Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- August 13, 2003

Cal Poly Centennial Fund-Raising Campaign Hits $200 Million Mark

A $5 million pledge from an engineering alumnus has pushed Cal Poly’s Centennial Campaign fund-raising effort over the $200million mark.

Isaac Barpal, who graduated in 1963 with degrees in both engineering and math, recently arranged to bequeath to Cal Poly’s College of Engineering $5 million as part of his eventual estate. This new gift is in addition to the $10,000 he already donates to Cal Poly every year to fund two $5,000 student scholarships.

“Isaac Barpal is an extraordinary individual whose life and accomplishments reflect well on his Cal Poly education. His generosity represents a vote of confidence in Cal Poly’s unique educational programs,” said Cal Poly President Warren J. Baker. “Now a retired aerospace engineer living in New York, he was formerly senior vice president of AlliedSignal Inc., with 11,000 employees working under him.”

According to Barpal, he came to Cal Poly as an immigrant, with nothing. “I was a foreign student from Israel …without money … without speaking English or having any friends. But the people at Cal Poly were unbelievable. From the deans to the workers in the maintenance department – they looked out for me. And it’s something I never forgot,” he recently told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Born in Argentina, he immigrated to the United States from Israel shortly before coming to Cal Poly. While here, he worked in campus student jobs for minimum wage – at that time, $1.25.

Barpal said he owes his career success largely to his Cal Poly education, which gave him the foundation for a graduate degree and his career in the aerospace industry.

Barpal’s $5 million pledge brought Cal Poly’s Centennial Campaign total to $202,295,283. The bequest was among the 145,000 gifts and pledges made to the fund-raising campaign through June 30, 2003.

Cal Poly launched the public phase of its fund-raising Centennial Campaign, "Strengthening Our Advantage," in 2001. The Centennial Campaign's goal is to raise $225 million for the university by the end of 2004.

“The Centennial Campaign is critical to the University’s future,” said Baker. “We have essential academic and facility needs that can be funded only through private support. These include enhancements to our science, engineering and technical programs, which emphasizelaboratory-intensive forms of hands-on learning. Private donations are increasingly vital to the University because they provide a margin of excellence for our academic programs.”

Cal Poly Vice President for Advancement Bill Boldt emphasized that every donation from alumni and friends is important. "We owe so many our deepest gratitude for their contributions. It is especially heartening to receive support of this magnitude from our own graduates,” he said.

Contributions to the campaign to date include the following major gifts:

  • More than $25 million from Unocal Corp.
  • $16 million from Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea
  • $10 million from the estate of California ranchers Lorenzo and Judith McOmie
  • $6 million from Nevada industrialist Don Bently
  • $6 million from engineering alumnus and communications company founder Paul Bonderson and his wife Sandra
  • $4 million in a bequest commitment from Cal Poly alumni Clifford Chapman and Gene Shidler
  • $3 million from technical company founder Bert Forbes and his wife Candace.

Cal Poly’s Centennial Campaign is the largest fund-raising effort in the history of the 23-campus California State University system, according to Boldt. Cal Poly increased annual support from $23 million in 1998 to $54 million in 2002.

The University has more than doubled the endowment fund, from $45.3 million in 1998 to $99 million-plus at its present value.

Yet Cal Poly's fund-raising cost averages roughly 8 to 9 cents per dollar raised, less than half the typical California State University cost, Boldt added.

“The campaign has forged a very strong partnership between Cal Poly’s deans, faculty and supporters – especially our Centennial Campaign volunteers,” Boldt pointed out. “They’ve all worked very hard over the past few years, reaching out to friends of the University to let them know how they can help build an even better institution for the next generation of students.”

For more information on Cal Poly's Centennial Campaign, visit the campaign Web site at

Media Contact: Leah Kolt(805) 756-1511

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