- SCU Home Page
- About SCU
- On Campus
- News & Info
From the Editor
Early on as president, at a gathering of Silicon Valley business leaders, Paul Locatelli, S.J., articulated a sense of the University as a force for social change. “No longer can a university be indifferent to social problems,” he said. “At a most fundamental level, Santa Clara must serve as a prophetic voice in the community, asking uncomfortable—sometimes even stubborn—questions. Playing the prophetic role does not make anyone comfortable, least of all the University…But not to speak out would mean I am not true to the Jesuit tradition and mission.”
Locatelli took the helm as president of Santa Clara two decades ago. These days, it is rare indeed to find any individual leading an institution of higher education for that length of time; presidents tend to put in six or seven years and then move on. But rarer still is the kind of sustained energy that Locatelli has exhibited, and which has played a profound role in making Santa Clara such a vibrant community, a place of excitement and purpose and beauty, and a place uniquely its own.
It’s also a place that’s not quite the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Without question, there are alumni who are dismayed by some of the changes and who even question what it means for Santa Clara to call itself a Catholic university. At the same time, there are women and men who look upon the changes wrought since they graduated—20 years ago or 50 years ago—who applaud the ways in which the University has been transformed in scope and purpose, and in terms of where it stands in the world. Because the world is not the same place as it was, and its needs have grown and changed, too. (For some reflections along these lines—including what it means to be a Jesuit, Catholic university today, see the article on the 25th anniversary of the Ignatian Center's Bannan Institute, as well as letters from alumni.)
Locatelli is, of course, an alumnus of Santa Clara himself—Class of ’60. So his connections with the University span half a century, including time as student, professor, assistant dean of the business school, and academic vice president. He was trained as an accountant and so brought an unprecedented financial acumen to the presidency. But in the 1980s, the Board of Trustees knew they needed far more than someone to tend the shop. There were fiscal responsibilities to be tackled, to be sure. But the larger question was and is one of vision: Where are we going? For what purpose? And how do we get there?
Locatelli’s ability to ask—and answer—those questions should serve him and the Society of Jesus well in his expanded role as secretary of higher education for the Society, just as that ability has served Santa Clara.
This spring, the San Jose Mercury News took note of Locatelli’s announcement that he was leaving the presidency with a front page story. The paper also looked back on his tenure as president and noted in an editorial, “Courage, based on ideals, can change a university—or the world.” Well, yes.
Keep the faith,
Steven Boyd Saum