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.
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.