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Villiger, Burchard, Fr., S.J.



  • Existence: 1819 - 1903


Father Burchard Villager, S.J. served as president of Santa Clara College from 1861-65. Father Villager was the only non-Italian president during the first thirty year span of the school. The Swiss born Villager was known as the most progressive and imaginative of the early presidents as well. Father Villager had served as president of two Jesuit colleges in the East and as provincial of the Maryland Province. He was known for his considerable administrative experience, which helped transform Santa Clara for the better. Upon his arrival, Villager was surprised at the primitive state of school, having expected a more grand body. During the time of Villager’s presidency, California wa settling down more into a stable society, after the gold rush brought loads of youthful adventurers. The financial state of the school was still in a critical state. Luckily, with a new railroad connecting San Francisco and San Jose, the economy around Santa Clara boomed, which provided opportunity to rid some of the debt that still lingered. In order to attract more attention to the school for hopeful donors, Villager lead the construction of an impressively massive new faculty residence and office building which on its facade read in gold letters “Santa Clara College”. Passengers on the new railroad remarked at the school with astonishment, many unaware ‘such an establishment existed in this country’. This new attention to the school would prove immensely powerful in raising recognition of the school. Another addition to the campus wa a three-story Science Building that Villiger erected to provide lecture halls and laboratories. The emphasis on assaying and chemical analyses were justified in the influence the gold rush had on California. The increased publicity and investment in science laboratories were pivotal factors contributing to the growth of the school during the Civil War years. During the 1863-1864 Session more than two hundred students enrolled which was twice the amount ten years prior. Villager resigned presidency of Santa Clara in 1865 to assume the presidency of the newly constructed St. Ignatius College in San Francisco.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Records of the Presidents, 1856-1921

 Record Group
Identifier: 3DB
Scope and Contents Files include primarily correspondence of the early presidents of Santa Clara: Congiato (1856-1857), Cicaterri (1857-1861), Villiger (1861-1865), Varsi (1868-1876), Brunengo (1876-1880), Kenna (1883-1888), Pinasco (1888-1893), Riordan (1893-1894), Kenna (1899-1905), Gleeson (1905-1910), Morrissey (1910-1913), Thornton (1913-1918), and Murphy (1918-1921). Boxes 5 and 6 include Fr. Kenna's breviary and crucifix and Box 7 includes 2 copies of Rev. John Ryan, S.J.'s "Memoir of the Life of Rev....
Dates: 1856-1921