Garaventa Center: Family History
The Garaventa family of Concord, California, has long been a benefactor of Catholic higher education and life in America. The association of Mr. and Mrs. Garaventa - Mary and Silvio - with the University of Portland, Oregon’s Catholic university, began in 1967 when Silvio and Mary Garaventa’s son, Silvio, Jr., enrolled on The Bluff. The family members became close friends with then University President, Rev. Paul Waldschmidt, C.S.C. Subsequently two more of their children - Marie and Joseph - attended the University. Marie continues her association at the university with her participation in the advisory council for the School of Education. Joe is still remembered as a record holding goalkeeper for the University soccer team.
The family legacy as active and committed Catholics came to include the work and projects of the University. In addition to their annual support of the President’s Club, the Garaventas were major supporters for the construction of the Earle A. Chiles Center, for the Harry A. Merlo Field, for the addition of lights to the Merlo Field, and for the renovation of the University’s main administrative building, Waldschmidt Hall – now named in honor of their longtime friend Bishop Waldschmidt.
The Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture was established as the gift of the Garaventa Family in November 2004. After the death of Mr. Silvio Garaventa in February 1998, the family honored his legacy and their deep commitment to their Catholic heritage with the pledge to establish the Center. The pledge was fully realized and the Garaventa Center was dedicated on June 2, 2005 at the opening of the inaugural Garaventa Conference – Teaching, Faith, and Service: The Foundation of Freedom. The Honorable John T. Noonan, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit presented the first Garaventa Lecture.