Cal Poly to Award Three Honorary Doctorates at June 17-18 Commencement Ceremonies

June 1, 2017

Contact: Jay Thompson

Retired Congresswoman Lois Capps, Cuesta College President Gilbert Stork, and late dairy leader Douglas Maddox will be honored

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong will award honorary doctorate degrees to retired Congresswoman Lois Capps, Cuesta College President Gilbert Stork and the late dairyman Douglas Maddox at the 2017 spring commencement ceremonies on June 17-18 at Spanos Stadium. 

Capps will receive the honor Saturday, June 17, during the 9 a.m. ceremony for the College of Liberal Arts and Orfalea College of Business. Stork will be recognized later that day during the 3 p.m. ceremony for the colleges of Engineering and Architecture and Environmental Design.

Maddox, whose family will be in attendance — including his widow, Matilda, and son Steve — will be honored during the 9 a.m. Sunday, June 18 ceremony for the colleges of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, and Science and Mathematics.

Stork and Maddox are Cal Poly alumni, and all three honorees have made substantial contributions to the community and the university. 

The Honorable Lois Capps
Capps served as a U.S. Representative for the Central Coast congressional district for nine consecutive terms from 1998 to 2016 — as the area morphed from 22nd to 23rd and ultimately 24th congressional districts. Prior to her service in Congress, she had a 20-year career as a nurse and public health advocate in Santa Barbara public schools. During her tenure in Congress, the Democrat from Santa Barbara helped author numerous legislative acts to improve public health, support military veterans, improve federal investment in health care, preserve public lands, and fight climate change through renewable energy initiatives. 

She was a key supporter of Cal Poly and the California State University system. Her letter of support helpedCal Poly receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to expand the university’s on-campus Technology Park. And with one of the largest agriculture colleges in the nation, the university benefited from Capps’ efforts to strengthen the region’s agriculture. Her public health advocacy has been equally impactful. Cal Poly received a $2.8 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health that kinesiology Professor Susan Phelan is using to lead a gestational diabetes study. 

In recognition of efforts on behalf of Cal Poly, the CSU system and residents of the 24th Congressional District, she will receive the honorary Doctor of Laws degree. 

Dr. Gilbert H. Stork
Stork studied mathematics and earned his bachelor’s (1963) and master’s (1965) degrees at Cal Poly before embarking on a long career as a coach, educator and administrator at nearby Cuesta College. Stork was also a member of Cal Poly’s football team. On Oct. 29, 1960, following an away game at Bowling Green University, the team’s charter flight crashed on takeoff from Toledo, Ohio. Twenty-two people died, including 18 teammates. The then-19-year-old Stork was among the 26 injured in the crash. 

Stork began a nearly 50-year career at Cuesta College in 1967 as a physical education instructor and assistant football coach. He was a mathematics instructor from 1970 to 1977. During this time, he assumed some administration assignments — chairman of the physical sciences and mathematics division, associate dean of instruction and dean of instruction. In 1990, he joined the college’s four-member senior leadership team as assistant superintendent and vice president of student services. 

In 2004, he retired from full-time service and filled a variety of interim roles, while also teaching math on a part-time basis. In 2010, Stork was named the college’s interim superintendent and president, and he received a permanent appointment in 2011. 

Stork was inducted into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006. The following year, he was part of the remaining players of the 1960 football team when Cal Poly dedicated Mustang Memorial Plaza, which honors the victims of the tragic crash. 

Stork’s work as an educator and community member has been recognized locally. In 2000, he was named Citizen of the Year by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, he received the Cuesta College President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. He also has received the SLO County School Boards Association’s Service Award for his dedication to education. Cal Poly’s School of Education recognized Stork as a recipient of its Friend of Education Award. 

He will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his lifelong commitment to education. 

Douglas Maddox
A 1957 graduate of Cal Poly, Maddox was widely known in the dairy industry as a leader, advocate and innovator in Holstein dairy cattle genetics. At the time of his death at age 75 in December 2011, Maddox’s family-owned dairies included the nation’s largest registered Holstein herd, with more than 12,000 animals and 10,000 acres of farmland. 

Maddox was a partner in RuAnn Dairy and Maddox Dairy, renowned Holstein entities within the dairy industry. Today, three generations of Maddox family members remain involved at both dairy farms, as well as a third entity, Golden Genes. Maddox also served on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. 

Maddox, who was named the Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences honored alumnus in 1981, was a passionate supporter of the university and served on the President’s Cabinet from 1998 to 2011. He was a frequent in-kind donor to Cal Poly’s Dairy Science program and supported students specializing in dairy science. 

Attending Cal Poly is a family affair; his wife, Matilda, the couple’s two sons, daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren are Cal Poly alumni. In recognition of his impactful leadership, advocacy and innovation in the agriculture industry, he will receive the posthumous honorary degree of Doctor of Science. 

Nearly 4,500 graduates are eligible to take part in commencement June 17 and 18. All ceremonies will take place on campus at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. For more information, visit


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