Capping a lifetime of generosity to Santa Clara University, the
University's longest-serving professor and his wife have bequeathed an
estimated $8 million of their estate to SCU to fund an endowment for the
arts and humanities, to name the arts and sciences building, and to
support other special projects.
The generous gift will be the legacy of Dr. Victor B. Vari, who recently
retired after teaching Italian and other languages and literature to SCU
students since 1946, and his wife Julia Botto Vari. The proceeds --
which derive from their life savings as well as inheritances received
over their lifetimes -- will be used to fund the Dr. Victor B. and Julia
Botto Vari Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, including the Vari
Italian Studies Initiative, and for the Victor B. and Julia Botto Vari
"Victor and Julia Vari represent the truest values of this University,
in their devotion to nurturing students to their full potential,
fostering a culture-rich community, and building the next generation of
humanities education," said President Michael Engh, S.J. "We are deeply
grateful that they chose to honor us with this gift from the heart."
"Both of us have dedicated our lives to Santa Clara," said Dr. Vari, who
retired in 2012 at age 92. "This University has been our lives."
Dr. Vari - whose resume before SCU includes stints as a fencing coach,
journalist, actor, radio announcer, military intelligence agent, and
elementary school teacher -- received his master's degree from Stanford
University in 1952 after serving in the Army in World War II. He
completed his Ph.D. (summa cum laude) at the University of Madrid
in Spain in 1961. He began his academic career as a student teacer at
Stanford, moving to SCU in 1946 to teach elementary French. Over the
years at SCU, he has taught all levels of Spanish and Italian language,
culture, and literature. He was chairman of the Modern Language
Department for more than 20 years.
"Santa Clara is very important to me," said Julia. "I married a man
whose life was Santa Clara. We loved what we were doing; we loved the
students--they were the children we never had. These relationships which
extend over these many years continue to give us great pleasure to this
The humanities endowment will help build an academic foundation rich in
creative exploration and experiential learning, grounded in ethical
integrity and social responsibility. The funds could be used for faculty
scholarship or program development; awards for undergraduate research,
creative work, or experiential learning; international experiences for
undergraduates; or other opportunities in the future to advance the
College of Arts and Sciences.
"Victor and Julia Vari have been such an integral part of the College
for nearly 70 years, it is truly fitting that their names will grace the
building that will educate the humanities students of the future," said
W. Atom Yee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Thanks to their
boundless contributions, we are a far richer community -- in culture,
relationships, and values."
Previously, the couple has given about $1.5 million in the form of
scholarships in the names of Dr. Vari's parents, Augusto and Agnese, as
well as numerous cash donations during campus appeals. Dr. Vari, along
with Murphy Sabatino, was instrumental in building Casa Italiana -- a
precursor to today's residential learning communities -- to integrate
the Italian lifestyle and culture with learning.
The planned Vari gift is one of several large gifts from donors
committed to or received by SCU in the fiscal year 2013 - 2014,
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 www.scu.edu.
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