As the academic year begins, there are so many wonderful things going on that it can sometimes be difficult to know where to focus my attention: Cal Poly’s past, present or future.
The university’s past deserves honor, respect and gratitude. The alumni, former faculty and staff, and previous administrators have given us the astonishing gift that is Cal Poly today. That gift began in 1901 with Learn by Doing, a pedagogy that was born here and will always thrive here. It continued through the introduction of the senior project, the growth and increasing diversification of our campus over the decades, and the graduation of more than 195,000 living alumni.
Cal Poly’s present deserves celebration, from the steady march of our incoming classes to ever higher levels of achievement and diversity, to the transformation of the physical campus in accordance with our Master Plan, to the awe-inspiring achievements of our students and faculty.
But, ultimately, my primary role as university president is to think about the future, to understand what Cal Poly needs to become for its future to equal and then exceed its past and present, and to chart the course from here to there. Although that process requires a great deal of planning and preparation, the future looks very bright!
This year we welcomed 280 new Cal Poly Scholars — high-achieving California students from low-income families to whom we have been able to offer scholarships, proactive advising and other support. The previous six years of the program have proven that it works, helping participants achieve at the highest levels and graduate on time. Four years from now, and with the help of donors, we project that we will have 3,000 Cal Poly Scholars on campus, taking a big step toward making Cal Poly a place where every qualified California high school senior wants to attend and can afford to attend.
My primary role as university president is to think about the future, to understand what Cal Poly needs to become for its future to equal and then exceed its past and present.
This fall also marks the beginning of Phase Two of the Cal Poly Experience (CPX), a yearlong intensive effort focused on improving diversity, equity and inclusion at Cal Poly. During the spring, we collected data through listening sessions and a campuswide survey. Now we are getting the results from the outside partners who helped us conduct the confidential survey, and the campus as a whole is asking what is working, where there are problems, and how we can do better. This process will culminate in concrete, detailed action plans from every unit on campus.
We recently unveiled a refreshed Cal Poly brand identity. These visual and communication tools will help us do a better job of showing the world who we are, attracting smart, driven students ready to experience the transformative power of Learn by Doing and make a positive impact in our world.
Finally, our philanthropic campaign, The Power of Doing, has already raised more than 90% of our target amount of $700 million. I fully expect that we will meet our target in the coming months, and perhaps exceed it! These donations help to support students, faculty, staff, buildings and more.
Whether we focus on the past, the present, or the future, today is a great time to be a Mustang!
Jeffrey D. Armstrong