Cal Poly alumnus William (Bill) and Linda Frost gave the College of Science and Mathematics (COSAM) a California State University (CSU) record of $110 million May 3.
The gift is among the largest ever to public higher education in California. The money will be used to enhance resources for undergraduate research in science and mathematics. This includes $3.6 million annually to support student scholarships and a new interdisciplinary research center that will contain 18,00 square feet of science and mathematics facilities. In addition, funds will be used to purchase cutting edge equipment and increase the hiring of instructors who will be able to spend their time mentoring undergraduate students in research, according to a Cal Poly press release.
“Bill and Linda’s gift will impact the lives of countless Cal Poly students, right now and far into the future,” Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said in a press release. “The Frosts envision Cal Poly’s College of Science and Mathematics housing one of the top undergraduate academic and research programs in the country. Their willingness to think big is an inspiration to all of us and a model for how Cal Poly will continue to provide the creative thinkers and problem-solvers for today’s complex global workforce.”
The Frosts are both CSU alumni. Bill graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in biochemistry and Linda earned a degree in biological sciences from San Jose State University.
Bill worked closely with his friend and COSAM Dean Phil Bailey for almost 20 years to develop this program for research. They stayed in close contact after Bill graduated in 1973. When designing the program and donation, they wanted to have the most lasting impact on students. Because Bill had such a valuable experience doing undergraduate research, he wanted to do something similar for prospective and current students.
“I see this as an investment in the education and future successes of our science and mathematics students,” Bill said in a press release. “I want this funding to be used to further enhance the Learn by Doing experiences that define Cal Poly and to provide students with research opportunities that will result in their presenting at regional, national and even international professional conferences and co-authoring publications with their faculty mentors in peer-reviewed journals.”
Bailey, who is retiring at the end of this year after more than 50 years as an educator and administrator, realizes the impact this donation has.
“This gift represents a genuine desire by the Frosts to provide Cal Poly students with research experiences that promote intellectual growth fueled by curiosity, critical and creative thinking and personal initiative,” Bailey said in a press release. “Working with Bill on this project has been a highlight of my career.”
Bailey, Armstrong and CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White were all in the ceremony at the Performing Arts Center to give the award and provide thanks to the Frosts.
“Bill and Linda’s inspirational gift sets an example for other current and potential donors,” White said in a press release. “It highlights the crucial role private support plays in helping to maintain and enhance California’s public higher education system.”