“Strategic agility” to do life-changing work.
Steven Boyd Saum
19 Jul 2011
“Strategic agility” to do life-changing work—and St. Ignatius as a spiritual venture capitalist
Taking a cue from Santa Clara University’s Jesuit heritage, for the State of the University address delivered on Feb. 16 in the Mission Church, President Michael Engh, S.J., also offered a description of the Jesuits’ founder that, it’s safe to say, most had never heard before: St. Ignatius as “spiritual venture capitalist.”
The characterization came from a meeting with SCU trustees a few months earlier. “Not every investment succeeds, but one must make educated risks,” President Engh explained. “One must learn, and then move forward in order to succeed.”
Fr. Engh also drew on writing by leading management thinker Donald Sull, characterizing Ignatius’ approach as exemplifying “strategic agility,” which Sull calls an “organization’s ability to seize opportunities to achieve long-term goals as they arise and build the resources—including people, cash, and brand—to exploit unforeseeable opportunities.”
Writing the Strategic Plan was the easy part. Still to do:
continue to help folks understand it, create a 10-year plan
for buildings and facilities, and formulate a new
comprehensive fundraising campaign.
How does that shape work at Santa Clara? “We seek to work in the Spirit of God, from the depths of our hearts—and not from the mind alone—and in practical ways, so that we can help people where they are, as they are, in the real world,” Fr. Engh said.
“To live is to change.”
Nineteenth-century scholar and theologian John Henry Newman also served as a touchstone in the address, for the way he navigated the “culture wars of his time in England, wars that raged around religion and science. … Linking natural science and human intelligence, [Newman] wrote, ‘in a higher world it is otherwise; but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.'”
That applies to Santa Clara, too, Fr. Engh said—acknowledging that one common sentiment is: “Please guard and preserve the Santa Clara I know and love the way it is. Even with its foibles and imperfections, it is the institution with which I am familiar, comfortable, satisfied—well, mostly satisfied.”
But others, Fr. Engh noted, “are eager for change at Santa Clara … Though they may not all be in agreement about what needs to be revised, improved, or dropped, they welcome the change.”
Strategic Plan 2011
With that in mind—along with a sense of dynamism and restlessness—Fr. Engh discussed the new University Strategic Plan (see Spring 2011 SCM, Mission Matters). “This plan enables Santa Clara to remain solidly committed to the mission and to unleash energies to realize our higher ambitions,” he said.
The five priorities being implemented through the plan are: Excellence in Jesuit Education; Engagement with Silicon Valley; Global Understanding and Engagement; Justice and Sustainability; and Academic Community.
“Writing the document was the easy part,” Fr. Engh acknowledged. Still to do: continue to help folks understand the plan, create a 10-year plan for building and facilities, and formulate a new comprehensive fundraising campaign.
“You can see that, yes, the work continues, and I shall need all your collective wisdom, constructive advice, and energetic assistance to move forward,” Fr. Engh said.
A litany of recent accomplishments noted by Fr. Engh would stretch for pages—as they do in this edition of the magazine. Some instructive figures, though: Applications for undergraduate admission are up 30 percent over two years; financial strength is based on a 13 percent return on investments last year; and improved alumni giving has risen from 15 percent two years ago toward 20 percent now.
How to save a life
At the close of the State of the University address, President Engh reserved special recognition for a group of women and men who saved the life of Santa Clara senior Matthew Brinda, who collapsed following the basketball game against Gonzaga in January. As Fr. Engh noted:
Two off-duty emergency medical technicians and the on-duty public safety officer observed and started CPR and rescue breathing. EMTs Mohit Kochar ’13 and Morgan Stinson ’13 worked first with Campus Safety Officer Evan Evans, and then with Officers Amanda Wilson and Kim Payne ’01.
Officers called 911, and Officer Phil Livak handled dispatches to and from the Santa Clara Fire Department, while Mike Brady J.D. ‘99 ran the response to the Center. A call went out to the on-duty EMTs across campus. EMT Allison Yue ’12 applied a defibrillator and shocked the patient, while Michelle Davidson ’13 and Maija Swanson ’12 assisted. Captain Phil Beltran, director of Campus Safety, who was working the game with his staff that evening, later wrote, “In the midst of absolute chaos at the game’s end, the professional teamwork displayed was simply awesome.”
That teamwork continued with Athletic Director Dan Coonan and Fr. Paul Mariani following the ambulance to O’Connor Hospital. Fr. Jack Treacy ’77, Th.M. ’90 and the Campus Ministry team began regular visitations to the patient and to his parents, while Jeanne Rosenberger‘s staff in Student Life handled notifications and campus logistics.
The Santa Clara senior is alive today, thanks to the quick response, close cooperation, and professional training of our EMTs and our Public Safety Officers. In saluting these individuals, I wish to recognize in particular Michele Helms, moderator of the EMT program. Please join me in saluting these persons who serve daily, often unnoticed, but are always essential to our health and safety. Steven Boyd Saum