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John A. and Susan Sobrato Donate $100 Million to Santa Clara University for Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation


The patriarch and matriarch of one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent families in real-estate development and philanthropy, John A., ’60, and Susan Sobrato, have made a gift of $100 million to Santa Clara University to help create the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation. This “campus within a campus” will be designed to promote cross-disciplinary exploration to enhance undergraduate student learning and discovery across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The gift is the largest in Santa Clara’s 166-year history and ranks as the second-largest gift ever to a Catholic university. It will accelerate Santa Clara University’s vision and goals for STEM education, which emphasize developing technical expertise, an entrepreneurial mindset, ethical reasoning, and collaborative approaches to tackling society’s most urgent challenges.

“Sue and I and our son, John Michael, have agreed to leave 100 percent of our wealth to the Sobrato Family Foundation to invest in organizations that improve the lives of the less fortunate in the greater Silicon Valley community and to institutions like Santa Clara University, which have helped make the Sobrato Organization the success that it is,” said John A. Sobrato.

“This gift is the largest in our family’s history. We are especially pleased to support the University’s new strategic vision and the transformational STEM initiative at its core. The state-of-the-art, 300,000-square-foot, undergraduate-focused complex will allow for the integration of the various engineering departments with the natural science disciplines of the College of Arts and Sciences to address–with Jesuit values–some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

The Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation will create opportunities for students to engage in innovative, high-impact, team-based projects. When complete, the Sobrato Campus will promote cross-disciplinary undergraduate teaching, research, and initiatives in areas such as neuroscience, bioengineering, sustainability, and environmental science.

The new facility is being designed by Portland-based Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects–Architect Magazine’s Firm of the Year and top firm for sustainability in 2016–in partnership with lab-design experts Research Facilities Design, of San Diego. The Sobrato Campus will offer flexible laboratory, classroom, and student project spaces, visually connected by transparent glass walls. Integrated with Santa Clara’s Frugal Innovation Hub and Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Sobrato Campus will enable more interaction between SCU’s science and engineering resources and its signature, Jesuit-mission-based programs focused on meeting the needs of the global poor.

“We are honored and blessed by John and Susan Sobrato’s unwavering support for Santa Clara University for the past six decades,” said Father Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University. “This historic gift will accelerate our vision of leveraging our academic excellence, Jesuit values, and Silicon Valley relationships to forge imaginative solutions to the urgent challenges we face.”

Visit www.scu.edu/STEM for more information.