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Cal Poly Dance Program Honored at American College Dance Association Conference

Mar 27, 2018

A dance choreographed by dance rofessor Christy McNeil Chand was selected as the opener for the closing gala of the American College Dance Association regional conference in Tempe, Arizona. Out of 48 pieces presented for adjudication, only 12 are chosen for performance at the event. “The conference features four nights of performances from many of the top dance major schools,” said dance Professor Diana Stanton. “It is a tremendous honor to be selected to open the gala, and with our program only having a minor, this selection is quite a nod to Christy’s work.” Seven Cal Poly students performed in Chand’s contemporary jazz piece, “Composition for the Pianola,” which was inspired by the HBO series “Westworld.”

Anthropology major and dance minor Sarah Dirk also presented a piece she choreographed for adjudication. The dance was inspired by a poem she wrote reflecting on her recent mission trip to China. She said it was a rewarding experience to have the judges shed light on aspects of the piece she hadn’t thought of beforehand.

“While I did feel that they projected their personal interpretations onto the meaning and significance of my dance, it was still good for me to hear them so that I might foresee how a piece I create in the future might be interpreted,” she said. “I greatly appreciated all that they had to say, the good and the bad, about the dance I created and would highly recommend any young choreographer to take advantage of this opportunity if they get the chance. The judges were Zvi Gotheiner, internationally acclaimed choreographer and artistic director of ZviDance; Rennie Harris, founder of the longest running hip-hop dance touring company; and Stefanie Batten Bland, artistic director and founder of SBB Company.

In total, 16 Cal Poly students attended the conference this year. In addition to adjudication concerts, the conference includes master classes, research presentations, dance for the camera screenings, specialty seminars, workshops and networking opportunities for both faculty and students. Chand served on two panels, she and Stanton both presented master classes, and Stanton’s dance film “Breaking Bread” was screened.

“ACDA is one of the most rewarding experiences I get to attend each year as a part of my dance education,” Dirk said. “I get to experience dance cultures from schools across the nation, as well as getting to take classes I would never get the chance to take elsewhere.”

Dirk said the conference demands a lot of time and energy, but it’s worth it to those who give it their all. She added, “I always feel I grow immensely as a dancer, young professional and choreographer each time I go.”

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Students Make Semifinals in Disney Imaginations Design Competition

Mar 26, 2018

A group of Cal Poly students made it to the semifinals of the 27th annual Disney Imaginations Design Competition for their theme park design based on a ghost town in Maine.

Graphic communication senior Chandler Stroh, art and design senior Eva Olsen, landscape architecture senior Michael Lenahan, and city and regional planning senior Torina Wilson teamed up to design an outdoor immersive experience for a Walt Disney theme park. They competed against hundreds of candidates from colleges across the nation.

When Stroh heard about a competition to design attractions for Disney theme parks, she sought out Cal Poly students who shared her love for Disney.

“I’ve always marveled at the idea of working for Disney,” Stroh said. “Working on this project meant finally having an excuse to enter the mind of a Disney Imagineer. No other project of mine has given me the freedom to explore my imagination to this extent.”

This year’s competition invited students to bring an abandoned territory to life. Stroh’s team based their design on Swan Island, an abandoned island in Maine. Their concept was Ember Park: a park where augmented reality illustrates and brings to life the history of the ghost town, with excursions aplenty.

Stroh found great value in collaborating with her peers. “I was able to see how our different academic backgrounds and skill sets only pushed our project further,” she said.

Olsen created the design rendering and concept art. Her studio art expertise helped illustrate the team’s ideas into a tangible design. Stroh researched, wrote and designed the presentation. Combining these skills with architecture and city and regional planning skills led to a creative and well-rounded project.

“There was something truly magical about these three other strangers pouring their hearts into a common interest for nothing more than the satisfaction of trying our best,” Stroh said.

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Mustang Media Group Earns 25+ Awards

Mar 26, 2018

Mustang Media Group (MMG), the Cal Poly Journalism Department’s student-run media organization, received more than 25 awards in the span of five months. MMG earned awards on behalf of the organization, and several students were recognized for their personal accomplishments. 

The student journalists received state-wide recognition with multiple awards from the California Collegiate Media Association at the Associated Collegiate Press’ National Midwinter Journalism Convention held in early March. They also earned national recognition with 10 awards from the College Media Association (CMA) 2017 Pinnacle Awards at the ACP/CMA Fall National College Media Convention in October, along with several additional awards at the 2018 College Media Business and Advertising Managers (CMBAM). One journalism student was selected as a 2018 CMBAM fellow for the convention that was held in late March. 

CMBAM Fellow

Journalism student Bianka Pantoja was selected as a 2018 fellow for the CMBAM convention in Kansas City, MO, which was held in late March. “I knew I wanted to go to the conference, but then I thought it would be an even greater experience to be a part of organizing it,” said Pantoja. As a fellow, Pantoja assisted the CMBAM executive board before the convention with marketing and planning efforts, and served as a copy editor for associated advertisements and convention programs. During the conference, she arrived early to help set up as well as assist the executive board with interview scheduling, speed networking, and introducing session speakers.

CMBAM Awards

Mustang Media Group received third place in nation, and several individual students also received awards at the 2018 CMBAM convention.

  • Hannah Avdalovic, CMBAM Marketing/PR manager of year
  • Emily Manos, CMBAM Advertising Manager of the Year
  • Bianka Pantoja, second place CMBAM Advertising Sales Rep of the Year

CMA Pinnacle Awards 

The College Media Association’s Pinnacle Awards honor the best college media organizations and individual work. The contest is open to student work produced for any college media organization, including print, broadcast and online outlets, during an academic year. Founded in 1954, CMA has more than 800 members across the nation. It supports both new and veteran advisers of collegiate media programs with conventions, workshops, publications and national networking. Cal Poly's MMG staff and students won

  • First Place, Best Display Ad - Erica Patstone (Valley Center, Calif.)
  • First Place, Best Portrait - Matt Lalanne (Porterville, Calif.)
  • First Place, Best Social Media Main Page - Aaron Matsuda (Sacramento, Calif.)
  • First Place, Best TV Special Event Coverage - Ayrton Ostly (Los Gatos, Calif.), Connor McCarthy (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Leah Pezzetti (Sacramento, Calif.)
  • Second Place, Best Multimedia Campaign - Ellen Fabini (El Cerrito, Calif.)
  • Third Place, Best Ad Campaign - Erica Patstone (Valley Center, Calif.)
  • Third Place, Best Multimedia Breaking News Story - Mustang News Staff
  • Third Place, Best Television Sportscast - Mustang News TV/Mustang Media Group
  • Third Place, Best Viral Video - Gina Randazzo (Ventura, Calif.), Naba Ahmed (Hawthorn, Calif.) and James Hayes (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
  • Honorable Mention, Best Ad Supplement - Mustang News Staff

CCMA awards for MMG staff and students

The California College Media Association hosts a competition honoring excellence in college journalism. Categories include advertising, digital, visual, writing and overall excellence. CCMA formed in 2004 to foster cooperation among colleges in the state in order to give a unified voice in addressing problems and issues that college news media face, to provide support and communications to advisers and editors, to nurture college journalists and to share resources. MMG was honored with

  • First Place, Best Advertising Special Section
  • First Place, Best Online Campaign (KCPR-FM)
  • First Place, Best Color Ad Second Place, Best Online Ad
  • Second Place, Best Ad Campaign
  • Second Place, Best Use of Social Media for a Single Event
  • Third Place, Best Black and White Ad
  • Third Place, Best Multimedia Presentation
  • Third Place, Best Overall Newspaper Design
  • Honorable Mention, Best Use of Social Media for a Single Story

Five CCMA awards individually recognized students:

  • Second Place, Best Infographic - Brendan Matsuyama (Manteca, Calif.)
  • Second Place, Best Photo Illustration - Chris Gateley (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Third Place, Best Sports Feature Story - Erik Engle (Petaluma, Calif.)
  • Third Place, Best Feature Photograph - Matt Lalanne (Porterville, Calif.)
  • Honorable Mention, Best Newspaper Front Page Design - Zack Spanier (San Diego, Calif.)

Mustang Media Group is a fully integrated student media organization at Cal Poly. The media arm includes print, digital, TV and radio through Mustang News, CPTV and KCPR-FM, as well as Central Coast PRspectives, which provides public relations and marketing services, and Green and Gold Digital that provides a myriad of services to clients.

Read the most recent stories in The Link

Art and Design Student Magazine .RAW Expands Production

Mar 26, 2018

“Create to Relate” is the slogan of .RAW, Cal Poly Art and Design Department’s student-run magazine. It’s fittingly named after the uncompressed file format that magazine photos need to be in so they can print on a larger scale.

The magazine began as a class assignment in professor Lana Caplan’s ART 329 Editorial Photography with a group of only eight students. It has since grown into a student-run magazine where students handle all aspects of creating and publishing a magazine including editorial content, model releases and photo permissions.

For its second issue, the publication took a step further by collaborating with Club 34, Cal Poly’s Art and Design club. The original plan was to publish 35 copies of the magazine through the Art and Design Department in winter 2018, but with fundraising and merchandise sales, enough money was raised to print 150 copies through UGS.

“I’m excited for students to have the opportunity to put together a creation, which is completely their own, in a real-world collaborative work setting,” said faculty advisor Lana Caplan. She says her favorite part of the magazine is its diverse content in terms of subject and form, and she hopes to expand these themes throughout the continued growth of the publication.

To be featured in the magazine, artists pay a small submission fee to showcase their work, but they can pick up a copy of the magazine for free. The purpose of the magazine is not to make money, but to give the work of student artists the chance to seen by a larger scale audience. It has been a great way for student artwork to be represented and has increasingly gained more submissions each quarter.

Art and Design Students at the RAW Reception

The magazine is led by Noelle Merrihew, an art and design major with a photography concentration. As the editor-in-chief, she says her favorite part of becoming a leader in creating the publication has been interacting with work from those in the department. “I enjoy the diversity in the submissions, as well as meeting new people to collaborate with creatively,” said Merrihew. Next year, the project will be taken over by current assistant editors Hannah Travis and Kaiya Peralta.

Caplan is excited about the project’s potential to be used to attract prospective students, as many current students are becoming more engaged and interested in working with the magazine. Future goals for .RAW include increasing the number of works submitted and securing additional funding to print more copies. Caplan hopes that the project will eventually be able to extend and reach major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as possibly other CSU campuses.

.RAW is published quarterly in December, March and June. Submissions are currently open exclusively to art and design students. Questions about the publication can be directed to Merrihew at

LAES Pedestrian Passageway Project Receives Grant

Mar 22, 2018

Cal Poly liberal arts and engineering studies (LAES) professor David Gillette, along with architecture professor Thomas Fowler, received the Hearst Foundation Award for Scholarship in Education for their “2Towns Passageway” project, also known as the K Street Pedestrian Tunnel in Sacramento.

The project is a collaboration between The Downtown Sacramento Partnership and Cal Poly — primarily the LAES program and the Architecture Department — to help upgrade the underground pedestrian passageway between Historic Sacramento and Downtown Sacramento.

“The goal is to make it more inviting and something families want to come to with their children — something that’s a little more of an event than just a passageway,” said Gillette.

The $30,000 award has gone toward the design of interactive installations in the passageway. The vision is to create a space for rotating interactive media installations that make use of the latest display and communication technologies, including virtual reality, augmented reality and motion-tracking systems.

The partnership between the organization and Cal Poly started two years ago when Sacramento architects and Cal Poly alumni, Rachel Glabe Taylor and Greg Taylor were invited to work on the project. They contacted Fowler about getting his students involved. A few months later, Fowler and Gillette’s students presented design ideas to stakeholders in Sacramento including transportation officials and local business owners. However, the project was stalled because of a lack of funding.

With the help of the Hearst Foundation Award, students have been able to travel to Sacramento throughout the year to share new designs and perform demonstrations in support of fundraising efforts for the project.

“The best thing about this grant is that it’s funding a real-world project,” Gillette said. “This is not just a class exercise; it’s actually going to the City of Sacramento with the goal of building this and raising money.”

LAES senior Ben Cochran of Genoa, Nevada added: “I’m excited to see some of our ideas go up in a public place that people will be able to use. Sacramento is only about two hours from where I grew up, so I know a lot of people who will actually go through this tunnel.” 

Read the most recent stories in The Link

Music Senior Plays Trumpet for 'Kinky Boots'

Mar 20, 2018

Cal Poly music senior Taylor O’Hanlon seized a last-minute opportunity to play trumpet in the national-touring production of the Broadway show “Kinky Boots” on Jan. 30.

The morning of the show, O’Hanlon, who has played the trumpet for 12 years, got an email from his professor, Christopher Woodruff. The email said that the trumpet player for “Kinky Boots” was unavailable, and the director was looking for a substitute for the night.

“When I got that email, I felt kind of like a mad scientist rubbing my hands together,” O’Hanlon said. “It was like, ‘opportunity has arisen.’ I was nervous, but I knew if I didn’t take the opportunity, I would be stabbing myself in the foot for later.”

O’Hanlon plays trumpet for many on-campus music groups, including wind bands, jazz band, symphony, and brass ensembles. He has typically been given 7-9 weeks to perfect a piece. Performing for “Kinky Boots,” however, meant he had just hours to learn the songs for the show.

“That was the fastest I’ve ever had to learn a piece,” he said.

Professor Woodruff was confident that O’Hanlon could handle the quick turn-around.

“His fundamental trumpet skills on tone and technique are solid, and he has a proven record of showing up prepared and on time — that last part is crucial in our business,” Woodruff said.

O’Hanlon said he was happy with his performance in the show. He hopes to perform for shows like this in the future in his career post-graduation. At “Kinky Boots,” he had the chance to talk with the musicians and catch a glimpse of what a career in music might look like for him.

“It was really nice to hear what it’s like for them,” O’Hanlon said. “They’re just a bunch of young people having fun playing music and getting paid for it.”

His experience playing in the show allowed him to explore more aspects of the field than simply playing the instrument. He practiced his professionalism in a high-caliber performance venue.

“I’ll remember the idea of marketing myself — showing up, acting professional, meeting the music director of the show, having the confidence to ask questions if I needed to, getting the cues — in addition to playing the music,” O’Hanlon said.

According to Woodruff, it’s not everyday that music students get gigs of this caliber, or that students have the opportunity to read in on a live show. O’Hanlon’s experience in “Kinky Boots” puts him a step ahead of the crowd.

“It was really encouraging to get this real-world experience,” O’Hanlon said. “It gave me the confidence that I could graduate and have the chance to perform in the future.”

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Packaging and Design Students Stand Out Among the World’s Best

Mar 20, 2018

Teams of Cal Poly packaging, business, and design students received two of the top three awards at the 2017 World Packaging Organisation (WPO) WorldStar International Packaging Design Student Competition that featured innovative package designs from university students from more than two dozen nations.

In addition, two other Cal Poly teams received WorldStar Student Certificates of Merit given to the next 10 highest scoring entries.

The Cal Poly students were honored for designing creative, functional and eye-catching packaging systems for food, healthcare and sports products. The interdisciplinary teams combined industrial technology and packaging students with art and design students to develop a physical prototype of their product complete with branded graphics.

The Cal Poly team behind “SticKit,” a two-in-one packaging system to dispense disposable syringes and safely store the empties, was among the top three entries. A pull tab on the bottom of the package dispenses boxed syringes; a hinged-lid on the top of the container can be opened and locked for safe syringe disposal. A plastic divider separates compartments, moving down with gravity as syringes are dispensed until it finally closes the container when all the cartons have been consumed. The entry was designed by graphic communication student Dana Shell (San Ramon, Calif.), art and design students Gina Agapito (Santa Barbara, Calif.) and Ashley Vong (San Jose, Calif.), and industrial technology and packaging students Paul Woodman (Atascadero, Calif.) and Michael Lowe (Pleasanton, Calif.). The university’s highest scoring entries were named as WorldStar Student Winners.

The other top award went to the team behind “Tea Stems,” an innovative way to package tea. The tea leaves are placed at the end of a cassava-starch-based compostable stick that makes it easy to stir the tea in the drink without using any utensils. The stems are packaged within a die-cut paperboard folding carton that “blooms” when the box is opened. The package was designed by art and design students Alexandra Rosado (San Francisco, Calif.) and Lucia Astiazaran (Valencia, Calif.), and industrial technology and packaging students Brendan Smyth (San Jose, Calif.), Simeon Comanescu (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Ryan Marrs (San Luis Obispo, Calif.).

Cal Poly’s Student Certificates of Merit honorees included:

“Vera Cruz,” a packaging system for surf wax that integrates a wax comb, a shell that minimizes sun exposure of the wax and a magnetic feature to store a surfer’s car keys. The design is made of injection-molded compostable PaperFoam. Its unique triangular shape offers an ergonomic grip. The dispensing mechanism was inspired by ChapStick packaging, which can contain and reshape a melted product. The package was designed by art and design students Daniel Blenkinship (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Zach Baker (Rocklin, Calif.) with industrial technology and packaging students Brooke Billmeyer (Solana Beach, Calif.), Grant Badstubner (Danville, Calif.), and Sai Domanico (Hillsborough, Calif).

“La Habra” houses avocado oil in a recyclable plastic pouch encased by two molded-fiber shells. The package’s shape was inspired by the shape of an avocado. A pour spout with a drip return prevents the oil from spilling on the package. The product was designed by art and design students Jessica Ferguson (San Jose, Calif.) and Deric Shindledecker (Temecula, Calif.), and industrial technology and packaging students Katie Exum (Torrance, Calif.), Michael Moorehead (Walnut Creek, Calif.) and Patrick McCaffrey (Irvine, Calif.).

The student projects were developed in Professor Mary LaPorte’s ART 437: Graphic Design III class and Professor Javier de la Fuente’s IT 435: Packaging Development class. Professors LaPorte and de la Fuente served as student advisors.The competition considered hundreds of packaging design submissions, including structural design and/or graphic design projects, from award-winning undergraduate and graduate student teams from countries around the world including Brazil, China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Korea, Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, South Africa, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Cal Poly’s teams were entered into the global competition after sweeping the top four awards at the 2017 Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) Ameristar Student Packaging Competition for the second consecutive year.

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Brady Teufel Recognized as Journalism Educator of the Year

Mar 12, 2018

Cal Poly Journalism Educators Brady Teufel and Paul Bittick
Paul Bittick (right), a previous Educator of the Year
honoree, presented the California
Journalism & Media Affiliates’ 2018
Journalism Educator of the Year – 4-Year Division
award to his Cal Poly colleague Brady Teufel (left)
during the California College Media Association
Awards Banquet on Saturday, March 3 in Long Beach.
(Photo by Joe Wirt/CNPA Services Inc.) 

The California Journalism & Media Affiliates recently named Brady Teufel, Cal Poly Journalism Department assistant chair and associate professor, as the 2018 Journalism Educator of the Year — 4-Year Division. The award recognizes leadership and support that goes beyond the journalism program and has impact across campus, community and local or regional associations.

This is the second consecutive year the award was presented to an educator in the Cal Poly Journalism Department. Paul Bittick, Cal Poly’s Mustang Media Group general manager, was the 2017 honoree.

“Brady has been integral to Cal Poly’s student media evolution into an integrated Mustang News operation,” said Cal Poly Journalism Department Chair Mary Glick. “This includes the development of a new capstone course that requires students to produce stories across all platforms — print, digital and video — so students from print, broadcast and public relations all leave Cal Poly’s program with valuable knowledge needed in today’s media market.”

A San Luis Obispo native, Teufel joined the Cal Poly Journalism Department in 2006. Teufel's work experience includes stints as a reporter, photojournalist, graphic designer, web designer and social media consultant. His teaching interests span from writing and photography, to coding and drones.

“Brady has been a tireless and enthusiastic mentor and guide to students working in multimedia on Mustang News. He can frequently be found in the newsroom, sitting side by side with students, reviewing work on the screen, coaching, probing and generally nudging students to do their best work,” added Glick.

Bittick presented the plaque to his Cal Poly colleague at the California College Media Association awards banquet on March 3 in Long Beach. Previous educators of the year nominate current contenders for awards at the university, community college and high school level. The awards are funded by the California Press Foundation.

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Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts Dean to Retire

Mar 8, 2018

Cal Poly today announced that Doug Epperson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will retire in August 2018.

“Under Dean Epperson's leadership, the College of Liberal Arts has achieved a new level of excellence,” said Kathleen Enz Finken, Cal Poly’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “He has been instrumental in understanding and promoting the critical role of the arts, humanities and social sciences in our polytechnic environment.”

Epperson has been the dean of Cal Poly's College of Liberal Arts since 2012. Prior to that appointment, he served as dean at Washington State University and associate dean at Iowa State University, where he was an administrator and professor in the Psychology Department for more than 25 years.

“This was an enormously difficult decision to make, because I have greatly enjoyed my time at Cal Poly,” said Epperson. “I have never worked with a better or more collaborative and effective group. My only regret is that I was not able to spend more of my career with such a fine college at such an excellent university.”

Epperson has been a strong proponent for interdisciplinary collaboration at Cal Poly. He helped to introduce four new minors that combine the studies of science, technology and society. He is also committed to diversity and inclusion. He formed a standing inclusivity and diversity committee for both students and faculty, and he hired an associate dean for diversity and curriculum.

Outside of higher education, Epperson was chair of the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs and was a fellow for the American Psychological Association, Society of Counseling Psychology.

Enz Finken said the university will begin the recruitment process for the college’s next dean this fall, with the aim of appointing the next dean before summer.

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CLA Alumni Social Media Ambassadors

Feb 27, 2018

Share your love for your alma mater by becoming a CLA Social Media Alumni Ambassador! 

Social Media Alumni Ambassadors for the Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts (CLA) help promote the college by liking posts and sharing content from and to the following CLA accounts.


On occasion, alumni ambassadors may be asked to promote specific messages or initiatives, including Cal Poly events, fundraising campaigns or newsworthy CLA stories.

No significant time commitment required!

We just request ambassadors engage with CLA at least once per month (but more often is highly encouraged!). 

This engagement can take several forms:

  • Like, comment on or share posts from various CLA social media accounts.
  • Initiate and join discussions on the CLA Alumni LinkedIn group. 
  • Post CLA-related photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #CalPolyCLA.
  • Encourage your network of fellow alumni to follow CLA social media accounts.

Get the Inside Scoop

By becoming an alumni ambassador, you will get the inside scoop on the biggest news and events from the College of Liberal Arts through occasional emails. 

So, what are you waiting for?


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