The year 2017 at Cal Poly was a year of manifestation — a year when many projects and plans long in the works came to fruition and took form. From physical changes to campus facilities, to new initiatives in academics and student services, to milestones in admissions and philanthropy, growth and progress at Cal Poly were evident throughout the year.

“This has been the year when we’ve gone from setting plans, raising money and developing strategies to actually seeing things built and implemented,” said President Jeffrey D. Armstrong.

Growing Demand

This year, Cal Poly received the largest and most diverse pool of applicants in the university’s history, with more than 65,000 first-time freshman and transfer students submitting applications for the 2018 school year. This continues a steady trend of growth in the number of students seeking to enroll at Cal Poly.

“The interest in attending our Learn by Doing campus underscores the value of a Cal Poly degree, a welcoming campus community, and especially our award-winning faculty who are committed to student success,” said James Maraviglia, vice provost for enrollment and chief marketing officer.

Focusing on Diversity

As more students than ever seek a Cal Poly education, the university has taken new steps in the past year to better support a more diverse student body. In 2017, the university recruited a new leader to coordinate that effort. Jozi de Leon joined the university in July as Cal Poly’s first vice president for diversity and inclusion. She will lead a team committed to promoting a welcoming and inclusive culture on campus for students historically underrepresented at Cal Poly.

A Record-Breaking Gift

Cal Poly set a new record in higher education philanthropy this year when alumnus Bill Frost completed a $110 million gift to the university — the largest donation in the history of both Cal Poly and the entire California State University system, and one of the largest ever given to public higher education in California.

The Frosts’ gift is aimed at transforming science and mathematics education at Cal Poly by greatly enhancing the resources for undergraduate research. That includes funding for a new interdisciplinary research center, support for student scholarships and research stipends, cutting edge equipment and instrumentation, and expanded hiring of instructors.

For several years, Frost worked closely with his longtime friend, former College of Science and Mathematics Dean Phil Bailey, to plan the gift and for the most positive and lasting impact on students. “I see this as an investment in the education and future successes of our science and mathematics students,” Frost said.

Growing Demand


Record number of applicants for Fall 2018 enrollment


Increase in freshman applicants since 2016


Increase in transfer applicants since 2016

Reshaping Campus

“I don’t know if there’s ever been a time in Cal Poly history when more construction has been going on all at the same time on campus,” said Perry Judd, Cal Poly’s outgoing director of facilities planning and capital projects.

The year saw the development of a new campus master plan that will guide development for the next two decades, as well as a storm of construction projects across campus throughout the year. This included new facilities like yakʔityutyu, a new state-of-the-art freshman housing complex named in collaboration with the local Chumash community; the Gold Tree Solar Farm, a partnership with the alumni-founded firm REC Solar, whose 18.5 acres of photovoltaic panels will provide approximately 25 percent of the university’s power; and significant progress on the new Oppenheimer Family Equine Center, funded by a generous $20 million alumni donation.

It also includes sweeping renovations, including work to upgrade utilities all across campus, a seismic renovation of Crandall Gym, the beginning of work on a new dining facility to replace Vista Grande, and renovations to the university’s athletic fields, largely funded through generous donations.

Academia at Work

This past year, Cal Poly’s academic excellence was on display in a range of projects making an impact in industry and the community. The Sponsored Programs Office deployed over $32 million in externally sponsored research project funds across campus. This represents an increase of 3.76% over the prior year. In order to develop new funding sources, the Grants Development Office worked with faculty researchers and submitted over 380 applications for new externally funded projects, requesting nearly $164 million in new funds.

The Technology Transfer Office handled four new invention disclosures from researchers, filed eight United States and international patent applications, and successfully advocated with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for issuance of two new United States patents. The office also administered ten license agreements with technology commercialization partners.

In 2017, Cal Poly also became the first in the nation to develop a university-based partnership with Amazon Web Services, a collaboration that matches Amazon’s technical expertise with Cal Poly’s hands-on research capabilities to solve real-world public-sector problems.

Supporting Students

In 2017, Cal Poly enhanced some important areas of service to students and established new ones. Over the year, the Cal Poly Cares program provided emergency housing to 22 students facing homelessness, and the Educational Opportunity Program served 280 students facing barriers to educational success. The university also opened the Dream Center, a program providing support to students facing educational uncertainty due to personal and family immigration status concerns.

Cal Poly also improved the way it meets students’ most basic needs this year. Campus Dining unveiled new, healthier and more diverse dining options in response to student surveys conducted last year, and the response has been very positive. The University Store also came under new management last year, with Follett Higher Education Group working to provide more access and better pricing on books and other academic materials.

Looking to the Future

The results seen across campus in 2017 were just one step in a steady march toward a brighter future at Cal Poly. Last year Student Affairs launched a new strategic plan to enhance student services in 60 areas. Campus planners also began the design phase on an ambitious collection of facilities projects, including a major renovation of Kennedy Library largely funded through state support, a new fermentation sciences facility, and an expansion and renovation of Baggett Stadium. Planning is also well underway for the new science and agriculture research facility funded by the record-breaking Frost gift, with support from the CSU and additional private philanthropy, including a $20 million gift from the J.G. Boswell Foundation.

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