cal poly news

The Gift of Research

By Rachel Henry

Photo by Tenney Rizzo
Linda (left) and Bill Frost (right), on campus with their daughter, Lauren (center)

Bill Frost (Biochemistry, ‘72) can still picture every detail of lab D-8 in the old Science Building. Working on real-world research there awakened Frost’s passion for discovery. Now he and his wife, Linda, are helping today’s students experience that same excitement with a $20 million pledge to support student-faculty research. The pledge is equal to the largest gift in the university’s history.

“My research experience as a Cal Poly student gave me fundamental tools and confidence for success in my career,” said Bill Frost. “Linda and I are very pleased to be able to help provide these same opportunities for generations of future Cal Poly students.”

The Frosts’ pledge will fund much of the science and mathematics section of a planned multidisciplinary undergraduate research and technology center. The 64,000-square-foot facility will serve the colleges of Science and Mathematics, Liberal Arts, and Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

The building will create an interdisciplinary space where creativity and innovation can flourish. Among the building’s cutting-edge features will be state-of-the-art teaching labs, dedicated research labs, collaboration space with flexible configurations, and video studios.

“This center will bring Learn by Doing alive for thousands of Cal Poly students across many disciplines,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong.

The Frosts’ support stretches back more than a decade. Their current funding of scholarships for 70 science and math students totals more than $1 million dollars each year. In addition, more than 150 science and math students engage in original research with faculty mentors each summer, and the Frosts contribute to stipends that make that choice financially possible.

“By supporting outstanding student-faculty research opportunities, we hope to help Cal Poly develop undergraduate science and mathematics programs that are among the best in the nation,” said Bill Frost.

Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing model inspired the Frosts pledge, which they hope will spark others’ interest in contributing to the estimated $57 million Science and Agriculture Teaching and Research Complex. With a pledge of $8 million made in 2014 by the James G. Boswell Foundation and other donations, Cal Poly has $35 million promised toward the building’s construction. The university will continue fundraising for the estimated $22 million remaining.

“This university is very fortunate to have the support of Bill and Linda,” said Phil Bailey, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “Thanks to their shared vision, undergraduate students are introduced to the process of discovery through research early in their education. This experience empowers our graduates to become successful professionals and industry leaders.”

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