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Varsi, Aloysius, S.J., Fr.



Father Aloysius Varsi, S.J. served as the sixth president of Santa Clara College from 1868-1876. Born of provincial nobility in Sardinia, he joined the Jesuits of Turin Province, but fled Italy following the disturbances of 1848. He studied at the University of Paris to become a missionary-scientist in China, but ended up being sent west to the United States. First Father Varsi went to Georgetown before eventually moving to teach physics and mathematics at Santa Clara College in 1864. Three years later Varsi became president and served the longest term in the schools history of nine years up until Father Donohoe over one hundred years later. He, like presidents before him, began a new construction project immediately upon taking office. The spur to this seems to have been the imminent completion of the transcontinental railroad, which would occur in 1869, and would have profound implications on California. When the railroad is complete, students in California would have more options for their schooling. Therefore it was imperative to enhance the image of the school to ensure the continued enrollment and success of Santa Clara. In 1868 Varsi drew up plans for an edifice that would house both a dormitory and college theatre with 3,000 seats. It was dubbed the Ship due to the imposing huge beams holding the structure up. These beams were to ensure the theatre was structurally sound, which was point of emphasis after an earthquake frightened the school in 1864. The grand opening of the Ship was calculated to promote patronage and financial support to the school. Following was exceptional increase in enrollment to 275 pupils in 1875, which demanded a new division, or class, be created. There was now three segregated divisions of the student body consisting of a preparatory division, junior, and senior division. After the 25 year anniversary of the school in 1976, Father Varsi ended his nine-year term and handed off the reins of presidency to Father Aloysius Brunengo.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

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

Records of Aloysius Varsi, 1867-1872

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1989-016
Dates: example: date range, single date