About Campus

Snapshots of Fall

Scenes from a quarter unlike any other as the campus community adapts to life in a pandemic.

Four students sit on grass and benches wearing masks
By Robyn Kontra Tanner

During fall quarter at Cal Poly during a year forever changed by the coronavirus pandemic, the most frequent question our editors received from parents, alumni and community members was, “What does campus look like these days?” Campus photographer Joe Johnston set out to show you some of last quarter’s happenings from 1 Grand Avenue.


A Moving Experience

University Housing welcomed roughly 5,000 students to live on campus starting in September. New Mustangs, families and volunteers worked together to unload vehicles and trek to the yakʔitʸutʸu residence halls on a staggered schedule to prevent crowding.Three people wearing masks unload items from a vehicle into a green cart

Four people wearing masks walk with a green cart toward a Cal Poly residence hall
Volunteers sanitized moving carts throughout the day.Two people disinfect green carts at Cal Poly's move in

President Jeffrey Armstrong has a chat with a student and supporters at the residence halls.Five people wearing masks stand apart during a discussion on Cal Poly's campus

The brand new Vista Grande dining complex opened just in time to welcome new students in September. It features six different dining venues, including pizza, ramen, an allergen-free café, kosher menus and halal options. These days, students use the Grubhub app to order and pick up food safely.Cal Poly's new Vista Grande dining complex


The New Normal

On campus, everyone is asked to wear face coverings and keep six feet of physical distance from others.A man wearing a Cal Poly face covering and sweatshirt walks on campus with two people in masks behind him

Two men wearing face masks sit near a bench

A woman wearing a head scarf and face covering takes the temperature of a young man wearing a face covering

Graphic communication students working at UGS played a big role in printing new building signage that encourages these new behaviors.Three people walk through a building with a floor sign in the foreground that says "maintain physical distance 6 ft. stop the spread"

A woman stands at an industrial printer producing green and yellow signs

A woman wearing a mask puts a green sign into a cardboard box



Cal Poly’s Week of Welcome program pivoted to offer a fully virtual experience for new students and transfers living on campus and at home. More than 700 WOW leaders helped make the experience engaging and fun in a year where personal connection is critical, even if in-person activities are limited.
A group of wow leaders in yellow shirts and masks stands six feet apart


Jam Session

Some face-to-face activities continued on campus, including jam making in Cal Poly’s Pilot Plant. Food science and nutrition students worked with Molly Lear, the plant’s operations manager, to fill jars of blackberry jam using a small-scale processing line.A person sorts glass jars wearing gloves, face covering, a hair net and ear protection

Blackberry jam fills glass jars on a small assembly line

A person packs labeled blackberry jam jars into a box


Going with the Flow

A small percentage of in-person courses, like this fluid dynamics lab, continues to meet on campus. Professor Hans Mayer and mechanical engineering students performed an experiment where students measure the volume flow rate of water through a simple piping system and compare the results to a theoretical calculation.A professor points to a white board with tow students in masks looking on

A professor wearing a mask and green hat performs and experience with a student in a mask looking on


Fawns and Other Fauna

With less traffic around Cal Poly, wildlife like this deer, birds, squirrels — and yes, wild turkeys — have been spotted in greater numbers around campus.A deer walks near an oak tree

A bird sits on the edge of a building with the number 34 on it


The Beat Goes On

One of the hallmarks of fall festivities at Cal Poly is the Mustang Band. With athletics and other big events on hold for now, these musicians are staying sharp with virtual and in-person rehearsals. Most of the band’s more than 200 members are able to play on campus, assembling mini-bands of a few dozen performers and rotating between outdoor rehearsal spaces with conductor Nick Waldron.Dozens of student musicians stand phyiscally distanced, wearing masks and using bell cover filters while rehearsing in front of the Perfoming Art Center

The sheet music of Cal Poly's alma mater sits on top of a trumpet

A man in a face mask raises his arms to conduct a band performance

Band members play wearing special masks that allow for the mouthpieces of their instruments. When they’re done playing, the musicians replace the mask’s filter.Three musicians play trumpet wearing face coverings and using filtration materials on bell covers


Behind the Scenes

How has such a large institution like Cal Poly orchestrated operations in the face of COVID-19? Since January, administrators, staff and faculty leaders in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) have worked tirelessly to keep campus healthy and adapt to changing pandemic protocol. Members of the EOC now meet virtually via Zoom.
A screen shot of a zoom gathering of Cal Poly leaders


I Scream, You Scream

Dairy science students got creative this fall and began hosting a weekly drive-thru ice cream sale at the Cal Poly Creamery. The sale offered pints of student-made ice-cream and a variety of cheeses to the Central Coast community.A person in a cow costume holds a sign that reads "honk if you love ice cream"

A woman wearing a face mask and gloves takes an order on her phone from people in a car

Four women wearing face masks load ice cream pints into bags from a freezer

A person holds a pint of Cal Poly Mustang Mint Ice Cream


Still Life

Despite the uncertainty the pandemic has brought to many of us, familiar views of Dexter Lawn and the Rose Garden remain.The sun sets over the trees on Dexter Lawn

A pathway lined with mulch, plans and flowers leads to a road on Cal Poly's campus

Cal Poly's rose garden at sunset