Five Things You Should Know About Fr. Engh

Insights from his first chief of staff at SCU, Jim Briggs

Five Things You Should Know About Fr. Engh

Jim Briggs served Santa Clara University for more than two decades—including two years as chief of staff for President Michael Engh, S.J., as he began his tenure at SCU. We asked him what insights he could share about that experience.

1. A Personal Touch

He always strives to bring a personal touch, a sense of kindness and compassion—and he is certainly a very faith-filled man. He is Jesuit to his core. He really took two things that are part of the Jesuit lexicon, if you will: that Jesuits call all of us to be men and women for others. He was a model for that, I truly believe. And the other one is this notion of Magis, which is the Latin word for “more.” In this context, it was: There is always more that can be done; you can always go deeper and always make a greater impact on whatever you are trying to accomplish.

2. Best in the West

I congratulated him recently on making it to the U.S. News & World Report ranking as the best regional university in the western United States. For years before that, it was always something that was “just out there.” To have finally gotten there, that ranking was made up of a lot of different factors. And that all this happened under his leadership.

3. Here’s the Plan

Ten years ago, what emerged from the strategic plan was that SCU should have, as preeminent, a place in science and technology. And that’s happening with what is in the works around the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation and all those projects in the School of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences—to say nothing of the continued improvements of the University facilities in the last ten years: the Charney Hall of Law, the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building, the Schott Admissions Building, Finn Hall, the renovations of other residence halls ….

4. The World Outside

When he first came to Santa Clara, his parents would always join him at his table at the Golden Circle Theatre Party. It was very touching to see how caring he was of his mom and dad and other family members. And I would also say that carried over in terms of how he interacted with people on his staff. He was always checking and asking questions about how are things at home, how are the kids and grandkids? He has an interest and concern about how life was outside of Santa Clara.

5. A Decade Is Saying Something

If you look at the tenure of a president of a U.S. university, it’s substantially lower than ten years. It just says what a difficult job this is at any university—and how many challenges there are, how different the challenges are at different times, even when a university isn’t growing and earning greater recognition the way that Santa Clara is. Amidst all this, he is also reflective and has a gentle humor, a very subtle sense of humor. And he maintains a lightheartedness in the midst of many, many challenges.

Jim Briggs
Jim Briggs. Photo by Charles Barry
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