Campus: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo -- May 24, 2002

Local Philanthropists Establish Three Endowments Totaling $4 Million at Cal Poly

Clifford Chapman and Gene Shidler, longtime supporters of Cal Poly and the arts in San Luis Obispo, have established three endowments, totaling $4 million, benefiting the university's College of Liberal Arts, Cal Poly Arts and the Baker Forum.

Chapman, who studied electronic engineering at the university, and Shidler, a 1967 English alumnus, view their bequests as a way to continue strengthening the arts community and the Cal Poly educational experience.

"We feel fortunate to have studied at Cal Poly and to have watched its reputation grow to a national level under the guidance of President Warren J. Baker and his wife, Carly," Chapman and Shidler said. "The future of the world, we believe, is in the hands of educators. We're happy to invest in tomorrow's students and leaders."

"Clifford and Gene have made significant and lasting impacts on the arts in our community," Baker said, "and they have been equally supportive of Cal Poly's programs. Their commitment to both the arts and education runs very, very deep, as these gifts attest. We are grateful for their trust in Cal Poly."

Chapman was given the Cal Poly President's Arts Award in 1999 in recognition of his philanthropic service to the arts community.

Self-described music lovers, Chapman and Shidler have been generous supporters of the entire local arts community, including the San Luis Obispo Symphony, the Mozart Festival, the Pacific Repertory Opera and the SLO Little Theater. They both are founders of the Performing Arts Center, and Chapman currently serves on the board of directors of the Foundation for the Performing Arts Center.

Chapman, a sixth-generation resident of San Luis Obispo County, spent more than 30 years as owner of Marshall's Jewelers in downtown San Luis Obispo. He started out with the
business as a janitor in the late 1950s. Shidler worked for many years as a librarian with the Santa Maria High School District and has served on the board of directors of the Foundation for the San Luis Obispo County Libraries.

Chapman and Shidler are longtime residents of Shell Beach and have spent years restoring their vintage home, which they open for local fund-raisers and community functions.

A $2 million endowment will support Cal Poly's College of Liberal Arts.

"This generous gift will greatly benefit our performing arts program," said Harry Hellenbrand, dean of the college. "Students flock to our music and theater classes because of the hands-on experiences there, and these programs will be enhanced by this support. The gift will provide them with a great legacy."

Ralph Hoskins, director of Cal Poly Arts, said the $1 million Chapman/Shidler gift "will assure that non-commercial programming like classical music, dance and theater will always be a part of the university's performing arts series. This support will help broaden the community's appreciation of these types of arts programs."

Another $1 million endowment will provide ongoing support for the Baker Forum, created to honor the leadership of President and Mrs. Baker. The forum is designed to foster discussion among educators, industry leaders and public policy-makers on issues of science and technology, ranging from student preparation to the social and ethical dimensions related to the impact of technology on society.

"The Baker Forum recently held its inaugural event, which was very successful," said Provost Paul Zingg. "It's gratifying to know that Clifford and Gene's generosity will guarantee that this forum continues into the future and help attract national and world leaders to the event."

Contact: Harry Hellenbrand (805) 756-2706


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