October 16, 2018

More than 400 students, faculty and staff, community members, and special guests gathered in the Mabie Grand Atrium on October 12 to cut a ceremonial ribbon and officially dedicate the Howard S. and Alida S. Charney Hall of Law. Santa Clara University School of Law broke ground on Charney Hall on August 17, 2016, and, after just 565 days of construction, the school began to move in on March 5, 2018.

The 96,000 square foot, eco-friendly building will serve up to 650 J.D. and 100 non-J.D. students. With flexible learning spaces and sophisticated classroom technology, Charney Hall will help Santa Clara Law continue to evolve its programs and offerings to keep pace with changes in the legal field, while continuing to support a high-achieving student body and attract exceptional faculty.

Lead donors Howard S. Charney MBA ’73, J.D. ’77 and his wife, Alida Schoolmaster Charney, were both in attendance. Charney co-founded the $3 billion company 3Com in 1980, and 12 years later founded Grand Junction Networks, which was acquired by Cisco in 1995. Until his recent retirement, he served as senior vice president in the Office of the President and CEO at Cisco, contributing to the company’s strategy and direction and also advising businesses, governments, and educators around the world in implementing critical Internet technologies to improve organizational effectiveness.

Other special guests at the dedication included the mayor of Santa Clara, Lisa M. Gillmor; notable law school alumni Leon Panetta B.A. ’60, J.D. ’63, chair, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy as well as former CIA Director, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, White House Chief of Staff, and long-time member of the House of Representatives; Zoe Lofgren J.D. ’75, congresswoman of the 19th district; Justice Edward Panelli J.D. ’55, retired California Supreme Court Judge and his wife, Lorna; as well as John Ottoboni B.A. ’69, senior legal counsel and chief operating officer of Santa Clara University; John M. Sobrato B.A. ’83, chair of the SCU Board of Trustees; Father Michael Engh, S.J., President of Santa Clara University; and the past 3 deans of Santa Clara Law: Gerald Uelmen, Mack Player, and Don Polden. Maya Younes J.D. ’18 opened the ceremony with an invocation and a moment of silence in honor of the Ohlone people, who had lived on the land where the new building stands.

While Santa Clara University provided more than 60 percent of the $58 million dollars in building costs, the Charney’s $10 million lead gift is the largest in the history of Santa Clara Law, and it “jumpstarted this building,” said Ottobani in his remarks. Other major donors included the William and Inez Mabie Family Foundation, headed by Ron Malone J.D. ’71 and his wife, Sara, and Yeoryios C. Apallas; as well as the Fremont Bank Foundation, under the leadership of Terrance Stinett J.D. ’69 and Michael Wallace MBA ’75; and Paul and Barbara Gentzkow.

“With this amazing investment in the law school by the University, our alumni, and friends, along with a lot of hard work by many of the people in this room, we are reaping the good harvest,” said Dean Lisa Kloppenberg. “Our yield of admitted students has improved, the quality of our student body is high, and morale is high. We are experiencing a special moment of momentum at Santa Clara Law, thanks to each of you who has made that possible.”

Before officially blessing the building, SCU President Michael Engh S. J., said “this is a place where a Jesuit law school should be because of the values, ethics, and commitment to justice that is part and parcel of the whole school experience.”

“For more than a century, Santa Clara Law has met the changing and ever more complex legal needs of this region…[from] the agricultural region of the Valley of Heart’s Delight, all the way up to what we call it now, Silicon Valley, the world’s foremost innovation center,” Engh said. “The School of Law’s vision is exemplified by the Howard S. and Alida S. Charney Hall of Law, designed to promote the highest levels of integrated learning, research, and collaboration. Because of their great generosity, this enables the school to respond to the sweeping changes in legal education and practice.”

In her remarks, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said she always loves returning to the law school, and that she is grateful for the education she received there. “Not only did we have great classes and inspiring professors, there was an ethical component to the instruction that we received at this University that continues to this day,” she said. She added that she looked forward to seeing what will emanate from this building, including what she called the “troopers for the enforcement of the rule of law.”

Howard Charney began his remarks with gratitude for all those who contributed to the building’s campaign, with a special tribute to his wife, Alida. He went on to compare the law school to the Mission Santa Clara, which, he said, “is built in furtherance of certain principles. Its core principles are equity and justice, fairness, and respect for others. It teaches those principles through the means of stories.”

“This is the home of the law school but it is also a temple built in furtherance of certain principles,” said Charney. “This temple bears an uncanny resemblance to that temple. This temple rests on the principles of equity and justice, fairness and respect for others. This temple uses stories to teach its messages–we call them cases.”

“I used to think the law school was a vocational school…bolted on the side of the University, but that is really not so,” explained Charney. “I have now come to realize that the Law School is totally consistent with the values and underpinnings of this University perhaps as much or maybe more so than many of the other colleges or schools that comprise this institution. It is quite integral to the Santa Clara University.”

“Our collective dream is that we are going to look back in 5 years or 10 years and we have achieved much greater national and international renown. The best students will want to come and study here. The best faculty will want to teach and write here,” said Charney. “This is a process of continuous improvement.”

Leon Panetta contrasted his own “Bergin Hall generation” with the “Charney Hall generation,” saying that his generation faced many challenges, but perhaps none so difficult as those that will be faced by the Charney Hall generation.

“Charney Hall marks not just a new law school for Santa Clara, but in many ways, it marks a new era for the future, a new and very challenging era for the students that go here,” Panetta said. “My sense is that the generations that come out of Charney Hall are going to face issues that go to the very core of this nation.”

“We are in the middle of Silicon Valley. This is an area of tremendous innovation and tremendous creativity, but that kind of innovation and creativity has to be tied to a set of values. This Law School, being in the center of Silicon Valley, has to provide that foundation for the future of high technology.”

“This is a wonderful commitment to the future by investing in education, and I thank all of the contributors to this,” said Panetta.

Seven people—Santa Clara Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor, John Sobrato, Dean Lisa Kloppenberg, Howard and Alida Charney, SCU President Michael Engh, S.J., and Zoe Lofgren—held six pairs of scissors and together cut the ceremonial ribbon. Those gathered were then invited to explore the new building, which had several food and drink stations throughout as part of the celebration.

To watch a video of the dedication ceremony, visit


Howard S. Charney MBA ’73, J.D. ’77 co-founded the $3 billion company 3Com in 1980, and 12 years later founded Grand Junction Networks, which was acquired by Cisco in 1995. Until his recent retirement, he served as senior vice president in the Office of the President and CEO at Cisco, contributing to the company’s strategy and direction and also advising businesses, governments, and educators around the world in implementing critical Internet technologies to improve organizational effectiveness.

Over his career, Charney has overseen the development and expansion of key technologies that have helped build the global Internet as it exists today. He helped grow Cisco’s two-tier distribution business to more than $2.4 billion and helped turn fast ethernet and low-cost switching into fundamental, global Internet technologies.

A licensed patent attorney, Charney has served as a board member for several technology companies. He serves as a trustee of Santa Clara University, and has been an adviser to Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, including funding a professorship and serving on its advisory board and executive committee.

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA and J.D. from Santa Clara University. His son, Tristan, is a 2006 MBA alumnus from Santa Clara.


Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. Santa Clara Law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property. For more information, see