Special to Mustang News
The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) will see its decade-long dreams come to fruition with the $20 million donation from Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer.
The most extensive project is the the 7,500-foot events center. The blueprints include two buildings with the larger one comfortably seating more than 3,000 people, CAFES Associate Dean Mark Shelton said.
Most agriculture campuses have an events center, and it has been CAFES Dean Andrew Thulin’s dream to have one at Cal Poly for more than a decade, Shelton said. Thulin’s vision for the center is derived from years of visiting campuses with similar structures.
Cal Poly now uses its beef pavilion for hosting events, but it is not designed for that purpose.
Another project will be the construction of a farm store which will be built at the corner of Bishop and Highland. This center will encompass more than the few products sold at Campus Market and showcase all of the CAFES products.
“What we’re talking about is a dedicated campus farm store that will carry virtually all of the Cal Poly farm produced food, as well as horticulture plants,” Shelton said. “These are very successful at attracting people on campus and around town.”
In addition to showcasing students’ work, agricultural business students will also benefit from the Farm Store by providing a learning lab to conduct marketing and consumer preference surveys.
An equestrian pavilion and renovation of CAFES facilities will be included in the new projects as well. Thulin is eager to implement the changes and has already started planning, Shelton said.
The Dean’s leadership team plans to consult with faculty and students to understand their needs. Oppenheimer wants to be involved as well, something the college wants, Shelton said.
Though the new project will bring in some revenue, the facilities are not intended as money-making operations, Shelton said. The department hopes revenue will cover the costs of the facilities.
“When we start talking about buildings that are primarily for educational purposes, you are not looking at a lot of revenue information, you are looking at costs,” Shelton said. “We want to be as efficient as possible, but I don’t project a lot of revenue to be coming from them.”
The changes the donation will bring are going to transform the CAFES, he said, and the college is very grateful for the Oppenheimers.
“New students are going to be excited when they see the agriculture industry has a strong future for them,” he said.