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My journey to being Santa Clara’s 28th president has been a remarkable one. I stepped into some big shoes; very few college presidents serve for 20 successful years as Paul Locatelli S.J., did.
I feel both great responsibility and immense satisfaction in furthering many of the principles, programs, and plans President Locatelli espoused: an emphasis on globalization, a determination to develop a curriculum that produces independent learners and responsible citizens, and much more.
All of these efforts are in the centuries-old Jesuit, Catholic tradition:
Sustainability has increasingly come into our view as a global issue. We are committed to helping our students understand that environmental problems cannot be solved without consideration of social justice. In myinaugural address earlier this year, I proposed that Santa Clara become a major center for discussions of environmental justice and for examining the ethical dimensions of how we treat the physical world. Far too often, those who suffer the greatest harm from mistreatment of the environment are the poorest and most vulnerable. Our commitment to social justice requires a response to this global challenge.
The assessment of how we teach and learn is increasingly important. For instance, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) measures how well we have provided our students with opportunities to engage in educationally effective activities. Santa Clara scores higher on every benchmark than the national average.
Our careful attention to student learning and outcomes is only part of our ongoing commitment to students. In the midst of last year’s financial crisis, we did everything we could to minimize the impact on our students—both new and current—without compromising academic quality. We held the tuition increase to 3 percent, the smallest increase in 25 years, and faculty and staff did not receive salary increases for the 2009–10 school year. For current students in need of emergency financial aid, we created Special Assistance Awards worth nearly 1 million dollars. Much of this amount was made up of generous gifts from donors including $300,000 from faculty and staff.
I look forward to continuing this journey in collaboration with the many talented people who make up the Santa Clara community. Together, we will provide undergraduate and graduate students with still more opportunities, not only for financial aid, research, internships, and jobs, but also for engaging their hearts and minds in creating a more sustainable, just, and humane world.