Santa Clara University Receives its Second-Largest Gift of $30 Million from Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation

Gift will support collaborative, interdisciplinary STEM education by helping build the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--()--The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation of Los Angeles, which has supported Santa Clara University for 50 years, has made its largest gift ever to SCU: $30 million to support a new complex for transformational education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies.

The gift from the Leavey Foundation is the second-largest in University history. It will be used to help build the Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation at SCU, a “campus within a campus” designed to foster creative and collaborative approaches to teaching and learning in the STEM disciplines.

“The Leavey Foundation has helped Santa Clara University achieve some of the most significant growth milestones in its history,” said Michael E. Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University. “We are honored that the foundation has chosen to make this generous award to help fuel our next level of excellence in the field of STEM education. This gift will help ensure our students are equipped to meet the needs of 21st century employers like our neighbors and partners in Silicon Valley.”

“Santa Clara University’s emphasis on experiential, problem-based learning harnesses the strength of cross-disciplinary teams with the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley,” said SCU Provost Dennis Jacobs. “Our Jesuit values challenge students to think critically about the world around them and develop imaginative solutions to address society’s most urgent challenges. At the same time, Santa Clara students learn to examine the ethical and societal implications—such as privacy concerns or environmental impact—that often accompany the exciting scientific discoveries and technological advancements emerging from Silicon Valley.”

The Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, announced in January with a $100 million lead gift from John A. ’60 and Susan Sobrato, will create opportunities for students to engage in innovative, high-impact, team-based projects. When complete, the Sobrato Campus will promote cross-disciplinary opportunities in areas such as neuroscience, bioengineering, sustainability, and environmental science. It also will help enable Santa Clara University to increase its undergraduate enrollment by 600 students, with a significant proportion in STEM-related fields.

“The gift recognizes the important role Santa Clara University plays in meeting the needs of Silicon Valley,” said Jim Lyons, vice president for University Relations.

About the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation

The Leavey Foundation was established in 1952 by the late Thomas E. Leavey ’22, who attended Santa Clara University and later co-founded Farmers Insurance Group, and his wife, Dorothy E. Leavey.

Mrs. Leavey took over responsibility for the family foundation after Mr. Leavey’s death in 1980, and the couple’s daughter, Kathleen McCarthy Kostlan, assumed the chair after her mother’s death in 1998.

“My family has long supported the high caliber of Jesuit, Catholic education provided by Santa Clara University, which produces graduates with not only excellent critical thinking skills but also the moral compass to put them to use for the greater good of the world around them,” said Kostlan. “We are pleased to help support the University’s next phase of growth, with its increased focus on STEM education and greater integration with Silicon Valley.”

The foundation created by the Leaveys, both devout Catholics, has donated more than $100 million to institutions and charities, including more than $39 million to SCU:

  • $15 million to upgrade the athletics facility that became Leavey Center
  • $10 million in various scholarship and endowment funds
  • $7 million to the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Leadership Endowment
  • $5 million to endow the Leavey School of Business
  • $1 million as a “challenge grant” in 2013 to spur SCU alumni to give back to their alma mater
  • $1 million to the Jesuit Residence Building Fund
  • $1 million to the Los Angeles Catholic High School Scholarship Fund

The foundation also has provided substantial financial support to the University of Southern California for the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Honors Hall and the Kathleen L. McCarthy Honors College ($30 million) and Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Library ($9 million); to the Los Angeles Archdiocese for a new cathedral ($10 million); and to the Assistance League in Hollywood for the Dorothy E. Leavey Family Resource Center ($8 million). Other awards include $2 million to Loyola Marymount University, $1 million to Saint Paul the Apostle Church, $500,000 to Homeboy Industries, and $250,000 to Sisters of Nazareth of Los Angeles. The foundation also has provided grants and scholarships to numerous individuals, including children of employees of Farmers Group.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering doctoral degrees. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see


SCU Media Communications
Deborah Lohse, 408-554-5121

Release Summary

The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation of Los Angeles has given Santa Clara University $30 million to support a new complex for STEM studies.


SCU Media Communications
Deborah Lohse, 408-554-5121