A spirit of continuous improvement

A spirit of continuous improvement

By Deborah Lohse and Clay Hamilton

Michael Engh, S.J., delivers his State of the University address. Photo by Charles Barry
In the 2013 State of the University address, President Michael Engh, S.J., focuses on new initiatives and innovations at SCU. 

In his annual State of the University address on Feb. 12, President Michael Engh, S.J., began by posing a question familiar to many on the Mission Campus, and one grounded in his personal experience as a Jesuit, educator, and leader: “What matters to me?”

It is a question that the Bannan Institute, part of SCU’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, has offered for years to members of the campus community—faculty, staff, and administrators alike—in a quarterly lecture.

The answers to that question—our core beliefs and experiences—are what guide us in our work, Engh explained to the packed audience in the Mission Church. Engh said it’s how members of the Santa Clara community strive for continuous improvement, keeping the University’s educational mission “a living, vibrant, and contemporary tradition.”

Engh described several pilot initiatives SCU is undertaking to increase the use of technology for teaching, while maintaining SCU’s student-centric teaching methods and practices. These initiatives not only help the educational mission but will allow the University to better cope with a number of headwinds, from state-budget cuts to nationwide inflation in education costs.

“We are innovating to provide the best instruction possible to our students, as well as to engage our faculty in the latest developments in instructional technology,” Engh said.

Several of the initiatives involve online or technology-enhanced educational options, including a “collaborative classroom” project, a mobile-technology project, and a number of online courses that are being developed for academic programs. In addition, the University’s first “MOOC”—or Massive Open Online Course—will soon launch out of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

The University has been improving its physical plant as well. Engh described several successful construction projects completed or begun in recent months, including the Patricia A. and Stephen C. Schott Admission and Enrollment Services building, the Charles H. Graham Residence Center, the initiation of construction on a new parking garage, and the completion of the first phase of the softball stadium.

The president also described some of SCU’s academic accomplishments. Of particular note was the University’s participation in and contribution to a nationwide study of the treatment of undocumented students, the results of which were presented in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 26.

“As President Obama and the Congress tackle the issue, I am pleased that Santa Clara has contributed to possible solutions that are humane and just,” President Engh said.

He went on to note, with gratitude, that the University was recently the beneficiary of a bequest of more than $8 million from the estate of the late Emma Shane Anderson through SCU’s Bergin Society. “This gift is timely because the state of California continues to reduce its support of students with the greatest need who attend nonprofit private higher education,” he said.

“I am reminded that our Jesuit predecessors founded Santa Clara in 1851 to remedy the lack of education available to immigrants, to the Spanish speaking, to people of color, and others who were newly arrived in California,” Engh concluded. “The same mission of higher education is alive today.”

Read a full transcript of the speech or watch a video of the address on the President’s website.


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