrounding valleys were formed by water erosion, and soil analysis is helping researchers determine what the environmental conditions on Mars may formerly have been. More important, evidence of simple organic compounds was discovered, although those results aren't yet conclusive.

As for Beck, she's moved on to the next project—developing new thermal protection materials that are easier to use, can reliably protect larger craft, and that can be refurbished for longer life. Danae Stahlnecker and Clay Hamilton

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