End of an era: President Paul Locatelli, S.J., to step down

He will take on expanded role as Jesuit secretary of higher education

Paul Locatelli

On March 14, Paul Locatelli, S.J., announced that he will be stepping down as president of Santa Clara University. He will be taking on additional responsibilities with the Society of Jesus, in Rome, under the leadership of newly elected Jesuit Superior General Adolfo Nicolás, S.J.

Tasked with promoting cooperation among Jesuit higher education institutions and research centers around the globe, Locatelli will also oversee the Intellectual Apostolate of the order—in other words, the intellectual work of Jesuits worldwide. His expanded role will require him to spend more time in Rome and traveling internationally. The University’s Board of Trustees has begun a search for his replacement.

Locatelli has been serving in a part-time capacity as Secretary for Jesuit Higher Education since December 2006. He will stay on as president at Santa Clara until a successor is named during the 2008-09 academic year.

A transformative era

Locatelli, 69, became president of Santa Clara University in 1988 and is the longest-serving president in University history. His departure from the presidency follows a tremendously prosperous 20-year tenure during which the University evolved into one of the preeminent Jesuit, Catholic universities in the country.

“This is truly the end of an era—and one that we recognize as extraordinarily successful,” said Mike Markkula, chair of the Board of Trustees.

Locatelli connected the University with society at large to an unprecedented degree in terms of a global outlook, collaborating with the entrepreneurs and businesses that have so profoundly shaped Silicon Valley, and meeting a broader social obligation in the Bay Area and internationally. During his four terms as president, Locatelli worked tirelessly in collaboration with the University’s alumni, parents, friends, staff, and faculty with extraordinary results: SCU’s endowment grew tenfold, from $77 million in 1988 to approximately $700 million last summer. Facility expansion resulted in the construction of new residence halls; the learning commons, technology center, and library (see story below); the arts and sciences building; the music and dance building; the business school; the baseball stadium; and the athletic center.

To bolster scholarship and research, Locatelli oversaw the founding of a score of endowed chairs. Above all, he tried to foster the growth of an increasingly diverse student body and faculty; it was, he said, paramount to fulfilling the central mission of the University: the education of students.

A leading voice

John P. McGarry, S.J., Provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, said it was the leadership Locatelli had shown at Santa Clara that led the Superior General to appoint Locatelli as Secretary for Higher Education.

Charles Currie, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, underscored that Locatelli has emerged as a leading voice in higher education, and that he had “led Santa Clara University to become an excellent holistic example of a Jesuit university: strong academics, a commitment to justice, pedagogy of engagement, and solidarity.”


Read Fr. Locatelli’s letter to the Santa Clara community and more.

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