Skip to main content

May 2019

Santa Clara University Receives $11 Million for the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The newly named Ciocca Center will prepare students to be responsible and ethical entrepreneurs and business leaders, adaptive to the evolving workplaces of the future.

The Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship supports Santa Clara University’s vision for expanding and re-envisioning innovation and entrepreneurial efforts across the University.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 30, 2019— A gift of $11 million will support Santa Clara University’s vision for expanding and re-envisioning the innovation and entrepreneurial efforts of students across the University.

The generous lead gift of $7 million from alumna Carlyse Franzia Ciocca ’77, her husband and The Wine Group founder Arthur Ciocca, along with $4 million from the couple’s frequent philanthropic partner, Charles Koch Foundation, will enable Santa Clara University to carry out an ambitious initiative announced in February. Now under the auspices of the newly named Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the initiative will guide, coordinate, and elevate the innovation and entrepreneurship efforts of students across campus.

The University’s vision for the Ciocca Center—which was embraced and shared by the donors—is to create an environment to prepare students to be responsible and ethical entrepreneurs and business leaders, adaptive to the evolving workplaces of the future, and conversant in concepts like design thinking and value creation.

“Santa Clara University is grateful for these gifts, in which we found a shared grounding in the belief that through an entrepreneurial mindset grounded in humanistic values, technology and innovation can improve lives and benefit humanity,” said Michael E. Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University.

The Ciocca Center gift will enable SCU to augment existing entrepreneurial programs on campus, such as the social-entrepreneurship programming in Miller Center; the business-pitch competition and mentoring at the Leavey School of Business; the virtual- and augmented-reality experimentation underway in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Imaginarium space; the five-year-old Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic at the School of Law; and the School of Engineering’s prototyping Maker Lab and KEEN collaborative network of college and professors championing the entrepreneurial mindset in engineering undergraduate students.

It will also fund new faculty hires, research, and student opportunities, including:

  • Enhancing courses and programming, including the entrepreneurship minor, entrepreneurial offerings in engineering, and the current design-thinking pathway
  • Providing funds to professors who wish to introduce concepts of design thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship into their course
  • Bringing to campus speakers and workshop leaders in key areas such as innovation and responsible entrepreneurship
  • Employing the current Center director as well as an administrative assistant and program director
  • Hiring four tenure-track faculty members and four professors of practice in various disciplines over the course of the gift
  • Investing in faculty development in the areas of design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation
  • Infusing entrepreneurial thinking and design thinking into and across a broad set of academic disciplines
  • Funding for faculty research on the future of work; entrepreneurship; the gig economy; and more

Conceived and shaped over several years by faculty at SCU, the Ciocca Center will execute on its vision guided by three overarching values: maintaining Jesuit ideals; offering students opportunities to learn and incorporate a responsible entrepreneurial mindset, and a deep commitment to experiential learning.

“I am just delighted to be giving back to my alma mater with a gift that fuses so many facets of my life: the entrepreneurial values I learned from my grandmother Teresa and supported for decades with Arthur and The Wine Group, as well as the Jesuit values I learned at Santa Clara—to use your talents and your treasure for the betterment of humanity,” said Carlyse Ciocca.

“Our family believes that principled businesses are the lifeblood of communities and form the building blocks of strong cultural values,” said Arthur Ciocca. “Creating real long-term value for society starts with caring for the overall good of consumers, employees, customers, and stockholders—in that order. We are pleased to support Santa Clara University’s vision to ensure that students understand the vital role business plays in building the values they are learning.”

“Principled entrepreneurs find success and fulfillment in helping to improve the lives of others,” said Ryan Stowers, executive vice president of the Charles Koch Foundation. “This approach is at the heart of the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and we are thrilled to join the Cioccas in supporting Santa Clara University in this endeavor,” he added.

Santa Clara University last November hired Chris Norris, a veteran CEO, entrepreneur and consultant with a proven track record of building companies and leading organizations, to be the Center’s executive director.

About the Cioccas

The Cioccas met shortly after Arthur led a leveraged buyout of Coca-Cola’s wine-making operations in 1981. He had been the head of marketing for that division, and decided spontaneously to buy it when he learned Coca-Cola was divesting the unit. Shortly thereafter, he was introduced to the woman who would become his wife, Carlyse Franzia, whose family started one of the wineries at the heart of Coca-Cola’s operation: Franzia Wines. Carlyse is the granddaughter of the intrepid Italian immigrant Teresa Franzia, who in 1933 borrowed $10,000 to turn her husband’s grape and cherry farming land into a full-blown winery. Teresa Franzia gave half of the loan proceeds to her son-in-law Ernest Gallo—who would go on to build the E&J Gallo Winery and employ a young marketing employee named Arthur Ciocca.

Carlyse, who graduated from Santa Clara University in 1977 with a business degree, married Arthur six months after they met, and became the family “quarterback” as The Wine Group grew to become the second-largest wine producer by volume.

Arthur grew up in Tarrytown, NY, and earned a B.S. degree from College of the Holy Cross and an MBA from Roosevelt University, which he earned taking night classes while a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He tried his hand unsuccessfully as an entrepreneur in the 1970s before taking a marketing job at the E&J Gallo Winery. There, he learned entrepreneurship at the feet of famed winemaker Ernest Gallo— who unbeknownst to him at the time, was his future wife’s uncle by marriage. As CEO of The Wine Group from 1981 to 2001, he was known for implementing a compensation plan that emphasized long-term value creation. He also led the company when it made the bold choice to sell Franzia wines in boxes—ultimately making it the largest-volume wine brand for the next 15 years, and funding The Wine Group’s expansion to 49 additional wine brands, including Cupcake, Chloe, and Concannon. Arthur stepped away from management in 2003 to focus on giving back through the family’s philanthropic foundations.

In recent years, the couple has donated to Catholic University to create the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship, and to Arthur’s alma mater College of the Holy Cross to create the Carlyse and Arthur A. Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics and Society.

A video about their family's legacy of entrepreneurship is available here.

About Charles Koch Foundation

The Charles Koch Foundation supports scholars, students, and charitable organizations developing creative solutions that will help people transform their lives, achieve their potential, and make the world a better place for us all. The Foundation has donated millions in funding for research and education in a wide range of areas, including criminal justice and policing reform; toleration and free speech; foreign policy; economic opportunity; and technology and innovation.

Foundation grants support students and scholars at more than 350 colleges and universities nationwide, ranging from small liberal arts colleges to state research universities to Ivy League schools.

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked the No. 1 regional university in the West by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | Media Communications | | 408-554-5121



Press Release
Recent Headlines