Posts Tagged ‘Santa Clara University’

Jesuit Leading Santa Clara University Solar Decathlon Team to Victory

Jesuit Father Jim Reites started out as an engineering student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, but meeting the Jesuits his senior year changed his career path. Instead, he joined the Society of Jesus and became a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University in California. In a nod to his former career path, Fr. Reites is now making headlines as the adviser of Santa Clara’s Solar Decathlon team.

The United States Department of Energy sponsors the Solar Decathlon every two years, in which teams from schools worldwide compete to build the most efficient, livable and beautiful solar home. Santa Clara’s teams finished in third place in both 2007 and 2009, besting many bigger, better-funded universities. Students credit Fr. Reites as a large reason for their success, and the 2013 solar decathlon team is currently working on their next entry at the Santa Clara campus.

“I’ve never seen him down in spirits or tired,” said Santa Clara junior Brian Grau. “He’s always ready to work whether it’s actually doing physical labor all day long or helping us with the design.”

Fr. Reites may be 75 years old, but he is teaching young Santa Clara students plenty about technology. Additionally, Fr. Reites brings his love of science to his position as chair of the Religious Studies Department at Santa Clara. “The very first personal computer in a department on campus was in the Department of Religious Studies,” said Fr. Reites. “And I built it from a kit.” His do-it-yourself attitude led the university to ask him to become the Solar Decathlon team adviser.

Tim Hight, professor of mechanical engineering and faculty project leader for the Solar Decathlon team, said Fr. Reites “always seemed to be around when something needed to be done and outworked most of the team in terms of energy and enthusiasm. His understanding of so many aspects of the house, whether electrical, plumbing or controls, means that he knows how the whole house works and how to fix it if it doesn’t.”

According to Fr. Reites, building a solar house is right in line with the Jesuits’ mission. “It’s engineering with a mission, a real mission to make the world a better place.” [NBC Bay Area, Santa Clara University]

Jesuit Accompanies Santa Clara University Law Student in Border Protest

DREAMERs protest

Photo courtesy KBI.

Lizbeth Mateo, who is registered to attend Santa Clara Law School in California this fall, took part in a risky border protest on July 22 with other activists who had all been brought illegally to the U.S. as children. The protest started when Mateo and two others flew into Mexico and then tried to reenter the United States by crossing the border. Other immigrants and a large group of supporters, including Jesuit Father Sean Carroll, executive director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which works on migration issues on the U.S.-Mexico border, joined them.

The young people, who call communities across the United States their home, presented themselves to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the at the Morley Gate in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Fr. Carroll, along with three other staff members of KBI and other religious leaders, gathered near the border with the nine immigrants.

“I and other religious leaders accompanied them and went through the gate with them as part of the action. At the same time, there were people gathered on the U.S.  side of the border in support of the DREAMers and calling for an end to the deportations,” Fr. Carroll said.

The young men and women walked to the official pedestrian crossing point and requested humanitarian parole to rejoin their family members and communities within the United States.

Their request for humanitarian parole was denied, and Mateo and the other immigrants are now being held in Eloy, Ariz., while their case is considered. According to Fr. Carroll, it’s not clear how long they will be there, and he said they are planning to apply for asylum.

Mateo and other protesters say that those already expelled from the country have been lost in the current immigration debate. Deportations have increased from just under 300,000 in 2007 to nearly 400,000 in 2011, according to federal statistics.

“We should not forget the people who have been deported,” Mateo said.

Fr. Carroll said, “The protest has drawn attention to the effect of deportations on families and on young people. It causes separation of family members and it draws attention to the urgency to passing immigration reform that unites families and gives young immigrants the opportunity to realize their dreams. We’re asking that they be released to their families in the U.S.”

The three immigrants have put themselves at risk by returning to Mexico voluntarily, reports The Los Angeles Times. Under an immigration package backed by the Obama administration, young immigrants deported could apply to return to the U.S. Those who leave voluntarily would not have that option, immigration experts say.

According to the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, which organized the protest, some of the protesters, including Mateo, are now on a hunger strike until they are released.

Jesuit Father Michael Engh, president of Santa Clara University where Mateo plans to start law school in the fall, released a statement of support for the protesters, calling Mateo “one of our courageous incoming law students” and saying he had “contacted our local representatives requesting their assistance with this matter on behalf of our student.”

Earlier this month, 20 presidents of U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities signed a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives urging for comprehensive immigration reform as the country’s immigration system continues to separate families and “trap aspiring Americans in the shadows.” [The Los Angeles TimesKino Border Initiative]

Former President of Santa Clara University Named Chancellor

william_rewakFormer Santa Clara University President Jesuit Father William Rewak will return to the campus as the new chancellor of the 160-year-old Jesuit institution effective August 15th, SCU President Jesuit Father Michael Engh announced.

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’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.

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. 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.

“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.”

To read the full announcement, please visit Santa Clara’s website.

Jesuit Ryscavage to Lead Study of Education for Undocumented Students at Jesuit Universities

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Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life has been awarded a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to study the education of undocumented students at Jesuit universities. Fairfield University will lead the project, collaborating with Santa Clara University and Loyola University Chicago.

Jesuit Father Rick Ryscavage,  professor of sociology and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield and a former national director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, who will serve as director of the project, said, “there is very little hard data about the situation of undocumented students in American universities. This grant will allow us to make a major contribution to the national understanding of the problem.”

Under the grant, a research study will seek to survey and understand the social context and current practices and attitudes in American Jesuit schools of higher education regarding undocumented students.

The study will consider:

  • Structures that support or challenge the higher education of undocumented students
  • Best practices and strategies for ensuring their eventual success
  • A potential collaborative model for helping students as they move through their university years
  • Issues facing students after graduation

Leading the research team, consisting of law and social science faculty from all three institutions, will be Dr. Kurt Schlichting, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Fairfield.

The project is designed to stimulate a sustained dialogue with the 28 Jesuit schools of higher education in the United States by asking two questions:

  1. What are the current practices among our schools?
  2. What challenges do we face in trying to serve these students?

A final policy paper, highlighting the results of the study, will include a moral argument, anchored in Catholic social teaching, for better meeting the needs of undocumented students.

Santa Clara University Mourns Death of Former Jesuit President Locatelli

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At least 1,500 mourners are expected to attend the outdoor funeral service Friday evening for Jesuit Father Paul Locatelli, Santa Clara University‘s (SCU) chancellor and former president who guided the university through tremendous change and revitalization.

Fr. Locatelli, 71, died Monday after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He had recently returned from Rome, where he worked as secretary of higher education for the Society of Jesus. He retired in 2008 after 20 years as president of the university, but remained chancellor despite his job in Rome.

A viewing inside Mission Santa Clara, the heart of the Jesuit university campus, will take place today from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The funeral service begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight and will be held outside in the nearby Mission Gardens. A live video feed of Locatelli’s funeral mass will be at www.scu.edu/locatelli. SCU is requesting people share their memories of Locatelli on their website here.