Compass Campaign: Scholarship Endowment
Rev. Edwin B. Harris, S.J. ’63
SI President 2014–2016 & Superior of the SI Jesuit Community
My SI Story
We will always need a scholarship endowment.
That’s the bedrock of our commitment to maintaining diversity in our student body.
Our students receive a full education when they study and work in a community rich in socio-economic, religious, ethnic and geographic diversity. And SI is doing its job when it serves people who live on the margins. That’s what we did when we first set shore in San Francisco in 1849, when the Barbary Coast was a pretty rough place to live. We served immigrant populations then, and we continue do so now, from the countries around the Pacific Rim and beyond.
This is my third time at SI. I first experienced the school as a student in the late 1950s on Stanyan Street, and then I returned as a Jesuit priest in the 1980s to serve as a counselor in the Sunset District. Now, as SI’s president, I look back on all the changes we went through, from coeducation to the growth in our facilities. Now we need to upgrade those buildings to prepare students for the challenges of a new millennium. We need to build STEM classrooms and plan for blended learning. We need to transform our library into an information learning center and build a new theatre. We have a 20-year-old pool that needs an overhaul. And we need to raise money for these facilities while staying true to our Jesuit commitment to educating those from all walks of life.
The biggest myth we face is that SI is a rich-kids’ school and that we don’t need the money. That’s simply wrong. When the economic downturn took place in 2007 and 2008, many of our parents lost their jobs. Many still haven’t bounced back. We give out so much more in financial assistance than we did even 10 years ago, and we need to raise millions for the Scholarship Endowment Fund to guarantee that SI can be a school for everyone.
Knowing the families of our students on financial aid, I know well the struggle they make to provide their children with a quality high school education. My hope is that I can do something to take the burden off these wonderful parents. This is just one way SI can advocate for those who have little voice and help them participate in the social and civic life of one of the most expensive locations to live in the U.S.
If we can do that, we will make a contribution to our city, to our Bay Area and to the world and be true to our Ignatian call to be men and women for and with others.