Celebrating the life of Father Paul Locatelli

As much as I’d like to not write about the passing of the past President of Santa Clara University and someone whom I had the pleasure of working with as a student in an MBA accounting class when he first came to Santa Clara University,  I’m unable to set aside writing this.

I want to acknowledge and celebrate the life of a great man and a great human being: Father Paul Locatelli, a Jesuit priest, professor and leader. Let me share how I came to know him.

I had to repeat my first accounting class as I had received a “D.”  I received a “D” on my first exam, missed the second mid-term test, and agreed with the professor that whatever grade I got on my final exam would be my final grade.  My failure in this class set up the opportunity to work with Fr. Locatelli.

The first evening of Fr. Locatelli’s class, he asked that anyone who was repeating the course speak to him individually after class.  I thought this was an exceptional offer from a professor–to find out what had gone wrong. As I shared my experience with him, he took particular note about my final exam input from the prior class.  The 2-hour final consisted of 200 questions: 100 true/false and 100 multiple choice.  To be able to determine the correct answer required being able solve 200 accounting problems in 120 minutes.  Fr. Locatelli seemed quite surprised.

Fr.  Locatelli told me later than he had gone to see the professor, told him that he was looking for test ideas and wanted to see his final exam.  Fr. Locatelli said he was convinced my final grade was based on my first mid-term exam as there was no way that anyone could have completed that test in 2 hours, not even Fr. Locatelli! He said it would have taken hours and hours.  I appreciated his candor with me–he didn’t try to defend the actions of my first professor.

While I don’t like the idea that I received a “D” in my first accounting class, I am grateful that I had a chance to get a much better foundation in accounting with Fr. Locatelli.   And, I’m grateful that I got to spend time with this compassionate, thoughtful man.  I couldn’t begin to guess the name of my first accounting professor, but, I surely never forgot Fr. Locatelli.

Fr. Locatelli soon became President of Santa Clara University and led the university through an amazing period of growth and transformation.  The San Jose Mercury News has a splendid write-up about him that I encourage you to read.

I last saw Fr. Locatelli at a Santa Clara University Alumni event in Boston back in 2001.  Though it had been a quarter of a century since I had last seen him, it felt like it was only yesterday.

I’m very saddened by the loss of Fr. Locatelli.  The world has lost a great human being.  My condolences to everyone who mourns his loss–there are thousands and thousands of us.  I’m so grateful for what Santa Clara University and Fr. Locatelli have meant in my life.

Rest in peace, Father, rest in peace.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com


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