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Learn by Going Endowment

George P. Johnson, a global creative agency that designs and delivers unique experiences that build brand devotion, donated $100,000 to Cal Poly’s Experience Industry Management Department. It is the largest gift in the department’s history.

The gift will be used in two ways: to create a “Learn by Going” endowment to establish a permanent fund for students’ endeavors outside of the classroom and to offer immediate funding for students to participate in experiences outside of the classroom.

“We are always trying to give students the extra edge outside of the classroom that is beneficial to them in their professional and academic involvement,” said Bill Hendricks, Experience Industry Management Department head. “These experiences give them direct connections with high level executives and potential employers at events, conferences and symposiums.”

The George P. Johnson gift will support students in those endeavors for years to come, he said. The department holds an annual fundraiser to provide such funding — the donation nearly doubles the amount of funding now available to support students.

The funds will be used for student professional development trips to the California Outlook Forum; Cal Travel Summit; IMEX America, a worldwide center for travel and events; and Dreamforce, the annual conference held by Salesforce in San Francisco. Students will also have the opportunity to work with the experiential teams at the San Francisco 49ers stadium and the Staples Center in Los Angeles. 

George P. Johnson has been an integral partner of Cal Poly’s Experience Industry Management Department, offering guest lectures and executive-in-residence offerings to students, keynote presentations, and providing more than a dozen internship opportunities for students each year.

“Our partnership with George P. Johnson has continued the momentum of reshaping the department to meet the future demands of the industry and exposing students to higher levels of experiential marketing and event planning,” Hendricks said. “Students are able to experience immediate application of what they are learning in the classroom.”

Greenhouse Production Endowed Professorship

When longtime Professor Virginia Walter retired from the Horticulture and Crop Science Department in 2017 after 43 years at Cal Poly, she wanted to ensure that future students would be afforded the same hands-on teaching that she dedicated her career to.

To secure this legacy, Walter launched the Greenhouse Production Endowed Professorship fund, donating $100,000 to kick off the fundraising effort. The Ball Horticultural Company and the G. Carl Ball Family Foundation recently donated a total of $100,000  toward the endowment’s fulfillment. 

“We are very happy to contribute to the Greenhouse Production Endowed Professorship Fund,” Anna Ball, president of the Ball Horticultural Co., said of the company’s partnership with Cal Poly to grow its horticulture program. “Professor Walter and Cal Poly have been huge supporters of our industry and the department has graduated many who are contributing a lot to our wonderful industry.”

An initial amount of $1 million is needed to begin to generate enough interest on the principal of the donated amount to support a full professor’s salary. To date, nearly $250,000 has been raised by generous donors.

Walter said of her legacy gift, “I have had the privilege of seeing these students go out into the real world and become successful members of the industry. This endowment will ensure their success.” 

The endowment will guarantee that greenhouse production classes continue to be part of the fabric of Cal Poly indefinitely. Courses include production of fresh flowers, flowering potted plants, foliage plants and edible greenhouse crops. This endowment will likewise ensure the needs of the greenhouse industry in California and beyond are met by providing well-educated and experienced graduates ready to make an impact.


Return to the Giving Report to read more.

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