April 8 may have marked the last State of the University address that President Paul Locatelli, S.J., will deliver, but he devoted much of his speech to what is yet to come. “We, as a campus community, are at the beginning of a new aggiornamento,” he said, “literally, ‘bringing up to date’—of Jesuit education at Santa Clara.”
Over the next year or so, the University will be engaged in a strategic planning process, developing initiatives that enhance academic excellence: a pedagogy of engagement; partnering with the Silicon Valley; and increasing global education opportunities to better prepare students for the 21st century.
A new school of theology and a partnership with NASA
With the Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center, and Orradre Library open for just over a week, Locatelli shared the news that the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley has jointly signed a letter of intent to become a school of Santa Clara. “There is no other comparable theological center of learning and research in the western United States,” Locatelli said. “This acquisition will rank Santa Clara among the best centers of Catholic theology in the United States, along with Notre Dame and Boston College.”
Locatelli also shared that Santa Clara has been invited to be part of a research and education consortium at NASA Ames Research Center, along with UC Santa Cruz, Carnegie Mellon University, and Foothill and DeAnza colleges. Santa Clara students and scholars have already been involved with a number of projects at NASA Ames, including the launch and control of satellites.
How we got here
When Locatelli took the helm as president, the Alameda still ran through campus. The two decades since, he noted, saw tremendous accomplishments in new majors and programs added; creation of dozens of endowed faculty chairs; a tripling in the number of students applying for admission; remarkable academic improvement; and expansion of facilities that have transformed the campus—from the Music and Dance Facility and the Arts and Sciences building to the Commons on Kennedy Mall and Schott Stadium, with a new building for the Leavey School of Business slated to open in the fall.
Locatelli also shared some reflections on his time in Rome this spring at the Jesuit general congregation, where he said it became clear that the time required for his work as Secretary of Jesuit Higher Education would need to increase tremendously under the new Superior General Adolfo Nicolás, S.J.
Some days before his speech, Locatelli was interviewed by The Santa Clara, the student newspaper. He said he was asked if he had any regrets. “Could I have done some things better?” he said. “I would be a fool to think I did everything perfectly right, but I have no regrets.” He concluded the State of the University by sharing another question from the student reporters: What was he most proud of in his tenure? Was there a building or an accolade he could cite? The endowment? “This community,” he said, “the people who are here.” His voice choked with emotion. “That’s what’s important.”
And Locatelli left the stage to a standing ovation.