Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- September 10, 2003
Cal Poly's Preface Program Unites a Diverse Campus with
What do a university police officer, the chair of Cal Poly’s
Aerospace Engineering Department, the university vice president for
Student Affairs, a member of Cal Poly’s advancement team, an agriculture
professor, a campus financial aid counselor, incoming freshmen from
the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Agriculture, Cal Poly
Continuing Education Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members, and
Honors students have in common?
They are all members of the universitywide book club known as Preface,
reading and sharing their thoughts on this year’s Preface selection,
“Plainsong,” by Kent Haruf.
Launched in 2002, Preface aims to enrich Cal Poly’s academic life
across all disciplines and provide students with a common intellectual
experience. Last year’s highly successful pilot project targeted
the university’s 250 Honors Program students, who read “The
Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien and then met in small
groups to discuss the book.
“We knew Preface was a great idea, especially when students, the
campus community and local citizens packed Chumash Auditorium to hear
Tim O’Brien,” says Program Coordinator Patricia Ponce. “With
wonderful feedback, we extended the pilot this year to include students
from the College of Agriculture, Liberal Arts, and the Osher Lifelong
“But what especially excites me is that more than 100 campus faculty
and staff members have volunteered to lead the student discussion groups
this year. The diversity of participants really fulfills one of our
primary goals, which is to develop a sense of community,” explains
Ponce. “The campus facilitators have already had some great group
discussions on the book, in which folks have pointed out that the idea
of community is one of its themes.”
“Plainsong” tells the story of a small ranching town and
the converging lives of its residents. The book has received numerous
awards, including The New York Times Book Award, and was a finalist
for the National Book Award. It was a national bestseller when it came
out in 1999 and was selected as a Notable Book of the Year by both The
New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Staff and student participants, who were to read the book this summer,
will meet in small groups on Sept. 17 during Cal Poly’s WOW (Week
of Welcome) activities. They will have the opportunity to meet the author,
Kent Haruf, on Oct. 15 when he speaks at Chumash Auditorium, in an event
open to the public. Preface will also host other activities during the
academic year in conjunction with the book.
For more information, call Patricia Ponce (805) 756-1380, firstname.lastname@example.org
or go to www.preface.calpoly.edu.