Skip to main content

Walsh, Charles J., S.J., Fr.

 Person

Father Charles J. Walsh served as the twenty-first President of Santa Clara University from 1940 to 1945. President Walsh firmly believed that Catholic values should be omnipresent in all Santa Clara activities, educational or otherwise. He felt that Catholic theology and scholastic philosophy should be paramount in a Santa Clara education. This also permeated everyday student life--dormitory doors were routinely locked at night to ensure all students stayed in the building. During his tenure, the United States entered World War II, and enrollment shrank daily. Father Walsh introduced an accelerated program of study that enabled students to complete as much of their course as possible before being drafted. This was acted through two sixteen-week semesters and a twelve-week summer session, and lessened the time to complete a degree from four years to three. The College of Law shut down because nearly all of its students and faculty left for war. Walsh decided to keep the university open during the war despite the sharp decline in students; of the one hundred and three men who registered in September of 1943, only 91 were left in January, and by March, that number had dwindled to 60. The Commencement Program of 1945 lists only seven graduates. In order to meet overhead operating costs, Santa Clara sold several tracts of university-owned land. Santa Clara made it through the war; 169 students registered after the war’s end, and the College of Law was able to reopen. However, keeping SCU open and running during the difficult war time period had taken a toll on Walsh’s health, and he resigned in 1945.