Santa Clara University

Michael Engh S.J.

President, Santa Clara University

A third-generation California native, Michael Engh, S.J., is a historian specializing in the American West. He is the author of Frontier Faiths: Church, Temple, and Synagogue in Los Angeles (1992) and has published extensively on the Catholic Church's role in settling California and the history of Los Angeles. 

Santa Clara University's 28th president, Fr. Engh first visited the SCU campus in 1974 as a Jesuit novice. It was visiting historic sites such as the Santa Clara Mission that first drew him to the field of history. His grandfather Edmund F. Airey, Sr., was a great storyteller, and Engh grew up hearing his accounts of California history and sharing his love of the past.

He also knew early on that he wanted to teach, from entering his very first history class. He has a reputation for being a challenging professor and a tough grader that he acknowledges, explaining, "If you want the best for your students, you have to ask their best from them."

Roots in Los Angeles

The oldest of six children, he was born in Los Angeles, where his mother's family first settled in the 1880s. His father, Donald, is a retired captain in the Los Angeles city fire department and his mother, Marie Therese (Airey) Engh, is a homemaker.

Fr. Engh graduated from what was then Loyola University of Los Angeles in 1972 and was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1981. He completed his graduate studies in the history of the American West at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1987 and began teaching at Loyola Marymount University in 1988.

Fr. Engh was active in founding LMU's Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles and the university's Center for Ignatian Spirituality. He served as dean of the school's Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts from 2003 to 2008.

Leadership priorities

At Santa Clara, Fr. Engh's priorities are attracting diverse and academically gifted students, recruiting and retaining talented faculty, and fundraising. He also enjoys engaging with the diversity, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit that are the hallmarks of Silicon Valley.

Fr. Engh is an avid baseball fan with a special place in his heart for the Dodgers. In fact, if he had only two words to describe himself, he would choose "Dodgers' fan!."