California State Polytechnic University Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) began in 1938 as a satellite campus of California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo. During World War II most of the student body was called into active duty, causing the school to temporarily close. Cal Poly became an independent institution in 1966. Today, more than 22,000 students attend the university.
The campus is very large, with a total holding of 1,438 acres. This acreage includes a number of learning ranches and the Voorhis Ecological Reserve. Well-known gardens on campus including a historical rose garden, a California ethnobotany garden, and 1.3 acre Japanese garden also grace the campus and attract visitors. The campus is also home to a rainforest greenhouse and an aquatic biology center. One significant potential disadvantage to life here is the fact that the San Jose Fault runs right through the middle of campus, which means that several of the buildings are significantly vulnerable to earthquakes.
Living in Pomona
Pomona is a large suburb of Los Angeles. Most students agree that Pomona is an excellent place to live in terms of access to recreational and cultural activities. The San Gabriel mountains lie just to the north, providing scenic relief and nearly unbounded recreational opportunities for students. The university’s website maintains a beach guide and a ski report for student use. The university is less than an hour from downtown Los Angeles on public transportation or by car.
Schools include: College of Agriculture; College of Business Administration; College of Education and Integrative Studies; College of Engineering; College of Environmental Design; College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences; College of Science; and The Collins College of Hospitality Management.
The academic reputation of the university is very strong. Cal Poly has been named a “Center of Academic Excellence” by the Department of Homeland Security. Personalized attention is part of the excellence offered —the average class size is just 26. The university library has a collection of over 3 million volumes, making it one of the best-stocked academic libraries in California. The college preparatory school, International Polytechnic High School, is right on campus, preparing some of their students for excellence years before they actually begin their programs.
Further Academic Opportunities
Academic opportunities include The Kellogg Honors College, which organizes intensive classes, team projects, and field trips for high achievers; Service Learning, which allows students to earn credit while participating in social service activities; and Study Abroad, which allows students to learn in more than 20 countries.
Most Popular Fields of Study
One of the more unusual features of the university is the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center, a learning and research facility with a variety of equine services and breeding programs.
Innovation Village is a 65 acre business and research facility on campus which contains, among other businesses, the NASA Commercialization Center. This facility was designed to promote economic vibrancy in the Pomona area as well as to connect students with future employers.
A sustainability project on the campus called Cradle to Cradle Design has constructed a small, environmentally sustainable housing complex for 22 residents. The dormitory is solar powered, built with sustainable materials, and has its own organic garden.
The AGRIscapes exhibit on campus showcases sustainable farming and urban landscaping practices for students and visitors, including demonstrations of alternative ways to conserve water, grow food, keep energy needs low, and reduce waste.
Admissions are extremely competitive. About 45% of first-year applicants are admitted, with an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.40 and an SAT score around 1100.
More than 67% students receive financial aid. In addition to the usual range of loans and grants available from federal and state aid, the university offers many of their own scholarships and grants.
Student Financial Aid Details
About 4% of the student body is African American, 30% is Asian American, 25% is European American, 27% is Latino American, less than half of a percent are Native American, and 5% are international students.
Clubs and Organizations
In addition to the usual assortment of student government, clubs, and organizations, the campus has a number of cultural centers for students. The African American Student Center , the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Cetner, the Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education, the Pride Center, the Native American Student Center all strive to meet the needs of their target populations as well as provide hospitality and education to visitors. Most of the cultural centers throw graduation celebrations in the spring, a highlight of the social and academic calendar. There are 11 sororities and 18 fraternities. The student newspaper is the Poly Post. Students also write for PolyCentric, the university’s online magazine.
The Student Development and Leadership Institute is one of the larger organizations on campus. It provides free training and conferences for any interested student. Participants work to build self-confidence, develop a personal philosophy of leadership, an amplify personal growth and development. At the end of the program, students receive a certificate of completion that can then be added to a resumé.
One of the highlights of student life is the annual Rose Bowl Parade Float. Students from Pomona join with students from the original Cal Poly (in San Luis Obispo) to design and build the float. Students take care of every aspect of the project, including growing the flowers that decorate it. Although several colleges and universities enter floats in the parade, this float is the only one to be entirely orchestrated by students. Over the decades, the floats have won nearly 50 awards and trophies for their original and creative designs.
Students have access to a free campus shuttle bus called the Bronco Express. The college also runs a shuttle service, BroncoLink, to area Metrolink stations. This allows students to easily access public transportation into Los Angeles or wherever they may wish to go.
About 52% of first-year students live on campus, and about 12% of all undergraduates.There are two different types of residence hall. Phase I halls are coed by alternating wings and consist of Alamitos Hall, Aliso Hall, Encinitas hall, and Montecito Hall. Phase II halls are newer construction and consist of Cedritos Hall and Palmitas Hall. All residence halls contain laundry rooms, study areas, TV lounges, mailboxes, and kitchenettes. Satellite television service and high speed internet connections are located in all of the dormitory rooms.
Another residential option is the residential suites, a series of five buildings on campus. Each suite has an interior entrance that leads to a living room and kitchenette area. Suites feature single bedrooms, private balconies, elevators, large study rooms, and a convenience store and Denny’s Diner in the middle of the suite area.
Many students choose to live at University Village, an independent housing complex affiliated with the university that offers a choice of single or double rooms in apartment-like suites close to campus. Students from other institutions also live in University Village.
Dining on Campus
Dining options for residential students include traditional cafeteria-style dining as well as a number of fast food restaurants. Locally and campus grown foods and food products are sold at the farm store of Kellogg Ranch.
Students who wish to experience upscale dining on campus can eat at The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch. Students in the hospitality management program run this restaurant, which uses fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown in the ranch’s culinary garden. The restaurant has won several awards for food, service, and ambiance.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The athletics department are known as the Broncos and compete in NCAA Division II as part of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). The university competes in 10 intercollegiate sports. Competitive intervarsity sports include men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, men’s track and field, and women’s track and field.
Basketball is the most popular and successful sport on campus. In fact, the Broncos are widely considered to be the most successful basketball program in the CCAA. The university is also well known for the Bronco Pep Band, a voluntary organization within the athletic department.
Well-known alumni include Academy Award winner Forrest Whitaker, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Olympic medalists Chi Cheng and Kim Rhode, BMX rider Dave Mirra, soccer player Jonathan Bornstein, NFL coach Jim Zorn, and Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis.
Notable faculty members include Fulbright scholar Renford Reese, poet Virginia Hamilton Adair, architect Richard Neutra, and Prizker Prize winner Thom Mayne.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.