Cal Poly: A Shift from State Dependence to Donor Dependence over the Course of Three University Presidents
History 303: Research and Writing Seminar in History
Cal Poly’s period of financial uncertainty under McPhee during the Great Depression led to an expanded effort between the school and the state to find alternative ways of funding the school, and gradually began to lean towards a system less involved with the state due to its budget restrictions and laws preventing it from loaning its credit. The creation of the Cal Poly Foundation in 1940 was an important step in distancing the school from the jungle of state regulations, but McPhee had to consistently struggle with the law for the right for Cal Poly to use the Foundation due to its unique existence in a system of state schools. Over time, the school would begin to use the Foundation for more donation-related goals. This process began during the early years of the Kennedy presidency and increasingly expanded in effectiveness throughout. However, only during Baker’s presidency would the true potential of Cal Poly’s donor base be revealed with the Cal Poly Centennial Campaign.