Dr. Victor B. Vari
by Jessica Rice
Dr. Victor B. Vari is a familiar face around Santa Clara University. He has not only been here longer than most professors, he has had the opportunity to see his former students become his colleagues! Dr. Vari has been teaching for 68 years, and this year will be his 61st at Santa Clara.
Dr. Vari was born in San Francisco and educated in Italy. He got his start as a teacher at the age of 17, when he taught elementary-age children at an after-school program at Dopo Scuola, a school for the sons of Italian immigrants.
When the Italian schools were closed during the war, he became a radio announcer in Berkeley. Every night from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., he broadcasted the news, popular music, and operatic music. During World War II, he served in the military doing intelligence in Europe.
Dr. Vari received his undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University in 1942. He did graduate work at the Sorbonne University in Paris, Lausanne University in Switzerland, and Mexico University, and received his master’s degree from Stanford University in 1952. He completed his Ph.D. (summa cum laude) at the University of Madrid in Spain in 1961.
In 1946, Dr. Vari began teaching at Santa Clara University. From 1947 to 1952, Dr. Vari coached the Santa Clara fencing team, which won the Pacific Coast Championship for Novices.
This year, he will teach elementary Italian courses for each quarter, as well as a Romantic Period (19th century) Italian Literature course in the spring quarter.
Dr. Vari says of the fact that professors at Santa Clara teach elementary language courses, “I think this is one of the advantages of Santa Clara, that you have full professors who teach elementary courses, even to freshmen,” highlighting the high standards of the university.
Dr. Vari’s favorite aspect of teaching at Santa Clara is “my relationship with students and their families.” He says, “That’s what gives me the greatest satisfaction.” After 60 years spent at Santa Clara, he has had many opportunities to see the successes of his former students. Dr. Francisco Jiménez, now Dr. Vari’s colleague in the Modern Languages Department, was once his student.
“There is this warmth, this respect,” Dr. Vari says of Santa Clara, which is “something unique.”