Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University
Santa Clara U Seal.svg
Latin: Universitas Santae Clarae
Former names
Santa Clara College (1851), University of Santa Clara (1912–1984)
MottoAd Majorem Dei Gloriam (Latin)
Motto in English
For the Greater Glory of God
TypePrivate university
Established1851; 171 years ago (1851)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$1.03 billion (2020)[1]
PresidentJulie Sullivan
ProvostEdward Ryan (acting)
Academic staff
911 (564 full-time)[2]
Students9,015 (fall 2019)[3]
Other students
106 acres (43 ha)
Colors    Red and white[4]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IWest Coast Conference
MascotBucky Bronco
Santa Clara University Text Logo Stacked.png

Santa Clara University is a private Jesuit university in Santa Clara, California. Established in 1851, Santa Clara University is the oldest operating institution of higher learning in California.[5] The university's campus surrounds the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís which traces its founding to 1776. The campus mirrors the Mission's architectural style and is one of the finest groupings of Mission Revival architecture and other Spanish Colonial Revival styles. The university is classified as a "Doctoral/Professional" university.[6]

The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees through its six colleges, the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and Counseling Psychology, Leavey School of Business, School of Engineering, Jesuit School of Theology, and School of Law. It enrolls about 5,400 undergraduate students and about 3,300 postgraduate students.

Among Santa Clara's alumni are governors, congressmen, mayors, senators, and presidential cabinet members. Santa Clara alumni founded Nvidia and Farmer's Insurance, and created JavaScript. Santa Clara's alumni have won a number of honors and nominations, including Oscars,[7] Grammys,[8] Pulitzer Prizes, the NBA MVP Award, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Santa Clara alumni have served as mayors of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. The two most recent Governors of California attended Santa Clara.

Santa Clara's sports teams are called the Broncos. Their colors are red and white. The Broncos compete at the NCAA Division I levels as members of the West Coast Conference in 19 sports. Broncos have won NCAA championships in both men's and women's soccer. Santa Clara's student athletes include current or former 58 MLB,[9] 40 NFL,[10] and 12 NBA players and 13 Olympic gold medalists.


California mission era[]

Inheriting the grounds of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, Santa Clara University's campus, library holdings, art collection, and many of its defining traditions date back to 1777, almost 75 years before its founding. In January of that year, Saint Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan friar, established Mission Santa Clara as the eighth of 21 Alta California missions. Fray Tomás de la Peña chose a site along the Guadalupe River for the future church, erecting a cross and celebrating the first Mass a few days later.[11] The campus was built on the land of the Ohlone people[12] who relocated after suffering a decline in population due to epidemics and a loss of natural resources in the area.[13]

Natural disasters forced early priests to relocate and rebuild the church on several occasions, moving it westward and away from the river. Built of wood, the first permanent structure quickly flooded and was replaced by a larger adobe building in 1784. This building suffered heavy damage in an 1818 earthquake and was replaced six years later by a new adobe edifice.[11]

Early college history[]

Prospectus in Spanish for the College of Santa Clara (Colegio de Santa Clara), published circa 1862.

The mission flourished for more than 50 years despite these setbacks. Beginning in the 1830s, however, the mission lands were repossessed in conjunction with government policy implemented via the Mexico's secularization, and church buildings fell into disrepair. The Bishop of Monterey, Dominican Joseph Sadoc Alemany, offered the site to Italian Jesuits John Nobili and Michael Accolti in 1851 on condition that they found a college for California's growing Catholic population when it became part of the United States following the Mexican–American War (1846–48).[14]

Two colleges were organized during 1851 in the small agricultural town of Santa Clara, at the height of the Gold Rush, less than a year after California was granted statehood. Santa Clara College, forerunner of Santa Clara University, was the first to open its doors to students and is the state's oldest operating institution of higher education. Shortly after Santa Clara began instruction, the Methodist-run California Wesleyan College (now known as University of the Pacific) received a charter from the State Superior Court on July 10, 1851—the first granted in California—and it began enrolling students in May of the following year.[15] Santa Clara's Jesuit founders lacked the $20,000 endowment required for a charter, which was eventually accumulated and a charter granted on April 28, 1855.[16]

St. Joseph's Hall, built in a Mission Revival style in 1911.

Santa Clara bears the distinction of awarding California's first bachelor's degree, bestowed upon Thomas I. Bergin in 1857, as well as its first graduate degree granted two years later.[17]

The California Historical Society, the official state historical society of California, was founded in June 1871 on the campus of the College of Santa Clara by a group of prominent Californian politicians and professors, led by Californian Assemblyman John W. Dwinelle (an influential founder of the University of California).[18][19]

Modern era[]

Nobili Hall, built in 1930 in a California Churrigueresque style.

In 1912, the College of Santa Clara became the University of Santa Clara, with the addition of the School of Engineering and School of Law.

In 1925 the Leavey School of Business was founded.

Women were first admitted in 1961 to what had been an all-men's university, making Santa Clara University the first Catholic university in California to admit both men and women.

In 1985, in part to avoid confusion with the University of Southern California (USC), the University of Santa Clara, as it had been known since 1912, changed its name to Santa Clara University. Diplomas were printed with the new name beginning in 1986.

In 2001 the School of Education and Counseling Psychology was formed to offer Master's level and other credential programs.

In 2012, Santa Clara University celebrated 50 years of having women attend Santa Clara University.[20]


Mission Santa Clara de Asís is at the heart of SCU's historic campus.

The university address is in Santa Clara, California, though a significant part of the campus lies over the border into San Jose, California. Over the last century and a half, the Santa Clara University campus has expanded to more than 106 acres (43 ha).

Aerial view of the Mission Gardens in the western part of campus.
Built in 1822, Adobe Lodge is the oldest non-religious building on campus.

In the 1950s, after the university constructed Walsh Hall and the de Saisset Museum on two of the last remaining open spaces on the old college campus, Santa Clara began purchasing and annexing land from the surrounding community. The first addition, which occurred slightly earlier,[when?] brought space for football and baseball playing fields. Thereafter, particularly in the 1960s when women were admitted to the school, more land was acquired for residence halls and other new buildings and facilities.

In 1989 the Santa Clara University campus was unified when The Alameda (California State Route 82), a major thoroughfare that had bisected the university, was rerouted. Several interior roads were also closed and were replaced by sparsely landscaped pedestrian malls and plazas. The current five-year campus plan calls for integration of these areas with the gardens of the campus core.[21]

The 1990s brought a number of campus additions, including the Music and Dance Building, a new science wing, the Arts and Sciences Building, the Malley Fitness Center, the Sobrato Residence Hall, and the first on-campus parking structure. Santa Clara carried out all deferred maintenance, including the renovation of Kenna Hall, the Adobe Lodge, and many other historic buildings. One unique feature of Santa Clara University's undergraduate education is the Residential Learning Community program. Eight Residential Learning Communities (RLCs), each with a distinct theme, integrate the classroom and resident life experience.[22]

Recent development[]

The Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation.
SCU Library & Learning Commons.

Recently completed expansion projects include a new baseball field (Stephen Schott Stadium, 2005), a renovated basketball arena (Leavey Center, 2000), Kennedy Mall – the campus' first "green building" (2005),[23] a Jesuit community residence (2006), a 194,000-square-foot (1.8 ha) library (2008), a new 85,000-square-foot (0.79 ha) building for the Leavey School of Business (2008), a new residence hall, Graham (2012), a new Admission and Enrollment Services building (2012) and a new Art and Art History Building (2016). The new Charney Hall (2018) replaces and consolidates Bannan Hall and the Heafey Law Library into the new Law School.[24]

Future changes are to include a new dorm and the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation.

The main entrance to the campus, Palm Drive, is closed to automobiles in order to create a pedestrian mall that "highlight[s] the Mission Church as the centerpiece of the campus."[25] This effort will eventually create a new gateway to the Santa Clara campus.

Santa Clara University is constructing a new STEM campus (Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation) and plans to complete it on 2022.[26]

Points of interest[]

View through one of the old Spanish adobe covered walkways.


The Alviso Mall.

In 2014, Santa Clara University received the STARS Gold Rating by Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). In 2015, Santa Clara University ranked No.19 on the Princeton Review's new “Top 50 Green Colleges” list and is also featured in The Princeton Review Guide to 353 Green Colleges as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges.[27]

In 2013, the Center for Sustainability was established to advance academic and public understanding of the ways in which social justice and sustainability intersect by integrating principles of social, environmental, and economic sustainability into campus operations, academic and student life, and outreach programs.[28]

Santa Clara University is a member of The Green Building Council, the overseeing body of the LEED rating system. In the fall of 2011, Paul Locatelli, S. J. Student Activities Center was certified LEED Gold. In addition, Schott Admission and Enrollment Services, Donohoe Alumni House, and Graham Residence Hall have all been designed to LEED gold standards and are pending certification. All new buildings are designed with the Sustainable Building Policy, adopted in May 2014.[29]


Kenna Hall, built in a Spanish Colonial Revival style in 1924.

Santa Clara University is a private corporation owned and governed by a privately appointed board of trustees composed of 44 members. Built around historic Mission Santa Clara, the present university is home to a population of approximately 5,435 undergraduate and 3,335 master's, Juris Doctor, and PhD students.[30] The institution employs 522 full-time faculty members, who are divided between four professional schools and the College of Arts and Sciences, all of which are located on the 106-acre (43 ha) mission campus.[31] In July 2009 the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley (JST), formerly an independent institution, legally merged with the university, taking the name "Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University." Although a division of SCU, it retains its campus in Berkeley, California. JST is one of two Jesuit seminaries in the United States with ecclesiastical faculties approved by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.[32] The other, Weston Jesuit School of Theology, completed a similar affiliation with Boston College in June 2008, becoming Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.[33]

Santa Clara University is civilly chartered and governed by a board of trustees, which appoints the president. By internal statute, the president must be a member of the Jesuit order, although the members of the board are primarily non-Jesuits.[34] About 42 Jesuit priests and brothers are active teachers and administrators in various departments and centers located on the main campus in Santa Clara. An additional 15 Jesuits currently hold faculty positions at the university's Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.[31] Jesuits comprise around 7% of the permanent faculty and hold teaching positions in biology, computer engineering, counseling psychology, economics, English, history, law, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, and theater arts in addition to theology. They also serve in campus and residence-hall ministry, and some act as faculty directors in residential learning communities (RLC's).

For the 2013–2014 academic year, the university's operating budget was $387 million, and its endowment was $760 million.[35] For the same period, undergraduate tuition and fees totaled $42,156 and the average cost of room and board was $12,546.[36]

On March 18, 2021, Santa Clara University Board of Trustees Chairman John M. Sobrato announced Kevin F. O'Brien had been placed on leave pending an inquiry into "exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries".[37] On May 12, 2021, John M. Sobrato announced to students and faculty that Kevin F. O'Brien resigned May 9, 2021 at the conclusion of this inquiry, coinciding with his enrollment in a therapeutic outpatient program to address "related personal issues, including alcohol and stress counseling".[38]

Julie H. Sullivan, Ph.D., the first layperson and first woman to serve as president, began her term on July 1, 2022. She was formerly the president of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.[39]

Colleges and schools[]

O'Connor Hall on the Alviso Mall.

Santa Clara University is organized into six professional schools, the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and Counseling Psychology, SCU Leavey School of Business, School of Engineering, Jesuit School of Theology, and the School of Law. The university's professional schools are all led by an academic dean.

College of Arts and Sciences[]

The College of Arts and Sciences offers Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees.

Leavey School of Business[]

The Leavey School of Business was founded in 1923 and accred by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business thirty years later. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Master of Business Administration, Executive Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS).

Drew Starbird has been Dean of the school since 2010.[40] Starbird is to be replaced by Caryn Beck-Dudley starting in the 2015–16 school year.[41]

Education, Counseling Psychology, and Pastoral Ministries[]

The School of Education, Counseling Psychology, and Pastoral Ministries was created in fall 2001, bringing together graduate programs in Counseling Psychology, Education, and Pastoral Ministries. Approximately 800 graduate students are enrolled in the school, with 200 studying psychology, 400 studying education, and the remainder studying pastoral ministries.

Dowd Arts Building & Loyola Gate.

School of Engineering[]

The School of Engineering was founded and began offering bachelor's degrees in 1912. Over the next century, the school added Master's and doctoral programs designed to meet Silicon Valley's growing need for expert engineers. Today, the Valley provides opportunities for the school's students and faculty, particularly those in electrical engineering and information technology, to work closely with high-tech companies and government institutions. This ranges from individual internships to larger partnerships with projects such as O/OREOS.

Jesuit School of Theology[]

The Jesuit School of Theology is a Divinity School of Santa Clara University located in Berkeley, California, and one of the member colleges of the Graduate Theological Union. The school was founded in 1934 and merged with Santa Clara University in 2009. Prior to its merger with Santa Clara University, it was known as the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

School of Law[]

The School of Law was founded in 1911. The school offers the Juris Doctor degree. It also offers several double degree programs, including JD/Master of Business Administration and JD/Master of Science in Information Systems offered in conjunction with Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business.

The school offers Master of Laws degrees in Intellectual Property, which is ranked sixth in the nation, Law Firms Rank Schools ranked 96th, Part-time Law ranked 48th, International and Comparative Law, and U.S. Law for Foreign Lawyers. Santa Clara Law features specialized curricular programs in High Tech and Intellectual Property law, International Law, and Public Interest and Social Justice law.

Academics and rankings[]

The Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation.
Undergraduate demographics as of Fall 2020
Race and ethnicity[42] Total
White 44% 44
Asian 19% 19
Hispanic 18% 18
Other[a] 10% 10
Foreign national 5% 5
Black 3% 3
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 11% 11
Affluent[c] 89% 89

As of Fall 2019, Santa Clara had an enrollment of 5,438 undergraduate and 3,296 graduate and professional students (total of 9,015 students).[30] Men make up 50% of the total student population; women 50%.[30]

Santa Clara offers undergraduates the opportunity to pursue 45 majors in its three undergraduate schools and colleges: the College of Arts and Science, the School of Engineering, and the Leavey School of Business. Santa Clara University also has six graduate and professional schools, including the School of Law, School of Engineering, the Leavey School of Business, the School of Education and Counseling Psychology, and the Jesuit School of Theology (campus located in Berkeley, California).

The student to faculty ratio is 11:1 with 99.5% of all classes being fewer than 50 students.[30]

Ricard Observatory.

The 2019 annual ranking of U.S. News & World Report categorizes it as 'more selective'. For the Class of 2023 (enrolled fall 2019), Santa Clara received 16,300 applications and accepted 7,958 (48.8%). Of those accepted, 1,391 enrolled,[30] a yield rate (the percentage of accepted students who choose to attend the university) of 17.5%. SCU's freshman retention rate is 95%, with 86% going on to graduate within six years.[30]

The enrolled first-year class of 2023 had the following standardized test scores: the middle 50% range (25th percentile-75th percentile) of SAT scores was 630-700 for SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and 650-740 for SAT Math, while the middle 50% range of ACT scores was 28–32. The middle 50% high school grade point average (GPA) was 3.56-3.87 (unweighted 4-point scale).

For SCU's 2020–2021 school year, undergraduate tuition and fees were $54,987, room and board cost $15,972, a university enhancement fee cost $642, and total indirect costs (including books, transportation, and personal expenses) estimated at $4,014, totaling $75,615.[43]

SCU maintains its Catholic and Jesuit affiliation and supports numerous initiatives intended to further its religious mission. Students are encouraged, but not required, to attend the Sunday evening student Masses in the mission church and are also encouraged to participate in campus ministry programs and lectures. All bachelor's degrees require three religious studies courses as part of the academic core. An emphasis on social justice is furthered through the Pedro Arrupe Partnership and Kolvenbach Solidarity programs, which offer service opportunities in the community and immersion opportunities throughout the world.[44]


The Nobili Hall tower.
Academic rankings
THE / WSJ[46]83
U.S. News & World Report[47]53
Washington Monthly[48]143

In U.S. News & World Report's 2021 ranking of national universities, Santa Clara University tied for 53rd overall and tied for 25th for best undergraduate teaching.[49] In 2020 U.S. News & World Report also ranked the School of Engineering tied for 133rd among 218 engineering schools that grant doctoral degrees, and Santa Clara's School of Law tied for 107th among 198 law schools in the nation, with its Intellectual Property Law program recognized as fourth best.[50]

The undergraduate business program was ranked 51st in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2016.[51]

In 2017, Money Magazine ranked the Leavey School of Business tenth in the nation.

In 2019, Forbes ranked Santa Clara University 51st out of 650 rated private and public colleges and universities in America, 42nd among private colleges and tenth in the west.[52] In 2008, the first year of the list, Santa Clara was ranked No. 318 out of 569.

Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranked SCU 39th on the 2019 Best Values in Private Universities list, 123rd overall, and fifth in California.[53]

PayScale in 2012 ranked Santa Clara 17th in the nation out of 606 schools in the category "Mid-Career Salary Rank for Private Schools", 28th out of 1,248 in "Overall College ROI Rank," and 23rd out of 458 in "ROI Rank for Private Universities."[54]

Santa Clara University was named to the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for community service programs and student involvement.[55]

Newsweek in 2012 ranked Santa Clara University as the second most beautiful college in America.[56]

Centers and institutes[]

The Loyola & Seifert Gates.
The Mission Gardens.
O'Connor Hall on the Alviso Mall.

Three Centers of Distinction:

Student life[]

The de Saisset Museum is home to one of the finest collections of Californian history and art.
Alumni Science Building.

Student organizations[]

Santa Clara offers its students the opportunity to engage in over 125 registered student organizations (or clubs).[64] RSO's are partially funded by the university via the student government, ASG. These Organizations span from Athletic/Recreational, Careers/Pre-professional, Community Service, Ethnic/Cultural, Business Fraternities, Health/Counseling, Media/Publications, Music/Dance/Creative Arts, Political/Social Awareness to Religious/Philosophical.

RSO groups include (but are not limited to):

SCU also has nine Chartered Student Organizations (CSO's), including:

Finally, SCU has several organizations that are not linked to the RSO or CSO structure, including:

Outreach programs[]

Bergin Hall.

The Center for Sustainability hosts the Sustainability Liaison Network. The Network consists of over 150 Sustainability Liaisons that act as peer educators for sustainability and experts on how sustainability interplays with their respective groups. The Network is a resource and collaborative space for people who are interested in working/living more sustainably in their life on and off campus.[69]

At the start of the 2015 academic year, Santa Clara University announced the creation of the Campus Sustainability Investment Fund (CSIF) as a revolving green fund to support sustainability projects on the SCU campus. With the university's goal of climate-neutrality by 2020, the CSIF is an opportunity for students, staff, and faculty of SCU to contribute their own ideas to reduce carbon emissions. Similar green funds at other college campuses have netted projects like installing motion-sense lights in classrooms or information campaigns to encourage the use of re-usable water bottles.

Student government[]

Varsi Hall.

The Associated Student Government of Santa Clara University (ASGSCU) is Santa Clara University's student government, an elected representative body for undergraduate students. The Associated Student Government is made up of the executive board, the Senate, Community Development, and the Judicial Branch.


The Santa Clara US Army ROTC Battalion was established in 1861 due to the outbreak of the American Civil War. The unit was known as the Senior Company of Cadets. On September 10, 1863, Leland Stanford, then Governor of California, presented the Corps of Cadets with forty Springfield rifles, Model 1839. Today, the rifles are preserved in the University Museum. In return for his generosity, an armory was built in his honor in 1936. The armory was located southwest of the athletic field with the pistol range located below the stage of the auditorium.[70]

Paul Locatelli, (former) president of Santa Clara, was a cadet at the university prior to his military service and his entrance into the Jesuit Order. Two Jesuits from Santa Clara, McKinnon and McQuaide, volunteered as chaplains in the Spanish–American War. Both were part of Theodore Roosevelt's American Expionary Force that attacked San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898.[71]

On February 2, 2010, the Santa Clara University ROTC "Bronco Battalion" won the MacArthur Award granted by the U.S. Army's Cadet Command and the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation. In 2011 the Santa Clara ROTC once again won the MacArthur Award. The award, named after late General Douglas MacArthur, is granted to the year's most excellent Reserve Officers' Training Corps program among 33 battalions in the West Coast eighth Brigade. The award takes into consideration factors such as the battalion's physical fitness, navigation skills, leadership, and success in commissioning officers after ROTC.[72] On February 2, 2010, the Santa Clara University ROTC "Bronco Battalion" won the MacArthur Award granted by the U.S. Army's Cadet Command and the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation. In 2011 the Santa Clara ROTC once again won the MacArthur Award. The award, named after late General Douglas MacArthur, is granted to the year's most excellent Reserve Officers' Training Corps program among 33 battalions in the West Coast 8th Brigade. The award takes into consideration factors such as the battalion's physical fitness, navigation skills, leadership, and success in commissioning officers after ROTC.[72]


Official Athletics wordmark

Santa Clara participates in NCAA's Division I and is a member of the West Coast Conference. It also participates in the West Water Polo Association for both men's and women's waterpolo. Santa Clara has 19 varsity sports (10 female, 9 male) and 18 club sports. The school colors are Santa Clara red and white (the school's football team uniforms featured gold trim) and the team mascot is the "Bronco," in past illustrations depicted as a "bucking bronco." The school is renowned for its successful men's and women's soccer programs in addition to historically successful men's basketball teams. Santa Clara athletes have participated in 12 different Olympic Games.

Athletic programs[]

On February 2, 1993, Santa Clara president Paul Locatelli, S.J. announced the discontinuation of football at the university.[73] For many years, Santa Clara participated in NCAA Division II in football, including reaching the NCAA Division II Championship semi-finals in 1980, because of an NCAA bylaw that allowed Division I schools to participate in lower divisions in football; however, the rule was changed in the mid-1990s, and the program was forced to move into Division I-AA (now FCS). Other teams were Division I, including the men's and women's soccer teams, both of which are past NCAA Division I National Champions. The basketball teams have made regular appearances in NCAA Division I playoffs.

Club sports programs[]

Sports include boxing, cycling, equestrian, paintball, men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse, men's rugby, women's rugby, men's Ultimate, women's Ultimate, men's volleyball, women's volleyball, men's ice hockey, sailing, Shotokan karate, swimming, triathlon, and women's field hockey.

Athletic facilities[]

Faculty and alumni[]


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


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Coordinates: 37°20′57″N 121°56′17″W / 37.34917°N 121.93806°W / 37.34917; -121.93806