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.”
John A. Sobrato ’60, is a longtime member of Santa Clara University’s Board of Trustees and founder of The Sobrato Organization (TSO) of Cupertino, California, one of the largest commercial development firms in Silicon Valley. In 1996, the couple and their three children launched the Sobrato Family Foundation.
The Sobratos have been married for 56 years, during which time Mrs. Sobrato has been an active partner supporting the family’s business and philanthropic pursuits. Mrs. Sobrato prioritized raising her three children and giving back to the family’s community through financial resources and personal time commitments. In addition to their three children—John Michael ’83, Lisa Sobrato Sonsini, and Sheri Sobrato Brisson M.A. ’94—the pair has five grandsons and two granddaughters.
John A. Sobrato is proud to trace his professional success back to his days studying business at Santa Clara University. While a student, Sobrato arranged his class schedule so he could start selling Eichler houses in Palo Alto three days a week. By the age of 22, he founded Midtown Realty and was the youngest member of the Million Dollar Club of the Palo Alto Real Estate Board. In 1972, he sold Midtown Realty to focus exclusively on high-tech commercial properties, and went on to develop the iconic Apple headquarters in Cupertino and campuses for Siebel, Nvidia, Netflix, EMC, VeriSign, and Yahoo! Over the years, TSO developed more than 15 million square feet of office and R&D properties, and currently owns 92 commercial buildings in the Valley totaling nearly 8 million square feet, and 29 apartment communities along the West Coast.
Full story at Santa Clara University website.