John and Susan Ocampo Donate $25 Million for STEM at Santa Clara University
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 24, 2021—Serial technology entrepreneurs and longtime Bronco supporters John ’79 and Susan Ocampo have donated $25 million to advance STEM education at Santa Clara University.
The gift is earmarked for completion of interdisciplinary space in the north wing of the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, which is scheduled to open this fall. The area—which will be dedicated and named after the couple— is the locus of innovative programs and initiatives including a 3,000-square-foot, 30-feet high, glass-enclosed Innovation Zone and adjacent Innovation Lounge. The wing will also house eight research labs; two student project spaces; five shops; and a laser suite.
“We are greatly honored that the Ocampo family has chosen to support our ambitions in interdisciplinary, collaborative STEM education with such a generous gift,” said President Kevin O’Brien, S.J. “Through their gift, John and Susan, who have done so much to advance innovation in semiconductor technology, will inspire in future students ingenuity and creativity in service to the common good.”
The Ocampos said their gift to SCU is inspired by the place where their path to career success began.
“There are three parties that believed in me more than I believed in myself,” said John Ocampo. “My parents, my wife, and Santa Clara University. My family would not be where it is today without the support and values imparted by each of them.”
The pair said they also view their support for the new center as a way to help SCU achieve its goals as a leader in undergraduate STEM education, and to attract and retain more diverse professors and students.
“This generous gift is one of the largest in our university’s history,” said Vice President for University Relations Jim Lyons. “It will have enormous impact, helping enable SCU to respond to the needs of Silicon Valley for well-educated students who are equipped to think both critically and ethically.”
About the family
John Ocampo was born in Manila, Philippines, the youngest of his parents’ six children. He was a natural and curious tinkerer in a family full of future accountants led by his father, Francisco, who passed away when John was 11. His passing spurred Ocampo’s mother Rosa to move with her children to the United States, with the hope of creating a better life for them. “She was the ultimate entrepreneur, the ultimate risk taker,” recalls John.
After attending Oceana High School in Pacifica and Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose, he decided to attend Santa Clara after seeing the university and the Mission on a driver’s-education practice drive along The Alameda, which at the time ran through the middle of campus. Encouraged by his mother, he decided to study electrical engineering, and received a full scholarship.
With the support of professors who helped him through some of the hardest core classes, he landed an internship at Addington Labs in Sunnyvale the summer after his sophomore year. He and Susan met during spring break of 1978, and married in 1982.
After graduating in 1979, John learned the ropes at various radio frequency (RF) and microwave companies in the Bay Area until deciding to create a business with Susan in 1984 which eventually became Sirenza Microdevices and became a publicly traded company in 2000. Susan served as its chief financial officer for 15 years and treasurer until its eventual sale to RF Microdevices (now Qorvo) in 2007. In 2008 the couple launched GaAsLabs, a private investment fund targeting the communications semiconductor market.
GaAsLabs acquired MACOM (Nasdaq: MTSI), a leading supplier of high performance analog, RF, microwave and millimeter wave products; Nitronex, a leader in the design and manufacture of gallium nitride (GaN)-based RF solutions; and MiMix Broadband, a fabless supplier of high performance GaAs semiconductors.
John Ocampo served on Santa Clara’s board of trustees from 2009 to 2013, and on the industry advisory board for the School of Engineering from 2001 to 2012. In 2012, he was one of 12 recipients of the School of Engineering Centennial Awards.
The couple donated the foundational $1.3 million to Santa Clara University to establish the Center for Nanostructures (CNS) in the School of Engineering. CNS pursues interdisciplinary research, education, and partnerships in nanoscale science. The couple also generously supported Santa Clara University’s TENT Gift Fund, which supports the thermal and electrical nanoscale transport (TENT) project for designing, testing, and fabricating a longer-lasting chip using carbon-based interconnect and thermal interface materials.
John and Susan have three children: Bobby, who co-founded a venture capital firm in San Diego; Ashley, who received a B.S. in chemistry from SCU in 2009 and founded a cosmetics and skin-care company in San Francisco; and Joshua, a senior editor at a large magazine brand based in New York. The couple resides most of the year in Hawaii.
To learn more about the story behind this game-changing gift, please see SCU's feature story and video.
About the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation
Made possible by a $100 million gift by John A. and Susan Sobrato, the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation represents Santa Clara’s commitment to be a world-class leader in STEM education. The state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary facility spans 270,000 square feet, making it one of the largest STEM facilities in the nation. For more information, go to scu.edu/stem
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 among the top 15 percent of national universities 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 www.scu.edu.
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | firstname.lastname@example.org | 408-554-5121
Feb 24, 2021
John Ocampo '79