Carey’s convocation counsel: It’s about respect

Ask Mike Carey ’71 about the meaning of leadership, and the answer will likely start and end with respect: for self as well as for others. For others, it’s not just for what they do, but by virtue of their humanity. As for gaining respect from other people, Carey said, it’s about “commanding—not demanding.”

With more than 35 years as an NFL official, Carey became in 1995 only the second African American to serve as a head referee. He still heads up a team of officials on the field, so that means he bumps up alongside plenty of professional-sized egos every week. Also the founder of Seirus Innovation, a major manufacturer of snow sports accessories, he’s the inventor on several patents—and, for the past decade, a member of the SCU Board of Trustees.

On Sept. 17, as part of the University convocation marking the beginning of the academic year, he spoke to students and faculty at the Leavey Center and shared what Santa Clara had taught him through lessons inside the classroom and out: “Think critically and act responsibly,” he said. “Learn not only to come up with the right answers, but to ask the right questions.”

As a college student in the “vibrant” late ’60s, Carey said, he found the University a place that fostered what he called “open, disciplined free speech.” That included hosting guest speakers from across the political spectrum—from Angela Davis to Bob Hope. Drawing parallels to the turbulent political situation in which the nation finds itself today, he encouraged students to take advantage of the diversity on campus and to get to know those they might not normally associate with.

Carey also confessed that, in his undergrad days studying biology at SCU, he would see the members of the Board of Trustees on campus and could hardly imagine how they connected with his experience. Now he finds himself a member of the body charged with governing the University. “Somebody in this group, years from now,” he told students, “will be in the same position.”

Global possibilities and contradictions

The pace of globalization in the 21st century presents higher education with a paradox, President Paul Locatelli, S.J., reminded the SCU faculty assembled for faculty convocation on Sept. 11. The speed of change today is unprecedented, and understanding its effects requires dedicated, even “cloistered, scholarly research,” Locatelli said. It also requires in-depth learning that encompasses the “‘gritty reality’ that the poor and vulnerable experience,” to use Jesuit Superior General Peter Hans Kolvenbach’s phrase.

As Secretary of Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, Locatelli has been meeting with university leaders in East Asia and Latin America, in part to understand the “major challenges and priorities” that Jesuit institutions worldwide may face over the next decade. For many Jesuit universities outside the U.S., “gritty reality” and poverty strike close to home.

The faculty convocation was held on a date that signifies for many the realization of a world suddenly smaller. In that vein, Locatelli observed, “the conflict that radical Islam has with the West is as much about cultural values, which emanate from religious values, as it is about poverty. Religious fundamentalism has distorted the tenets of faith for political purposes, a distortion which has caused only conflicts and violence.”

That informs the responsibilities facing higher education, Locatelli said. “Santa Clara should focus its research and teaching on efforts to discover the root causes of the critical problems of our time, paying special attention to their ethical and religious dimensions.” By taking on this responsibility, the University will continue to prepare “ethical citizens who will leaven the world with knowledge, justice, virtue, and wisdom.” —DK and SBS

post-image Mike Carey ’71 Photo: Charles Barry
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