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California Polytechnic State University
CalPoly Seal.svg
Motto Discere Faciendo
(Latin for "To Learn by Doing")
Established March 8, 1901
Type Public Land-Grant University
Endowment US$ 130.9 million[1]
President Warren J. Baker
Provost Robert Koob
Faculty 1,203
Students 19,777
Undergraduates 17,488
Postgraduates 987
Location San Luis Obispo, California, United States
Campus Suburban, 9,678 acres (39.17 km2)
Colors Green and Gold                     
Nickname Mustang
Mascot Musty the Mustang
Affiliations California State University
Big West Conference
Pac-10 Conference
Great West Conference
CalPoly Mustangs.gif
See Cal Poly's quickfacts [2]

California Polytechnic State University, or Cal Poly[3], is a public university located in San Luis Obispo, California, and has been referred to as the flagship of the 23-campus California State University system. [4] [5] . Cal Poly is the second largest land-holding university in California (2nd only to UC Berkeley and 1st in the CSU system).[2]

Comprising six distinct colleges, Cal Poly offers a full spectrum of degrees. Specifically, the university's engineering, architecture, and agriculture colleges consistently place at the top of United States national academic rankings. In U.S. News & World Report's 2008 America's Best Colleges report, Cal Poly ranked as the #1 Public Master's University in the Western United States for the 15th consecutive year. Cal Poly's admission process is selective, yielding a 2009 freshman acceptance rate of 36%. Cal Poly has over 117,000 living alumni and, in fall 2007, 19,777 students currently enrolled.[2][6] According to an investigative report by the Los Angeles Times, in 2004 report stated that Cal Poly is the academic star of the CSU system.[7].

Cal Poly is a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. Cal Poly is known (as its motto suggests) for its "learn by doing" philosophy. Cal Poly is one of four California State Universities that participate in the Big West Conference in athletics.





The university's full, official name is "California Polytechnic State University." In common with many other polytechnic institutions, however, the university has also sanctioned an elided version of its full name for official use: "Cal Poly" (or the lengthier but less "formal" "Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo" when it is necessary to make a distinction between Cal Poly on the Central Coast and its former extension campus, Cal Poly Pomona). The athletic department is also officially sanctioned to use the initials "CP[8]." While Cal Poly is part of the California State University, it is improper to refer to the campus with names such as "CSU San Luis Obispo"[9] or "Cal State SLO"[10] [11], because Cal Poly officially retains the name it held before its acquisition by the CSU system.[citation needed]


Cal Poly Performing Arts Center

Cal Poly was established in 1901 when Governor Henry T. Gage signed the California Polytechnic School Bill. The California Polytechnic School was built adjacent to San Luis Obispo and held its first classes on September 30, 1903, offering secondary (high school) courses of study. The first incoming class was 20 students. The school continued to grow steadily, except during a period from the mid 1910s to the early 1920s when World War I led to drops in enrollment and drastic budget cuts forced fewer class offerings.

In 1924, Cal Poly was placed under the control of the California State Board of Education. In 1933, the Board of Education changed Cal Poly into a two year technical and vocational school. The institution began to offer Bachelor of Arts degrees in 1940 and was renamed the California State Polytechnic College in 1947 to better reflect its higher education offerings. In 1960, control of Cal Poly and all other state colleges was transferred from the State Board of Education to an independent Board of Trustees, which later became the California State University system.

The college was authorized to offer Master of Science degrees in 1967. From 1967 to 1970, the school’s curriculum was reorganized into different units (such as the School of Science and Math, the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the School of Architecture, which was created in 1968). Cal Poly's FM radio station, KCPR, also began as a senior project in 1968. The state legislature changed the school’s official name again in 1971 to California Polytechnic State University. Since the 1970s, the university has seen steady enrollment growth and the construction of many significant buildings on campus. Cal Poly celebrated its centennial in 2001, and kicked off a $225 million fundraising campaign, the largest fund raising effort ever undertaken in CSU history. The Centennial Campaign raised over $264 million dollars from over 81,000 donors, more than tripling the university’s endowment from $43 million to $140 million. Cal Poly’s endowment is in the top 10% of higher education endowments nationwide.[citation needed] Cal Poly was ranked 268 out of 746 colleges and universities ranked in the Chronicle of Higher Education's endowment rankings of 2005.[citation needed]

Relationship with Cal Poly Pomona

The Dexter Lawn

Cal Poly Pomona began as a satellite campus of Cal Poly in 1938 when a completely equipped school and farm were donated by Charles Voorhis and his son Jerry Voorhis of Pasadena, California. The satellite campus was initially called the Voorhis Unit. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation then donated an 812 acre (3.3 km²) horse ranch in Pomona, California to Cal Poly in 1949. Located about one mile (1.6 km) from the Voorhis campus, the two became known as the Kellogg-Voorhis unit. The Kellogg-Voorhis unit broke off in 1966, becoming the fully independent university, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Since 1949, the San Luis Obispo and Pomona universities have cooperated on creating a float for the Rose Parade. Today, the long-running float program still boasts floats designed and constructed entirely by students year-round on both campuses.

1960 Football team plane crash

On October 29, 1960, a chartered plane carrying the Cal Poly football team, hours after a loss to Bowling Green State University, crashed on takeoff at the Toledo Express Airport in Toledo, Ohio. 22 of the 48 people on board were killed, including sixteen players. Former Cal Poly football player John Madden knew many of the players and coaches on board the aircraft.

Female admissions

In 1904, Cal Poly opened as a coeducational school with 40 new male students and 12 new female students. In 1930, Cal Poly barred females from the entire school until 1956 (27 years later) when Cal Poly once again began admitting female students. The university remains coeducational today.


As of 2008, the president of Cal Poly is Warren J. Baker who first became president in 1979.[12] Its vice president is Robert D. Koob, who rejoined the University in 2008. Koob was Cal Poly's vice president from 1990 until 1995, but left to become president of University of Northern Iowa from 1995–2006.

Cal Poly Corporation

The Cal Poly Corporation is a separate non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation operating in concert with the university. Its primary role is to furnish non-academic services for the university such as eateries, the bookstore, and endowment administration. This arrangement is relatively common at many of California's public universities. The corporation was founded in 1941 and was known as the Cal Poly Foundation until February 1, 2006.


Part of the Cal Poly property is the Swanton Pacific Ranch, a 3,200-acre (13 km2) ranch located in Santa Cruz County, California, outside the town of Davenport. The ranch provides educational and research opportunities, encompasses rangeland, livestock, and forestry operations for the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental sciences, and fosters Cal Poly’s teaching philosophy of “Learn by Doing” with emphasis on sustainable management of agricultural practices.


The Cal Poly Master Plan calls to increase student population from approximately 17,000 students to 20,000 students by the year 2020–2021. To maintain the university's "Learn by Doing" philosophy and low class sizes, the master plan calls for an increase in classrooms, laboratories, and professors.

Proposed Expansion

The Center for Science and Mathematics 
Will replace aging "spider" Science Building 52 with a new 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) structure. It will add new laboratories, classrooms, and studios to support the expanding population of the university. It is planned to be the largest and most technologically advanced structure in Cal Poly once constructed. In addition a Centennial Park will be constructed adjacent to the structure.[13]
Recreation Center Expansion 
Will expand the Recreation center and triple its usable size. Two new gym rooms, additional leisure pool, synthetic turf for sports complete fields, triple the size of exercise and weight training rooms (from 7,000 sq ft (650 m2) to 21,000 sq ft), and a multi-activity center are planned additions to the recreation center. (Student Vote passed on 28 Feb 08. Construction began Fall 2008)

Current construction

Engineering/Architecture Renovation and Replacement 
Include a new building which will provide 46,000 square feet (4,300 m2) of space of classrooms, laboratories, and rooms for student related needs/activities.[14]
University Union Renovation 
For a more open and inviting feel for the UU Plaza, including upgrading the stage/event area, seating and landscape. The UU Plaza is a focal point for group events and social interactions. Includes the demolition of the center planting area and the concrete steps separating the Union and the campus dining complex. The stage will be relocated and upgraded and landscaping will be added.[15]


Campus parking is limited. In its most recent survey of available parking spaces on campus, the Cal Poly University Police reported 2,615 general purpose parking spaces, 1,635 dorm resident spaces, and 6,621 total spaces.[16] In its facilities Master Plan, the university admits that while more parking spots will be added, the actual ratio of parking to students will decrease since enrollment is expected to increase sharply.[17] To resolve the disparity, the Master Plan calls on the university to reduce the demand for individual vehicle parking. As part of that plan, the university has constructed additional dorms and has tried to make campus life more enjoyable. However, many students would prefer not to live on campus for a variety of reasons, including alcohol restrictions and a mandatory meal plan for Freshmen. Recently, the school launched a public information campaign called "Options", which seeks to educate students on commuting alternatives, though it is not clear that the campaign has had any effect. Recent increases in parking costs and gas prices have caused a massive increase in the use of bicycles and buses.[citation needed]

Bicycle racks are available throughout the campus, but the off-campus student population is mostly centered in areas either close enough to walk or areas judged to be too far to ride a bicycle.[citation needed] The city's SLO Transit bus system provides service to and from campus. Since the buses are partially subsidized by student tuition, Cal Poly students can ride for free. Bus service throughout the county is provided by SLO Regional Transit Authority. Discounted passes are available to the Cal Poly community.

360° panorama taken from the top of Poly Canyon; the main Cal Poly campus and agricultural area can be seen below. Cal Poly owns more land than any other California State university. There are 9,678 acres (39 km²) in total. The lands are used for student education, mainly agricultural education. The lands include the main campus, two nearby agricultural lands and two properties in Santa Cruz County

Cal Poly has been referred to as the flagship campus of the California State University system, [4] [5]



The Agricultural Sciences Building

The university currently offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and one doctorate in six colleges:

In addition to the degrees offered by the six colleges, in 2006 Cal Poly began offering a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) through their Continuing Education Adult Degree Program.


According to U.S. News & World Report's 2010 America's Best Colleges report, Cal Poly is ranked #1 in the Western United States for public schools whose highest degree is a Master's for the 17th straight year.[18] The College of Engineering was tied for the #6 ranking for undergraduate engineering schools in the US whose highest degree is a Master's.[19]

In 2009, Forbes' Magazine found Cal Poly #27 out of the nation's 100 best public universities and #201 out of the 600 best private and public colleges and universities in America. Cal Poly moved up on the overall list from #369 in the 2008 rankings.[20]

Demographics of student body [21]
African American 1.1%
Asian American 11.1%
White American 65.2%
Hispanic American 11.4%
Native American 0.8%
International 1.2%
Ethnicity unreported/unknown 9.3%

Among public schools whose highest degree is a master's, specific engineering programs were ranked:

  • Electrical Engineering: #1 (#4 overall)[22]
  • Computer Engineering: #1 (Tied #3 overall)[23]
  • Mechanical Engineering: #1 (tied #3 overall)[24]
  • Industrial Engineering: #2 (#2 overall)[25]
  • Aerospace Engineering: #3 (#5 overall)[26]
  • Civil Engineering: #2 (Tied #5 overall)[27]

In the 2009 edition of "America's Best Architecture & Design Schools" published by the leading architecture and design journal "DesignIntelligence," Cal Poly was the #3 undergraduate architecture school in the nation. The landscape architecture program was ranked #10.[28]

Cal Poly’s graduate program in City and Regional Planning ranked #1 in the "Planetizen" 2009 Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs, in the US whose highest degree is a Master's.[29]

In 2009, the magazine "Diverse Issues in Higher Education" placed Cal Poly among the top 10 of its “Top 100 Degree Producers 2009” ranking. This places the university in the top 10 schools in the nation in granting degrees to Hispanic, Asian and other minority students in agriculture, architecture and engineering.[30]

Alumni of Cal Poly average the third-highest salaries of all public university graduates in the United States according to a ranking.[31] Cal Poly outperformed all public universities in the nation other than U.C. Berkeley and the University of Virginia. The median annual earnings for Cal Poly graduates with 10–20 years career experience is $101,000, with the top 10% earning more than $178,000. The U.C. Berkeley and University of Virginia median/top 10% performances are $112,000/$201,000 and $103,000/$215,000 respectively. When U.C. Berkeley's $26,586 annual cost[32] and the University of Virginia's $20,513 annual cost[33] are compared against Cal Poly's $19,125 annual cost[34], it could be argued that Cal Poly provides the best value of any public university in the nation.


Engineering West

Cal Poly's admissions process is highly selective. For fall 2009, Cal Poly accepted 11,602 freshman applicants out of a total 31,488 freshman applicants, yielding a 36% freshman acceptance rate.[35] Accepted freshman applicants had an average high school GPA of 3.89[36] and an average SAT Reasoning Test score of 1278 (out of a possible 1600, based only on reading and math scores).[35]

Cal Poly requires students to declare a major when applying for admission, and the university then admits the most competitive applicants within each major. Because of this, certain Cal Poly majors set higher admission standards than do other majors. To prevent students from applying for an easy-to-get-into major and transferring to another major, Cal Poly makes it difficult to change majors. Each major has adopted a specific change of major plan which includes required classes to be taken while maintaining a certain GPA(usually between 2.5-2.75) in order to be considered as a transfer candidate. Students within the college (i.e. College of Engineering, College of Business) are often granted priority over outside transfers and often transfers from other universities. While many hear it is difficult to change majors, those who are committed to their newly desired major find little trouble or hidden steps in the transfers process. Cal Poly prides itself on students taking courses within their major right away in their freshman year to advance the knowledge that they walk away with as graduates. However, in some cases, students wishing to change majors completely transfer to other universities.


Due to the state-wide fee increase, fall 2009 fees for the average student will be $2,066 per quarter.[37] The winter 2008 fees for the average student were $1,681 per quarter.[38] The spring 2002 fees for the average student were $760 per quarter.

These quarterly tuitions are for Colleges of Agriculture, Business, Engineering, Architecture & Environmental Design, and Science & Math. Liberal Arts majors will pay less, at $1966 per quarter.


Cal Poly’s endowment more than tripled during its Centennial Campaign from US$43.1 million to US$140.1 million. It is now the largest in the CSU system, representing one-fifth of all endowed funds in the 23-campus system.[citation needed] Growth is attributed to gifts and prudent stewardship. However, since 2007, the university's endowment has lost over 30% of its value (about $56 million) going from $181.7 million in 2007[39] to $125.4 million in 2009[40].

Student life

Residence halls

Residential halls

There are five distinct groups of residence halls on the Cal Poly campus. The five North Mountain halls, constructed in the 1950s, are the oldest on campus still used for residential purposes. The six "red-brick" halls were completed shortly afterward in 1959.[41] The Sierra Madre and Yosemite halls were finished by 1968, and the Cerro Vista Apartments were completed in 2003. The Poly Canyon Village housing complex, with a similar style as the Cerro Vista apartments, opened in Fall 2008.

Each of the residence halls represent a different living community on campus. The six red-brick halls are the Living-Learning Program halls for the different colleges of Cal Poly. The five North Mountain halls are organizationally a part of the engineering Living-Learning Program. The Sierra Madre and Yosemite halls are the First-Year Connection Program halls and focus on freshman-oriented transition programs. All buildings house students of all majors. The Cerro Vista Apartments is the Transitions community for first-year and second-year students. Poly Canyon Village is the Sophomore Success Program community, which is open to primarily to sophomores, but also juniors and seniors, and helps students transition into independent living. The total on-campus population is 6,200, making it the largest student housing program in the California State University System.[42]

Greek life

Since 1949, Greek organizations have been present at Cal Poly. The Greek community consists of three governing councils at Cal Poly: United Sorority and Fraternity Council (USFC), Interfraternity Council (IFC), and Panhellenic Association (PHA).[43]

There are currently:
11 USFC Fraternities/Sororities: Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Chi Delta Theta, Gamma Zeta Alpha, Lambda Phi Epsilon, Lambda Sigma Gamma, Lambda Theta Alpha, Lambda Theta Phi, Nu Alpha Kappa, Omega Xi Delta, Sigma Omega Nu, Zeta Chi Epsilon

18 IFC Fraternities: Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Gamma Rho, Beta Theta Pi, Delta Chi, Delta Lambda Phi, Delta Sigma Phi, Delta Upsilon, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Sigma Kappa, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Nu, Sigma Pi, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Theta Chi, Zeta Beta Tau, Zeta Phi Rho

8 Panhellenic Sororities: Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Sigma Kappa,
1 Panhellenic Interest Group: Alpha Epsilon


The new side of the Alex G. Spanos Stadium

Cal Poly fields 20 varsity sports. The school's mascot is the Mustang. Sports teams participate in the NCAA's Division I. Cal Poly athletics generally compete in the Big West Conference, with football and wrestling being the exception. Cal Poly's wrestling team is a member of the PAC-10 Conference. Prior to joining Division I in the mid 90s, the school won 35 national championships.[44] Football plays in the Great West Football Conference. Their football team is notable for being the first Great West Football Conference participant in the Division I-AA (now known as FCS) playoffs. The football team plays rival UC Davis in the annual Battle for the Golden Horseshoe. The Mustang Maniacs are Cal Poly's spirit group. They support the team both away and at home. The Mustang basketball team had its most successful year in 2007, when the team came within one win in the Big West basketball tournament of getting into the NCAA basketball tournament

One of the school's best programs, in recent years and in the 1980s, is the women's volleyball team. On November 19, 2007 the team captured its second straight Big West Title by posting a 15-1 conference record and a 23-8 record overall. The program made it to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1985 before losing to Stanford in the Sweet 16. The team also went 23-6 in 2006.

In addition to the women's volleyball team, the men's cross country team has finished in the top 25 in the nation four of the past five years. In 2008, Coach Mark Conover and his men's squad captured their sixth straight Big West Title. Later that year they went on to finish 23rd at the National Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

The Cal Poly Mustangs men's soccer team has also had success in recent years. In 2008, Coach Paul Holocher led his team to a 3rd place in the Big West and a spot in the NCAA Division I tournament. They went on to beat UCLA and ended up losing to UC Irvine in the 2nd round.

Notable athletes

Other Alumni of Note

See also


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Quick Facts". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2007-02-10. 
  3. ^ Cal Poly Name Usage Guidelines
  4. ^ a b "ASI". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2007-02-10. 
  5. ^ a b "Go State". Go State. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  6. ^ "Simply the Best". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2007-02-10. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Cal Poly President Earns Top CEO Leadership Award". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2007-02-13. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Cal Poly Campus Master Plan Cal Poly Facilities Planning and Capital Projects, July 7, 2007
  15. ^ [1] UU Plaza Renovation, October 15, 2008
  16. ^ Parking Lot Survey Cal Poly University Policy Department, January 20, 2006
  17. ^ Cal Poly Campus Master Plan Cal Poly Facilities Planning and Capital Projects, March 21, 2001
  18. ^ "Cal Poly is Best in the West for the 17th Year in U.S. News Rankings". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  19. ^ "Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  20. ^ "Cal Poly on Forbes Magazine’s List of America’s Best Colleges". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  21. ^ 2009 Demographics of student body Retrieved on July 12, 2009
  22. ^ "Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Undergraduate Engineering Specialties: Electrical / Electronic / Communications Rank". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  23. ^ "Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Undergraduate Engineering Specialties: Computer". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  24. ^ "Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Undergraduate Engineering Specialties: Mechanical". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  25. ^ "Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Undergraduate Engineering Specialties: Industrial / Manufacturing". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  26. ^ "Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Undergraduate Engineering Specialties: Aerospace / Aeronautical / Astronautical". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  27. ^ "Best Colleges Specialty Rankings: Undergraduate Engineering Specialties: Civil". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  28. ^ "Cal Poly College of Architecture Ranks Third in Nation". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  29. ^ "Cal Poly Master’s Program is Top of its Class". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  30. ^ "Cal Poly Ranks in Top 10 Nationally in Degrees to Minority Students". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  31. ^ " Ranks Cal Poly No. 3 Public in National Compensation Study". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  32. ^ "Estimated Cost of Attendance for 2009-2010". U.C. Berkeley. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  33. ^ "Estimated Cost of Attendance". University of Virginia. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  34. ^ "Cost of Attendance". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  35. ^ a b "Cal Poly, the Profile" (PDF). Cal Poly. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  36. ^
  37. ^ [2]
  38. ^ Cal Poly Student Accounts, Fee Payment Policy
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ "DigitalCommons@CalPoly - Division of Architecture Department of Public Works: South Mountain Residence Halls - Buildings 105-110". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  42. ^ "Poly Canyon Village Grand Opening Set for Aug. 19". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  43. ^ "Greek Life". Cal Poly. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  44. ^ "The Official Website of Cal Poly Athletics". Retrieved 2007-04-07. 
  45. ^ "Learning From UFC Champion, Chuck Liddell". Retrieved 26 November 2008. 

External links

Coordinates: 35°18′06″N 120°39′35.35″W / 35.30167°N 120.6598194°W / 35.30167; -120.6598194

Simple English

The California Polytechnic State University is a public university. It is located in the city of San_Luis_Obispo in the state of California, United States. The university is one of 23 campuses affiliated with the California State University system. California Polytechnic State University offers 70 degree programs in many disciplines like engineering, science, architecture, and many others. The university covers 9,678 acres and it is near the metropolitan city of Los Angeles.

California Polytechnic State University was founded in 1901[1]

California Polytechnic State University student-athletes play sports against other universities using the name Cal Poly Mustangs. The university is a member of the NCAA division 1. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are green and gold.



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