Mission Matters

News from around the Mission campus.

Commencement: What will you stand for?
Heard on campus
Introducing the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University
Fellowships: Three Fulbrights and a Goldwater
Robert Finocchio ’73 elected chairman of SCU board
Rankings: Top five, America’s best graduate schools
Research: Everybody chill.
Cosmic prescription: Think small.
Solar Decathlon: Team California ready to shine
Sports: Will of irons, Big finish for women’s water polo
A commodious pond
The Mission sings
Faculty Books and Films

Commencement: What will you stand for?

June 13 began cool and gray, the uncertain skies over Buck Shaw Stadium teasing with droplets of rain— hardly the norm for a Saturday on the cusp of summer in the balmy South Bay. But by the time the ceremony was over—the grand faculty procession complete, the names of graduates called and degrees conferred, words spoken invoking integrity and compassion and purposeful community—the sun was blazing and the newly minted grads were ready to shed their black robes and kick up their heels.

Embrace Change. Cisco CEO John Chambers. Photo by Charles Barry
Embrace change:
Cisco CEO John Chambers

Photo: Charles Barry

More than 12,000 family and friends cheered and applauded the 1,383 undergraduates receiving diplomas. Honorary degrees were awarded to John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco, and John Baumann, S.J., who founded PICO, a network of faith-based community organizations working to create innovative solutions to problems facing urban, suburban, and rural communities and the poor.

Chambers delivered the commencement address and observed that Santa Clara must be doing something right, since more than 1,000 graduates of SCU work for Cisco. In tune with the uncertain times recent grads confront, he called upon students to embrace change. “If you don’t take chances in life and if you aren’t willing to take risks, you will never achieve what you’re capable of contributing back, both in your personal life and your business life,” Chambers said.

Along with being a leading light in the corporate world, Chambers is widely recognized for his philanthropic leadership at Cisco. He takes an active role in corporate social responsibility initiatives worldwide and received the first-ever Clinton Global Citizen Award from President Bill Clinton.

Carina Romo
Carina Romo ’09
Photo: Charles Barry

SCU philosophy major Brandon Ashby ’09delivered the valedictory address. In a talk populated with the names of fellow students (Christilei, Eugene, Noelle, Anna, Veronica) and inspirational faculty (Nelson, Radcliffe, Ravizza, Prior, Buckley, Vallor, Farnsworth), there was also the wisdom of philosopher Charles Taylor and Ashby’s own father. Ashby recalled the moment he learned he’d been accepted at Santa Clara and told Dad. “He gave me a hug and told me how proud he was,” Ashby said. “Then he gave me three words of advice about community: ‘If you don’t call your mother she will kill us both, buy ear plugs, and for God’s sake wear sandals in the shower!”

“The ability to listen is the ability to empower,” Ashby said, concluding his address by posing a few questions: “So as we leave here, who will we empower? Who will we ask to accept us? What will we stand for? Which is to ask: Who will we stand by? The world is asking. And now, we must answer.”

Shoot for the Moon
After the course of history: Philanthropist and eBay founding president Jeffrey Skoll. Photo by Charles Barry
After the course of history:
philanthropist and eBay Founding President Jeffrey Skoll

Photo: Charles Barry

Write your epitaph and then work backward to achieve it, eBay founding president, philanthropist, and media executive Jeffrey Skoll advised the graduates of Santa Clara University’s three advanced-degree programs. The graduation of about 800 students from the School of Engineering, the Leavey School of Business, and the School of Education, Counseling Psychology, and Pastoral Ministries took place the evening of Friday, June 12, at the University’s Leavey Center.

Look to the future: MBA grads. Photo by Charles Barry
Look to the future: On left, MBA grads including Chad Benzel ’09 and Jennifer Wei ’09.
Photo: Charles Barry

Skoll called on graduates to achieve their generation’s “moon shot.” What would that be? “Maybe it is to reverse climate change and bring the snows back to Kilimanjaro,” he said. “Maybe it is to replace conflict with cooperation in the Middle East. … Every generation has the ability to alter the course of history.’’

In addition to his role at eBay, Skoll established the Skoll Foundation, focused on socially beneficial entrepreneurship, and Participant Media, which uses film and other media to “tell stories that inspire and compel social change.” Films it has backed include Al Gore’s An Inconvenient TruthGood Night and Good Luck, about the McCarthy era, and The Kite Runner, based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini ’88.

President Michael Engh, S.J., suggested the graduates follow the example of Skoll and inspire others to act more justly, compassionately, and generously. “You’ve already made us proud; now become a model for us,’’ Fr. Engh said.

Steven Boyd Saum and Deborah Lohse

Read about the Law School Commencement

Watch the Commencement Slide Show

Read Brandon Ashby’s Valedictory Address

Heard on campus

“We all have a purpose as we leave here. For we have been shown the meaning of community, and that is a lesson the world so desperately needs right now. From Ponzi schemes and mortgage crises locally, to Sudan and El Salvador abroad, our world is filled with the effects of those who do not know the meaning of community.”

Brandon Ashby ’09, Valedictory Address, June 13, 2009

Read more

Introducing the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University


Jesuit School of Theology. Photo by Don Doll, S.J.
On Holy Hill: the Jesuit School of Theology
Photo: Don Doll, S.J.

July 1 marked a new beginning for two gems of Bay Area higher education: The Jesuit School of Theology (JST) at Berkeley and Santa Clara University joined forces, with JST officially becoming the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

The integration is the culmination of several years of effort. It’s expected that many prized facets of JST will remain unchanged. For example, it will remain part of the Graduate Theological Union—nine schools mostly clustered on Berkeley’s “Holy Hill” just to the north of the University of California, Berkeley campus. Together the nine boast the largest doctoral program in theology in the United States, and they operate a world-class theological library. JST students will continue to have the right to cross-register at UC Berkeley. The Vatican Congregation of Catholic Education in Rome will continue to set standards for the granting of JST ecclesiastical degrees. Eventually these degrees will bear the name of Santa Clara University. And both SCU and JST will retain the academic freedoms they currently enjoy.

“This partnership solidifies and fortifies SCU and JST in their shared goal of engaging in global theological study, contextual education, and justice-oriented ministry,” said President Michael Engh, S.J. “It will also help ensure a continued, strong Jesuit presence at SCU.”

A sort of homecoming

Santa Clara’s Jesuits already have many connections with JST: For the past 40 years, the school has been the final stop on the road to ordination for many Jesuits, including President Engh and Chancellor Paul Locatelli, S.J. ’60 Less well known, perhaps, is that JST’s small campus is a magnet for all kinds of people—lay as well as non-Jesuit religious— seeking to study in one of the globe’s great theological centers.

Dean of JST: Kevin Burke, S.J. Photo by Charles Barry
Dean of JST: Kevin Burke, S.J.
Photo: Charles Barry

JST’s Berkeley location may come as a surprise to those accustomed to thinking of the famously liberal city as a bastion of secularism. In fact, when JST was founded as Alma College 75 years ago, its campus lay in the hills near Los Gatos. The college was a Jesuit “theologate” that affiliated with SCU in the mid-1950s, and Santa Clara granted degrees to Alma students. Catching the spirit of Vatican II, in 1969 Alma moved from the seclusion of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the bustle of Berkeley, taking up digs in a former fraternity house and apartment building.

There’s nothing backward-looking, though, about rejoining the Santa Clara fold, said Kevin Burke, S.J., academic dean of JST. “It will increase SCU’s international presence and enable SCU, with its outstanding religious studies faculty and the JST faculty, to become one of the leading Catholic centers of theological reflection in the United States,” Fr. Burke said.

The move opens up the possibility of all kinds of cooperation, including joint programs like a master of divinity combined with law, business, or even engineering degrees, Burke said, sketching possibilities still very much in the “maybe” category. Santa Clara will continue to offer a master of arts degree in pastoral ministries with available emphases in catechetics, liturgical music, pastoral liturgy, and spirituality. JST students may one day bring their varied backgrounds to teach Santa Clara religious studies undergrads, who could also avail themselves of graduate classes at the Berkeley campus.

The union will give the theologians in Berkeley greater contact with the full spectrum of disciplines available at SCU. Paul Crowley, S.J., chair of Santa Clara’s religious studies department and a JST graduate, underscored that theologians need contact with everyone from economists to scientists to historians to ground their work in current thinking. “You have to know how the world works,” he said. “You have to know what people are saying to do your work with intellectual honesty.”

The addition of JST as a new graduate school has led to another change at SCU: As of July 1, the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministry (GPPM) moved from the School of Education, Counseling, and Pastoral Ministry to become part of the Department of Religious Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. “This will help create synergies between Religious Studies faculty and GPPM,” notes Provost Lucia Gilbert. It also means that, along with schools of law, business, and engineering, SCU is now home to the renamed School of Education and Counseling Psychology.

Buddhist studies meets basketball

Already the discussions about integration yielded a co-sponsored conference on “Local Ecclesiologies in Dialogue” in May, with participants from India, Nepal, Ivory Coast, Brazil, and other countries. JST will continue to be a choice destination for foreign students, especially priests looking for advanced ecclesiastical degrees such as a doctorate in sacred theology.

For example, JST student Simon Nsielanga Tukumu, S.J., a Congolese Jesuit, is one of only 4,000 people who speak Nzadi, a language unknown to Western linguists. Fr. Tukumu has been working with a UC Berkeley professor to document it for the first time.

In addition to educational benefits, JST gains practical advantages from the economy of scale. For a small school of around 200 students, something as simple as consulting with an attorney for legal advice can be an expensive proposition. Tying into Santa Clara’s deeper resources and administrative tools makes sense.

Similarly, the Jesuits’ only other U.S. theological school—the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Massachusetts— recently affiliated with Boston College and moved to the college’s grounds in Brighton.

The Berkeley school, though, won’t be relocating. The bond with Santa Clara is vital. So are the opportunities that abound in the Graduate Theological Union, not to mention the relationship with the University of California.

As an example, Burke told of one recent student, Thierry Robouam, S.J., a French Jesuit who works in Japan and recently completed a doctorate on Christian-Buddhist dialogue. Fr. Robouam’s doctoral committee included a Catholic priest from the Jesuit school; a Protestant minister with expertise in Asia from another faculty; and a representative from the nearby Institute of Buddhist Studies, an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union. “There is practically nowhere else in the world he could have done this,” Burke said.

For quite a few of the students, Santa Clara is already a familiar presence. Annie Selak ’05, a former member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, graduated in May with her master’s in divinity. She said her years at SCU, especially living in the Loyola Residential Learning Community, set her on her current path: to work as a campus ministry director at a Southern California all-girls high school.

JST students aren’t quite sure yet what to expect from the transition, she said. Overall, the mood is enthusiastic. “There’s an excitement for the possibilities of collaboration,” Selak said.

And while they’ll continue wrestling with weighty theological questions, a few students have already made inquiries about getting tickets to SCU basketball games.

Sam Scott ’96

Error in element (see logs)

Fellowships: Three Fulbrights and a Goldwater

Simone J. Billings. Photo by Charles Barry
Simone J. Billings
Photo: Charles Barry
Writing Across the Caribbean

This fall, Senior Lecturer in English Simone J. Billings heads for Barbados. As a Fulbright Scholar, she will be working with Open Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI). Her primary project: collaborating with Hazel Simmons-McDonald, vice chancellor of Open Campus, on designing curriculum for writing classes taught in the classroom and online. Billings will also be running faculty workshops for community colleges in the Caribbean, working with them on the redesign of writing programs.

UWI’s Simmons-McDonald previously taught at SCU for a year, so this fellowship builds on the international contacts between the two universities. “By improving students’ abilities in critical thinking and writing, we faculty can empower students both in the U.S. and abroad to enter into more fields than would otherwise be possible,” Billings said.

At Santa Clara full-time since 1980, Billings specializes in teaching nonfiction writing. For the past three years she served as special assistant to the president. This year she is one of 1,100 U.S. scholars and professionals participating in the Fulbright Program. The country’s flagship international educational exchange program, it was established in 1946 and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Steven Boyd Saum


Café con justicia
Beth Tellman. Photo by Charles Barry
Beth Tellman
Photo: Charles Barry

Beth Tellman ’09 loves coffee and justice. A recipient of the Fulbright U.S. Student Award, she travels to El Salvador this fall to create a project that merges her academic interest in agricultural development and her passion for communities in need.

Tellman double majored in sustainable globalization, a major she crafted for herself, and environmental studies. In El Salvador, she will research food security for coffee farmers. Ultimately, she hopes to gather enough data to assess which is better for farmers: selling coffee as a cash crop or creating their own “food sovereignty” by choosing what they grow and eat, and controlling the means of production.

A native of Indianapolis, Tellman first traveled to El Salvador as a senior in high school when she led an immersion trip. She has been back several times, including working as a Catholic Relief Services intern, studying at SCU’s Casa de la Solidaridad program, and researching food ethics as a Hackworth Fellow. On the Mission campus, during her sophomore year, she helped to ensure that Santa Clara began serving 100 percent Fair Trade Certified coffee.

Her Fulbright proposal is a continuation of this research, she says. “I get to spend a year finding out the answer to questions I had been asking that I couldn’t find out in two months.”

Katie Powers ’09


Teaching English in Saxony
Benjamin Snyder. Photo by Charles Barry
Benjamin Snyder
Photo: Charles Barry

A Fulbright Teacher Assistantship Award takes Benjamin Snyder ’09 to Saxony, in the former East Germany, where he will teach English to secondary school students. Snyder studied at Humboldt University in Berlin during his junior year at SCU, and he gained experience teaching English as a second language in San Jose. Teaching English in Germany seemed like a natural fit, he said.

At SCU Snyder triple majored in political science, German, and history. He also was president of the German club and a member of the cross-country team.

Deborah Lohse


AuH20 for Hayes
Michael Hayes. Photo by Charles Barry
Michael Hayes
Photo: Charles Barry

Working with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Steven Suljak, Michael Hayes ’10 has developed a good understanding of how a research lab functions. He and fellow research assistants work here to find aptamers —certain kinds of molecules that are useful for identifying diseases. And next year Hayes will continue his studies at SCU as the recipient of a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

Hayes, a biochemistry major, is one of 278 recipients across the country who won the scholarship, an award for students who demonstrate excellence in the sciences and plan to continue their education. The scholarship will go toward Hayes’ tuition and fees during the 2009–10 academic year.

Hayes hails from Scappoose, Ore., near Portland. Along with studying biochemistry, he is minoring in music. This past winter he sang the part of the count in the opera The Marriage of Figaro. He has been the recipient of a Provost Research Fellowship, which he used to travel to the University of Minnesota with Suljak, his mentor, and to visit an analytical chemistry research group. After graduation, Hayes plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. and continue in medical research.

Katie Powers ’09

Robert Finocchio ’73 elected chairman of SCU board

Robert J. Finocchio, Jr.
Robert J. Finocchio, Jr. ’73
Photo: Charles Barry

The SCU Board of Trustees elected Robert J. Finocchio Jr. ’73 chairman in June. Finocchio, a corporate director, venture capitalist, and private investor, was elected to the Board in 2000 and has served as vice chair since 2003. He previously served on SCU’s Board of Regents from 1995 to 1999. He takes the post previously held by A.C. “Mike” Markkula, who is stepping down after two terms as chair.

“Bob is a man of strong intellect, unquestioned integrity, and great wit,” said SCU President Michael Engh, S.J., who said he looks forward to working with Finocchio.

A former chairman, president, and CEO of database company Informix, Finocchio is currently a venture partner at Advanced Technology Ventures. He also spent nine years at 3Com Corp. and 10 years at ROLM Corp. He serves on the boards of Sun Microsystems, Altera Corp, and Echelon Corp, and on the boards of private companies CaseCentral and Silver Peak.

Since September 2000, Finocchio has been a dean’s executive professor at SCU’s Leavey School of Business. He holds a B.S. (magna cum laude) in economics from SCU and an MBA (Baker Scholar, with high distinction) from Harvard Business School.

Deepa Arora


Top five

Santa Clara University jumped five spots in the annual “Best Places to Work in the Bay Area” survey, landing at No. 5 in the “large employers” category (501-1,500 employees). SCU is the only university to make the top 10. The survey is conducted by the San Francisco Business Times and the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.

Deepa Arora

America’s best graduate schools

The annual U.S. News and World Report rankings of graduate schools were published in April. SCU’s business and law schools earned several distinctions:

BUSINESS: No. 10 part time executive MBA program in the country | No. 15full-time executive MBA program.

LAW: No. 8 intellectual property law program in the country | No. 10 most diverse law school in the country | Among Top 100 law schools nationally.

Research: Everybody chill.

The cool factor: Sergio Escobar Vargas in his SCU lab. Photo by Charles Barry
The cool factor: Sergio Escobar Vargas in his SCU lab.
Photo: Charles Barry
As computer chips become more powerful, they grow ever hotter. In doing research at SCU and Hewlett-Packard, Sergio Escobar Vargas Ph.D. ’10, is looking for a way to cool things down. Enter the spray nozzle.

The essence of the idea is as simple as a cold shower on a hot day: Spray drops of liquid to reduce heat. But in the complex world of computers, “spray cooling” takes plenty of fluid of a different sort—the sweat and tears of prolonged effort. For the past three years, Sergio Escobar Vargas, a Santa Clara doctoral student in mechanical engineering, has dedicated himself to perfecting a watery way to cool the microprocessors that form the brains of computers.

Spray cooling is a concept championed by Hewlett-Packard in information technology’s never-ending battle against heat: More powerful chips have generated more heat, an increasing threat to themselves and their surroundings. Adapting ink-jet printer technology, HP researchers are finding ways to spray the hottest parts of a chip’s processor with microscopic bursts of coolant. The technique promises a big step forward over fans and heat sinks, the inefficient and bulky means to manage the problem traditionally.

A delicate balance

The success of the technology hinges on keeping processors at the minimum temperature required to dissipate the maximum amount of heat through evaporation. It’s a painstaking balancing act that depends on the frequency, size, and velocity of the tiny droplets—each less than the diameter of a hair. Among the challenges: recycling the coolant in a closed loop and redesigning ink cartridges for compact inclusion in a computer.

Conducting research in labs on campus and at HP’s Palo Alto facility, Escobar has been integral to the project’s research and design, said Ratnesh Sharma, senior research scientist at HP Labs, the company’s research center. And, Sharma says, “He has put his heart and soul into this.”

Escobar’s work has already helped set a new record for dissipating heat from a chip. His name is on two pending patents, alongside those of other HP scientists. The work has also resulted in journal and conference publications, an invitation to present at a meeting sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and a two-day symposium that brought engineers from across the country to campus. And Escobar received the 2008 Student of the Year award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in the electronic and photonic packaging division, an award he was nominated for by his fellow HP researchers.

“It was quite an achievement for him,” says Abdlmonem Beitelmal Ph.D. ’00, who also worked at HP Labs while earning his doctorate at Santa Clara. Beitelmal later joined HP as a researcher and recently returned to SCU as an adjunct associate professor. Escobar came to Santa Clara after earning undergraduate degrees in his native Mexico and master’s degrees at the universities of Puerto Rico and Notre Dame. Here he has relished the research opportunities—along with the social and professional opportunities of Silicon Valley life, from cutting-edge science to pickup soccer. “I have nothing to envy schools like Berkeley or MIT for,” he says.

Escobar is one of just a half dozen doctorate students in mechanical engineering overseen by a roughly equal number of faculty. Drazen Fabris, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, helps supervise Escobar’s research. “These students can really get immersed in projects over multiple years and have the time to do research that puts us on a level comparable to bigger universities,” he says.

As for Escobar, he intends to complete his doctorate by the end of 2009—with hopes to continue his research in heat dissipation in Silicon Valley, or perhaps for an automaker in Michigan. He concedes that auto companies are in a tough spot these days. But they could also benefit tremendously from the work he’s doing.

Sam Scott ’96

Cosmic prescription: Think small.

PharmaSat is the size of a loaf of bread. And right now it’s screaming overhead at 17,000 miles an hour—with SCU engineering students at the controls.
SCU Pharmasat Team. Photo by Charles Barry
On the roof: from left, Mike Rasay ’01, M.S. ’07, Ph.D. ’12, Paul Mahacek ’05, M.S. ’09, E.E. ’10, Jose Acain ’06, M.S. ’09, Ignacio Mas Ph.D. ’10
Photo: Charles Barry

Student engineers, guests from NASA, and curious passersby waited with bated breath in Room 324 of Bannan Engineering on the afternoon of May 19, watching on large screens as a Minotaur rocket lifted off from Wallops Island, Va.

A dozen minutes after liftoff, the rocket deployed its first passenger and primary payload, an 880-pound military reconnaissance satellite. A few minutes later, the rocket ejected some tiny hitchhikers, including a miniature satellite by the name of PharmaSat. The SCU team waited for PharmaSat to complete its first 90-minute orbit before they received the first sign of life: a faint telephone modem–like signal. In Bannan 324, there was a collective sigh of relief. Then the ground operations team—SCU engineering students stationed both on campus and at SRI International in Menlo Park—began verifying the satellite’s stability before starting a 96-hour experiment in space.

Weighing about 10 pounds and the size of a loaf of bread, PharmaSat is a nanosatellite. It houses 48 sample wells and an optical sensor to measure the density and growth of yeast, which scientists use to track the performance of antifungal treatments on the growth of microbes in microgravity. Ultimately, the experiment aboard PharmaSat may provide answers to important questions about the performance of pharmaceuticals in space during long-duration missions.

The students controlling PharmaSat work under the direction of Professor of Engineering Chris Kitts, who heads the Robotics Systems Laboratory at SCU and the Center for Robotic Exploration and Space Technologies at NASA Ames Research Center. “The collaboration is a fantastic opportunity for students to become immersed in cutting-edge space technology,” Kitts says. The success of this mission both demonstrated the viability of miniaturizing satellite technology and provided information useful for developing measures against strains of resistant bacteria in space.

Experiments like this are typically done aboard the manned, multibilliondollar space station. Next to NASA missions that may take years, or occasionally decades, to finish, nanosatellite missions are completed in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost.

Small is beautiful II

The grounds operations crew at SCU had its first experience managing a nanosatellite three years ago, with the launch of the shoebox-size GeneSat. That mission marked the first time a NASA satellite was primarily controlled by students. The satellite was the site of an experiment measuring the resistance of E. coli to antibiotic doses; it also proved the Santa Clara engineering lab’s capability to deliver industrygrade satellite communication service to NASA.

GeneSat and PharmaSat are nearly identical in appearance, and both monitor biological strains through an optics system. The satellites download data to their Earth crews through a dish owned by SRI International, plus an amateur antenna and two dishes on the Bannan Engineering roof that were constructed by students.

Giovanni Minelli ’06, M.S. ’09 is a graduate student in engineering who helped develop PharmaSat and based his master’s thesis research on it. For NASA, he says, “Partnering with a university means that you can pay a fraction of the price for normal industry ground operations. For students, this is as close to industry-caliber work that you can get.”

Following in GeneSat’s footsteps, PharmaSat will soon be handed over to Kitts as an instructional and research tool for his Intro to Satellite Operations class until the satellites burn up in the atmosphere in the next few years.

Next up for the Santa Clara satellite operations team is O/OREOS, a nanosatellite that will test the performance of living organisms and organic material in a radiated environment over six months. O/OREOS is due to launch in February 2010 from Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Molly Gore ’10

Team California ready to shine

For the International Solar Decathlon, it’s about time for the rubber to hit the road. And then the National Mall.

Inside the office of Tim Sennott ’09 are all the signs of around-the-clock work: a comforter underneath a desk for that emergency nap; a couple pairs of work boots, water bottles and empty thermoses; and an empty box of Wheat Thins sitting open on the desk. The whiteboard is covered with equations.

Measure twice: CCA student Annessa Mattson, architectural project manager, in foreground, with Meez Perkins of CCA on the laptop and Mike Sizemore
Measure twice: CCA student Annessa Mattson, architectural project manager, in foreground, with Meez Perkins of CCA on the laptop and Mike Sizemore ’12 on the ladder.
Photo: Charles Barry

Sennott, the engineering manager of the Santa Clara Solar Decathlon team, spent up to 80 hours a week this summer working on the Refract House, as the team has named its creation. Now the team is in the final stages of preparation before heading to Washington, D.C., to compete with 19 other universities from around the world in the final judging round of the International Solar Decathlon, which begins Oct. 9.

The goal of the competition is to make the most efficient and sustainable house—and one that is livable. In 2007, the SCU team placed third in the biannual competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. They took the competition by storm, earning a rep as the “Cinderella team” from California. But they came in near the bottom in one category: architecture. This year, SCU’s team collaborated with architecture students from California College of the Arts to form “Team California.” As they boast on their website, they’re the only undergraduate-led team in the competition. And they have their eyes on first prize—including tops in architecture.

The Refract House is a slightly C-shaped modular home of 800 square feet. Its sleek exterior, lined with large windows, is designed for a perpetually sunny Bay Area climate. The house is heated and cooled using solar power. It also reuses water and collects rainwater for its garden.

The team has not only had to build and plan the solar house but also raise funds and organize construction. Team California’s overall budget is $1.4 million, about half of which goes to materials for construction, while the other half goes to support staff.

Bold and luxurious
Frame it: Allison Kopf
Frame it: Allison Kopf ’11 and Dan Ruffoni ’09 at work on the Refract House
Photo: Charles Barry

Sennott, who graduated in June with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, is the general systems manager and created the complicated system that regulates the plumbing and electrical controls. “I sort of oversee and organize, but really it’s just like putting out fires in the road,” he says.

Some 200 students have worked on the project at various stages. This summer, the two dozen students who stuck around to help construct the house and finish the project became the core of the team. Among them was Erika Fieger ’10, a senior civil engineering major. Fieger and other members of the water team determined how the plumbing system would recycle water. “There are days when it’s frantic, but everyone is close,” she says.

While on site, construction manager Dan Ruffoni ’09, who graduated in June with a B.S. in civil engineering, ensures the crew is on schedule, materials are at hand, and the house is built efficiently. But what’s most important, he says, is making sure the team is recycling as much as possible and using local materials.

“Just because something is environmentally friendly doesn’t mean it’s sustainable,” he says.

There are new hurdles in this year’s competition—for instance, everything in the house has to be up to San Jose building codes. There are also new cool features—including the fact that electrical functions can be controlled with an iPhone app.

When finished, the home is meant to inspire others near and far. After all, it was the 2002 Solar Decathlon that inspired an eighth-grader named Allison Kopf to travel to Washington to see the houses. This year Kopf, a junior majoring in computer engineering, is the project coordinator for Team California.

The house begins its cross-country trip on Sept. 16. Team members will reunite with their creation in D.C. the following week.

Katie Powers ’09


Under pressure: Ueoka at the NCAA Regionals. Photo by SCU Athletics/Jason Wise
Under pressure: Ueoka at the NCAA Regionals
Photo: SCU Athletics/Jason Wise
Will of irons

Miki Ueoka ’11 has the kind of power that can make people stop and say, “Wow!” A slight 5 foot 7 inches, she drives the ball 260 yards. But it’s her mental strength that Coach Polly Schulze says has set Ueoka apart as the best women’s golfer in Santa Clara history—with two more seasons to play.

Focused and fearless, Ueoka has the faith in her irons to go hunting for the hole, ignoring the hazards that send most golfers to the safety of the middle of the green. “Nothing rattles her,” Schulze says. “For a lot of players, the pressure makes them fold. She gets better.”

Ueoka’s comfort in the hot seat was never more evident than at the West Coast Conference Championships in April when a dismal start left her in 21st place after the first round. But willing herself back, she rallied to finish tied for second, becoming the first Santa Clara woman ever to make the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship Regional.

Her fairy-tale season already included a school-record three tournament victories. At the Regional, she again flourished in the crunch, birdying three consecutive holes on the final back nine. She finished tied for ninth—the last spot to qualify for the national championships—before losing in extra holes to University of Oregon’s Cathryn Bristow.

“She won the playoff,” Ueoka says. “It wasn’t that I lost.”

Schulze expected tremendous success when she landed Ueoka, a star high school player and valedictorian of her class in Kauai, Hawaii. But Ueoka learned just a few months into college that her mother, Linda, had been diagnosed with cancer. The disease had already spread throughout her mother’s body. She died just five months later.

Ueoka somehow managed an all-conference season that first year. But mentally she was busy fighting the battle with her mother.

“She was always the one watching,” Ueoka says, dabbing her eyes. “She would always take me to tournaments.”

This year, though, Ueoka has drawn strength from her mother’s presence. “She is always there,” she says.

The ordeal has only made Ueoka tougher, says Schulze, who believes her star player has the caliber to contend for a national championship. In the meantime, along with golf, she is majoring in biochemistry with plans for medical school.

Sam Scott ’96


Team huddle: before playing their first-ever WWPA Championship final at Sullivan Aquatic Center
Team huddle: before playing their first-ever WWPA Championship final at Sullivan Aquatic Center
Photo: Charles Barry
Big finish for women’s water polo

Water polo is famous for hiding the rough stuff below the surface, where the grabs, kicks, and twists are harder to spot. But this year, the Santa Clara women made it obvious why the game deserves its status as a contact sport.

In just the second game, Jenny Knutson ’10 tangled arms with a Stanford player, popping her shoulder out of its socket and putting her out for three weeks. A week later, Wren White ’11, the team’s only goalie, had her pinkie finger broken and dislocated 90 degrees by a shot. For five games, field players had to defend the cage.

“It definitely forced others to step it up and show what they can do,” said co-captain Amy Lamb ’09, an accounting major.

The team still finished ranked 17th in the nation, its fourth top-20 finish in a row. More important, the women made their first conference championship game before losing to powerhouse Loyola Marymount.

It was an auspicious end to the team’s first season in Sullivan Aquatic Center, whose outdoor Olympic-size pool, made possible by a donation from Joan and Jack Sullivan ’59, allowed Santa Clara to host the conference finals for the first time. The previous pool was too small for a regulation course and had areas so shallow players could jump off the bottom.

More good things could be afoot. Next year the team welcomes nine freshmen, the largest incoming class in four years. And, just in case, the roster includes three goalies.

Sam Scott ’96

A commodious pond

The Santa Clara plunge: taking the pause that refreshes. Photo by Britton & Ley lithograph, SCU Archives
The Santa Clara plunge: taking the pause that refreshes.
Photo: Britton & Rey Lithograph, SCU Archives
Was Santa Clara home to California’s first outdoor swimming pool?

The fair city of Los Angeles is often credited as the swimming pool capital of the world. But the state’s first outdoor swimming facility was probably built here on the Mission campus, the brainchild of Santa Clara’s second president, Nicolo Congiato, S.J.

Before emigrating to America, the priest had taught at Collège San-Michel, a Jesuit school in Fribourg, Switzerland. He had been impressed by the institution’s elegant oval pool. Walled in granite and paved with bricks, that vast basin could accommodate more than 300 swimmers at a time. After coming to Santa Clara in 1855, Fr. Congiato discovered a large excavation in an orchard near present-day Ryan Field. The deep hollow, which had once supplied adobe for the buildings of Mission Santa Clara, intrigued him.

In 1856 he had the cavity resurfaced with cement and the basin ringed with a brick wall and sycamore trees. The following year, the college bulletin announced that the humble hole had been transformed into a “commodious artificial bathing pond” 160 feet long and 120 feet wide. An artesian well sunk in the middle of the open-air pool supplied fresh water in abundance.

Elsewhere in America, indoor swimming pools began to appear after midcentury. In 1868, Boston built the nation’s first municipal pool. Like other public bathhouses, it was an instrument for good hygiene in accord with the 19th-century conviction that a clean environment and moral character were linked. Santa Clara’s pool, by contrast, was created primarily for recreation, reflecting a dictum favored by the Jesuits: mens sana incorpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body). To facilitate play, the bottom of the pool was graded, with a shallow section for beginners while the rest was deep enough for proficient swimmers.

Generations of Santa Clara students sported in the open-air plunge until, some 70 years after its creation, it had developed so many leaks that continued use was impractical. “The old pool is more of a sieve than a container,” the Santa Claran newspaper announced in 1922. “One of the real historical monuments of Santa Clara University is fast disappearing.” A few months later, the old basin was demolished and its cavity filled in.

In its place, where students of the Gold Rush era had learned to swim, students of the Roaring Twenties scored touchdowns. In 1923, a modern pool was inaugurated adjacent to Seifert Gymnasium, a facility that served the University for 50 years until it was replaced in 1976 by Leavey Activities Center. Of course, the new Sullivan Aquatic Center, which opened last fall, tops all of its predecessor pools.

Gerald McKevitt, S.J.

The Mission sings

Margaret Caywood
Margaret Cayward ’81
Photo: Charles Barry

Early this summer the walls of the Mission Church echoed with centuries old hymns, thanks to the scholarship of Margaret Cayward ’81, a Ph.D. candidate in music at University of California, Davis. Drawing on research that included work in the SCU Archives, several years ago Cayward brought into modern musical parlance a set of “lost” Santa Clara scores in her manuscript Musical Life at Mission Santa Clara de Asís, 1777–1836. When music student Elise La Barre ’09heard about the research in a class she took with Professor of Anthropology Russell Skowronek, more musical wheels started turning. The result: a soaring vocal performance on June 5 by Joseph Barrack ’09James Conelly ’10, Michael Hayes ’10, Ian Jenkins ’10, Chris Ng ’05, Matthew Peterson ’09, Professor Steven Suljak, and Sean Texiera ’09—with La Barre on harpsichord.

“It sounded so right,” Cayward says, who was thrilled to hear songs the way the Clareños did in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Cayward came to Santa Clara to study mathematics as an undergraduate; when she was still in high school, the East San Jose native acted on Professor Gerald Alexanderson’s encouragement to take calculus classes at the Mission campus. What about music? As a student, she played violin in the University symphony, and when she headed to Latin America some years after graduation, she took with her not a camera but a tape recorder. Years later she completed a master’s in music at Cal State Hayward, and she has found herself drawn over and over to the social history of the music sung and played in the Santa Clara Valley.

“There are more stories to be told,” she says. And now those stories can be heard as well as read.

Steven Boyd Saum

Musical Life of the Santa Clara Mission: Hymns from 1777-1836
I. Winter, Hymn 1: To St. Joseph


II. Spring, Hymn 4: To the Most Sacred Body of Jesus

III. Summer, Hymn 14: To the Sacred Virgin


The full CD is available at the Santa Clara University Bookstore.

post-image Score! Jack Wall '09 whoops it up. Photo: Charles Barry
First-Time Grads

Overcoming all odds due to the pandemic, the Class of ’24 finally get to experience the graduation that they have long been waiting for.

Drumroll, Please!

Santa Clara University’s renovated jazz studio gives music majors and non-majors more space to find their sound.

A Plan For Tomorrow

Santa Clara President Julie Sullivan unveils a new strategic plan, Impact 2030, with a focus on increasing access and opportunity, and, of course, SCU’s Jesuit values and Silicon Valley location.