Santa Clara University


Provost's Office News & Events


Provost's Office News & Events

Provost's Office News & Events

  •  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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