Santa Clara Mag Blog

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

  •  Leon Panetta, Cover Man

    Monday, Jan. 9, 2012

    For anyone with an interest in our country’s politics and military, there are few people who you’d want to have a conversation with at this point in time than Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ’60, J.D. ’63. Which is what Santa Clara Magazine brings in the next issue.

    Steven Saum’s January cover story on Panetta looks back at the life and career of the alumnus (and former SCU professor) who has served in Congress, as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, and until this summer as CIA director. Panetta discusses his vision for the military and shares stories from his days on the Mission campus. You could say his reputation as a rocker of boats began when he stood up to a Jesuit professor. On the subject of theology.

    If you can’t wait to get inside the head of our Secretary of Defense, try this cool interactive feature from the New York Times, which allows you to play Panetta and find $450 billion worth of cuts in the defense budget.

  •  Everything Everywhere: Ron Hansen in Lafayette on Thursday

    Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012


     Kick off the new year with a literary evening in Lafayette, Calif: Writer Ron Hansen M.A. '95 will be at the Lafayette Library & Learning Center on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7:30 p.m. He'll be talking about the writing life—and work that's taken him from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to Mariette in Ecstasy and, most recently, A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion.

    Hansen is the Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. Professor of Arts & Humanities at SCU, the author of 10 books, and recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He's also the literary editor for Santa Clara Magazine.

    Read more about his appearance in Lafayette.

    Read the story behind A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion in the Summer 2011 edition of SCM.



  •  Celebrating La Virgen

    Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011


    Santa Clara and the Sacred Heart Parish commemorate the vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a 15-year tradition—and a four-year scholarship.


    Photo by Charles Barry

    The sounding of the caracol (conch) echoed through Mission Santa Clara de Asís on December 4. Then came drums, singing, and ancient Aztec step dancing. The joyous occasion: La Virgen Del Tepeyac, celebrating the miraculous apparitions of La Virgen de Guadalupe to Juan Diego, a Christian Indian, on the Tepeyac hill in Mexico City in 1531.

    This year marks the 15th annual presentation of La Virgen in the Mission Church. The event is a collaboration of the University and Sacred Heart Parish. Performed in the Flor y Canto (Flower and Song) Nahuatl tradition, the celebration featured the Aztec dance group Danza Yoloxochitl with narration, colorful cultural costumes, and music: drums and guitars, violins and flute.

    Building bridges

    Ana Maria Pineda, RSM, an associate professor of religious studies at SCU, helps organize the public presentation each year. She arrived at Santa Clara University in 1997 to teach Hispanic Spirituality: Guadalupe—the country’s only course dedicated to studying La Virgen and her significance in history, popular religion, and current events—including immigration issues—as well as the daily lives of those who seek her comfort. La Virgen Del Tepeyac offers a two-way bridge to the underserved communities beyond SCU, venerating an icon central to many Latinos lives and identities, offering dignity, unity, strength, and hope.

    While a student, María Del Socorro Castañeda-Liles ’98 was a member of Sacred Heart Parish. Her devotion to la Virgen inspired her to create a partnership between SCU and Sacred Heart. At the parish, she participated in El Teatro Corazón, made up of parish members. The parish had already been performing the Juan Diego account for nearly two decades. Castañeda-Liles helped persuade SCU’s Campus Ministry that the reenactment is a form of popular religious prayer, not simply theatre, and that it would be fitting to host the celebration in the Mission. Parish members joined with Pineda’s students with the help of Pia Moriarty, then director of Eastside Project (known today as Arrupe Partnerships for Community-based Learning), for the first celebration of La Virgen in the Mission Church in 1997. Since then, Castañeda-Liles has continued her involvement with SCU in another important way: She is an assistant professor of religious studies.

    Santa Clara alumni are also strong supporters of the event. José A. Cabrales ’00, who serves as president of the Chicano/Latino Alumni Chapter, underscores that the celebration has become an important SCU tradition, binding the community and generations.

    In addition to the many who come to the celebration each year, Pineda has had more than 500 students in her Hispanic Spirituality course. The reenactment helps non-Latino students and those of other faiths come to a greater appreciation of culture and religious traditions beyond their own, she says. And it is an important part of reflecting on their own religious beliefs and how education has brought them opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. As La Virgen’s apparitions to Juan Diego symbolize her embrace of all, so does the presentation symbolize SCU’s connection with the community beyond its campus.

    Students, scholars, and alumni

    Preceding the celebration on Dec. 4 was another tradition: the awarding of the San Juan Diego Scholarship. It recognizes Sacred Heart students who are committed to the parish, youth leadership, and the Latino community. This year the scholarship was presented to Araceli Guiterrez, who plans to enter SCU in 2012 as a freshman. Thirteen students have received the scholarship over the years, including some who were the first in their families to attend college.

    It was the celebration itself that inspired the scholarship: Touched by the first performance in the Mission Church in 1997, Stephen Privett, S.J., then provost and vice president for academic affairs at SCU and now president of the University of San Francisco, awarded two scholarships to Sacred Heart students. The scholarship was later formally established by President Paul Locatelli, S.J. ’60.

    —Monique Marie DeJong ’06


  •  Black, White, and Fed All Over

    Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

    Saying goodbye to a familiar friend on campus

     If you have had lunch at the Adobe Lodge, then you know BW (short for Black and White)—although maybe not by that name.  

    You might have called her Adobe or The Jesuit Cat. The staff at the Lodge named her Bus Tub, after the containers that leftovers are swept into. Maybe you just knew of the friendly longhaired, black and white cat that staked out the entrance of the Adobe Lodge daily. But those who knew her best, called her BW.  

    Michelle Towers official title with Santa Clara is administrative associate in the president’s office, but she’s unofficially the chair of SCU’s department of cat care. According to Towers, BW first appeared on campus about six years ago, large enough that most observers assumed she was pregnant. After two frowned upon forays into the restaurant, BW established her familiar post on the wooden chest near the entrance. Vet trips were surprisingly easy; some tuna or fresh chicken was all the bait required.  

    BW’s temperament bordered on fearless, as she was something of a socialite. She was known to weave between the crowds at Vintage Santa Clara and open houses and even attended a Board of Trustees outdoor lunch one day. “One event that she joined, that is remembered by many, was Father Locatelli's memorial outside in the Mission Garden,” recalls Towers. “There was an aisle that led from the statue of St. Joseph up to the stage, which was in front of St. Joseph hall. BW came into sight, walked up the aisle, turned around near the statue and sat—as if watching the event as well.”  

    In October, Towers noticed that BW had gone missing. The cat no longer waited for her morning meal at the St. Joseph statue and at her lunchtime post at Adobe. Over the next few weeks Towers asked her cat network if they had seen her, and they in turn asked others. She kept an eye on the Humane Society’s found pets page. Sure enough, a picture of BW was posted by someone who had been on the campus, thought BW was lost, and took her home for a few days.     

    Towers followed up with the local Humane Society. They called the person who found her and learned that BW was dropped off at another local shelter on October 20 when there had been no response to the posting. The staff reviewed her condition, and due to her age (around 12) and health problems (thyroid and kidney issues) she was put down.  

    “I hope there is an Adobe Lodge in cat heaven for her,” Towers says. “Heaven help them if the food is not to her liking.”

  •  The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!

    Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011

    Thanksgiving memories of turkey, football, and revolutions that changed the world

    Thanksgiving 1989 was a cold one in the Midwest: a couple feet of snow blanketed the fields and forests of Chicagoland. It was a year that we came home—all five of us kids—to the big white house where my family had moved the year I went away to college. We came with significant others in tow for the Thanksgiving inspection. It was the last Thanksgiving with my grandfather Henry, born in 1900, and it was the year the Russians came to play football.

    Stanislav was 15 years old and he was staying with our family. He was one of 10 high-schoolers (five boys, five girls, one teacher) from Leningrad. (It would be two years before the city reclaimed its original name of St. Petersburg, but people who called that fabled city home were already talking about the restoration as a matter of course.) Stas was sandy-haired, slight of build, and generally a quiet kid, at least around anyone older than he was. He shared my younger brother’s room and the two of them went to school together every day for six weeks. My mother packed their lunches and on Stas’ sandwich of sliced turkey or ham or roast beef she always put extra lettuce. His request.

    You see, in the fading days of the Soviet Union, fresh vegetables year ’round were not widely available. The problems with food distribution were emblematic of a system that was broken in so many ways. A friend of mine who was in Leningrad recounted seeing two women in a state store fighting over a single carrot.

    A different country
    But it was clear things were changing: the perestroika and glasnost were reshaping the U.S.S.R., and in Central and Eastern Europe it was the year of revolutions. Gorbachev had led the Soviet Union for four years already, but the Russian kids visiting us weren’t, for the most part, big fans. Less talk, more action is what they wanted. Also weighing on their minds was this fact: The Baltic Republics were still part of the Soviet Union but had declared a desire for independence.

    The Russian students arrived in Chicagoland just after Halloween. On Nov. 9, the Berlin Wall was toppled. Stas watched the event on television with my family. “I think I’m going home to a different country,” he told my mother.

    A week later, riot police suppressed a peaceful demonstration in Prague. The ensuing protests throughout the country became the Velvet Revolution that ended communism in Czechoslovakia. On the day before Thanksgiving, the space shuttle Discovery was launched. My mother woke Stas and my brother early for the occasion, so they could watch it live. At Camp David, in a Thanksgiving eve message, President George H.W. Bush described Eastern Europeans as “new pilgrims … on a voyage of freedom.”

    Table set
    On Thanksgiving Day in our warm kitchen there was turkey in the oven and potatoes (mashed and sweet) and stuffing in pans and casserole dishes and cranberry relish spooned into cut crystal bowls. There must have been 20 people at the house that day—too many to fit around the dining table. So in addition to the table in the dining room, the cherry dining set that had been my grandfather’s was put in the living room as the kids’ table—where Grandpa Hank also sat, much to his delight. He had never been to Russia. Once upon a time he was scheduled to take the next ship across the Atlantic to drive a tank in the Great War in Europe, but he liked to joke that the Kaiser heard that Henry was coming and called it quits.

    So what were the Russian boys doing in the suburbs of Chicago? They came on an exchange program begun, with fits and starts, during the Reagan presidency. But this was the first year that a proper, organized exchange took place. In the fall, a small group of high school kids from the Soviet Union came to the United States. The following March, an equal number of American students who were studying Russian in school—including my brother—lived for some weeks with host families in Leningrad.

    Why was this suburban high school teaching Russian? There was no native Russian population in our town to speak of. This was not Chicago proper; our town of 10,000 was never home to masses of immigrants from the lands of the Slavs. This was a WASPy suburb, far enough up the Chicago-Northwestern line that there was a rookery for great blue herons just outside of town and, a little bit further north, a lake popular with hunters. It was simply that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as language offerings were expanded at the school, Russian language—and a young, dynamic teacher—became part of the mix. The teacher rode a motorcycle and listened to the Doobie Brothers and kids loved him. There were even those who weren’t studying Russian who would hang around the Russian club.

    Forward pass
    While the big bird roasted in the oven, we went out on our parcel of land where the suburbs meet the farmlands under the wide-open Midwestern sky—blue and fragile like porcelain with the sun shining down on brilliant, sparkling snow—and we taught the Russians how to play football. The teams were six-on-seven. There was Stas and his friend Anton from Leningrad and the twins Anton was staying with. There was my high school buddy Joe and his brother and my brother and two of his friends and a future brother-in-law. We offered up tips as we struggled through knee-deep powder for an end run: forward pass and lateral and tackle the receiver before he scores.

    Stas took that last lesson to heart. He didn’t wait for Joe to catch the pass. He saw him high-stepping it into the clear so he ran after him and wrapped his arms around Joe’s waist and took him down. Anton piled on. We refined the lessons about rules over the course of the game. Winning wasn’t really the point, was it? The point was more to share the exuberance of being alive to run and throw and play. The point was the conversation that my younger brother and Stas had in a quieter time: about how absurd it seemed that they might ever be fighting one another in a war.

    One of the reasons that this Thanksgiving is so memorable to me is that it offers a reminder. There are these things that we do right. There is good that can be done in the world. Bringing people together face to face across continents and histories. Undoing the injustices of decades of history. So act.

    Does this sound too simple? No doubt. But I’ll say it nonetheless because it is also easy to forget. Sometimes all we can notice is that today we roll the stone up the hill and the damn thing rolls right back down again. The forces of gravity conspire against us. Why even try? But that’s hardly the spirit of Thanksgiving. No, the spirit of Thanksgiving is in counting blessings. Start with those of the past year. Start with articulating hopes and aspirations and dreams.


    As a postscript, I should note that soon after the breakup of the Soviet Union, some folks tried to kill the Russian language program at our high school. The families that had participated in the exchange with Leningrad rallied to save the program, but only for a few years. They stopped teaching Russian a while back. French, German, Spanish, and Latin are still on the schedule. As is Chinese I, II, and III. That’s not surprising; it seems in keeping with the turning of political and economic wheels. And across the street from the school is the Gator Aid Sports Science Institute, the testing lab for the most researched sports drink on the planet, they say. But that’s another story.

    Keep the faith,

    Steven Boyd Saum



  •  The Class of '45: The boys who went away

    Friday, Nov. 11, 2011

    The new and old: A photograph of Santa Clara today and how it looked with the arrival of soldiers in 1943. Photo by Robert Boscacci '14 and from the Archives of SCU.


    On this Veterans Day, we're providing an excerpt from a letter that will appear in the Winter 2012 issue of Santa Clara Magazine. Thomas E. Gebhardt '45 was among the freshmen entering the university in 1941.

    "We were freshmen in 1941, eager to begin our college life ... [but] the attack on Pearl Harbor would change the life of each student of Santa Clara University. The years that followed became the war years, with students leaving to enter the service. It was a slow process, as students would wait for their orders. By the end of 1943, all eligible candidates had entered the service. A handful of the Class of 1945 would remain. The Tom Dowlings [a fellow football player] and the Chris Christiansons [also a football player] were lost in some far-away place, fighting for our country. It was ironic that our class started in 1941, the year World War II began and ended in 1945, the same year the war ended.

    As the war ended, many of our class would return to Santa Clara—a new class, a new graduating year. The Class of 1945 was lost in the pages of time. It was a new beginning."


  •  Memorial service planned for Prof. William Yabroff

    Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011









    Professor William Yabrof, who co-founded the graduate counseling psychology department at SCU, died on Oct. 6, 2011. He was a beloved professor for over 25 years, teaching numerous courses, and specializing in the therapeutic use of imagery and symbol. He is survived by his daughter, Clare (Wendy) Yabroff '85. A memorial service is being held on November 19th at 4 p.m. at the Ananda Church, 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306. For more information, please call 503-616-6628.


  •  Innovations to benefit humanity: 2011 Tech Award Nexus Conference

    Monday, Oct. 31, 2011


    On October 19, social entrepreneurs from around the world convened on the Mission Campus. The occasion was the 2011 Tech Awards Nexus Conference, hosted by Santa Clara's Center for Science, Technology, and Society in the Locatelli Center. The goal of the conference was to bring together people pursuing the ideas and possessing the ambition to change the world for the better.

    At the conference, keynote speaker Kristine Pearson, CEO of Lifeline Energy and 2005 Tech Award Laureate, shared an unabridged and unabashed reflection on her journey towards distributing more than 250,000 radios to developing sub-Saharan villages. In describing this “path with few signposts,” Pearson, as well as other speakers, shared admitted mistakes, but mistakes that would turn into well-earned nuggets of wisdom. Read more at The Center of Science, Technology, and Society blog.

    The conference was paired with the annual Tech Awards gala, one of Silicon Valley's most high-powered social gatherings. The Tech Awards honors 15 social entrepreneurs and their organizations for the ideas and know-how they've put into practice. So far tens of millions of lives have been positively impacted. Santa Clara President Michael Engh, S.J., was there to welcome guests—SCU has long played a key role in selecting the tech laureates.

    See a video recap of the Tech Awards here, including words from this year's Global Humanitarian honoree, Jeff Skoll. The first president of eBay, a philanthropist, and Hollywood producer, Skoll has devoted tremendous resources to fostering social change.

    This is the stuff of best practices within the world of social enterprising. And it's one of the ways that CSTS hopes to meet director Thane Kreiner's goal of improving the lives of 1 billion people in the next decade.

    2011 Tech Award Laureates

    2011 Tech Laureates


    —Steven Boyd Saum and Jon Teel

  •  Food, glorious food: Got a question for Adam Gopnik?

    Friday, Oct. 28, 2011




    For those who love to dine (or even live to dine) writer Adam Gopnik has served up a tasty multicourse historical exploration with his latest book, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food. And he'll be in Palo Alto on Nov. 1, for a program hosted by The Commonwealth Club–Silicon Valley at the Cubberley Community Center. Details and tix here.

    Your humble SCM editor is handling the Q&A. Come and ask what's on your mind (or your stomach) in person. Can't make it? Email us.

    Beyond the food front: In a recent issue of The New Yorker, Gopnik has a tribute to that wonderful children's novel of yore, The Phantom Tollbooth. I'm looking forward to talking with him about that gem.

    Steven Boyd Saum



  •  On Campus: Poetry triple-header Nov. 2

    Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011

    The Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., Reading Series serves up a winsome threesome for the fall poetry reading: Santa Clara's own Kirk Glaser, Claudia Monpere McIsaac, and Chancellor William Rewak, S.J.


    WHERE: Fess Parker Studio Theatre

    WHEN: Wed., Nov. 2 — 4 p.m.

    WHO: Well, there's...


    Kirk Glaser. He's taught writing and literature at Santa Clara for over 15 years and serves as faculty advisor to The Santa Clara Review. His work has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and he has received an American Academy of Poets prize, C. H. Jones National Poetry Prize, and University of California Poet Laureate Award. His poetry can be found in The Threepenny Review, Cerise Press, Alsop Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, as well as the The Cortland Review.



    Claudia Monpere McIsaac. She's taught at Santa Clara for 25 years, and her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Prairia Schooner, Ecotone, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere.


    William Rewak, S.J. Known as Santa Clara's poet-president, Fr. Rewak led the University 1976–88 and returned to Santa Clara as Chancellor this summer, after having served as President of Spring Hill College, director of the Jesuit Retreat House in Los Altos, and professor of poetry at Loyola Marymount University. Read more about Fr. Rewak in the Fall issue of the Santa Clara Magazine. And read his poems Abundance and Modern Warfare in America magazine.


    Also know: We here at the mag like good writing. And it just so happens that Fr. Rewak founded Santa Clara Magazine 30 years ago, in autumn 1981.


    Share the news: A PDF flyer about the poetry reading is available here for downloading, printing out, pasting up, handing forth.


    Who's responsible? The reading is sponsored by the SCU Department of English and the Creative Writing Program.

    —Jon Teel



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