Light and beauty that transcend time and space

Light and beauty that transcend time and space
Future home: for makers and scholars of art alike. Illustration courtesy Form 4
Announcing the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building: a place to make art, study its history, and through virtual-reality technology, explore the whole blessed world

Start with a simple truth. In the words of Ed Dowd ’72: “A world filled with art is a far more enjoyable place.” Indeed, it’s a place where creativity and imagination are sparked in the minds and hands and hearts of makers and viewers alike, rippling through lives young and old. And the making and study of art are about to get a new epicenter on the Mission Campus, thanks to Dowd.

“Art transcends all time and seems like a great cause to me,” he says.

The announcement went out at the end of January that Dowd, founder and owner of EMD Properties, has donated $12 million toward the construction of a new art and art history building for the University. The Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building will encompass more than 43,000 square feet and rise three stories above Franklin Street on the northwest side of campus. Cost is pegged at $26 million. Watch for completion by 2016.


Let there be art: Ed Dowd ’72 and Terri Eckert

Ed Dowd doesn’t make a secret about what’s the most meaningful accomplishment in his life: graduating from Santa Clara University. Raised in Salinas, Calif., he found plenty of trouble to get into as a youth; at one point, a juvenile court judge gave him the classic choice—“the juvenile county farm or the military.” After a stint as an enlisted man in the Air Force, Dowd set his sights on graduating from college and then pursuing a career as an officer.

Higher education wasn’t supposed to be in the cards for Dowd. “They put a label on me in high school, ‘not college material,’” he told a reporter a few years ago. “That squashed my self-esteem.” But it didn’t stay squashed.

Dowd worked full time during college to cover tuition. After he graduated from Santa Clara, it wasn’t a return to the military but a stellar career in real estate that was in store for him, once he found his footing as a salesman at Marcus & Millichap, a Palo Alto–based real estate investment firm. He went on to found San Jose National Bank and Commerce Savings and Loan. Gov. Jerry Brown ’59appointed him vice chairman of the California State Athletic Commission, a position that meant he represented California at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He’s also served on SCU’s Board of Fellows.

In 1993, when Dowd was 47, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. While Dowd remains owner of EMD Properties, for some years he’s delegated more management to others, especially Terri Eckert, director of operations. As business took up less of his time, he discovered a love and devotion to art and its wonderful power to inspire and console.

A visit to his San Francisco home atop the Four Seasons offers stunning vistas and a glimpse of the paintings and sculptures that intrigue him. So does a visit to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s facility in Mountain View, where Dowd has gone for treatment for MS. A glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly graces the lobby, thanks to Dowd.


The Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building will include a work of blown glass by Chihuly as well—a fact that Dowd hopes will draw attention to the other vibrant artistic endeavors on campus. The building will be home to galleries and studios for sculpture, ceramics, photography, printmaking, painting, and drawing. There will be electronic canvases and a virtual-reality room, a sculpture garden, and a living wall of plants.

More than that, the new building will anchor an arts “neighborhood” with the de Saisset Museum, Recital Hall, and Mayer Theatre, making the northwest portion of campus a destination for the fine and performing arts. Watch for more in the magazine as the building takes shape. Until then, we’ll leave you with this thought: Each year, more than 1,000 students take art and art history classes on the Mission Campus. Most aren’t art majors. But then, in what discipline or field of endeavor—or in the rest of our lives, for that matter— are creativity and imagination not necessary?

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