20/20 vision

How has the presidency of Paul Locatelli, S.J., transformed the University—as a place—and as an idea?

20/20 vision

Twenty years ago this November, a group of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other friends of Santa Clara walked across campus to the Leavey Event Center. We had just attended a Mass marking the transition in Santa Clara’s presidency from William Rewak, S.J., to Paul Locatelli, S.J., and we were heading for the formal inauguration ceremony. We all crossed The Alameda. The faculty lined up outside Orradre Library. We passed by Graham and Campisi residence halls and an outdoor tennis complex as we proceeded into the Leavey Event Center with its enormous inflated dome.

The landscape we traversed then is much different now. Those differences tell us much about the journey that we have all taken at Santa Clara over these past two decades. They symbolize much of what we have gained and what we had to leave behind, and they speak of the communities we have formed.


Look both ways: The paved thoroughfare through the heart of campus became a bucolic commons. Photo: Robert H. Cox, SCU Archives / Charles Barry

A campus divided

The first thing we had to do was cross The Alameda. Back in 1988, you could not go too far around campus before you bumped into State Highway 82, which ran right through campus between the law school and the engineering center. By the mid-1980s, some 40,000 vehicles passed through campus on those four lanes every day. Rerouting the road had been discussed by the University and the city of Santa Clara since the 1950s. The pace of the talks picked up after the tragic death of anthropology Professor Mark Lynch, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

In the fall of 1988, construction on the reroute was already well advanced, and students in Bannan Hall could hear the heavy equipment working feverishly behind Buck Shaw Stadium. The road was closed the next year. It was replaced by a landscaped mall, which Stephen Privett, S.J., then academic vice president, once joked was the only thing on campus he had never heard anyone complain about!

The Alameda reroute points to two important aspects of campus life over the past two decades: construction and community. In terms of construction, 11 new buildings have been erected. In addition, a number of older buildings, especially those housing the science labs, have been renovated. Individual initiative played an important role in this enterprise. The lab renovation process was jumpstarted when the head of the chemistry department, Larry Nathan, set up a video camera in one of the labs. He then set off a smoke bomb and videotaped what happened next. Then he had his dean sit down to watch the tape, showing how agonizingly long it took for the antiquated ventilation system to suck out all the smoke.

The architecture of a campus profoundly shapes the identity of a university. The glass atrium of the Arts and Sciences building, for instance, is bright and airy. Completed in 1998, it bursts with possibility and points upward toward the future. Yet, at the same time, the entire building is firmly rooted in its surroundings. It blends well with the de Saisset Museum and the Mission Church, with which it shares a field of vision as one drives onto campus. Likewise, the Music and Dance building, opened in 1997, is linked both to Mayer Theatre, constructed in the 1970s, and to O’Connor Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus.

This unity symbolizes a commonality of purpose that has been preserved and enhanced on campus. A fine illustration of this is a course developed by two professors whose offices are in these buildings. “The Physics of Dance” is a lab science course, and it combines the abstract study of physics by looking at the actual movements of the human body. Other faculty pairings, such as between biology and religious studies faculty, have resulted in equally creative interdisciplinary courses. One of the most important contributions of our three Centers of Distinction—the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; the Center for Science, Technology, and Society; and the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education—is that they provide an intellectual space in which faculty and students from different disciplines can reflect on common concerns.

The intellectual heart

In 1988, once we had crossed The Alameda, the faculty lined up, in our academic regalia, next to the imposing two-story Orradre Library, opened in 1964. Orradre served generations of Santa Clara students exceptionally well, but much has changed about libraries in the past 45 years. Now they are not only repositories for printed material but gateways for the rich sources of knowledge that exist far beyond the library walls, in databases and on servers that could be anywhere on the planet.

The library is the intellectual heart of any college campus. The soaring new three-story Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center, and Orradre Library exemplifies the intellectual improvement the campus continually strives for.

On the faculty side, important publications and artistic creations continue to be produced by faculty members in all departments, in business, engineering, law, counseling psychology and education, and arts and sciences.

2020 Vision

The procession: en route to Locatelli’s inauguration. Photo: Sue Bowling

SCU faculty serve on the editorial boards of prestigious journals. They serve as officers of national professional associations and as consultants to some of the most important corporations in Silicon Valley. On the student side, SAT and ACT scores continue to rise. We continue to attract an increasing number of superbly qualified applicants who were valedictorians, social service leaders, and newspaper or yearbook editors at their high schools. But these traditional indicators go only so far. They do not really get at what is central to the life of the campus. The important question is not simply, how accomplished are the students and faculty? It is, how well do they interact with each other? In other words, what is the quality of the academic programs and of the university curriculum in which both faculty and students participate?
In this area, Santa Clara has developed two new Core Curricula, each one broader and deeper than the one it replaced. The Core Curriculum of 1988 possessed great strengths in the areas of writing, Western culture, ethics, religious studies, and the scientific method.

The Core Curriculum implemented in the mid-1990s added requirements in world cultures and the social impact of technology. The core that will begin to be implemented in Fall 2009 seeks a more holistic integration of Santa Clara’s educational experience. Some of the integration is geographical—the curricular integration of the West into an increasingly globalized world. Some of the integration is intellectual— the integration of the dynamics of science and technology with the study of social change. And some of the integration is pedagogical—the integration of courses students take in their majors with courses they take in the Core Curriculum.

Me and my RLC

In 1988, as the faculty began to process into Leavey, we passed two residence halls on our right, Graham 100 and Campisi. (At the time, the Graham pool was still operational; alas for students, new insurance requirements meant having to cover it over in 2004.) Today these buildings retain the same names, but they have been incorporated into two “Residential Learning Communities,” named “Alpha” and “Communitas.” The overwhelming majority of undergraduates are members of the nine Residential Learning Communities (RLCs) on campus.

2020 Vision 2

Study on: Anessa Patton ’11 and Maxine Goynes ’11 Photo: FJ Gaylor Photography

These RLCs were built upon the foundation of a series of Freshmen Residential Communities, which were associated with the 1990s Core Curriculum. The RLCs attempt to create a greater coherence between students’ classroom and out-of-classroom experiences. In the RLCs, students live together and, especially in their first year, take classes together. In some cases, they take more than one class together, and, at times, faculty link these classes to each other. This helps students examine the relationships among fields which might seem distinct, like science and literature.

Professors sometimes hold class discussions or office hours in the residence halls. Because they are living together, students find it easy to organize study and discussion groups in their halls. The hope is that, unlike in Las Vegas, what happens in the classroom does not stay in the classroom! Because two of the new buildings that have been constructed (Casa Italiana and Sobrato) are apartment-style residence halls, more upperclass students can continue to live on campus and experience the residential learning community for all four of their undergraduate years.

This upgrading of student residential life was part of a larger effort to bring Santa Clara’s academic and nonacademic components together by organizing student social life around themes and events more consonant with the University’s overall mission. After years of conversations with the social fraternities and sororities on campus, and with their national representatives, the administration decided to withdraw its recognition from these organizations in 2001, and to undertake a greater effort to foster student social programming on campus, rather than in social fraternities and sororities, which now operate independent of the University. A greater variety of student events in the Bronco, and the planned construction of a new student recreational center, are parts of this ongoing effort.

As is the case at virtually every educational institution at every level in the state of California, Santa Clara students are much more ethnically diverse than they were two decades ago. In light of the broad demographic changes which have affected our state and region, something like this was definitely going to happen. In this new demographic environment we have tried to pay special attention to attracting and retaining students from underserved and immigrant communities who are the first in their own families to attend college.

Years ago Paul Locatelli’s aunt Lina described to me how her sister—Paul’s mother, Marie—came as a young immigrant to the U.S., sailing by ship into New York Harbor and past the Statue of Liberty. Having a president who was himself from an immigrant family certainly affected the way Santa Clara has related to the “new immigration” our country is experiencing.

Also, California’s Jesuit communities are increasingly filled with young men who were not born in this country. These younger Jesuits have made American Jesuits as a whole very conscious of the way in which underserved and immigrant people ought to be primary subjects of the Society’s emphasis on the interaction between “faith and justice.”

This diversity has had a tremendous effect on the way in which teaching and learning are accomplished here at Santa Clara. For instance, I teach my survey course on the American Revolution much differently than I did two decades ago. I am much more conscious of the necessity to relate events on our shores to comparable events along the Pacific Rim and in Latin America and Asia. Many other faculty members have had similar experiences, and I think that we would all agree that our teaching is more broadly focused now than it was in the past.

Bend it like Broncos

In 1988, as we approached the Leavey Center, we passed seven tennis courts on our left. This space is now occupied by the Pat Malley Fitness and Recreation Center. Used by more than 1,200 people every day, Malley is one of the busiest facilities on campus. It points to the dramatic changes in Santa Clara athletics the past two decades have seen.

We have won two national championships, in women’s and men’s soccer. The women’s volleyball team made it to the Final Four two years ago. During the 1990s, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams experienced some extremely successful seasons. The baseball team is playing in a completely new park, Schott Stadium.

We have won two national championships, in women’s and men’s soccer. The women’s volleyball team made it to the Final Four two years ago. During the 1990s, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams experienced some extremely successful seasons.


2020 Vision 3

Victory hug: Broncos Marian Dalmy, Jordan Angeli, Meagan Snell, and Dani Potts just after they’ve bested University of San Francisco 4-0. October 2006.
Photo: Don Jedlovec

The baseball team is playing in a completely new park, Schott Stadium.

Other sports have also seen tremendous improvements. A new tennis complex has been constructed for both intercollegiate and recreational players. A new aquatics center was constructed during the summer of 2008 for the use of both the men’s and women’s water polo teams and for lap swimmers and others. The construction of the Malley Center and the concurrent renovation of the Leavey Center affected virtually every student for the better, as intercollegiate and recreational athletic events were no longer scheduled inconveniently around each other’s times on the single shared center court in the gym.

The most dramatic and difficult decision concerning Santa Clara athletics was the controversial move in 1993 to drop intercollegiate football. In a cover story for West magazine that fall, Locatelli joked, “When I go people will say, ‘He’s the guy that got rid of fotball.'” (The author of the article was Michael S. Malone ’75 MBA ’77; he assessed that “Locatelli and a number of other Jesuits at the top of the University are formulating a vision of Santa Clara University for the 21st century.”) In retrospect, it is hard to argue with the decision. As the costs for intercollegiate football, even at the Division II level, continued to escalate, Santa Clara’s drastic action proved prescient. Of the 11 teams the Broncos met on the gridiron during the 1988 season, five—including our archrival St. Mary’s—have since been forced to drop their own football programs.

Yet one fundamental aspect of athletic programs has remained constant. To put it simply: Santa Clara intercollegiate athletes are real students. They attend class, have GPAs which compare favorably with the student population as a whole, graduate in impressive rates, and enter a wide variety of professions after they leave Santa Clara. When I joined the faculty many years ago, I was enormously impressed by the intense concern Pat Malley’s athletic department had for the academic well-being of all of its student athletes, scholarship and non-scholarship alike. The same is true today, and that is no small achievement.

Bursting the bubble

The formal inauguration of our new president was held in the Leavey Event Center. In 1988 the center’s roof consisted of a huge white bubble, which covered the air-supported structure and always made entering or exiting the old Leavey a breezy experience. This architectural style was all the rage in the 1970s when Leavey was constructed. The Minneapolis Metrodome, for example, completed in 1982, employed the same style.

2020 Vision 4

Righting a wrong: In November 1991, two black students were racially harassed by white students. A demonstration of 400 students was organized by the Multicultural Center. Locatelli greeted them on the steps of the Walsh Administration Building. Students asked him to speak through a bullhorn so everyone could hear him.
Photo: Charles Barry

It is hard to think of a more ironic venue than a bubble for Paul Locatelli’s inauguration. So much of what has happened over the past 20 years has involved breaking the bubble by increasing the interaction between Santa Clara University and a range of communities beyond the campus.

One of the seminal events which has shaped Santa Clara during the past two decades was the killing of six Jesuit priests and two colleagues at the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), the Jesuit University in San Salvador, in 1989. One of the murdered Jesuits, Ignacio Ellacuría, had given the Santa Clara commencement address in 1982.

Santa Clara quickly became the focus of American Jesuit response to this brutal atrocity. Jesuit Jon Sobrino, a faculty member at UCA who escaped death only because he happened to be in Thailand when the assassinations occurred, was welcomed into the Santa Clara community. Another staff member at UCA, who had seen the soldiers on campus prior to the killings, found refuge at Santa Clara, where she was interviewed for “60 Minutes.” A number of Santa Clara alumni generously helped her and her family adjust to the traumatic relocation. Eight crosses commemorating those who were killed remain in front of the Mission Church since that time.

After the massacre, faculty-staff-student immersion trips to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico became a regular part of the Santa Clara experience. Some of the trips were organized by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and others by the Eastside Project, which, along with the Bannan Institute, subsequently became part of the Ignatian Center. Campus Ministry, the Ignatian Center, and RLCs have organized immersion trips for students in the western United States and Tijuana. The focus of these visits has always been not just to “help other people,” but also to learn from the marginalized, and to bring what they learned back to the campus and to their own communities. A similar consciousness has also begun to pervade the study abroad experience. The Office of International Programs has fostered a number of experiential learning opportunities abroad, including the Casa de la Solidaridad in San Salvador, an innovative and demanding program in which students from many Jesuit universities in the United States learn from the people of El Salvador.

Through the efforts of the Ignatian Center and Campus Ministry, hundreds of students each quarter go out to various parts of the local community to learn and to serve. Campus departments and centers are engaged in a wide range of discussions and projects with organizations throughout the U.S. and the world on such topics as bridging the digital divide, the development of a global ethic, environmental sustainability, and educational reform.

The three C’s

Let’s go back to where the walk began: the Mission Church, where the inaugural Mass was celebrated, and the seed from which the campus grew. Everything that has been constructed here since Santa Clara College opened its doors in 1851 has been built around this church and derives much of its meaning from it.

202 Vision 5

“Our University community is a sign of God’s love to this earth,” Locatelli said, “which, as the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins says, is ‘charged with the grandeur of God.’ My hope has long been that together, we have helped make that grandeur come alive in the community.”
Photo: Charles Barry

One of the most fundamental issues with which we have been struggling for the past two decades is: What does it mean to be a Catholic and Jesuit university? In 1990, Pope John Paul II issued a seminal document, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, in which he detailed his vision of what a Catholic university should be. As a result, dialogue began about the precise nature of the relationship between the legitimate autonomy of a Catholic university and the universal teaching authority of the Church was initiated by the University administration. The discussions involved members of the religious studies department and the Jesuit community, as well as national and international church leaders. A working consensus seems to have emerged, that a Catholic university is where the Church does its thinking. The process of thinking can be messy, and the best thinking never proceeds in an orderly straight line.

In the autumn of 2008, we are in the final stages of cementing a close union between ourselves and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. This union is a testament to the strength of our remarkable religious studies faculty. It is also a promise that the Catholic character of Santa Clara University will be enhanced in the future and that we will be deeply involved in all of the issues facing the universal Church.

From the Jesuit perspective, the challenge has been to bring the “promotion of justice,” which the Jesuits decided in 1974 should be a central part of all their ministries, into the life of the University in an appropriate manner. In the early 1990s, the University leadership decided that Santa Clara’s way of responding to this call would be to place the themes of “competence, conscience, and compassion” at the center of student learning.

Some faculty members initially balked at “competence,” fearing that it set the bar for intellectual rigor and creativity much too low.

Also, the precise manner in which education for “compassion” could be developed within the context of academic freedom was the subject of stimulating discussions. We found ourselves passionately engaging in some fundamental pedagogical issues, such the question posed at the outset of Plato’s Meno: “Can virtue be taught?”

A popular academic joke says that the reason campus arguments are so intense is that so little is at stake. This has not been the case at Santa Clara. Over the past 20 years, discussions sparked by the “Three C’s” have always been intense, often uplifting, and sometimes irritating. But they have rarely been trivial. We have grown and improved in many areas during this time, but perhaps the most crucial is the way our vocabulary has changed. Our public discourse consistently joins academic excellence to justice, leadership to service, and power to ethics. Many people have contributed to this broadening and sharpening of our language, but the leadership of Paul Locatelli has been uniquely important. The wonderful thing about the legacy that he leaves us is that it is a legacy that challenges us to continue to grow, with the present as prologue.

2020 Vision 6

Front-page news: At the March opening of the new Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center, and Orradre Library, President Locatelli announced he would step down this year.

2020 Vision 7



Professor of History Robert M. Senkewicz has taught at Santa Clara since 1976. His most recent book is Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815- 1846, co-written with Rose Marie Beebe ’76.

Make AI the Best of Us

What we get out of artificial intelligence depends on the humanity we put into it.

The Co-Op

Santa Clara University has long been a bastion of interdisciplinary learning. A new fund is taking cross-collaboration to new heights.

Human at Heart

How Santa Clara University is distinguishing itself as a leader in one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation.

A Campus on the Rise

New buildings on campus—count ’em, six in total—aren’t the only changes brought by a successful $1 billion fundraising campaign. Come explore what’s new.