Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer Pledge $20 Million to Cal Poly, Largest Cash Gift in University’s History

Funds will benefit College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.--()--Cal Poly today announced the largest cash gift ever received by the university, a $20 million donation by Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer to the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences. Their gift will be used to build critical new facilities for the college and modernize many of the existing teaching units in the Animal Science Department. The Oppenheimers will also continue to support areas of ongoing need, such as the Cal Poly Scholars program, as well as the university’s meal voucher program and the new Food Pantry to help alleviate hunger on campus.

The Oppenheimers’ gift is expected to fully fund the following projects:

  • A new Agricultural Events Center capable of supporting livestock events, industry activities and conferences, and the college’s student experimental learning programs. The 70,000-square foot indoor arena is expected to seat more than 2,500 guests, with a floor that converts to conference space. The center will also have classrooms supported by the latest technologies. It will be located where the beef unit currently stands on Via Carta;
  • A new Equestrian Pavilion, also on Via Carta, to add needed arena space for current equestrian programs and expanded events on campus. The pavilion will feature both partially enclosed and covered arenas, approximately 60,000 square feet each, with supporting facilities and vehicle parking to accommodate visiting horses;
  • A new Farm Store to support the sales of all meat, poultry, dairy, crop and horticulture products produced on campus by Cal Poly students; and
  • The modernization and expansion of facilities and equipment at the current animal teaching and research centers.

“Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy had a tremendous impact on our education and lives,” said Peter Oppenheimer, a 1985 graduate of Cal Poly. “We want to help modernize and expand Cal Poly’s animal operations and build new facilities to offer future students an even better experience than our own.”

“It is also our desire to relieve existing hunger on campus, so our students are well nourished and can focus on learning,” said Mary Beth Oppenheimer, a 1986 graduate. “This quiet need exists, and we would like to ensure that students have access to the basic essentials including food and personal necessities.“

“Peter and Mary Beth epitomize successful Cal Poly graduates, and their extraordinary gift will impact students for generations to come,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “Their gift is also vital in that it will encourage others to give back to Cal Poly at a time when the university increasingly relies upon private support to maintain its unique Learn by Doing curriculum and emphasis on student success.”

“Peter and Mary Beth Oppenheimer’s generous gift reflects their confidence in the future of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, and true belief in our Learn by Doing mission,” said Andrew J. Thulin, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences. “This unprecedented investment will enable the college to make great strides.”

Peter Oppenheimer graduated with a degree in agricultural business management and participated in the meats and feedlot enterprise projects while at Cal Poly. After 18 years at Apple, Oppenheimer retired in September after serving the last 10 years as chief financial officer. He is currently a director of Goldman Sachs and the Cal Poly Foundation.

Mary Beth Oppenheimer graduated with a degree in home economics with a concentration in interior design. Their youngest son, Mark, is in his third year at Cal Poly in the Mechanical Engineering program.

About Cal Poly State University

Founded in 1901 and part of the renowned California State University system since 1960, Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive polytechnic public university located in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Known for its Learn by Doing approach, small class sizes and open access to expert faculty, Cal Poly is a distinctive learning community whose 20,000 academically motivated students enjoy an unrivaled hands-on educational experience that prepares them to lead successful personal and professional lives.


Cal Poly State University
Haley Marconett, 805-458-6203


Cal Poly State University
Haley Marconett, 805-458-6203