In a recent interview, Wilson Garone, the Chief Financial Officer at Santa Clara University, discussed his transition from the for-profit world to the nonprofit sector and his commitment to values-based leadership. Garone’s background in business has allowed him to bring a fresh perspective to Jesuit higher education, starting from his time at Seattle University and now at Santa Clara University.
One of Garone’s top priorities in his role at Santa Clara University is hiring for open positions, especially his direct reports. He recognizes the importance of investing time and effort into building a strong team that aligns with the university’s mission and values. Additionally, Garone aims to improve efficiency by reviewing and optimizing existing processes. By working closely with his team, he hopes to identify areas where they can streamline operations for greater effectiveness.
Garone also spoke about environmental social governance (ESG) initiatives and their alignment with Jesuit values. Sustainability, he believes, is an essential aspect of Jesuit values and is reflected in Pope Francis’ document, Laudato Si’. Santa Clara University is actively making progress towards sustainability goals and is committed to embodying these Jesuit principles.
Regarding investments, Garone acknowledges that there have been efforts to transition away from fossil fuels and towards alternative energy sources in the university’s endowment. He believes that the university is making sound financial and value-based decisions to shift their portfolio towards more sustainable options. By intentionally investing in companies and emerging alternatives that are not carbon-based, the university’s endowment will grow over time, benefiting both financial and sustainability goals.
When asked about deadlines or goals for sustainability initiatives, Garone emphasized the importance of recognizing external factors beyond the university’s control. While Santa Clara University has achieved carbon neutrality through the purchase of carbon credit offsets, the industry as a whole plays a significant role in the progress of sustainable practices. Garone believes that disruption is happening in many industries, and the goal is to accelerate the transition towards sustainability. The university will focus on what they can control while hoping that the marketplace aligns with sustainable initiatives.
Addressing potential challenges and pushback in achieving sustainability goals, Garone acknowledges the financial pressures associated with such decisions. However, he affirms that Santa Clara University is moving in the right direction and aims to make thoughtful decisions that prioritize student welfare.
Overall, Wilson Garone’s values-based leadership and commitment to sustainability demonstrate his dedication to bringing positive change to Santa Clara University. By leveraging his business background and aligning with Jesuit values, Garone is set to make a meaningful impact on the institution’s future.