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Santa Clara University Vice President for University Relations to Step Down Next Year

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 2, 2009—Santa Clara University’s Vice President for University Relations Jim Purcell plans to step down from his post next year after 13 successful years directing the University’s fundraising and external-relations efforts.

Under Purcell’s leadership, Santa Clara University has seen its endowment more than double, its campus transformed by six major capital projects, its alumni participation strengthened and improved, and its media presence enhanced.

“Santa Clara University owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Jim Purcell for his many accomplishments over the thirteen years that he has led the University Relations office. We have been blessed by his inspiring dedication, humanity, and passion for SCU,” said Michael Engh, S.J., president of SCU. “He has been a successful leader, administrator, and spokesperson in advancing the goals of the University in countless ways. My best wishes and congratulations go out to Jim for this next phase of his professional career.”

Purcell, 69, said now was the right time to leave to allow a successor to lead the next capital campaign. “While it is always hard to leave, I believe this is the proper time for me to transition into a new position, while allowing ample time for the University to identify my successor,” said Purcell.

The University’s board of trustees will immediately begin the process of finding a replacement through a national search. After a successor is named in mid-2010, Purcell will act as a part-time consultant focusing on strategic external affairs for the University.

Among Purcell’s other accomplishments:

-    He led a successful multiyear capital campaign, raising $404 million—$54 million in excess of the campaign’s goal.

-    He oversaw funding of numerous capital projects that transformed the SCU campus, including Lucas Hall, the Malley Recreation Center, Schott Stadium, the Sullivan Aquatics Center, and the Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center and Orradre Library.

-    He helped introduce the President’s Speakers Series, drawing world-renowned speakers to campus such as Jane Goodall, Michael Eric Dyson, Janet Napolitano, and Khaled Hosseini.

-    He oversaw increased involvement of alumni, donors, parents, and friends of SCU through events such as the Grand Reunion, Parent’s Weekend, Founder’s Day, and the President’s Club Dinner.

-    He helped increase SCU participation with Silicon Valley organizations and community groups such as the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

-    He oversaw enhanced marketing strategies leading to increased recognition for SCU regionally and nationally in publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, N.Y. Times, L.A. Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek, San Jose Mercury News, and the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.

Also, during his tenure, Santa Clara University’s endowment grew from $285 million to the current $577 million, enabling substantial growth in student scholarships and faculty chairs. In 2008, SCU was recognized among the top 100 endowed U.S. colleges by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This coming spring, Purcell will receive the J. Barry McGannon, S.J., Award from the Jesuit Advancement Administrators (JAA) group of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. This award, the highest honor bestowed by JAA, is presented biennially to an individual who has made a distinguished contribution to Jesuit higher education and to advancement.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,846 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus masters and law degrees, and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. masters universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse
SCU Media Relations Assistant Director
(408) 554-5121


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