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January 2024

President Sullivan, Larry Sonsini, Jim Lyons, Jeff Miller and John Sobrato on stage announcing $1billion fundraising achievement

President Sullivan, Larry Sonsini, Jim Lyons, Jeff Miller and John Sobrato on stage announcing $1billion fundraising achievement

Santa Clara University Celebrates History-Making $1 Billion Fundraising Milestone

University marks rare achievement at annual Golden Circle gala, highlighted by performance from superstar John Legend

A rare feat for a private University: more than $1 billion raised in under 10 years

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jan. 27, 2024—Santa Clara University today celebrated a rare and prestigious milestone: the completion of its $1 billion Innovating with a Mission campaign, the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in the University’s 173-year history.

In under 10 years, the Innovating with a Mission campaign has energized the Jesuit, Catholic university campus with wide-ranging physical and programmatic transformations, diversifying the campus and creating new opportunities and experiences for current and future generations of students, faculty, alumni and staff.  Of the just-over $1 billion raised, hundreds of millions of dollars are supporting student scholarships and financial aid; new STEM, residential and arts facilities and programming; internships and experiential learning opportunities; and expanded athletic and collaboration spaces across campus.

“The success of this Campaign is a testament to the commitment of our alumni and supporters to our mission to produce not just exceptional scholars, but true persons for others, who will make a positive impact on our global society and our nation’s democracy—no matter their fields of endeavor,” said President Julie Sullivan. “The world needs what Santa Clara has to offer.”

The acheivement was celebrated Saturday, Jan. 27, during the University’s annual Golden Circle gala at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. Superstar singer John Legend—whose hits include “All of Me,” “Green Light,” and “Ordinary People”— was the event headliner. Following the performance, laser lights and music accompanied the nearly 2,500 guests as they walked from the Center to dinner at The Signia by Hilton San Jose hotel.

More than 46,000 supporters 

Innovating with a Mission launched in July 2014. The record total of $1.017 billion reflects contributions from more than 46,000 alumni, corporations, foundations, parents and other friends of Santa Clara. The showing is a reflection of the broad-based support for the Silicon Valley-based University’s academic excellence and values-based mission.

Santa Clara now becomes the fourth Catholic university in the United States to reach that $1 billion goal. SCU also joins a select group of fewer than 5% of all U.S. universities that have raised $1 billion—only a handful of which, like Santa Clara, have done so without being a designated Research 1 (R1) university, or home to a medical school.

“This Campaign marks a key moment in Santa Clara University’s ascent as one of the nation’s leading institutions of higher learning,” said Larry Sonsini, chair of Santa Clara University’s Board of Trustees. “It helps us fulfill our promise to equip all talented students with the knowledge and ethical clarity our complex and globalizing world will demand of them.”


Aldo Billingslea onstage at Golden Circle


Over the course of the Campaign—which concluded on a theme of “Santa Clara Rising”—the Jesuit, Catholic university has attained new levels of prominence, recognition, and achievement in U.S. higher education, including: 

  • Becoming a national rather than regional university in 2019 in the influential U.S. News & World Report ranking system; today, SCU ranks in the top 15% of national universities.
  • Ranking No. 13 in the nation—up from No. 23 in 2019—for undergraduate teaching excellence
  • Creating the largest STEM campus on the West Coast
  • Greatly increasing merit- and need-based scholarships and financial aid, with more than $280 million raised for new scholarships, and expanding by one third the number of awarded scholarship funds
  • Reaching two women’s soccer final fours and a national title, as well as two first-round NBA draft picks
  • Producing 35 Fulbright; two Rhodes; one Truman; one MacArthur; and two Knight-Hennessy scholars.
  • Selection by Crunchbase in 2022 as one of the top 34 schools for “funded founders” of startups
  • Attracting and meeting the needs of our nation's increasingly diverse college-age population, as seen in a:
    • 40% increase in transfer students
    • Undergraduate student-body increase to 58% students of color, from 45% when the Campaign started
    • 60% increase in first-generation students participating in the University’s LEAD Scholars Program

A Transformed Campus 

In addition, during the Campaign the University:

  • Added or renovated seven new buildings, with a focus on interdisciplinary and collaborative learning spaces and sustainable construction practices:
    • John A. and Susan Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation
    • Stephen A. Finn Residence Hall
    • Stephen C. and Patricia A. Schott Athletic Excellence Center
    • Stevens Stadium—Buck Shaw Field (renovation) and Stevens Soccer Training Center
    • Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building
    • Howard S. and Alida S. Charney Hall of Law
    • Benson Memorial Center (renovation)
  • Doubled the University’s solar generation capacity via the Bird Solar Project
  • Increased student opportunities for global and experiential learning, such as 167 students who took part in the Miller Center Lewis Family Fellowship

Interdisciplinary collaboration. The Campaign also has enabled Santa Clara to build out spaces and centers to foster collaboration and interdisciplinary work among students and faculty, and to create centers for underrepresented students to meet and host speakers and discussions. The Diversity and Inclusion Student Center in the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Whitham Collaborative Scholarship Awards are vital and valued examples. 

Student wellness. The generosity of donors also helped ensure that students have enhanced access to wellness resources whenever and wherever they need them, including inside their residence halls, after hours, and on weekends. New services include over a dozen campus mental health professionals, three of whom are dedicated to residence halls; new training for faculty and staff to identify students in need; unlimited free counseling sessions; and a 24/7 mental health support line that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, including when students are studying abroad. 

A Proud and Historic Evening

During Saturday’s lively event, University leaders including President Sullivan, Board of Trustees Chair Larry Sonsini, as well as Campaign co-chairs Jeff ’73, MBA ’76 and Karen Miller and John A. ’60 and Susan Sobrato helped celebrate and share highlights of the Campaign. Several prominent Santa Clara alumni and supporters also were on hand for the celebration, including SCU women’s sports legends Danielle Slaton ’02, Aly Wagner ’02, Leslie Osborne ’05, and Brandi Chastain ’91, founders of Bay FC, the new Bay Area team of the National Women’s Soccer League; U.S. Congress member Zoe Lofgren J.D. ’75 and San Jose and Santa Clara mayors Matt Mahan and Lisa Gillmor

University Relations VP Jim Lyons onstage at 2024 Golden Circle

University Relations VP Jim Lyons onstage at 2024 Golden Circle

“We are profoundly grateful for the ongoing generosity of Santa Clara’s amazingly strong base of alumni, donors, and other supporters,” said University Relations Vice President Jim Lyons. “They have helped us achieve a milestone that only a small number of private, teaching-scholar universities like ours have attained, and positioned us to focus intently on ensuring our world-class Jesuit education can be available to all talented students.”

For more about the Innovating with a Mission campaign, please visit the campaign website.

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

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


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