Donors Give $14.3 Million for Student Support and Programs

Oct, 2022
Students on the stairs of Founders Hall

Over the past year, Cal Poly Humboldt alumni and friends gave $14.3 million in gifts and commitments, by far the highest level of annual private support in the University’s history. The endowment also grew to about $39 million, setting it on pace to provide nearly $1.7 million in distributions in the upcoming year for scholarships and campus programs.

The fundraising totals reflect the generosity of donors who are inspired by the University’s current direction and committed to the student experience. It highlights overall excitement for Humboldt’s recent polytechnic designation and an interest in leveraging the state’s historic investment.

“The past year our donors have really stepped up in ways that we couldn’t have predicted,” says Frank Whitlatch, vice president of University Advancement and executive director of the Cal Poly Humboldt Foundation. “It’s been amazing to get to know so many of these supporters, and to learn how much they care about helping students. In many cases, it has also been incredibly emotional, as alumni and others share why they are giving and how meaningful it is to them.”

A few highlights:

  • 3,300 total donors to hundreds of different funds

  • More than half of all donors were Cal Poly Humboldt alumni 

  • More than 400 student scholarships and awards were distributed

Humboldt’s  community of donors—including alumni, current and emeritus faculty,  staff, parents and family members, community members, and others —supported academics, the Athletics experience, faculty, and academic programs.

 In recognition of the Cal Poly Humboldt professors who played pivotal roles in his life, Dave Shaffer (‘67, Psychology, ‘68 M.A., Psychology) made a generous gift to establish the University’s first endowed professorship. With a $250,000 gift, he created the David Shaffer Professorship, which will support travel, supplies, equipment, student assistants, and more for a Psychology faculty member who creates research and hands-on learning opportunities, and who pursues a scholarly focus. Another gift in support of the Psychology Department was made by Rick Gardner (‘65, Psychology). His commitment of $75,000 established the Rick M. Gardner Psychology Research Assistantship Fund, which creates a one-year research assistantship for Psychology undergraduate students who are planning to pursue a master’s degree in Psychology.

Many donors also stepped up to make a difference for student-athletes. Alumna Robin Smith  (‘78, Nursing) donated $200,000, half of which established the Robin M. Smith Athletic Facilities Special Opportunities Fund. The fund is designated to upgrade facilities and buy new equipment for training, conditioning, and rehabilitation. The other half established the Robin M. Smith Club Sports Special Opportunities Fund, which provides ongoing funds for club sports.

Students, alumni, and supporters of Logging Sports—an academic club of the Department of Forestry—completed a multi-year effort to raise $25,000 to create the Cal Poly Humboldt Logging Sports Club Scholarship for Forestry majors. It’s the University’s first-ever endowment for an academic club and will support the ongoing success of a team that helps prepare students for a career in the forest industry. 

Philip and Yuriko Anton are helping Cal Poly Humboldt continue advancing renewable energy and sustainable solutions. They committed  $260,000 to establish the Philip and Yuriko Anton Climate Fund Endowment. Their gift will fund paid assistantships for undergraduate students to conduct research on clean energy and climate change for the Schatz Energy Research Center, a globally recognized leader in clean and renewable energy technology research.

This past year also saw three transformational estate gifts that will support the student experience. Jerry and Gisela Rohde gave more than $2 million through a planned bequest to the Cal Poly Humboldt Library and its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).  

To recruit and retain the best and brightest California high school math and science students, Forestry instructor Kevin Boston (‘84, Forestry) committed over $1 million to establish the Kevin D. Boston, JD Scholarship Endowment.  The scholarship will be awarded to Forestry majors pursuing a concentration in Forestry Operations. Recipients will receive a scholarship of 50 percent of current tuition for all four years.

With a $1.5 million gift from Professor Emeritus Dennis K. Walker (‘60, Botany), the University’s iconic greenhouse, which bears his name, will hire a permanent assistant manager. That position will help support Cal Poly Humboldt’s efforts to provide students year-round access to a comprehensive and unique collection of plant specimens. 

Join the excitement and learn how you can support the students and programs at Cal Poly Humboldt at or by calling  (707) 826-5200.

Also watch for the next big thing! It happens during Donor Appreciation Week, October 24–28.