February 2, 2023
You are here:  Home  >  Agribusiness  >  Current Article

$20M gift to Cal Poly is largest ever


Former Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer and his wife Mary Beth made the single largest cash gift ever to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, according to a Nov. 3 announcement from the university.

The university expects the $20 million donation to completely cover the cost to develop and construct four new facilities projects within the Animal Science Department of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences.

The Oppenheimers will also continue to support areas of ongoing need, such as the Cal Poly Scholars program, as well as the university’s meal voucher program and the new Food Pantry to help alleviate hunger on campus, according to a release from the university.

“Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer’s generous gift reflects their confidence in the future of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, and true belief in our learn by doing mission,” said Andrew Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences in a statement. “This unprecedented investment will enable the college to make great strides.”

Building projects include; A new Agricultural Events Center capable of supporting livestock events, industry activities and conferences, and the college’s student experimental learning programs. The 70,000-square-foot indoor arena is expected to seat more than 2,500 guests, with a floor that converts to conference space. The center will also have classrooms supported by the latest technologies. It will be located where the beef unit currently stands on Via Carta. A new Equestrian Pavilion, is also planned on Via Carta that will add needed arena space for current equestrian programs and expanded events on campus. The pavilion will feature both partially enclosed and covered arenas, approximately 60,000 square feet each, with supporting facilities and vehicle parking to accommodate visiting horses. Additionally, a new Farm Store to support the sales of all meat, poultry, dairy, crop and horticulture products produced on campus by Cal Poly students will also be built. With the new facilities a final project entails the modernization and expansion of facilities and equipment at the current animal teaching and research centers.

“Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy had a tremendous impact on our education and lives,” said Peter Oppenheimer, a 1985 graduate of Cal Poly in a release. “We want to help modernize and expand Cal Poly’s animal operations and build new facilities to offer future students an even better experience than our own.”

After 18 years at Apple, Oppenheimer retired in September after serving the last 10 years. He is currently a director of Goldman Sachs and the Cal Poly Foundation.

“Peter and Mary Beth epitomize successful Cal Poly graduates, and their extraordinary gift will impact students for generations to come,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong in a statement. “Their gift is also vital in that it will encourage others to give back to Cal Poly at a time when the university increasingly relies upon private support to maintain its unique learn by doing curriculum and emphasis on student success.”