Credit: Bobby Groth | Mustang News

On Saturday, the Cal Poly Foundation Board of Directors held their second quarterly meeting this year to discuss development on campus, fiscal year values and progress updates for each college.

The Cal Poly Foundation is a philanthropic organization led by alumni and friends to generate private support for the university model. The last fiscal year for 2021-2022 ended on June 30, with a final revenue of $51,907.

Total productivity in terms of revenue from the 2022-2023 fiscal year to date reached $42,101,014, according to the development report by Cal Poly Foundation CEO Zachary Smith. The goal for the end of the 2023 year is to reach $90 million, with 47% achieved for that target. 

60% of funding for development was donated by Cal Poly alumni  — with a steady start to the year through new pledges, outright gifts and bequests, or giving assets.

“Everybody has a role in development at the university. Students are the best ambassador we can get in front of,” Smith said.

The university’s alumni network greatly supports future projects and developments, according to Board member John A. Ronca Jr.

“[The] alumni association seems to do quite a bit of work with the communities and they bring back their events and everything else, and they are promoting Cal Poly; there are boots on the ground,” he said.

President Jeffrey Armstrong highlighted the emergency work Facilities completed in response at the start of winter quarter during his University Update. Facilities alleviated environmental spills from the storm during the first week of January.

With multiple floodings and closures of roads, there was approximately $6 to $7 million in damages. Armstrong estimated that it will take years to receive the money back through insurance and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Armstrong also announced that there is pressure from the CSU for all 23 campuses to grow in terms of enrollment, budget and housing.

“Out of all 23 universities, we were found to be the most impacted in the use of our space, so we’re looking for creative ways to find more space on campus to deliver our mission,” Armstrong said.

Governor Gavin Newsom created a compact, or contract, with the CSU and UC system, with part of the compact being for CSU to grow 1% fiscally each year. Armstrong also announced that Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester developed a plan for next year for universities below 10% of required growth to give 5% of that money each year to go to other universities.

Barriers to growth for Cal Poly include space, funding to hire more faculty and staff, additional beds for students and more housing for faculty and staff. 

“There’s a lot of obstacles but the demand of getting into Cal Poly and [the] demand for those ready-day-one graduates, it’s really amazing,” Armstrong said.

After the University Update, CEO of Cal Poly Foundation Zachary Smith spoke of recently launched programs led by the foundation, including a pilot program for endowed stewardship and quarterly review sessions.

Smith has initiated a process for an internal audit, looking at the full chain of activity for gifts — from gift agreement to stewardship to expenditure. 

Smith hopes to have a conversation with each college’s head of finance to speak about the growing balance of campus program fund dollars and utilizing funds with donor intent, including a case for restrictive funds.

After a break, each college’s dean presented their major proposals for the upcoming year and targets for current and future projects within their college.

College of Engineering Dean Amy Fleischer stated that the college has a fiscal year goal of $15 million. Projects include lab renovations, scholarships and hangar enhancement, as well as Cal Poly at the Airport – an opportunity for aerospace engineering students to learn by doing and experiment with aircrafts and hangars.

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Dean Andrew Thulin also has a fiscal year goal of $15 million, with a year to date total of about $4.1 million. Project targets for CAFES include support for the Forestry and Fire Sciences program, expansion of the Animal Health Center and an increase in scholarships.

Senior Associate Athletic Director Ashley Offermann presented on behalf of Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman. Offermann first congratulated the Athletics department for new leaders in men’s soccer and football, in addition to announcing their fiscal year goal of $15.5 million. Some major upcoming projects for Athletics include the John Madden Football Center, the Comerford Tennis Pavilion and improvements for the current baseball and softball fields.

College of Science and Mathematics Dean Dean Wendt announced a fiscal year goal of $3 million, encompassing undergraduate research, scholarships and a pre-health initiative to connect students with the health field through mentors and internships.

Orfalea College of Business Dean Damon Fleming stresses a push forward into initiatives in real estate for opportunity and growth within the college. Their 2023 fiscal year goal is $5 million with proposals and targets in scholarships, transformational learning environments and corporate sponsorship. The college hopes to receive planned gifts to aid towards the monetary goal.

College of Architecture and Environmental Design Dean Christine Theodoropoulos was delighted to state that the college has surpassed their fiscal year goal of $3 million, with a pipeline towards innovation in terms of lighting education, renewable energy and faculty professorships. These curricular additions would provide a well-rounded education for students. 

College of Liberal Arts Dean Philip Williams announced a fiscal year goal of $2 million, with the college being a fourth of the way towards that goal. Project targets for the 2023 pipeline include a journalism endowment, global engagement grants and major gifts for the Davidson Music Center. 

Student Affairs Vice President Keith Humphrey presented on the organization’s fiscal year goals, with their Career/Cultural Facility, Basic Needs Support for Students and Alcohol Awareness and Prevention. Humphrey also announced the data from the Cal Poly Foundation Fund for Students, where 334 students were funded through 39 grants for academic supplies, tuition, medical, housing and basic needs and other emergencies.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 2 p.m. by Chairman William Swanson. The next Board of Directors meeting will be on May 6.

“It’s because of what alumni, faculty and staff have done, and we bring in amazing students, [the progress we’ve made] is really special. It’s really driven by learn by doing. It’s real, and it permeates everything here at Cal Poly,” Armstrong said.