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Imaginary world gears up for its final days
Deep in the basement of Nobili Hall, behind rows of neatly stacked storage boxes, is a door that leads to a land of make-believe. Snow-capped mountains, a flowing river, and miniature towns are the backdrop of a train masterpiece conceived, built, and operated by Father James Felt.“You need to use your imagination,” he says as he starts the tour of the Sierra Pacific Railway.
Felt has been working and playing with trains since he was a young child. But it wasn’t until the Jesuits moved to Nobili Hall in 1975 that Felt had a space of his own where he could expand and create his imaginary world. “It’s all show business,” he says as he points out the Hollywood-like facades of miniature buildings along the railroad tracks.
There is great attention to detail, and even some clever humor, in Felt’s masterpiece. On the front of the miniature Schokking Electric building, the sign reads: “Don’t plug it in if it isn’t schokking.”
The train set is powered by an intricately designed control panel that Felt operates from one end of the room. Only he knows how it really works. As one of the engines rounds the corner, it gets stuck in a mountain tunnel. “Excuse me,” Felt says. He crawls under the table and pops his head through a hole in the middle made specifically to work on the trains when they malfunction. At 80 years old, the “prairie dog” maneuver, as he calls it, is getting a bit tough for his body to handle.
Felt has been at the University since 1965 and will retire from teaching at the end of this year. His train is retiring, as well. When the Jesuits move from Nobili Hall into the new residence this summer, Felt’s train set will be dismantled. There is not enough space in the new residence and, even if there was room, Felt says he doesn’t have the energy to rebuild after the move. After decades of working on a project that has brought him hours of joy and moments of frustration, “It’s time,” Felt says, as he gears up to take the Sierra Pacific down.
See Father Felt's train set on NBC 11. Windows Media Player 9 is needed to view the video.
SCU hosts press conference opposing anti-immigrant legislation March 14, 2006
SCU President Paul Locatelli, S.J., talks to crowd outside the Mission Church. Read the San Jose Mercury News article.
According to School of Engineering Dean Daniel Pitt, the most frequently asked question of the engineering school at student recruitment fairs across the country is, “Do you have a program in bioengineering?”
Finally, he can answer that with a resounding “Yes!” thanks to the recent implementation of the concentration in bioengineering within the general engineering major, and the new biomedical engineering minor now available.
The new program is likely to draw students to the University who previously might have eschewed it without the bioengineering program.
“If you look at the national trends, the bioengineering programs are seeing growth where many other departments are seeing flat enrollment or declining enrollments,” noted Tim Hight, department chair of mechanical engineering and the current director of the bioengineering program. Read more.
At the 23rd annual meeting of the California Mission Studies Association at Mission San Diego in late February, SCU professors Rob Senkewicz (history) and Rose Marie Beebe (Spanish) not only presented a paper of their own, but they invited three students to share their experiences of what it is like being involved in translation and research.
The students are in Advanced Spanish Translation, a course Senkewicz and Beebe co-teach, and their paper was titled "Translating Mexican-Era Documents." Those who heard the presentation praised the professors for encouraging students to pursue translation studies.
“Your endeavor with these students is nothing less than deeply impressive. You and Rose Marie are to be congratulated and your students equally so. This program, if it is a program, will continue California mission studies into the 21st century,” wrote James Sandos of Redlands University in an e-mail to Senkewicz.
For the past 25 years, Steven Wade, a professor in finance and accounting at SCU’s Leavey School of Business, has made it his business to care about others. That’s when he first started preparing taxes free of charge for the needy. Initially he did it by himself. Then he convinced his son to join his efforts.
And for the past seven years, he’s invited Santa Clara students to join him, as well. “I wanted the students to have the same good feeling that I got every time I volunteered,” Wade said. With the help of his administrative assistant, Ramie Fernandez, Wade and about 30 student volunteers will assist about 500 people in preparing their taxes this season at various venues, including the SCU campus.
Wade doesn’t want his students to see him just as a professor and successfully retired businessman. “I’d rather have them see that you don’t forget the gritty reality of the outside world, either.”
Testament to his success in that arena, many former students come back to assist with the free tax preparation long after they’ve graduated. For specifics on times and dates of the free tax sessions, contact Ramie Fernandez at 554-4385.
Resident Ministers final information session, March 16, noon-1 p.m., Benson 105: If you've ever wondered how to serve SCU's Jesuit mission and values right where you live, how to have more opportunities for meaningful conversation with undergraduates, or how to live out your faith in daily life and develop your practice of mentoring and spirituality, then you might consider becoming a Resident Minister in the 2006-07 academic year. For more information on Resident Ministry and the selection process, check out the FAQs of Becoming a Resident Minister.
Founder's Day Celebration, March 17, 12:05 p.m., Mission Church
Orradre Book Sale, April 5, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Orradre Library: Could this be the last book sale before the building becomes nothing but a memory? Only time will tell. Donations for the book sale are welcome. The deadline for donations is March 24. For more information, contact Matthew Lipson at x1631 or Aimee Algier at x5556.
Some of the links to the news stories below may be archived or require registration. If you need help retrieving a story, please contact fyi.
Judy Nadler (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics) was interviewed on NBC 11 for a story about the possibility of female U.S. president.
Thomas Reese (visiting scholar) was interviewed by CNN Presents for a documentary about the one-year anniversary of the pope’s death. The documentary will air April 1 and 2.
Charlie Nolan (enrollment management) was quoted in a USA Today article about how technology is changing the way universities are communicating with prospective students. Read the article.
A forum titled "The Ethics and Politics of Search Engines," sponsored by SCU's Center for Science, Technology, and Society and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, was featured in a San Jose Mercury News article. Read the article.
Earlier this academic year:
Angelo Ancheta’s (law) book, Scientific Evidence and Equal Protection of Law, was published this winter. (Rutgers University Press)
Rose Marie Beebe (Spanish) and Robert Senkewicz (history) presented a paper at the 23rd annual meeting of the California Mission Studies Association at Mission San Diego in February 2006 titled "Apolinaria Lorenzana: A Woman in Early San Diego."
Francisco Jiménez (modern languages and literatures) was a featured speaker at the California Association of Bilingual Educators State Conference in San Jose on March 4.
Daniel Pitt (engineering) received the Diversity Award from the National Society of Black Engineers in February 2006.
Russ Skowronek’s (anthropology) book X Marks the Spot: The Archaeology of Piracy was published this winter and made the Nota Bene section of this week's Chronicle of Higher Education in early March. Fyi will feature a story on Skonwronek later this spring.
Byron Walden (math) was featured in the film “Word Play,” which premiered at the Sundance film festival this winter and will be released in New York City in June.
The SCU Magis Leadership Retreat was recognized with the Ignatian Medal for Outstanding Campus Program at a Jesuit University at the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administration’s banquet on March 11.
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