Santa Clara Mag Blog

Santa Clara Magazine's blog, updated whenever the writing goblin visits the editorial staff of the magazine.

  •  Spring is Sprung: Meet the New Mag

    Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011


    Hope is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson wrote. And there, on the cover, captured by the lens of Susan Middleton ’70, behold: What feathers! There’s a story behind them, of course. It’s a story about a male trying to impress a female, and wouldn’t you know it -- this dazzling multicolored beauty is what turns her head, perpetuates the species. In this case, the (threatened) species is Gallus varius -- a Green Junglefowl, from Indonesia. But it’s a bigger story than that. Hope is a hefty part of it.
    Inside the print mag -- and here on the Web, too -- you'll find a photo essay by Middleton. Life Cycle draws from two projects, Evidence of Evolution and Spineless.
    You’ll also find a meaty feature by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jeff Brazil ’85, who asks: “Can newspapers & journalism survive the digital age? Does it matter?”
    And you'll find some reflection on what matters most in a tribute to Richard Coz, S.J., a Jesuit who so inspired generations of Santa Clara students that they created a scholarship in his name in 2007. Hundreds of folks have given gifts big and small to pay tribute to a resilient man who cheered for them on the playing fields and counseled them and wed them and baptized their kids, who traveled the world and brought back pictures to share, and to say: Look! Isn’t it wonderful? Fr. Coz died on New Year’s Eve, but he touched the lives of thousands.
    Do you have a Fr. Coz story to share? Or read something in this issue that fires your imagination or causes you concern? Let us know.
    And definitely let us know what you think of the redesigned We hope it better captures the look and feel of the print mag while leveraging some of the nifty stuff that only the Web makes possible. (Check out the interview with Middleton and the incredible Q&A array that Brazil shares.)


  •  Awardified: SCM again the most bemedalled university mag in the West

    Monday, Mar. 7, 2011

    A wise man once said: He who tooteth not his own horn remains in a state of untootedness.
    With that as our cue, we’re happy to share some news from the regional awards for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE): Santa Clara Magazine is once again the most lauded mag in the West. At an awards ceremony hosted in Los Angeles on March 4 by CASE’s Region VII, SCM was honored with seven medals, including top honors for staff writing and a silver medal for overall excellence.
    At the ceremony, the 2009 SCU President’s Report, “Keeping Our Commitment to Students,” was also honored with a bronze medal for excellence. The CASE District VII competition includes more than 100 colleges and universities from Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.
    Gold for staff writing
    Five articles from 2009–10 earned SCM a gold for staff writing—with articles running the gamut from a look at “Bad Journalism 101” by Mansi Bhatia to a profile of Barry O’Brien ’79, an executive producer for CSI: Miami and co-creator of Hannah Montana.
    Triple silver
    SCM earned a silver in the category College and University General Interest Magazine with a circulation of over 75,000.
    Another silver for Excellence in Editorial Design honored the photo essay on Haiti by Michael Larremore ’08, “Courage in the Face.” Larremore went to Haiti following the devastating earthquake in January 2010 as part of a medical relief mission. His photos capture resilience and strength in the face of disaster.
    The cover illustration by Keith Negley for our Winter 2009 issue — “Imagine. Go. Do.” — earned a silver for cover design. Last fall, the University and College Design Association selected Negley’s cover illustration for a national award for excellence as well.
    And triple bronze
    For overall design SCM landed one bronze medal.
    A second bronze honored the Spring 2010 issue, Home: a house, a land, an idea, in the category special issues, for its many-faceted exploration of home — from the cover story on the SCU Solar Decathlon team to a profile of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano ’79, with an essay by Kristina Chiapella ’10 on how some Native Americans in the Bay Area define (and try to reclaim) home in the 21st century.
    Lastest but certainly not leastest: Photographer Bud Glick’s portrait of Pat Mangan ’84 for the article “Hold the line” was awarded a bronze in the photography category. Mangan, athletic director and basketball coach at Frederick Douglas Academy in Harlem, has built a stellar high school hoops program by putting emphasis on family first, school second, then basketball.
    Jon Teel, Editorial Intern, Santa Clara Magazine


  •  Transform: Peace Corps 50

    Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2011

    “I really loved my term of service in Peru,” John Johnck ’60 says of his years with the Peace Corps in the mid-1960s. “It was ennobling and enabling – and humbling. It’s really a transformational experience for anybody who goes into it.”

    Answering Kennedy’s call took Johnck into the Peace Corps. In Peru, he had audited credit unions. (See previous blog post.)
    Back in the States, he went to work for Del Monte International’s management training program. That took him all around the world – from the Philippines to Italy, from Mexico to England – training staff in financial analysis and capital asset budgeting.
    For three years he returned to Latin America, serving as controller for a corporate subsidiary in Caracas, Venezuela.
    A buyout brought retirement, so Johnck went to work in construction: supervising a team remodeling Victorians in San Francisco and running a hot tub business in Berkeley with one-time colleagues from Del Monte. Since 1994 he’s been retired.
    Along with working he got involved in Republican politics in the Bay Area, serving a few years as chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party.
    Back in the day, he worked for California Governor Ronald Reagan and considered himself a Nixon Republican. He still has his finger on the pulse of politics: These days, he’s proud to call himself a Tea Party Republican.
    He splits his time between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. He and his wife are currently remodeling a house in Reno.
    When we caught up by phone, he was in the middle of buying windows for the place.
    Santa Clara grads who also attended St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco have another fellow alumnus in Johnck. He and his Class of ’56 buddies from SI (and they were all boys back then, just as Santa Clara was all-male) like to catch up at Caesar’s Italian Restaurant in San Francisco — a North Beach institution, it so happens, that opened its doors the same year he graduated from high school.
    Steven Boyd Saum, Editor


  •  Peace Corps Five-O

    Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2011

    Peace Corps Five-O

    Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy signed the Peace Corps into existence. Since that time, more than 300 Santa Clara grads — as well as faculty, staff, and current students — have served (and are serving) as volunteers across the globe: from Africa to Latin America, Asia to the former Soviet Union.
    This month kicks off a worldwide launch of “Peace Corps Month.” For us here at Santa Clara Magazine, it also inaugurates the beginning of a series of blog entries from returned and current Peace Corps volunteers spanning nations and decades, with plans for a special feature in the summer magazine.
    For your humble editor, this is a bit of a labor of love: The Peace Corps took me to Ukraine in 1994, so I bring both an earned respect and clear-eyed assessment of what is good and bad and beautiful about the Peace Corps and what it does — whether the experience is the toughest job you’ll ever love or, as you cope with what is an enormous government bureaucracy in its own right (with all attendant acronyms and responsibilities), the longest vacation you’ll ever endure. Like so much in life, what you get out of the experience has a fair amount to do with what you put into it. Plus a bit of context.
    Kicking things off for our first-person accounts is an entry from John J. Johnck ’60, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru in the mid-1960s.
    Do you have a Peace Corps story or photos to share? Write us at And read on.
    — Steven Boyd Saum, Editor
    • • •

    John J. Johnck ’60
    Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru — 1964–66
    When President Kennedy was assassinated, I was at work as a back office assistant at the stock broker Reynolds & Co. in San Francisco. I heard the news and recalled his famous line: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” So, at the age of 26, I filled in the Peace Corps application and was accepted to join a university education program as a math teacher targeted for Peru. I was elated that I could give back.
    Sixty of us were trained for Peace Corps work as teachers and “agents of change” at the University of Washington in Seattle. In order to teach in Spanish, it was mandatory that we be fluent in Spanish to graduate and go to Peru. We were immediately thrown into Spanish class from 3 to 11 p.m., five days a week — and eight hours each on Saturday and Sunday. The immersion worked for me. However, 15 fellow trainees were “de-selected.”
    When I first arrived in Peru, I had to use Spanish immediately. It was scary to walk into a meeting and try and understand and communicate at the same time. Jokes were impossible to understand. Fortunately, the Peruvians I spoke with realized I was new to their language and were patient with me. Slowly I learned and even dreamed in Spanish.
    The assignment collapses
    During 1964 and 1965, the Vietnam War had a powerful affect on America’s image overseas. In Latin America, the Peace Corps was pegged as an arm of the Central Intelligence Agency, especially on college campuses in Peru. Those of us assigned to public universities were met with sit-ins, anti U.S.A.–Peace Corps graffiti, and protests. My Peace Corps teachers college assignment collapsed. It was left to me to find alternative work.
    In Lima I met some fellow Peace Corps volunteers who were leaving after their two-year assignment. They were auditors for the Peruvian National Association of Credit Unions. They introduced me to the association president, who immediately asked me to join and help to protect the work they were doing. Credit Unions played an important role in Peru, because the banks only catered to the upper classes and to Lima’s professional business and government employees. That meant 98 percent of the country had limited access to banking. Churches, unions, agricultural workers, and farmers turned to credit unions.
    I performed about 10 audits of credit unions all over Peru from January 1965 to December 1966. A third were so poorly run that I recommended they be shut down. In these instances, a follow-up audit by my superiors usually validated the lack of ledgers, bank statements, board minutes, and cooperation from those particular credit union leaders.
    I traveled with my sleeping bag and slept wherever I could—so long as it was free. My Peruvian Peace Corps stipend was only $100 per month. The Peru National Association paid nada for Peace Corps assistance. I was responsible for my own shelter, food, transportation, and other living expenses. I sometimes slept in a priest’s rectory, credit union office couch, or in other Peace Corps volunteers’ rooms. Occasionally, I would find a dump for $5/month during an audit.

    Save the credit union
    My most interesting audit was for six months in Iquitos, at the headwaters of the Amazon River. I assisted the association president and vice president with a four-week audit. After their board approved the audit, they left me behind to implement the audit recommendations. This credit union was the second biggest in Peru, with 5,000 members and a capitalization of U.S. $5 million. It was founded by Padre David, a Spanish missionary, 15 years prior; he was still on the board of directors and served as treasurer.
    The padre built this credit union with deposits from Iquitos businesses, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, working people, and small farmers. Small loans were made out the back door by the padre, with the credit committee only told weeks later. Needless to say, the padre was not pleased that I was assigned to stay and implement the audit.
    My work there was difficult; we had shouting matches in public. However, there were many credit union committee members who approved the audit, and who were concerned about the solidity and future of their credit union.
    Padre David was demoted during my tenure there; lending policies were tightened; interest rates on loans and dividend rates increased; and uncollectible debts were written off. I slept next door to the credit union office, sandwiched between it and the outdoor fish market that set up every morning at 4. With that location, many flies lived there, too; the chameleons who fed there ate well.
    I returned to San Francisco in December 1966. The credit union in Iquitos is still in existence in 2010, despite the efforts of the leftist government that took over Peru to close it down in the 1970s. This is an “AMDG” outcome which gladdens the heart of a Class of 1960 old alum of Santa Clara University.
    John J. Johnck
    San Francisco


    Tomorrow, read about what John Johnck has been doing in business and politics since finishing his Peace Corps service in Peru in '66.