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News & Notes

Awards and Accomplishments

Faculty and students are raising the bar here and in far-flung places.


Mustang Media Group, the Journalism Department’s student-run news organization, earned nine first-place awards at the National College Media Convention. The group won Best Advertising Special Section, Best Overall Newspaper Design and Best Use of Social Media. Ellen Fabini (Art and Design) won Best Online Advertisement and Best Color Advertisement, Erica Patstone (Art and Design) won Best Advertising Campaign, Jordan Triplett (Art and Design) won Best Black and White Advertisement, Ayrton Ostly (Journalism) won Best Sports Story, Brendan Matsuyama (Political Science) won Best Infographic, and journalism majors Maggie Hitchings and Nikki Petkopoulos won Best Online Campaign.

Mustang Band won first place in the Adult Marching Band category for the fourth year in a row at San Francisco’s Chinese New Year parade.

Graphic communication students Mayra Mejia, Jacqui Luis, Amanda Ornelas, Jasper Lim, Alan Nguyen and Molly McCarthy won the Grand Prize Award at the Technical Association of Graphic Arts annual conference.

Miguel Contreras (English) was one of 34 finalists chosen to take part in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, D.C.

Three students from the College of Liberal Arts, Katelyn Tomasello (Music, Psychology, ’16) and political science students Sayaka Tsugai and Emily Matthews, presented at the 31st Annual CSU Student Research Competition. They were three of 10 delegates selected to represent Cal Poly.

Graphic communication students were the 2016 overall champions at the Phoenix Challenge Flexo Packaging Competition. They won by creating a point-of-purchase display, a wedge-shaped beverage container and a shrink sleeve for B.R.A.T., a medicinal beverage company.

Five philosophy students earned a trip to the national championship of the Ethics Bowl, a philosophy competition for colleges and universities with the best analytical and argumentative teams in the country. The team members were Richard Shea, Derek Diemer, Ruby Allen, Zackary Dakawich and Ryan McGuire.


Charmaine Martinez’s (Art and Design) logo design for the Oldenborg Center at Pomona College was awarded silver in Graphis Inc.’s 2016 design competition. 

David Kann’s (English) collection of poems, “The Language of the Farm,” won the Five Oaks Press “Our Wish for Blue” contest in 2015; and Kevin Clark’s (English) collection won the “Spring is the Mischief” contest in 2016.

Elvira Pulitano and Kate Martin (Ethnic Studies) received the Cal Poly President’s Diversity Award for their work with the Indigenous Studies in Natural Resources and the Environment minor.

Luke Fox

Luke Fox (Sociology) and business partner Michael Taylor won $10,000 and the second-place Rich and Jackie Boberg Innovation Award for their invention DroneFox, a device designed to help emergency personnel detect, identify and intercept unauthorized drones. 

Malcom Mills

Malcom Mills (Sociology) was Cal Poly's 2016 representative to the Panetta Institute for Public Policy's Congressional Internship Program. He spent 11 weeks working in the offices of California delegation members of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. 

Jenell Navarro (Ethnic Studies) was named the 2015-16 Outstanding Faculty Advisor of the Year.

Brian Beaton (History) was awarded a grant of nearly $25,000 from the National Science Foundation for his project, “Workshop: Social Facets of Data Science.” 

Sarah Bridger’s (History) book, “Scientists at War: The Ethics of Cold War Weapons Research,” won the Society for U.S. Intellectual History’s 2016 Best Book Award.

Karen Muñoz-Christian (Modern Languages and Literatures) received the 2015-16 Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Meredith Brammeier (Music) performed the world premiere of her composition, “Life Passages,” with Vox Grata Women’s Choir in Nashville. 

Patrick Lin (Philosophy) was awarded a National Science Foundation grant of nearly $165,000 for his project, “NRI: RUI: Autonomous Vehicles: Ethics, Design and Risk.”

Matthew J. Moore’s (Political Science) book, “Buddhism and Political Theory,” was published by Oxford University Press and named one of CHOICE’s 2016 Outstanding Academic Titles. 

Ron Den Otter (Political Science) received the 2015-16 Academic Senate Distinguished Scholarship Award.

Terry Jones (Social Sciences) was honored with the 2016 Society for California Archaeology David A. Fredrickson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Unique Shaw-Smith (Social Sciences) received the 2015-16 Cal Poly President’s Diversity Award.

100 Years of Mustang News

The Cal Poly Journalism Department celebrated the 100th anniversary of its student press with two days of events. During the celebration, the department inducted the inaugural class of the Mustang Media Hall of Fame. Two Cal Poly alumni were honored in person: “Weird Al” Yankovic, former KCPR DJ and Grammy-winning comedy musician; and Bruce McPherson, former El Mustang reporter who served as California Secretary of State. Two inductees were honored posthumously: Robert E. Kennedy, former Cal Poly president and El Mustang advisor; and alumnus George Ramos, former Mustang Daily editor, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter and Cal Poly Journalism Department chair. The Mustang Media Hall of Fame was created to honor Cal Poly students and faculty who have made major contributions to the student press.

College of Liberal Arts Diversity Committee
Committed to Diversity and Inclusivity

The College of Liberal Arts formed two standing committees focused on diversity: a CLA Student Diversity Committee and a CLA Faculty Diversity Committee. The two committees will work with the newly appointed Associate Dean for Diversity and Curriculum, Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti, to guide the college on the development of diversity and inclusivity goals, strategies for achieving those goals, and methods for measuring progress. The College of Liberal Arts has often provided leadership for the university in the areas of diversity and inclusivity, and that practice will continue through the work of these committees and their concerted action with the college.

Tom Davies Cal Poly

Tom Davies Retiring After 34 Years

To celebrate and conclude his 34 years of leading the Cal Poly choral program, Tom Davies will take students, alumni and several faculty members on a tour of England and Wales from June 21 to July 2. The choirs’ 2016-17 concert season featured several of Davies’ favorite pieces, which will be sung on the tour, including a few from his must-do bucket list. His choirs have performed repeatedly at special university events, across the country and around the globe. His wife, Susan, served as the primary accompanist for the choirs all the years Davies conducted them.

TedX Cal Poly

First TedX Event at Cal Poly

Last fall, fourth-year psychology major Cameron Wiese co-organized Cal Poly’s first TedX event, TedXCalPoly 2016, which featured presentations from Cal Poly students and professors, and many other accomplished individuals from across the country. Speakers presented to a sold-out audience in the Performing Arts Center. Wiese and his team worked hard to find accomplished speakers whose stories adhered to the TED mantra: ideas worth spreading. Many of the presenters had ties to the College of Liberal Arts, including sociology senior Luke Fox, psychology Professor Don Ryujin and philosophy Professor Ryan Jenkins.


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