He Built It Beautiful

The firsthand view of sustainability on campus.

He Built It Beautiful
a href="http://santaclaramaga.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/lg-581-josephsugg.jpg">View full image Photo by Charles Barry

When he retired in 2014 as associate vice president for University Operations, Joseph P. Sugg had overseen unprecedented construction and renovation of the Mission Campus (read more here). He and his staff kept the campus lovely and made it more so.

He was a quiet force behind transformation. With his guidance and support, Santa Clara became a leader in sustainability. (Joe was born in Arkansas in 1944 and credited sensibilities he learned growing up on a farm; his parents were educators.) “One part of it is running a sustainable campus. We are also attempting to give students a culture of sustainability so that they will run a sustainable life or business for the next 60 years.”

Unbeknownst to many here: He was a retired Air Force colonel. He flew jets in Vietnam, and at the end of the Cold War, as a base commander in Arizona, he oversaw demolition of missiles for which he’d helped develop control systems years before; they were no longer needed. It meant a great deal to him to see the dedication of SCU Veterans Plaza in November 2014.

Joe adored the Wall of Climbing Roses that runs for half a mile on the edge of campus: 200 heritage roses, some quite rare. His wife, Marianne, was the force behind that. When it came to roses, “I’m what my wife refers to as the under gardener,” he said. “I dig the hole wherever she wants it.”

After his retirement in 2014, in this magazine we paid tribute to Joe Sugg with an illustrated map marking some of the significant buildings and projects he had overseen. Count among them: the Music and Dance Facility; Victor B. and Julia Botto Vari Hall, home to the College of Arts and Sciences; Pat Malley Fitness and Recreation Center; Sobrato Residence Hall; Casa Italiana Residence Hall; the landmark Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center, and Orradre Library; Lucas Hall, home to the Leavey School of Business; University Villas; the experimental Commons on Kennedy Mall; Paul L. Locatelli, S.J. Student Activity Center; Stephen Schott Stadium; Sullivan Aquatic Center; the Patricia A. & Stephen C. Schott Admission and Enrollment Services building; the new Graham Hall; Stevens Soccer Training Center; and the Edward M. Dowd Art & Art History Building, which just opened in fall 2016.

It is no secret that students who are admitted to Santa Clara and come here for a visit tend to be smitten with the beauty of this place, and that alumni from across the years who return marvel at the dedication and care that are manifest in ways big and small. Joe Sugg is one important reason why that is so.

We lost Joe on July 25, 2016. A celebration of his life was held here on the Mission Campus, and he was buried at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

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