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[caption id="attachment_94845" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Sonoma State University’s Wine Spectator Learning Center is set to be a state-of-the-art facility with classrooms and outdoor space to teach more than 300, venues for public seminars and events, and technology to reach the world. (credit: TLCD Architecture)[/caption]

ROHNERT PARK -- Sonoma State University on Monday said it received a $3 million donation from Wine Spectator Editor and Publisher Marvin Shanken that puts funding for the planned Wine Business Institute building at the half-way point for construction to start as anticipated next year.

The gift from Mr. Shanken's Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation would convert the nearly 15,000-square-foot former University Commons student center on campus into a new home for the 16-year-old wine undergraduate, graduate and continuing-education program. The building will be renamed 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," Mr. Shanken said in a statement. "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."

This latest gift to the building project also is the largest ever for the 28-year-old School of Business and Economics, of which the institute is a part, according to the university. In January, the institution said Gary Heck, owner of Korbel and other wine brands, gave $1 million toward the project.

A couple of more unspecified gifts are in the works, SSU spokeswoman Annemarie Brown said.

[caption id="attachment_94846" align="alignleft" width="300"] The design will utilize modern learning and working practices to inspire collaboration for students and visitors. The center's Student Commons will have a student hub, wine entrepreneurship laboratory, outdoor study terrace and wine business research library. (credit: TLCD Architecture)[/caption]

TLCD Architecture of Santa Rosa is still refining designs for the new center, and academic and other programming that will go there is still being developed. The university and M. Shanken Communications are discussing shared educational resources. The estimated project cost is roughly $20 million, including $8 million for renovations, Ms. Brown said.

"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," said Ray Johnson, institute director, about Mr. Shanken.

Construction on the facility is expected to begin in late 2015 and end mid-2016. Upon completion, the center 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.

[caption id="attachment_94843" align="alignright" width="300"] Hands-on experience and global access will be central to the new building. The Business of Hospitality classroom will provide space for learning the art and science of marketing and selling wine, direct-to-consumer and business-to-business sales through multimedia and hands-on teaching. (credit: TLCD Architecture)[/caption]

"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," said Ruben Armiñana, university president. "This is a great pairing of two world-class education partners."

Last year, more than 600 people from around the country studied at Wine Business Institute (sonoma.edu/winebiz), and professionals from a dozen countries have participated in its online programs. Part of the design for the new center is the Global Wine Business Classroom, a seminar-style venue with technology that will allow participants from around the world participate in classes.

"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.

The institute started in 1996 with a bachelor's degree, adding a wine-focused MBA in 2008 and an Executive MBA in 2012. The program also offers a wine business management certificate.

Wine Spectator is published 15 times a year and has readership of 3.1 million. It is one of several M. Shanken publications, including Cigar Aficionado, Whisky Advocate, Impact, Food Arts, Market Watch and Shanken News Daily.

Bidding on the renovation project is set to open next summer, Ms. Brown said.