Commencement speaker announced and survey reviewed
The Santa Clara
February 14, 2019
In his final State of the University address on Tuesday, President Michael Engh, S.J. reflected on his 10 years as Santa Clara’s president and discussed what the future holds for the university, including a commencement speech by actor Martin Sheen at the 2019 undergraduate graduation.
The Louis B. Mayer Theatre was packed with members of the campus who came to hear about the many endeavors the university has taken on this academic year.
Some of these efforts include the $1 billion Innovating with a Mission campaign and a review of the Campus Climate Survey results.
Looking back at the school year so far, Engh updated the audience on the “shared accomplishments” of the university.
One of these feats comes in light of the many complaints faculty and staff have raised this year about the widening gap between adjunct and tenured professor salaries, as well as insufficient housing for faculty and staff.
Engh highlighted the moves the university has made in order to address these issues.
“We continue to listen and act upon the concerns expressed by adjunct faculty and lecturers,” Engh said. “For example, we work quickly and diligently within our collaborative government system to correct outdated reappointment and renewal procedures.”
In addition to the updated procedures, Engh said more money has been allocated in the university’s 2020 budget to aid the pay gaps addressed.
This includes $265,000 for market adjustments for the assistant professors in the arts, humanities and social sciences, $400,000 for a new compensation structure for teaching-track faculty and $450,000 for new tenure-track positions.
While Engh highlighted the university’s accomplishments, many heads could be seen shaking in the crowd.
In order to address the lack of housing for faculty and staff, Engh said that six university-owned sites have been identified as possible locations for new employee housing.
The largest of these sites has the capacity to fit up to 290 units.
Although a site for new housing has not been selected yet, Engh said the issue is now a priority for the university.
Before decisions are made, a series of listening sessions will be held in the coming months to hear from faculty and staff.
In his address, Engh also reflected on the results of the Campus Climate Survey which were released in October.
“We’ve used the findings to set priorities to implement recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion and on the subsequent task forces,” Engh said. “Elsa Chen, the vice provost for academic affairs, has developed a committee to coordinate organic activities to advance our goals and set a baseline to measure our ongoing progress in diversity and inclusion.”
The Campus Climate Survey results were also a talking point taken up by Associated Student Government President Sam Perez during her address to the crowd.
Perez highlighted a particular part of the survey results—the amount of university students who said they did not feel like they belonged on campus.
“One overarching theme that stood out from the Campus Climate Survey was the lack of a sense of belonging students indicated they often experience during their time at Santa Clara University,” Perez said. “This is a feeling that resounds with almost everyone. Most students struggle with feelings of loneliness, sadness and discomfort because college can be really hard for no shortage of reasons, and yet, I know that a version of Santa Clara University exists in which every student feels as though they have a place on our campus.”
Along with looking back at the school year so far, Engh touched on what community members can look forward to in the coming months, including his announcement of 2019 undergraduate commencement speaker, Martin Sheen.
According to Engh, Sheen was scheduled to speak at last year’s commencement but he had a conflict and couldn’t make it to campus but is “delighted to be coming and speaking this year.”
Engh also acknowledged the handful of leadership positions that will be filled across campus before the school year finishes; including his own position, the Provost and two deans.
“Although this might be an alarming challenge to some, I believe the university is amidst an exciting moment of evolution,” Engh said. “Yes, there will be a level of reassurance when these positions are finally filled. I suggest, however, that without turnover, new leaders would not have the opportunity to bring new perspectives and ideas.”
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