Campus: Northridge -- February 1, 2006

Real Estate Investor Robert Barbera Creates Music Endowment at Cal State Northridge

Real estate investor and philanthropist Robert Barbera has created a $52,000 endowment to support performances by music students in Cal State Northridge's College of Arts, Media, and Communication.

The Barbera Family Endowment in Music Performance will be used to underwrite performances by the college's major music ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz A Band and Northridge Singers, as well as student opera presentations.

"The Barbera Family Endowment will go a long way toward giving our music students the performance experiences they need as they develop their talent and hone their skills," said William Toutant, dean of the college. "With the continuing erosion of state support, we must increasingly rely on gifts from dedicated individuals like the Barberas. We are deeply grateful for this endowment, which is the first of its kind in the Department of Music."

The university will celebrate the creation of the endowment during a performance of the CSUN Symphony Orchestra at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Saturday, March 18.

Barbera is a longtime supporter of the university. Last year, he established the Robert Barbera Scholarship in Voice in the music department. He has spent many years building support for the university's Italian program in the College of Humanities. He also serves on the development committee of the Imagine the Arts Campaign for the university's new performing arts center.

Barbera said he was a scholarship recipient when he went to college and he understands what importance gifts from donors can mean to a student's education.

"Cal State Northridge is a working man's college," he said. "Most of the students there are working. It's hard to keep up your studies while you're holding down a job. We need to do everything we can to keep them committed to their education. When you know that someone who doesn't even know you is willing to support your college education, that makes your college education even more valuable.

"I am a firm believer that you have a better world when people are educated."

In the case of the Barbera Family Endowment in Music Performance, Barbera said he sees the gift, in many ways, as a kind of "loan."

"The students are paying us back with their performances," he said. "The world is always a better place with educated, trained performers in it."

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Robert Barbera moved to California in 1955 and later graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a degree in accounting. After working several years as an auditor and corporate financial advisor, he started his own real estate investment company. Barbera has been active in a number of Italian-American organizations, promoting a series of philanthropic ventures to encourage the study of Italian at CSU Long Beach and Pepperdine University as well as at CSUN. His wife, Jo, is a former employee of Northridge's Michael D. Eisner College of Education.

Katherine Ramos Baker, acting chair of the Department of Music, said the Barbera Family Endowment could make a difference in the futures of the university's music students.

"The financial support the endowment creates gives us the opportunity to showcase the talents of our students in venues that might otherwise not have been open to us," she said.

Cal State Northridge is home to several internationally acclaimed music ensembles, including its Symphony Orchestra, Jazz A Band, Wind Ensemble and the Northridge Singers. The university's music department is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music and is ranked in the top 25 accredited public university programs in the nation.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130,

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