May 16, 2016

Johnson Alum Donates $25 Million to Business Education at Cornell

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David Breazzano MBA ’80

David Breazzano MBA ’80 has announced he will give $25 million dollars to support the new classroom and office building under construction on Dryden Road in Collegetown, in one of the largest donations to business education at Cornell.

This gift was announced Monday at Party on Park — the Johnson School of Management’s gala in New York City — by the future dean of the Cornell College of Business, Soumitra Dutta. Dutta plans to recommend that the University name the building the Breazzano Family Center for Business Education in recognition of this generosity, according to the University.

The center will be six stories and home to more than 200 administrative and professional staff. The structure will include four large, interactive and tiered classrooms with a flat-floor flexible classroom that can be divided into two separate classrooms according to Prof. Bob Libby, accounting, who is the faculty lead for the project.

The building will also include two high-definition broadcast studios and 42 breakout rooms, according to the University. Thirty open spaces with glass walls overlooking a four-story atrium that will be designed with superior acoustics to accommodate a variety of events.

Breazzano — co-founder, president and chief investment officer of DDJ Capital Management, father of Jeremy Breazzano MBA ’11, Michael Breazzano MBA ’13 and Matthew Breazzano ’16 and chair of the Johnson Advisory Council — said he hopes that the center will demonstrate “the value of combining the synergies of the schools” within the College of Business.

“[Breazzano’s] extraordinary gift will enhance the quality and capacity of our business programs,” said Interim-President Hunter Rawlings III. “It recognizes the need for an additional facility to launch Johnson on its next phase of growth and is a wholehearted endorsement of the Johnson faculty. We are grateful for Dave’s vote of confidence in Johnson’s future and its role in the Cornell College of Business.”

Dutta agreed with this sentiment, adding that he believes the center will strengthen the connection between students in Ithaca and Cornell Tech in New York City

“The Breazzano Family Center will provide state-of-the-art connectivity to the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, where Johnson has built a strong presence,” he said. “The Breazzano Family Center will also make it easier for students in all three Cornell College of Business Schools in Ithaca — Dyson, Johnson and the Hotel School — to participate in activities at Cornell Tech.”

The gift follows initial controversy among some alumni and students about College of Business plans, when several alumni threatened to pull their donations if the college was approved.

“I’m not happy at all,” said prominent donor to the Hotel School Erik Hansen ’71 in January after the formation of the business college was announced. “If the school ends up no longer an endowed college, then my wife and I plan to take the University out of our will. We’re not going to do anything precipitously here. We want to make sure that our hard work is used in a way that we think is appropriate and will do some good.”

However Breazzano said he believes that now is an important time to support the Johnson School and that “once the dust settles” people will understand the benefits to combining the three schools.

“We’re really at an inflection point for Johnson obviously with the expansion into Collegetown but also the presence in New York City with Cornell Tech, joint venture in China and so forth and now with the creation of the College of Business,” he said. “It’s a critical point for the school and myself and other alums and friends of Johnson can help support with time resources and advice and so forth. We can have a real impact for many years to come.”

Breazzano added that he believes it is important for the Johnson community to support the recent actions by the University and recommit to ensuring the quality of Cornell’s business education.

“It’s important for all of us — for the pride of our school and for selfish reasons — to ensure that Cornell remains an elite business school,” Breazzano said. “Because that enhances the value of our diploma, and we all want to be proud that we have a Cornell diploma.”