Campus: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo -- April 21, 2003
Rob Rossi Pledges $1 Million-Plus To Cal Poly
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
San Luis Obispo architect, developer and Cal Poly grad Rob Rossi has
pledged $1 million-plus to the university's College of Architecture
and Environmental Design -- the largest cash commitment ever to the
Rossi is to give $500,000 to help build and equip a new facility for
the college, $250,000 to fund grants to students who have a special
need or show exceptional talent, and $100,000 to begin a program designed
to spark student creativity by bringing practicing design professionals
to campus and helping students visit professionals in the workplace.
Another $100,000 will help endow a professorship in honor of George
Hasslein, the college's founding dean.
Rossi will also give $50,000 toward the Cal Poly Scholars program, intended
to attract the nation's most talented high school seniors, and $15,000
to help fund a bronze sculpture of Hasslein, bringing the total gift
"Much of what I learned at Cal Poly goes above and beyond what
can be measured by a grade-point average," Rossi said. "Taking
risks, working with a team, learning from mistakes and making the most
of opportunities -- those were among lessons I learned that have served
me well, both professionally and personally. In appreciation of the
encouragement and support that I received from so many people in the
college, I'm glad for the opportunity to provide a helping hand of encouragement
to current and future students.
"I hope," Rossi said, "that students will realize talent
is hard to quantify and that success awaits each tenacious individual
who has the courage to overcome difficulty and envision the possibilities.
"I also appreciate and care about the work this college does for
the community, much of it through student projects, and I appreciate
the contributions to society that inspired design can make," he
said. "While at Cal Poly, I was greatly influenced in particular
by Architecture Professor Emeritus John Harrigan's insights on behavioral
science and its effects on form and the built environment. And I certainly
appreciate the way Cal Poly's approach rounds out a student’s
whole being, not just the academic side."
K. Richard Zweifel, interim dean of the College of Architecture and
Environmental Design, said, “This heartfelt gift is from someone
who truly knows and cares about our college and its departments. Rob
understands and appreciates the unique qualities of our programs and
the special educational philosophy and advantage he himself experienced
here as a student. His generous donation is in direct support of what
is truly essential to sustain those qualities.”
Rossi said he is also pleased to make this gift on behalf of others
who hold a special place in his life. His wife, Laurie, and son Stephen
are graduates of Cal Poly's College of Liberal Arts. Rossi said he also
dedicates the gift to his youngest son and three grandchildren with
the hope they will continue the family tradition of attending Cal Poly.
Rossi began his studies in the architecture program at Cal Poly in 1970,
graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1975. He was named
the college's Alumnus of the Year in 2000 in recognition of his generous
support of his community and alma mater. He serves the university as
a member of the President's Cabinet and as the college's chairman for
the university's Centennial Campaign.
The gift brings Centennial Campaign donations to the College of Architecture
and Environmental Design almost half way to the college's goal of $10.5
The largely state-funded structure for which Rossi designated $500,000
is scheduled to be built on the campus's South Perimeter Drive within
the next few years. The second-largest portion of the gift would establish
a Robin L. Rossi Award Endowment to aid students in all of the college's
five disciplines who show innovation, creative problem-solving, the
ability to overcome difficult or unexpected circumstances, entrepreneurship
or support for fellow students.
The $100,000 that will aid student interaction with practicing professionals
will establish a Universal Traveler Endowment in honor of retired professors
Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall. Rossi said Koberg and Bagnall's book, "The
Universal Traveler," profoundly influenced the choices he has made
in both his career and personal life, motivating his decision to live
life “as an explorer rather than a tourist.” The endowment
will also support interdisciplinary projects such as the college's annual
Design Village competition and professional development for the faculty.
"I'm honored to help fund the George Hasslein Chair for Interdisciplinary
Studies in Environmental Design," Rossi said, "because I was
fortunate enough to have enjoyed George's friendship and mentoring and
because I credit the college's success to his long-standing leadership."
Establishing the Hasslein Chair is expected to require a total of $1.5
Contact: Ray Ladd, (805) 756-7432, email@example.com