Cisco senior VP Howard Charney MBA ’73, J.D. ’77 and his wife of 34 years, Alida Schoolmaster Charney, have donated $10 million in matching and direct funds to Santa Clara University School of Law to fund a new technologically advanced, collaboration-oriented law school building, which will replace three current facilities and be housed near the business school to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration.
Charney said he was motivated to donate to the law school to preserve and advance its vital role at the University, and because he has witnessed firsthand how imperative it is for business, engineering, and other leaders to grasp the overarching role of the law in their endeavors. He said it is important to him to give back to people and organizations like Santa Clara University that helped shape him and contributed to his success.
“Santa Clara University is in the process of redefining itself,” said Charney. “I hope this gift will create momentum and help to shape what the University will look like for the next several decades.”
Charney co-founded the $3 billion company 3Com as well as Grand Junction Networks, which was acquired by Cisco in 1995. He currently is senior vice president in the Office of the President and CEO at Cisco, contributing to Cisco's strategy and direction and also advising businesses, governments, and educators around the world in implementing critical Internet technologies to improve organizational effectiveness.
Over his career Charney has overseen the development and expansion of key technologies that have helped build the global Internet as it exists today. He helped grow Cisco’s two-tier distribution business to more than $2.4 billion and helped turn fast ethernet and low-cost switching into fundamental, global Internet technologies. At 3Com, he helped create products that would later become ethernet and local area networking, enabling Internet access to the desktop.
He said law school taught him that a system of laws underpins all great business creations.
“Attending Santa Clara Law was really pivotal to making me who I am—the law gelled it all together for me,” said Charney. “I learned that the law is a set of valuable, lofty practices and behaviors that guide how people interact.”
Charney has been a longtime adviser to the University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society, funding a professorship there, serving on the advisory board, and recently joining the executive committee.
A licensed patent attorney, Charney has served as a board member for several technology companies. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and master’s of business administration and juris doctor degrees from Santa Clara University.
Their son is Tristan Charney MBA '06.
submitted Dec. 15, 2014 9:19A