Santa Clara University

SCU Today

University Press Releases

Back to Blog

Santa Clara University Welcomes Former SCU President William Rewak, S.J., as Chancellor

Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 26, 2011 —Former Santa Clara University President William Rewak, S.J., will return to campus as the new chancellor of the 160-year-old Jesuit institution effective Aug. 15, SCU President Michael E. Engh, S.J., announced today.

In his role as SCU chancellor, Rewak will assist Engh in vital areas, including civic engagement, fundraising, community outreach, and ceremonial events. He will also head a newly established Council of Trustee Emeriti, a board comprising former, honored trustees who will continue to serve and provide counsel to SCU.

“I am honored and grateful that Fr. Rewak has accepted my offer of this position to help advance the vision, mission, and strategic plan for Santa Clara University,” Engh said in an announcement to the University community. “He showed a passion for this University when he was president that has continued unabated, and we are fortunate for his continued service.”

Although at some institutions the role of chancellor is akin to the role of university president, at Jesuit universities and colleges, the title of chancellor is often given to former presidents who remain involved with community outreach and engagement, and provide support to the University and the Office of the President.

“The board is delighted to welcome Fr. Rewak back to the University he helped shape,” said Robert Finocchio, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Santa Clara University. “We look forward to working alongside him and benefitting from his strong institutional knowledge as we move the University forward under the new Strategic Plan.”

Since January 2011, Rewak has been interim director of the Jesuit Retreat House in Los Altos, for which he was director from 1998 to 2005. Prior to his current post, he served as minister of the Jesuit Community at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he also taught poetry.

Rewak was appointed chancellor of SCU once before, in 1989. But he held that post for only a few months before being tapped to fill in for the unexpectedly ill president of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. He ended up staying in that post until 1997.

Rewak served as president of Santa Clara University from 1976 to 1988, after having taught English at the University for six years and serving as rector of the SCU Jesuit community. When named president, he was the first to be chosen by the Board of Trustees rather than by the Superior General of the Jesuit Order in Rome. His presidency was marked by several key accomplishments, one of which was working on the rerouting of The Alameda around campus, a project largely finished by 1989. That change, long desired by the SCU community, unified the campus and set the stage for extensive future development.

He spearheaded the successful completion of a $50 million fundraising campaign, the largest ever undertaken by a Catholic institution in the western United States at the time.

Also during his presidency, the Bannan Engineering building was built; 17 endowed professorships established, and Heafey Law Library, Daly Science Center laboratories, Adobe Lodge and Benson Hall were renovated or extended. He was instrumental in unifying the look of the University, by having all buildings painted in the same tan hue.

Under his leadership, the quality of the student body improved and the faculty grew in size and quality. He oversaw the creation of the Eastside Project, now the Arrupe Partnerships for Community-based Learning, and the renaming of the University as Santa Clara University from its former University of Santa Clara.

“Father Rewak was an early visionary for SCU as a world-class institution,” said the Hon. Edward Panelli, the former California Supreme Court justice who chaired SCU’s Board of Trustees during Rewak’s tenure. “He helped shape the University community into a stronger, unified entity focused on long-term growth.”

Rewak was known at SCU for his eloquent speaking skills, collegial style, and support of the teaching-scholar model. A speech he gave to the faculty on academic freedom drew a rousing standing ovation, colleagues recall.

“I'm very happy to be returning to Santa Clara and look forward to renewing old acquaintances and making new friends. The position of chancellor is a challenging one, but challenges keep the imagination alive,” said Rewak. “The challenge for all of us will be to imagine Santa Clara’s future as one of a continuing high achievement and a profound dedication to serving a world that needs a spirit of selflessness. I am grateful to Fr. Engh for giving me an opportunity to be a part, once again, of this great University."

Rewak was born in Syracuse, New York, and moved with his family to San Jose in 1948. He graduated from Bellarmine Prep in 1951 and that year joined the Jesuit Order. He received degrees in philosophy from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and in theology at Regis College in Toronto. He received his doctorate in English literature from the University of Minnesota. In 2001, Rewak received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from SCU.

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 more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s 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 | | 408-554-5121


Printer-friendly format