Santa Clara University


Provost's Office News & Events


Provost's Office News & Events

Provost's Office News & Events

  •  STEM Leadership

    Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2015

    Over the course of the 2014-15 academic year, the University engaged in visioning and programming for the STEM project. The visioning process, which occurred in fall of 2014, produced a bold, distinctive vision statement for a STEM Initiative and STEM Complex; STEM Initiative guiding principles, and principles and boundaries for the STEM Complex. 

    The programming process, which began in winter 2015 and will conclude shortly, aims to translate the ideas that emerged from the visioning stage into a detailed space program that supports the vision and strategy statements.
    In the 2015-17 academic years, the University will develop an implementation plan for the STEM initiative; work with a design firm to develop facility plans for the STEM complex; and engage in fundraising efforts to support the realization of the STEM vision. Additional work to develop appropriate facility and resource management models will begin this summer.
    Leadership for the STEM project over the 2015-17 academic years will include four committees: 1) executive committee, 2) vision implementation committee, 3) advisory committee on facility design, and 4) fundraising committee. Chairs of committees 2-4 will work together to collaborate and coordinate activities. A working group will research and recommend resource and facility management models. A complete list of committee members is on the STEM2020 site.
  •  Record High Undergraduate Retention Rate

    Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

    Santa Clara’s official retention rate (first year students who return for their second year) has set a new institutional record. For the cohort entering in fall 2013 (Class of 2017), 96.2% of the students returned to Santa Clara for their sophomore year. The previous record high, of 95.2 percent, was set for the 2011 cohort returning in fall 2012.

    Many thanks to the dedicated faculty and staff who support our first-year students and help them achieve their academic and personal goals.

  •  Rhodes Scholar’s Success a Testament to SCU Faculty and Staff

    Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

    Aven Satre-Meloy, Class of 2013, was recently awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, just two years after winning a Fulbright Award to teach and do research in Turkey. The third Santa Clara University alumnus to win the award, Aven graduated summa cum laude with degrees in in political science and environmental studies and was awarded the Nobili Medal, which each year goes to the male graduate judged outstanding in academic performance, personal character, school activities, and constructive contribution to the University. In many ways, he embodied the best elements of a Santa Clara education—rigorous academics and  experiential education outside the classroom, all enriched by a passion for social justice.
    Aven’s achievements have already begun to inspire current students to see themselves as potential Fulbright Fellows and Rhodes Scholars. Aven recently met with the Johnson Scholars and talked with them about how his experiences at the University made him a competitor in the prestigious fellowship programs. During his time at the University, he studied abroad in Turkey, served as a peer educator with One in Four—a sexual violence prevention program—and as a Community Facilitator, a member of the Associated Student Government, and a Hackworth Fellow in the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Aven may be most remembered as a key change agent in the development of a new University Honor Code.

    In addition to Aven’s account of his educational opportunities, Aven’s application for the Rhodes Scholarship required 8 letters of recommendation from faculty and staff.  Letters written by Christopher Bacon, David Decosse, Matthew Duncan, Dennis Gordon, John Farnsworth, Leslie Gray, Tedd Vanadilok, and a faculty member in Turkey complemented the institutional letter provided by Leilani Miller and Stephen Carroll. Faculty and staff from several departments also helped him prepare his application materials and practice for the interview portion of the competition.

    Since the Office of Student Fellowships opened in 2005, the University has seen a significant increase in the number of students and alumni who have won prestigious fellowships and scholarships. Of the four alumni who became finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship, three applied between 2009 and 2014. The other alumnus advanced to the finals and received the Rhodes in 1955.
    The Office of Student Fellowships was conceived by Richard Osberg (then Director of the University Honors Program) in consultation with a group of faculty and staff, and is currently directed by Leilani Miller. The office has focused its efforts on working directly with students to raise awareness of scholarship and fellowship opportunities and to help them prepare for the competitions. In the coming months, Leilani and her team will develop a series of workshops for faculty to help them think about how they might coach students who are interested in pursuing fellowships and to share strategies for writing strong letters of recommendation for grant and fellowship competitions. Dates and times will be announced in January.
    With Aven Satre-Meloy’s achievement we have much to celebrate in the community effort that nurtured Aven during his time at SCU and in the exceptional individual that Aven has become. At Santa Clara University, the breadth of educational opportunities creates many options for students to find outlets for their diverse interests. Staff and faculty advise and mentor students through these experiences, a key part of the University’s effort to educate the whole person.

  •  New Learning Spaces

    Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

    In support of the teaching scholar model, the Provost’s Office has been working to generate new and enhanced learning spaces. I am pleased to report that the University has made significant progress by finalizing the long-term lease of a modern office building located at 455 El Camino Real. Slated to open in Summer 2015, the renovated 75,000 square foot building will provide much needed classroom, laboratory, and office space to the School of Education and Counseling Psychology and the School of Engineering. Fifteen new classrooms are being built, which will support the needs of graduate education in the two Schools, reducing the programs’ demands for classroom space on the main campus and dramatically increasing the University’s classroom inventory.

    Santa Clara will begin construction on the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History building in April 2015. The new facility will provide a cutting-edge environment to foster the integration of creativity and innovation through the study and practice of art. When it opens in Fall 2016, the building will offer a combination of thirteen studio spaces and classrooms, which increases the University’s classroom inventory by five.

    As the University embarks upon SCU 2020, detailed planning and analysis is underway to support the development of the School of Law’s new building, the STEM complex, and the Alumni Science redesign. These buildings will include a number of innovative classrooms that support the Teaching Scholar model, add to the University classroom inventory, and create greater flexibility in classroom scheduling.

  •  Vision Statement for STEM

    Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

    Santa Clara University has completed a two-month visioning process for STEM, facilitated by HOK and the University’s STEM Steering Committee, that included 23 on-campus interactive workshops with over 160 university faculty, staff, students, and administrators participating. In early January, the STEM Steering Committee will be inviting you to comment on a draft Vision Statement, supplemented by guiding principles for STEM education at Santa Clara University. This document will be important in guiding the programming phase, to begin in mid-January, that will identify the specific functional and technical requirements of the STEM complex. Your input will be greatly appreciated.

    It is with gratitude that the University and the STEM Steering Committee acknowledge all of those who contributed to the Visioning Statement, the process, and Visioning Document.

  •  Student Evaluation of Teaching

    Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014

    In the Provost's Update in Winter 2014, I described the work of the Student Evaluation of Teaching Task Force which proposed a new instrument for the student evaluation of teaching (SET). The Task force had consulted widely, reviewed a substantial body of research, and considered and revised several drafts of proposed SET questions through an extensive feedback process.  In 2014 a pilot study was launched in which the proposed SET instrument was administered in 46 winter quarter courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels and in 6 Law School spring semester classes. A total of 548 students from these classes completed the SET survey.

    The Faculty Affairs committee, after reviewing data from the pilot studies and consulting broadly with faculty through a survey, has recommended approval of the new instrument. On their recommendation and the subsequent recommendation from the School of Law, I have approved the adoption of the new instrument for implementation this fall term.

    The SET questions can be found here. More information about the SET Task Force and its work is available online.

    The work of the 2013-14 SET Task Force resulted from a recommendation of the 2012-13 Task Force on the Evaluation of Teaching. The earlier task force had recommended not only a review of the University’s SET instrument, but also the use of multiple sources of evidence, including student evaluations, peer evaluations, and course materials, in evaluations of teaching.

    I have asked Eileen Elrod, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Development, to take the lead on behalf of the Faculty Development Program in providing support for schools, disciplines, and departments engaged in the development of strategies for incorporating multiple sources of evidence in teaching evaluations.

    I want to thank the Faculty Affairs Committee, the SET Task Force, the faculty who participated in the SET pilot project, and the members of the Information Technology staff who are preparing the technological support for the new SET.  And I thank the University community for the strong commitment to excellent teaching and thoughtful evaluation of teaching effectiveness.

    An error in this entry was corrected on October 9, 2014.

  •  STEM Visioning and Programming

    Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014

    I am pleased to provide an update on our planning process to develop a compelling vision and comprehensive space program for the future STEM complex. In collaboration with the deans of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering, we have constituted a STEM Steering Committee that includes the following individuals: 

    • Glenn Appleby - Mathematics and Computer Science
    • Mark Aschheim - Civil Engineering
    • Prashanth Asuri - Bioengineering
    • Amelia Fuller - Chemistry and Biochemistry
    • Tim Healy - Electrical Engineering
    • Michelle Marvier - Environmental Studies and Sciences
    • Lisa Millora - Provost's Office
    • Amy Shachter - Chemistry and Biochemistry; Provost's Office

    The steering committee is responsible for (a) engaging faculty and staff in the visioning and programming processes; (b) communicating about upcoming meetings and progress; (c) providing guidance to an external architecture firm that will lead the visioning and programming processes; and (d) making recommendations to an executive committee that is ultimately responsible for major administrative decisions regarding the design and construction of the STEM complex.

    The executive committee is comprised of:

    • Rich Barber - Dean's Representative for the College of Arts and Sciences
    • Michael Hindery - Vice President for Finance and Administration
    • Dennis Jacobs - Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
    • Godfrey Mungal - Dean of the School of Engineering
    • Joe Sugg - Assistant Vice President for University Operations

    The visioning process will begin this fall and be immediately followed by a programming phase which is anticipated to conclude by summer 2015.

  •  Online/Hybrid Course Redesign

    Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014

    During the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, the University offered intensive training sessions in online and hybrid curriculum design through the CADE (Competency Assessment in Distributed Education) program designed by JesuitNet, a branch of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). A total of 40 Santa Clara faculty have completed the program since 2012, and an additional 20 faculty will participate in 2014-15. Each faculty participant creates a new online or hybrid course.  Trained faculty have offered online summer session courses for undergraduates as well as online courses for graduate students in the Jesuit School of Theology, the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries, the Leavey School of Business, and the School of Engineering. In a pilot project this year a small team of faculty trained in the program will offer hybrid courses that meet once a week face-to-face, with other course activities and content online.

    While online/hybrid training requires an initial investment of time and resources, the program provides enhanced flexibility for faculty, expanded offerings in summer session, and improved access for students -- especially graduate students who live and work at a distance from the university. In addition, it allows for more efficient use of classroom space.

    The online/hybrid graduate program in Pastoral Ministries, with a new emphasis in Hispanic Lay Ministry, has attracted 20 new students in its first year.  Although these are not full-time students, the program has the potential to grow significantly through increased outreach to additional dioceses throughout the western region.

    A decade ago, the University typically offered fewer than ten online summer session courses each year.  After initiating recent online training opportunities through the CADE program this number increased to 35 in 2013 and to 56 in 2014.  Summer courses in the online format have been primarily lower division. In student evaluations of lower division courses, ratings of online summer courses generally do not differ from ratings of courses in traditional classroom settings. Assessment of student learning is in process.


    An invitation to faculty to participate in online/hybrid CADE training opportunities in winter and spring 2015 is forthcoming.

  •  Provost's Update Summer Quarter No. 1

    Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014
    Dear Colleagues,

    A fresh academic year is upon us along with the arrival of new students and exciting opportunities. This update provides some information that may be helpful as you finalize your preparations for the coming year.

    With warm regards,
    Dennis C. Jacobs
    At the beginning of each academic year, the Santa Clara University community celebrates the Mass of the Holy Spirit. As a University community rooted in the Jesuit Catholic tradition, many of us call on the Spirit of God to be with us in all our works, activities, and endeavors. While the Mass is a Roman Catholic liturgy, we honor the diversity of faith perspectives within our community, and we welcome one and all to join in the celebration.

    This fall, the Mass of the Holy Spirit will be celebrated at noon on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, in the Mission Church. To enable the campus community to attend the Mass, classes will not meet between 11:45 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. that day. Classes that usually meet from 11:45 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. will be cancelled. Classes scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. will instead begin at 1:15 p.m.
    In spring 2014, on the recommendation of the Student Affairs University Policy Committee and the Academic Affairs University Policy Committee, I approved the adoption of an Undergraduate Academic Integrity Pledge.

    The Academic Integrity Pledge states:

    "I am committed to being a person of integrity. I pledge, as a member of the Santa Clara University community, to abide by and uphold the standards of academic integrity contained in the Student Conduct Code."

    The Academic Integrity Pledge, designed to deepen the understanding of and commitment to academic integrity at Santa Clara, will be inserted into the Academic Integrity Policy in the Undergraduate Bulletin and the Student Handbook. I have asked Phyllis Brown, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies, and Matthew Duncan, Associate Dean for Student Life, to take responsibility for constituting a small team to oversee the implementation process.

    I would like to thank the committed student, staff, and faculty leaders who have worked tirelessly for several years to support the highest levels of academic integrity on campus. I am particularly grateful to the work of Hackworth Fellows Aven Satre-Meloy and Austin Smith, both of whom were advised by David DeCosse in the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; the leaders of the Associated Student Government of the past three years; the 2013-14 Honor Code Drafting Committee; and the members of the University Policy Committees who have reviewed their proposals.
    In my last Provost’s Update (June 2014), I provided a detailed update on the learning space redesign and the master planning processes. This past summer, Kenna 109, O’Connor 110, and O’Connor 210 were renovated. Faculty who have been assigned to teach in those rooms (and the previous pilot classrooms, Graham 163 and 164, Varsi 114, O'Connor 204, Engineering 602, and Alumni Science 220) will have an opportunity to learn more about the features of their classrooms and how the new designs can support teaching and learning. Information will be available in early September.

    In addition to the pilot classroom initiative, other recent improvements in classroom design and scheduling also have had a positive impact. In response to faculty feedback the University redesigned Kenna 102 to transform a classroom with limited usability into a far more functional learning space enabling more faculty to teach in the room. And the shift in the Tuesday-Thursday schedule has been effective in increasing utilization in the earliest time period. These changes in time and design have helped to create greater flexibility and have allowed the University to better meet the demand for more classroom space, even as new buildings are designed and constructed with additional learning spaces.
  •  Provost's Update Spring Quarter No. 2

    Tuesday, Jun. 10, 2014

    Dear Faculty and Staff,

    As Commencement weekend approaches, we recognize with pride the many accomplishments of our graduating students and our colleagues. In addition, this academic year has been marked by a remarkable resilience in the way the campus community has responded to conflicts and challenges, as exemplified through the recent shared governance retreat, the vigil held in the wake of the tragic Isla Vista shooting, and creative strategizing to address enrollment declines in some of our graduate programs. These examples and more illustrate the supportive community in which we teach, learn, and serve.

    We are all due for a much-deserved period of rest. As we eagerly prepare for the upcoming celebrations as well as the rejuvenation, renovations, and research that accompany the months of summer, I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your many contributions to our common endeavor of providing a transformative education for our students.

    With warm regards,

    Dennis C. Jacobs


    I want to thank the faculty and staff who have participated in the most recent phase of conversations regarding the elaborated strategic plan. Approximately 15 open gatherings were held during the spring quarter and a few more are scheduled to take place in early summer. More than 50 faculty and staff served as discussion organizers and drafters of expanded descriptions of components of the plan. Approximately 135 additional faculty and staff participated in the discussions to develop more detailed and concrete ideas for implementing the elaborated strategic plan. The outcome of the process will be invaluable in informing the development of the comprehensive fundraising campaign.

    As a reminder, text and historical background for Santa Clara 2020, the integrated strategic plan, can be viewed online. I also encourage you to visit the working site where a number of descriptions have been posted for the entire campus community to review. More descriptions will be posted over time.


    I hope that many of you will be attending the Commencement exercises this coming weekend in celebration of our students’ academic achievements. Your participation represents an important way of honoring the work of our students during their years at Santa Clara University. As announced last week, I have convened a working group to examine our Commencement-related events with the goal of making recommendations for improving the experience of our graduates, their guests, and the SCU community. As a first step, the working group will distribute a survey to the campus community on Monday, June 16, 2014, while the experience of Commencement is still fresh in our minds. Your input through this survey will greatly inform the committee’s work.


    I want to provide an update on the learning space pilot process, and to contextualize it within the master planning process.

    The Integrated Strategic Plan calls for both enhancement and expansion of learning spaces at Santa Clara: a significant increase in the number of new classrooms, labs, and other learning spaces on campus through the construction of a new Art and Art History building, a Law facility, a Science and Engineering complex, and other new structures; and a redesign of more than 45 older classrooms across campus to better support teaching and learning.

    As part of this process, a diverse palette of representative SCU learning spaces is being identified following broad consultation with the campus community. Examples of learning spaces within the palette include tiered case-study classrooms with continuous counters, flexible classrooms with moveable desks or tables, active learning studios, seminar rooms, tech labs with computers for hands-on learning, and maker space/project suites.

    A pilot project has been launched in preparation for the expansion, design, and re-design of learning spaces: three new classrooms were created in 2012 (Varsi 114, Graham 163 and 164), three older classrooms were redesigned in 2013 (O’Connor 204, Engineering 602, Alumni Science 220), and three additional classrooms will be redesigned in summer 2014 (Kenna 109, O’Connor 103 and 209). The pilot classrooms will help us discover what kinds of learning spaces are most effective in supporting the diverse types of teaching and learning that occur at Santa Clara. An assessment of the pilot classrooms will inform the master planning process for the campus.

    The pilot classroom designs feature combinations of various flexible workspace elements including easily moveable desks or tables, short throw projectors, team screens, electronic whiteboards, and writeable walls.

    Faculty and student feedback on the pilot spaces has been compiled in a preliminary assessment report drafted by Chris Bachen, Director of Assessment. The report, Reflecting on our Experiences with New Learning Spaces, is posted online.

    Next steps for the pilot learning spaces will include continued collaboration in the design and effective use of learning spaces; continued assessment and feedback on the pilot learning spaces; and enhancement of partnerships among faculty, Media Services, IT, Registrar, and Facilities to ensure that any problems are addressed quickly.  Next steps with the broader master planning process will include (i) an identification of the appropriate palette of learning spaces for SCU, and (ii) an analysis of how many learning spaces of each type and size will be needed by 2020 to support effective, innovative teaching in the context of the projected increase in enrollment. Faculty input will be crucial as this process continues. I particularly want to thank all those who took part in recent conversations about learning space design with consultant, Shirley Dugdale, during the week of May 19. This included the Faculty Collaborative for Teaching Innovation, members of the Provost’s Advisory Council on Learning Spaces, faculty who participated in learning space design workshops in 2013 and 2014, and faculty who taught in and helped assess the design and use of the pilot classrooms.


    At the conclusion of the 2014-15 academic year, Dean Atom Yee will step down from his role as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. We will be engaging a national search firm to support the work of the search committee, whose members are:

    Tom Plante (Psychology) – SEARCH COMMITTEE CHAIR
    Marie Barry (alumna)
    Alaina Boyle (undergraduate)
    Marie Brancati (Director of External Relations for the College of Arts and Sciences)
    Julie Chang (English)
    Pancho Jimenez (Art & Art History)
    Godfrey Mungal (Dean of Engineering)
    Kathleen Schneider (Senior Assistant Dean, College of Arts and Sciences)
    Craig Stephens (Biology)
    Michael Zampelli, S.J. (Theatre and Dance)

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