Santa Clara University

Life in Real-Time


Regis McKenna helped make the Valley of Heart’s Delight into today’s Silicon Valley. He serves on the University’s Board of Trustees and is a founding member of SCU’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society.

“It is as if we stepped into H. G. Wells’ time machine and find ourselves traveling faster and further into the future than anyone might have imagined. Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs have truly made their mark on the future of our society with chips, software, the World Wide Web, biotechnology, and much more. Students today can expect and anticipate that in the decades ahead, they will witness even more dramatic advances as science and technological innovations and the social response to those innovations take us places we have never experienced. Living inside our time machine challenges us every minute of every day to keep pace, continually learn, adapt, and all the while stay connected so that we can be prepared intellectually and morally for the eventuality of anything.”

Regis McKenna knows about adapting to new technology, having brought so much of it into the public eye. His name has become synonymous with “legendary Silicon Valley marketing guru.” (No hype, this: An Internet search, a 21st-century watermark of success, bears it out.) Over the past 35 years, he made a name for Silicon Valley and for many of its entrepreneurial companies such as Intel, Apple, 3Com, and many others. His work played a large role in developing the ways in which our society learned about and adopted the innovations that now drive the world’s information technology markets.

He has served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees for the past 18 years and is a founding member and chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, one of the University’s Centers of Distinction. McKenna approaches the future of Santa Clara with the perspective of one who has seen the rise and fall of countless paradigms and is always prepared for another shift.

In his books, Total Access and Real Time, McKenna posits that “networks” are the current model of social and business interactions, replacing the historical social frameworks. Business process, for example, changed from hierarchy and “pass-off,” production-like responsibilities McKenna calls “process boxes,” to teams and interdependence and joint responsibility for outcomes. Silicon Valley was from its inception a networked society. That is why its entrepreneurs continue to stay on the leading edge, innovating and creating new rules. That is why they outpace slower-moving and calcified older businesses.

The Internet—or the idea of a networked society—established a new model for what it means to be a 21st-century university, as well. Digital technologies and the Internet absorb us into the daily social dynamics of change. We are aware and engaged in a global dialogue. In an advanced economy such as ours, we are bombarded with issues we did not have on our radar screens as little as a decade ago—the threat of global pandemics, outsourcing jobs to China or India, the plight of AIDS victims in Africa, or violent conflicts based on ethnic or religious cultural differences. Certainly, conflicting ethical and spiritual values have become more transparent and pronounced today. People from all regions of the world are crossing both geographic and world-view boundaries, encountering unfamiliar ideas and cultures.

The global network gives us access to a world with porous boundaries, creating a real-time, living laboratory of intellectual, social, and spiritual change where everyone engaged is an active participant inside our “right now” global community. It is within this churning milieu that students discover who they are, what they stand for and how they will succeed in whatever career they choose.
McKenna also notes that technology, with its rapid pace of development, has created a new challenge to the traditional stability of academia. “Universities tend to react—often late—to technological and social change rather than anticipate it. Institutions are based on traditions and standards that ensure stability. On the other hand, students see the world as exciting and challenging. They want to know what’s happening now. How and why are things changing? They ask, ‘How can I prepare for my future? How do I adapt and make my way in a world of conflict and instability? Where are the opportunities? How do I prepare for what surely is going to be a different world tomorrow?’”

The emergence of Santa Clara University in the past 15 years paralleled the rise of the Internet. Under the leadership of Fr. Paul Locatelli, Santa Clara emerged as a unique learning community in the midst of the Internet revolution. Locatelli nurtured and expanded the ideal of community learning. His vision transformed Santa Clara University for the network-community era, enabling an environment for self-discovery that is open, intellectually challenging, discerning, and value-based—all within the framework of traditional Jesuit academic values. The purpose of Santa Clara’s learning community is to engender competence, conscience, and compassion—values and experiences that give meaning and purpose to the students’ lives.

Educating the next generation is always subject to change, but Santa Clara University will adapt and serve students well today and tomorrow. The physical changes in the campus are reflective of a more fundamental development: preparing students to take their places as leaders in the emerging global community. With its well-recognized College of Arts and Sciences, graduate schools, and the Centers of Distinction acting as “community hubs,” students, as well as all the University’s stakeholders, are invited to engage, learn, and challenge the status quo in open and honest exploration of those vital issues and opportunities that shape our world.

  • Santa Clara University, established by the Society of Jesus in 1851, is the oldest operating institution of higher education in California.
  • The University is ranked second among all public and private master’s level universities in the Western United States by U.S. News & World Report.