Cal Poly Global Site Tag

Google Tag Manager

Office of the Provost

Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore

Provost's Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy Recipients

2023 Awardee – Dr. Federico Casassa


Al Estes with Cal Poly's President and Provost

Dr. Federico Casassa has been a key faculty member in the Wine and Viticulture Department and an integral part of advancement efforts for the JUSTIN and J LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture and the department’s research program. As colleagues noted in his nomination, Casassa is “outstanding in teaching, research, outreach and service; holds multiple professional certifications in enology and viticulture; and is very externally focused.” In addition, two research articles from his laboratory have won "Best Paper of the Year" awards in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, considered the top journal in his field. Casassa maintains a high level of credibility, making him uniquely qualified to connect successfully with donors and industry partners. Casassa’s research has brought leading winemakers from the area to the college, and he has hosted numerous industry advisory council members and other potential donors and supporters for in-depth, immersive wine experiences in the JUSTIN and J LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture. Thanks to his outstanding reputation in the industry and expert advisement to a local winemaker, Casassa helped secure a $2 million donation to purchase a GC-mass spectrometer for wine analysis and experimental wine fermenters to help outfit and establish the advanced research fermentation lab and research winery at Cal Poly. He also serves on the planning committee for the largest viticulture and enology meeting in the world, the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, and sits on the board of directors of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture.

Federico Casassa earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomic engineering and master’s degree in viticulture and enology from Cuyo National University in Mendoza, Argentina, and a doctorate in food science, with a concentration in wine chemistry and wine sensory analysis, from Washington State University.

2022 Awardee – Dr. Al Estes

Department Head and Professor in the Architectural Engineering Department, College of Architecture and Environmental Design

Al Estes with Cal Poly's President and Provost

In his role as Architectural Engineering Department head for the last 15 years, Al Estes has stewarded an outstanding advancement and fundraising program that has resulted in facility improvements, support of faculty initiatives and a huge enhancement of the ARCE student experience at Cal Poly. Estes continued to maintain the excellence of these efforts throughout the pandemic, a nominator wrote. “While others shut down, he saw this as an opportunity to contact donors, stay in touch, solicit gifts and steward donors in new ways.” His numerous initiatives include five-year sponsorships for eight labs within his department, generating nearly $1 million in gifts that help maintain facilities; completing the second iteration of the Parent’s Learn by Doing fund, which has raised $100,000 from parents and supporters of students in the ARCE program; and forming an ARCE Industrial Advisory Board, which last year sponsored the ARCE Student in Need fund and raised $18,000. These and many other accomplishments have resulted in a department advancement program that is unrivaled, a nominator wrote. “The consistent development and improvement of these efforts over 15 years and the ability to enhance success through a pandemic is remarkable. Al Estes has been the driving force behind this effort.” Estes is the only person to have won this award twice, having been previously recognized in 2012.

Al Estes earned a bachelor’s degree from the U. S. Military Academy; master’s degrees in civil engineering – structures, and civil engineering – construction management, from Stanford University; and a Doctor of Philosophy, Civil Engineering, from the University of Colorado. After 28 years of service, he retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the rank of Colonel and joined the Cal Poly faculty in 2007.

2019 Awardee – Dr. Brian Granger

Associate Professor in the Physics Department, College of Science and Mathematics

Brian GrangerDr. Brian Granger’s work to forge partnerships with several prestigious charitable foundations and corporations at the forefront of data science and artificial intelligence development has brought outstanding research and learning opportunities to the students and faculty at Cal Poly. His efforts will greatly affect the future of the Physics Department, the College of Science and Mathematics and the university.

Granger co-leads Project Jupyter, which develops open-source software, open-standards and services for interactive computing across dozens of programming languages. In 2018, Granger was able to leverage funding made possible by Bill and Linda Frost of the Frost Foundation to secure $2.3 million in investment for Project Jupyter from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Schmidt Futures.

Granger was nominated for this honor by Dean Wendt, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “Brian Granger provides an excellent example of not only partnership, but of leadership in philanthropy,” said Wendt. “The philanthropic work Brian has done will have a lasting impact on our students, the emerging field of data science, and growth in the national and international reputation of our university.”

2018 Awardee – Dr. Benoit Lecat

Professor in Wine and Viticulture Department, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Benoit Lecat Dr. Benoit Lecat has been instrumental in illuminating the Wine Viticulture Department's vision for the future. Through his leadership, hard work and enthusiasm, Dr. Lecat has secured private support and established partnerships for the state-of-the-art Center for Wine and Viticulture. His efforts to obtain the funding needed to build this facility will enable students, faculty and staff across campus to prosper.

As a result of the partnerships with internal and external constituents, Dr. Lecat created a foundation of support and helped to contextualize the need for this multi-million dollar facility. He engaged alumni, parents and industry leaders in robust fundraising and helped to develop meaningful connections.

Dean Thulin attributes the department's growth to Dr. Lecat's efforts, “Under his guidance, Cal Poly is becoming the preeminent Wine and Viticulture department in the nation, training the next generation of wine makers, grape growers and operators.”

2017 Awardee – Dr. Raymond Fernando

Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, College of Science and Mathematics

Ray FernandoDr. Raymond Fernando has demonstrated exemplary leadership in attracting private support for Cal Poly’s Kenneth N. Edwards Western Coatings Technology (WCTC). The WCTC hands-on labs and research in polymers and coatings supports the university’s mission and provides excellent Learn by Doing experiences for our students.

Through Ray’s efforts, the profile of the polymers and coatings program has been raised to national and international distinction, and has strengthened the program’s industry ties. He has worked tirelessly to expand his network of contacts in ways that benefit the WCTC, and has an outstanding track record of working effectively with both individuals and corporate donors. This has resulted in additional opportunities for students in research, internships and employment – with 100% student employment upon graduation.

“Ray Fernando provides an excellent example of not only partnership, but leadership in philanthropy”, said Phil Bailey, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

2016 Awardee – Dr. Dennis J. Derickson

Chairman, Electrical Engineering Department, College of Engineering

Dennis J. DericksonDr. Dennis J. Derickson has helped build one of the nation’s top undergraduate electrical engineering programs through alumni outreach and strategic fundraising.

He worked with faculty, staff and Industrial Advisory Board members to create a strategic plan that included major laboratory developments, leading to the creation of the Advanced Communication Systems Laboratory. This new laboratory allows students to do research using present 4G wireless technologies and to help create next-generation 5G wireless communication systems. The laboratory was made possible through key relationships with the EE Industry Advisory Board. Cal Poly received $1.5 million in equipment from Keysight Technologies, and support from Anritsu helped outfit the lab.

Dr. Derickson fostered alumni engagement by launching regional receptions, soliciting the involvement of advisory board member firms, and establishing a reunion program for EE and computer engineering alumni. These activities led to the establishment of the EE Project fund to offset project costs for students in the department.

“His efforts have been marked by enthusiasm, optimism, commitment, inclusion, dedication and a spirit of collaboration and partnership,” said Debra Larson, dean of the College of Engineering.  Dr. Derickson earned a doctorate from UC Santa Barbara in 1992. He came to Cal Poly in 2005 and has served as department chair since 2010.

Photo by Renoda Campbell

2015 Awardee – Dr. Jonathan York

Professor, Entrepreneurship
Faculty Director, Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Jonathan YorkDr. Jonathan York’s vision and leadership have been central to the success of Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE). He co-founded CIE in 2010 with Professor Lou Tornatzky after a 30-year career as a CEO, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He has built strong relationships with the San Luis Obispo community, alumni and entrepreneurial networks to support growing student demand for the CIE’s programs.

“Jon York has been instrumental in attracting leaders from across all business sectors to the Founders’ Circle, a group of seasoned entrepreneurs who actively support and engage with students,” said Provost Kathleen Enz Finken.

Under Dr. York’s guidance as faculty director, the CIE cultivated a continuum of resources for students of all disciplines, including pitch competitions; the Hatchery; the SLO HotHouse Accelerator; and Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs, a study-away program that partners with Draper University. On campus, he has ignited an entrepreneurial spirit among students and faculty by advising the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs Club and developing cross-disciplinary senior project opportunities between the College of Engineering and the Orfalea College
of Business.

Dr. York joined the Orfalea College of Business as an associate professor of entrepreneurship in 2010. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Yale University and his doctorate from Michigan State University.

2014 Awardee – Jesse Maddren

Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Director of Cal Poly's Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning Program.

Dr. Jesse Maddren“Because of Dr. Maddren's steadfast fundraising and partnership efforts, an endowment valued at $1.6 million has been established, ensuring the program's long-term stability,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Kathleen Enz Finken.

The HVAC Program, the only one of its kind on the West Coast, had languished because of budget cuts and faculty attrition. In 2001, Dr. Maddren began to rebuild the program by engaging industry leaders to serve on an advisory board. He then championed a revitalization of the HVAC curriculum. Stabilization of the program and collaboration with Debra Larson, dean of the College of Engineering, led to the creation of the James L. Bartlett Professor in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Maddren has fostered student success through internships, job placement and field trips. 

He began in Cal Poly's Mechanical Engineering Department in 1999 as associate professor and was promoted to professor in 2007. He earned bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from UC Santa Barbara.

Back to top

2013 Awardees – Ignatios Vakalis & David Wehner

Dr. David Wehner

David Wehner

Wehner secured $20 million in gifts and pledges for the college during fiscal year 2012-13, an amount that was equal to nearly half of the university’s total of $43 million. He also was cited for his role in obtaining $8 million in pledges for the Agriculture Technology Center and $1 million in pledges for the Wine and Viticulture Innovation Center.

Wehner facilitated the development of the Oreggia Family Foundation, which has provided more than $5 million in direct cash gifts and more than $3.5 million in pledges to CAFES. He helped foster more than $1 million in donor sponsorships for the Center of Science and Mathematics.

He is credited with creating the CAFES Learn by Doing endowment in which 10 donors each pledged $100,000, generating $1 million to be used to match donations by others who would then have an endowment for the benefit of the college in their name. To date, more than 30 individuals have contributed.

And finally, Wehner was commended for developing key relationships with such leading organizations as the Leprino Co. and the California Strawberry Commission, both of which have made major gifts to the university.


Ignatios Vakalis

Ignatios Vakalis

Vakalis was singled out for his role in framing a new initiative in cybersecurity, which resulted in a $150,000 gift from Northrop Grumman to develop a state-of-the art cyber lab and collaborative cyber platform.
He was also praised for championing the university’s Big Data strategic initiative fundraising efforts that attracted $100,000 from alumni in 2013. Vakalis also helped raise more than $100,000 from alumni to develop and equip a cutting-edge Game Development Laboratory and led a $100,000 matching-gift campaign to develop and equip a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Laboratory, the most modern HCI lab in the San Luis Obispo area.

Back to top

2012 Awardee – Allen Estes

Dr. Allen C. EstesCal Poly Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Kathleen Enz Finken has awarded the 2012 Provost’s Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy to Dr. Allen C. Estes, head of the Architectural Engineering (ARCE) Department. Through his transformational leadership skills, and because of Estes excellent relationships with industry leaders, current ARCE parents, and strong ties to alumni, the Architectural Engineering community has benefited from his comprehensive fundraising efforts, despite the current economy and university’s budget cuts.

Enz Finken praised Estes’s accomplishments which included:

  • Development of an overall vision for future funding opportunities in the Architectural Engineering Department, including a five year sponsorship program for laboratory space.
  • Providing sponsors the opportunity to provide individualized enhancements that showcase the sponsor’s product and brand. Students benefit from the physical improvements and are aware that private support has made these enhancements possible. Students acknowledge that the sponsor has made an investment in their education at Cal Poly.
  • Planned giving activity that resulted in major industrial partnerships.
  • Securing over $450,000 that has been committed to laboratory sponsorship.
  • In-kind donations secured from current ARCE parents to be utilized as a challenge fund to secure additional donations.
  • Providing support for the renovation of outdated laboratories into vibrant spaces with new equipment.

Back to top

2011 Awardees – Bruce Golden & Phillip Tong

Bruce GoldenDr. Phillip S. TongCal Poly Provost Robert Koob awarded the 2011 Provost’s Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy to Dr. Bruce Golden, head of the Dairy Science Department, and Dr. Phillip S. Tong, director of the Dairy Products Technology Center (DPTC). Koob recognized Golden and Tong as visionary leaders who built critical partnerships to advance the mission of Cal Poly and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

As visionary leaders in dairy science and technology, Drs. Golden and Tong believe Cal Poly is well positioned to make a significant impact on future generations of students, consumers and the dairy industry. Elevating their collaboration with both college-based and university advancement staff, they implemented a $20-million private-support capital program to expand the Dairy Science Department’s learning and applied dairy foods research facilities, invest in the newest generation of technologies which will bring new experts to campus, and fund higher level of collaboration with scientists around the globe. Both were critical in securing the lead transformational gift that launched the $20-million initiative. Their academic and philanthropic pursuits have resulted in an increased awareness and heightened respect, as well as millions of dollars in cash and equipment, for Cal Poly's Dairy Science Department and the Dairy Products Technology Center.

Back to top

2010 Awardee – Phil Bailey

Phil BaileyCal Poly Provost Robert Koob has awarded the 2010 Provost’s Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy to Phil Bailey, Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

Bailey’s unwavering vision and leadership drove the successful completion of the fundraising for the Center of Science and Mathematics, the largest public/private capital campaign in Cal Poly history. It took creativity, perseverance, and humor to overcome the many challenges, including difficult economic conditions, to make this happen.

Examples of the accomplishments that led to Bailey’s selection for the leadership award include:

  • Redefining the concept of a university citizen and serving as a model and leader in securing private support for Cal Poly, which includes his own extraordinary personal giving.
  • Recognizing, more than a decade ago, the importance of the private support that is necessary to achieve educational excellence.
  • Partnering with university leadership, the Cal Poly Foundation Board, and the University Advancement team to make the Center for Science and Mathematics a true university-wide endeavor. Students from every major will benefit greatly from his efforts for many years to come.
  • Under Bailey’s leadership, the College of Science and Mathematics led the university in securing private funds in fiscal year 2009-2010, with a total exceeding $6M, bringing fundraising for the Center to more than $19M.

Phil Bailey inspires his colleagues and leads by example in setting the highest standard of what a dean committed to advancement can accomplish. His academic and philanthropic pursuits have resulted in an increased awareness and heightened respect, as well as millions of dollars in cash and equipment, for Cal Poly’s College of Science and Mathematics.

Back to top

2009 Awardee – Charles Burt

Dr. Charles BurtCal Poly Provost Robert Koob has awarded the 2009 Provost’s Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy to Dr. Charles Burt, faculty member of the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department (BRAE) and Chair of the Irrigation and Training and Research Center (ITRC).

Burt was chosen from an impressive group of nominees for his leadership, hard work and enthusiasm in supporting Cal Poly’s mission by successfully advocating and securing private support for the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department.

Examples of Burt’s leadership and accomplishments that led to his selection include:

  • Over $1 million from the estate of Daisy Hudson to support Cal Poly's irrigation engineering students because she was so impressed with the help Burt and the ITRC provided to her district.
  • A gift of $500,000 donated by Fred and Virginia Hamisch from the sale of their irrigation supply company, as a result of Burt’s suggestion that they kick-start the ITRC’s on-line irrigation training program.
  • State-of-the-art equipment worth more than $275,000 donated for campus facilities associated with irrigation training.
  • An extraordinary commitment to helping CAFES Advancement staff identify key potential major gift donors that has included traveling the state to personally introduce these individuals to the staff and recommend their participation in the upcoming Cal Poly campaign.

Charles Burt has inspired his colleagues and led by example in setting the highest standards as an engineer, educator and entrepreneur through the creation of the ITRC. He provides us all a wonderful example of what a faculty member committed to advancement can accomplish.

Back to top

2008 Awardee – Harvey Levenson

Dr. Harvey LevensonCal Poly Provost William Durgin awarded the 2008 Provost’s Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy to Graphic Communication Department Head Dr. Harvey Levenson. Since 1983, Dr. Levenson has been a true ambassador for Cal Poly, bringing recognition and honor, as well as donations of cash and equipment, to both the university and the Graphic Communication Department. He has built a solid program of national prominence, which resulted in the department’s accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications in 2003. Cal Poly’s program is one of only a few graphic arts programs nationwide to receive accreditation by this group.

Examples of his leadership and accomplishments that led to his selection include the launching of a fundraising drive in celebration of the Graphic Communication Department’s 60th anniversary and the establishment of 23 separate endowments that the department presently holds. Recent donations include a new Heidelberg four-color press valued at $1.55 million, a Kodak computer-to-plate system, a Degrava press and Adobe CS4 and Data-Point file management software, exceeding $2 million. Through his tireless efforts and because of his excellent relationships with industry partners and his strong ties to alumni, the Graphic Communication Department has a history of robust fundraising, including gifts of money and state-of-the-art equipment.

Back to top

2007 Awardee – Andy Thulin

Andy ThulinCal Poly Provost William Durgin awarded the 2007 Provost’s Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy to Animal Sciences Department Head Andy Thulin. Thulin was chosen from an impressive group of nominees for his leadership, hard work and enthusiasm in supporting Cal Poly’s mission by successfully advocating and securing private support for the Animal Science Department.

Examples of his leadership and accomplishments that led to his selection include the development of an overall vision for future departmental funding opportunities, planned giving activity that resulted in major estate gifts and scholarship endowments, over $1 million donated by John and Gay Lau to name the Meat Processing Center and in-kind equipment solicited to create a state-of-the-art Animal Nutrition Center.

Back to top

2006 Awardees – Allan Hauck and James Rodger

Allan J. Hauck and James A. RodgerCal Poly Interim Provost Robert Detweiler and College of Architecture and Environmental Design Dean R. Thomas Jones presented Allan J. Hauck, Construction Management Department Head, and James A. Rodger, former Construction Management Department Head, with the first Provost’s Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy. Detweiler recognized Hauck and Rodger as visionary leaders who forged critical partnerships to advance the mission of Cal Poly and the CAED.

The former and current Construction Management department heads were lauded for their creation of more than 25 major industry and alumni partnerships that resulted in more than $5.5 million to expand the new state facility for the Construction Management Department and to build future facilities to support the college and the department.

Back to top



Related Content