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TMCNet:  $12 Million Gift from Real Estate Investor Ed Dowd Advances the Role of Arts in Education at Santa Clara University

[January 29, 2014]

$12 Million Gift from Real Estate Investor Ed Dowd Advances the Role of Arts in Education at Santa Clara University

SANTA CLARA, Calif. --(Business Wire)--

A veteran real-estate investor, financier, and CEO who has learned the healing qualities of art has donated $12 million to Santa Clara University to help build a grand, three-story art and art history facility on campus by 2016.

Rendering of a planned $26 million Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building at Santa Clara Univer ...

Rendering of a planned $26 million Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building at Santa Clara University (Photo: Business Wire)

The generous gift of Ed Dowd, owner of EMD Properties, Inc., Los Altos, forms the foundation for a campaign that aims to raise $26 million for the new 43,500-square-foot building.

The modern and dramatic Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building will unite SCU's entire undergraduate community around creativity and innovation, offering centralized studio space, classrooms, gallery displays, a sculpture garden, as well as ample space for faculty, students, visiting artists, and scholars to congregate.

"We are deeply honored and grateful that Ed Dowd has so generously provided this important foundation upon which Santa Clara University will build the new artistic center of campus," said Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University.

Dowd, who graduated from Santa Clara University in 1972 with a degree in science and commerce, said he became interested in art after the purchase of his home in San Francisco where he began collecting art. This led to the funding of a public-art project at Palo Alto (News - Alert) Medical Foundation's Mountain View campus, where he receives treatment for the multiple sclerosis that's been part of his life since 1993.

"Art transcends all time and seems like a great cause to me," said Dowd, who says he wants his legacy to extend beyond business causes. "I have a desire to use my resources to create a better world, and I feel a world filled with art is a far more enjoyable place."

A glass sculpture by famed artist Dale Chihuly will grace the lobby of the new building at SCU.

After Dowd's insistence that a Chihuly sculpture be intalled at the PAMF Mountain View facility, letters poured in from patients with gratitude. Many described the healing power of the piece. Dowd did not realize until later the effects an iconic sculpture such as the Chihuly would have on the medical center. After a few years it became clear this sculpture not only assisted patient recovery but also drew a spectacular group of doctors to the facility. It also attracted special attention to the city of Mountain View, as people from all over the world came just to see the sculpture. It is Dowd's hope that the installation of a Chihuly sculpture at SCU will draw special attention to the University's art programs and inspire students for years to come: a good fit for the university's goal to educate the whole person.

The new building will replace the current 25,900-square-foot building located along The Alameda. In addition to about 150 art and art history majors on average, each year more than 1,000 students across multiple majors take classes at the current building and others around campus.

"The creation and study of art plays an integral role in Santa Clara's emphasis on educating the whole person," said professor Blake de Maria, chair of the Department of Art & Art History. "Students who take our courses engage both critically and creatively with the visual world, opening channels of innovative thinking, creativity, and expression."

"As a double major in studio art and engineering, the opportunity to study art and engineering at the same time has allowed me to exercise my creativity in a fun and enjoyable way," said SCU student Samira Almendras. "Exposure to art is a very important part of being a student and a well-rounded person."

The new building is part of a major redesign of the north side of SCU's campus into a vibrant arts-focused quadrant, and will serve as the signature structure of the University's north entrance. It will be located near the University's Mayer Theatre, music and dance building, Fess Parker Studio, and Recital Hall.

Other features of the building as currently envisioned:

  • A dramatic design, selected by Dowd and funded by the Sobrato Group, featuring a dome with circular walkway and an outdoor sculpture garden
  • Flexible studios that can accommodate teaching of multiple mediums
  • Technology-rich classrooms, some optimized for 3-D projects
  • A 1,600 square foot gallery, and additional space to feature works of SCU students, faculty, and visiting artists
  • Darkroom, film lab, and lighting studios for photography

Dowd, a long-time resident of Los Altos, currently resides in San Francisco. His profession thrived while at Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services. He was a founder of San Jose National Bank, Commerce Savings and Loan, and is a former member of Santa Clara University's Board of Fellows. He was formerly vice chairman of the California State Athletic Commission, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown, for which he represented California at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He is active in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serving from 1965 to 1969.

"I would like to thank Terri Eckert, director of operations at EMD Properties, Inc., and those at SCU who played a vital role in bringing this project to fruition," said Dowd.

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 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. 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

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