SSU wine program gets $3 million boost from Shanken
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The Sonoma State University wine program got a huge boost in the form of a $3 million gift to the university from Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator magazine, through the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. The gift will support the construction of the new home for SSU’s Wine Business Institute, which will be named the Wine Spectator Learning Center.

“Sonoma State University has taken a leadership position in wine business education, a specialized but important field that deserves support,” said Shanken.  “The potential benefits to the wine industry are enormous. We are pleased to be able to help the University and their students achieve their goals.”

“Wine Spectator is the premier media brand in education for the wine industry and Sonoma State University is a global leader in wine business education and research. This is a great pairing of two world class education partners,” said SSU President Ruben Armiñana.

Upon completion, the 15,000 sq. ft. building will be organized around three focal areas: an education core with three classrooms; a student commons with areas for collaboration and student-run businesses; and an industry center with space for professional and academic faculty and program leadership.

“Students, faculty, industry professionals and alumni will jointly collaborate in programs and on projects that will support the short and long term success of the wine industry,” said Dr. William Silver, dean of the School of Business and Economics, which includes the Wine Business Institute.  “As the new home to Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute, the Wine Spectator Learning Center will create a sense of place for all of our stakeholders.”

SSU’s Wine Business Institute was founded in 1996, the first academic program in the United States to offer degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry.  Programs like the Executive MBA in Wine Business and online Certificate in Wine Business Management prepare students and industry professionals on topics such as accounting and finance, wine sales and marketing.

 Last year more than 600 people from around the country studied at SSU’s Wine Business Institute and professionals from a dozen countries have participated in its online programs. 

Ray Johnson, director of the Institute, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to partner with Shanken. “His personal involvement is helping to shape not merely the design of the building, but, more importantly, the nature and impact of the learning experience for our students.” Construction on the facility is expected to begin in late 2015 and end mid-2016. Discussions are also under way on programming and educational resources that will leverage the shared expertise of SSU and M. Shanken Communications. 

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