Santa Clara University Has New President, Expansion Plans, Lobbyist

By Robert Haugh

Just two months ago, Fr. Kevin O’Brien took over as Santa Clara University’s new president.  We welcome him to the Mission City.

He’s the former dean of SCU’s Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. Before that, he was also a VP at Georgetown University.

O’Brien was also a lawyer before becoming a priest. Campus sources say they think he’ll be a refreshing change.

O’Brien takes over from Fr. Michael Engh who was SCU’s president for 10 years. SCU sources tell us Engh was not a popular president. He did not engage much with the campus.

In 2013, Engh made the unilateral decision to drop health insurance coverage of elective abortions from faculty and staff health care plans. That was controversial and not popular on campus.

“The male Jesuits running Santa Clara University feel they know what God wants regarding women, women’s bodies and women’s reproduction,” said SCU professor Mary Hegland.

Recently, Engh obstructed labor organizing efforts on campus. His administration also started charging faculty and staff to use the health and wellness facilities on campus. Both of those decisions were unpopular.

Expansion Plans and Lobbyist

Old Quad residents have had lots of issues over the years with SCU students in their neighborhoods. Parking, student parties and trash are the biggest complaints.

SCU has plans to expand its undergrads from around 5,500 now to 6,000. That will mean more students in Old Quad neighborhoods. But SCU also has plans for new dorms.

They’ve hired former Councilman/lobbyist Kevin Moore. He’ll do some “community outreach.” And Moore is no stranger to controversy or big developments or big controversial developments

Moore also got a master’s degree in catechetics (a “theological discipline”) from SCU. It’s not well known and he doesn’t advertise it. But Moore tells us the super controversial Chris Stampolis introduced him to the SCU program.

We’ll continue to follow SCU’s new leadership and plans.


  1. Strange reaction to the column. My take is completely different.
    Full disclosure: I am also a graduate of SC, their business school.
    And I like Kevin Moore and enjoy talking with him. We have been involved on several issues at the same time, but we have never been on the same side, but that doesn’t mean I have to hate him. That’s life, we have different objectives.
    I didn’t know the past president but from what I read I might have gotten on well with him.
    My biggest concern isn’t more students, but that is a big concern.
    My concern is that college students are graduating with more and more debt and schools are getting richer and richer. And it isn’t like the education is getting better, it’s getting worse.
    The student loan debt has topped 1.5 TRILLION dollars and is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt.
    These big plans the school is making is on the backs of the students and they will be paying for years. Since 2005 you can escape almost any debt via bankruptcy, but not student loan debt. How about some belt tightening instead of building a bigger palace?
    Sorry, had to let off some steam.

  2. Kevin Moore can sell Ice to an Eskimo…. types of individuals like him and Dominic Castera, while flawed (who don’t have flaws) are major cheerleaders for projects big and small some good and some bad gotta give them that credit. Yet I agree with Mary Grizzle comment we can’t take lots of this anonymous criticism seriously since they were ashamed to put their names to the post.

    The University on the other hand I feel should build on their property and their campus borders instead of extending those borders. I feel they should build high rises in middle of campus for students so then the old quad can make single family homes available for families.
    The frat house mentality is quite exhausting in the neighborhood. During the 2018 campaign I walked all the old quad, and I heard from both sides, I heard from old quad residents tired of the red solo cups everywhere. I heard from the students who wanted better housing and housing that creates less friction with surrounding areas.
    When I was a kid in late 1980’s and early 1990’s the University was buying up streets like The Alameda. at the time i Was 6 and i thought this was perfect to compliment building housing on those footprints for students. I was 6 years old then.
    It may have to take a page from the planning of San Jose state of other university’s in a heart of a downtown and cityscape.
    The university’s only option in future is to go vertical and dense, the days of an open space sprawling university may come to an end if they plan to continue to grow. I know Stanford is starting to build more in their borders. Parking will be another big concern with this influx of more students, and possible more faculty/campus employees.

    Hopefully with Kevin Moore as their lobbyist….he can lobby for a better deal for Santa Clara like improving quality of life in the Old Quad, getting the university to build more density on campus, and more control to the residents surrounding the historic university. Maybe this can make up for the poor deal of the stadium and measure J.

  3. I think its a shame that there is so much negativity about Kevin Moore. Especially from the old Quad. But we can’t take it seriously since they were ashamed to put their names to the post. Mary Grizzle

  4. Do his clients not know that he’s not respected in the community and not trusted by ANYONE at city hall? That’s includes city staff and city council.

  5. People underestimate Kevin Moore. I watched him for years serve on the West Valley Mission College Board before I retired. He is deceptively smart. Actually, is deceptive and smart. He knows how to play the political game. He plays both sides of it rather effectively. He did that with board members. No one trusted him. But they all worked with him. He will say what he needs too. For those who scoff at his lack of ethics, you must also applaud his ability to work with people even if he uses manipulation and dishonesty frequently.

  6. BevMo can be a cheerleader for his friend “KevMo” but the rest of us know that he sold out our city for the 49ers and Live Nation — something that you have documented well on this site over the last few years. In the pursuit of dollars, Kevin Moore would rather destroy our neighborhoods than preserve them.

    – RSJR

  7. KevMo is the MAN! He brought the stadium to SC. Now he’s going help Santa Clara.

    Dude knew how to party in college. He’s still a HE-MAN PARTY ANIMAL! He’s perfect for the college scene.


  8. Hey Old Quad resident (and neighbor?) —

    Santa Clara is a fine university and provides an excellent education in the Jesuit tradition. But like all institutions they have their share of alumni who they would rather sweep under the carpet. Of course, this is true of all universities from Harvard to the University of Hawaii.

    The fact that three individuals with questionable moral integrity like Kevin Moore, Chris Stampolis, and Dominic Caserta graduated from Santa Clara University is unfortunate. But we should not condemn the institution who educates and graduates many outstanding and upstanding people, like Francisco Jimenez, educator and author.

    That being said, I wish they would do something about student parties and all the damn trash and ubiquitous plastic red cups that litter our neighborhood every weekend.

  9. I guess sleaze finds sleaze. Kevin Moore and Chris Stampolis got masters degrees from Santa Clara in religious studies!!! I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

    The University should be ashamed!!! They should get rid of the program if these two could make it through. Please don’t tell me Dominic Caserta got the same degree!!!

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