John Branca Donates $5M to Occidental College to Establish New Institute for Music

Legendary music attorney John Branca has made a $5 million gift to Los Angeles’ Occidental College that will establish the John Branca Institute for Music at the school, it was announced Tuesday (June 4).

David Kasunic, associate professor of music at Occidental, will serve as inaugural director at the institute, a music teaching and learning facility based at the university. The donation will allow Occidental to expand its music department, with a larger focus on contemporary music and enhancement of the school’s music business curriculum, as well as the addition of cutting-edge technology and sound production facilities. Peter Grueneisen of nonzero architecture has been hired to renovate the music department’s facilities.


The institute will also work with community colleges, particularly Los Angeles City College, to establish a direct pathway to increase transfer opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds who are interested in studying music at Occidental. It will additionally develop special programming and joint research activities in conjunction with the Harvard Negotiation Project based at Harvard Law School and directed by Harvard Business School professor Jim Sebenius.

Occidental is a four-time honoree on Billboard‘s annual list of the top music business schools in the United States.

“Occidental College has a diverse student body and provides the most personalized undergraduate education in Los Angeles,” said Branca, who graduated from the College cum laude and with honors as a political science major in 1972, in a statement. “As a trustee and alumnus, I am proud of the College’s mission and academic excellence.”

Other notable Occidental alumni include President Barack Obama (1983) and former Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper (1968).

“John is a giant in the music business and he is a true believer in the kind of personalized teaching and learning that can only happen at a small liberal arts college,” Occidental College president Harry Elam added in a statement. “John’s gift, coupled with the state-of-the-art music production facilities we already have in place, will make Occidental a truly exceptional place to study music. We are so grateful to John for his generosity and vision in supporting the John Branca Institute for Music Education.”

Over a decades-long career, Branca’s clients have included Aerosmith, The Beach Boys, the Beatles catalog, Dr. Dre, Fleetwood Mac and Berry Gordy; he currently co-manages the Michael Jackson estate. He has been an Occidental trustee since 2003 and is a founding member of the Barack Obama Scholars Program Advisory Council at the school. In 1998, a gift from Branca that went toward the renovation and expansion of Occidental’s Johnson Student Center led to the naming of the Branca Family Patio in honor of Branca’s parents. Additional educational donations made by Branca have led to the creation of the Branca Family Field at UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium, the Branca Baseball Facility at NYU and the Branca Recruiting Patio for UCLA Basketball.

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