Fr. Harry V. Carlin, SJ

The task of that move was given to Fr. Carroll’s successor, Fr. Harry V. Carlin, SJ ’35. Harry Carlin, the youngest of six children born to William and Evelyn Carlin, grew up in Berkeley and moved to St. Agnes Parish in San Francisco at the age of 13. His father worked for the Bannan family at Western Gear Corporation, and years later, Harry would ask Bernard Bannan, the son of the company’s founder, to join SI’s first Board of Regents.

In 1931, young Harry entered the brand-new SI campus on Stanyan Street, and by his junior year, he knew that he wanted to become a Jesuit. Harry entered the Society after graduating from SI, and his father told him, “Go. I’ll see you in a week. You’ll miss your movies too much.” He worked hard at his studies and at picking grapes with the other novices at Los Gatos. “From early morning to late afternoon, with only a break for lunch, we’d pick grapes,” he recalled. “After two weeks, our Levis could stand by themselves from all the dried grape juice on them.”

In 1942, Harry returned to SI to teach English and coach basketball, and he led his 110’s team to the city championship. From 1945–1949 he studied theology at Alma College, and in 1948 was ordained to the priesthood. Although he felt that teaching was his true calling, Harry was asked in 1950 to serve as Loyola High’s vice principal — the school disciplinarian. Strict but always maintaining a sense of humor, Harry spent a combined nine years at Loyola, Brophy and SI, assigning many a rambunctious student JUG. “I used to tell the students that I didn’t want to hear their excuses for being late unless their car blew up and they brought in the parts to prove it. The next day one student walked in late rolling a tire. He said his car blew up. I had to let him go. I just laughed at his ingenuity.”

In 1957, he returned to SI where he proved a strict taskmaster with both students and faculty, Jesuits included. “If a young scholastic or lay teacher couldn’t handle a tough class, Fr. Carlin would give him a quick lesson in classroom management skills,” noted veteran SI teacher and coach Bob Drucker ’58.

He left in 1959 to work with scholastics as vice president of Alma College, and then was offered the president’s job at SI in 1964, which he reluctantly accepted. He had hoped to teach students instead of running a high school.

Fr. Carlin started raising funds for the new school by launching the Genesis campaign in November 1964 and hiring Duane Press, former director of development at St. Mary’s College, to help with fund raising as assistant to the president. Together, the two men launched the Genesis magazine that year. The first issue included the following by way of explanation of the publication’s name: “Because we realize that no four years will be as full, as rich and as vital as those four years when a boy ‘begins’ his journey to manhood at Saint Ignatius, and because each day we ‘renew’ our total commitment to the growth and development of the young men entrusted to us, we have chosen to call this report ‘Genesis.’”

(The magazine has changed names with each new fund-raising campaign. It changed to Genesis II in 1980 just as the Genesis Campaign neared completion of its goal of paying for the new school construction. The Genesis II Campaign sought to raise SI’s endowment fund from $1.1 million to $4 million over five years. In December 1990, the school announced the Genesis III campaign to raise $16 million to remodel the campus, and the magazine’s name changed, too. Finally, in December 1996, the school launched the Genesis IV campaign — announced in the newly renamed Genesis IV, published in January 1997 — that ultimately increased the endowment to $50 million by 2005. Over the years, the magazine has grown from a four-page newsletter to a 56-page quarterly featuring articles on students, faculty and alumni.)

In 1965, the San Francisco Unified School District put up for sale the 11.374-acre Sunset District parcel, located on 37th Avenue between Rivera and Pacheco Streets (known as Assessor’s Block No. 2094), and asked $2 million for it. Fr. Carlin bid $2,001,100 “just in case someone bid against us,” he noted in a 1990 Genesis IVinterview. “On April 13, 1965, at 7:41 p.m., Commissioner James E. Stratten, Chairman of the Board of Education, rapped his gavel and called the public meeting to order.” After announcing that the district had received one sealed bid, he called for any other bids for the property, but none were forthcoming and the property belonged to SI. With that, SI “made its greatest step forward in 110 years.”1

Now that the school had purchased the land, it had to pay for it. To help dramatize the need for funds, SI staged a photo for the May 1965 cover ofGenesis, entitled “Exodus!” showing 15 students sitting in chairs in the middle of the sand dunes being taught by a Jesuit (Fr. Bob Mathewson, SJ) wearing his cassock.

Archbishop Joseph McGucken aided SI in the purchase of the land with a $1 million donation on April 30, 1965, the largest gift the school had ever received, made “in recognition of the contribution of the Jesuit community during their 110 years of service to the city and the archdiocese.”

Fr. Carlin also assembled the first SI Board of Regents — men and women whose generosity and talent would prove invaluable to building a new and modern campus. They gathered for the first time in 1966 and reconvened regularly over the years since then to advise the school in its mission. (The first board included Joseph Alioto, Bernard Bannan, Mrs. Fred A. Beronio, Fr. Harry Carlin, SJ, Arthur P. Carroll, Thomas Carroll, John P. Cruden, Henry Doelger, Jr., John J. Ferdon, Charles Gould, John Henning, Fr. Leo Hyde, SJ, W. Dobson Kilduff, Mrs. August Koenig, Mrs. Jules Leonardini, Richard O. Linke, Fr. Edward McFadden, SJ, Felix McGinnis, George McKeon, George Millay, Francis J. Murphy (who helped oversee construction of the new campus), Thomas J. Murtagh, Hugh O’Donnell, Daniel O’Hara, Charles Paganini, Frank Paganini, Charles Quarré, James Rudden, Vincent Sullivan, Al Wilsey, and chairman William Zellerbach.)

For money and advice to build the $8.1 million campus, Fr. Carlin relied heavily on his board, and he hired Henry Doelger of Doelger Enterprises as Special Advisor, responsible for the planning and construction phases of the new campus. (Doelger had attended 6th, 7th and 8th grades at SI’s shirt factory campus but left school to support his family when his father died. His firm developed much of the Sunset District and Daly City.)

In July 1965, Fr. Carlin and his consultant, Dr. John Butler (who was given the title of “school planner”), hired Corwin Booth and Associates Architects to design the campus. John Walsh, Jr., served as project architect with Richard Blanchard, and the two designed a campus that combined the old and the new, with “arches, pitched roofs, colonnades… suggested by the mission style, but [with a] contemporary impression.” Blanchard wanted “those elements in the mission style [to be] translated into modern form, using contemporary construction methods and materials.”2

He also hoped to keep maintenance costs down on the 192,000-square-foot structure by using bricks and stucco on the exterior and to maximize classroom space through “minimum waste on corridors.” He also gave SI a unique roof design with connecting “self-supporting square pyramids with skylights at the apex… supported by post-tensioned cross beams, permitting longer bridging….”3

Fr. Carlin worried that he didn’t have enough money to build the entire project, and initially planned to construct the library and Commons at a later date. “I thought we could use one or two classrooms as a library. But the board advised me to borrow the money to build it all. ‘It will never be cheaper,’ they told me. I’m glad we did. We saved a lot of money in the long run. Had we built SI today, it would cost $80 million.”4

Carlin soon became famous among SI alumni for being an effective fund raiser. “At first I didn’t like doing it, but I got used to it, as I knew we had a good cause.” One of his strategies was to ask certain donors to pay the interest on the debt while the school worked to pay the principal. “People responded well to that idea.”

Generous donors included Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Alioto ($110,000), the estate of Joseph E. Krout ($171,000) and Mr. & Mrs. Michel Orradre, who gave $95,600 towards the construction of the chapel in memory of their son, Stephen, who had died in a car accident in 1964. Even the students raised $28,000 on their own to pay for their new campus. Later, SI sold its Stanyan Street site to USF for $1.8 million to help pay for the Sunset District school.

Bulldozers began work in July 1967 grading the football field and track, under the supervision of Hudson, Brennan and Yee, Inc., the low-bidders for the job at $167,100. The architects decided to build the field first to allow two years for grass to establish. (That grass field was replaced in 2002 in favor of FieldTurf.) Williams & Burrows (low bidders at $5,198,000 with final costs coming in at $6,100,000) began construction on the school building February 13, 1968, after delays caused by financial problems, and on March 21, 1968, the school held a formal ground-breaking ceremony with California Provincial Patrick Donohoe, SJ, blessing the site from a PG&E aerial lift.5

While classes opened September 13, 1969, much of the campus still had not been finished, and the 1,185 students left at 1 p.m. to allow workers time to finish the newly-named St. Ignatius College Preparatory. (The Board of Regents approved the name change in May 1969.) The first thing to impress students were the carpets that covered the floors of the halls and classrooms — a far cry from the hard floors of the Stanyan Street campus. John Butler, who helped determine the specifications for the new school, chose carpeting “not only because it is the best acoustical material, but because this keeps down maintenance costs.” Students also discovered the value of rubber-soled shoes after a few static-electric shocks.6

Fr. Carlin, who ushered in the modern age of St. Ignatius, stayed on as president until 1970, the end of his six-year term of office. When he returned from summer vacation, he discovered that the school had named the Commons in his honor. “It was a nice gesture,” he said, “But we probably could have raised money by naming it after someone else.”

Even though SI had a new president in Fr. Cornelius M. Buckley, SJ, Fr. Carlin’s days at SI were far from over. “The provincial told me, ‘You built this; now you pay for it,’” as SI still owed $1.7 million for the school and the $550 annual tuition didn’t even cover the real costs of educating each student. Since then, Fr. Carlin has served as executive vice president, working in the development office and raising money through Cadillac Raffles, Stagecoach West fund raisers, auctions and by the time-honored method of shaking hands, looking people in the eyes and asking for donations. Many of those who met this determined man ended up digging deep to help the school.

Tom Carroll ’43 served on the Alumni Board and on the Board of Regents. A San Francisco firefighter, Tom recalls spending many enjoyable off-duty hours driving Fr. Carlin as he visited parents and other potential benefactors while fund-raising for the new SI campus. “For 10 years, from 1965 to 1975, Fr. Carlin and I would leave SI around 9 a.m. and head for downtown to begin a full day of visits. He would generally see three people in the morning and another couple after lunch. Sometimes he would even visit a family in their home in the evening.

“Fr. Carlin had great success in these fund-raising efforts because he was so personable and friendly. It was my great pleasure to spend those days with him. We enjoyed lots of good conversation, and he was like a father and brother to me. I am very fortunate to be able to call him my good friend.”

Thanks to Fr. Carlin’s efforts, SI paid its debt in full in 1981. Fr. Carlin kept the last cancelled check as a memento of all those years of planning, building and paying off the 2001 37th Avenue campus.

“It’s amazing what he did with no experience,” said former SI principal Fr. Edward McFadden, SJ, in a 1990 interview. “Without him, there would be no new SI campus.”