What We Do


As the university’s service auxiliary, the Cal Poly Corporation provides vital commercial services, research support, administrative services, and funding resources. We are a dependable partner that serves the campus community in effective and innovative ways. The corporation is dedicated to advancing Cal Poly and its mission.


The corporation’s vision is to provide support services and world-class facilities that align with the university’s vision of being the premier comprehensive polytechnic university.

The History of the Corporation

The first major activity of the Foundation in 1941 was to acquire space from the state through lease agreements.


In 1933, Julian A. McPhee was appointed president of the California Polytechnic and served concurrently as chief of the Bureau of Agricultural Education, California State Department of Education. Then a two-year technical institute, Cal Poly, under President McPhee’s leadership, evolved into a four-year college in the California State College system.

In 1941, the state allowed auxiliaries to lease state property to run cafeterias, housing, and purposes related to the activities of the university or for the activities of student and faculty organizations on a nonprofit basis. President McPhee incorporated the Foundation, what is now the Cal Poly Corporation (corporation), in 1940. The first major activity of the then Foundation in 1941 was to lease Cal Poly facilities not needed for instruction.

Functions of the Corporation


The corporation’s mission has not changed from its inception and continues to assist and promote the educational mission of Cal Poly under the regulations of the California State University System (“CSU”). The corporation engages only in those activities ancillary to state operation that are requested by Cal Poly’s president and approved by the CSU.

Specific functions and activities provided by the corporation are detailed in operating agreements between the corporation, Cal Poly and the CSU, and policies of Cal Poly found in the Campus Administrative Manual (“CAM”) or the updated policies in the Campus Administrative Policies (“CAP”).

The corporation oversees more than 150,000SF of space on the Cal Poly campus and employs, on average, 1,500 employees. The corporation is solely responsible for all of its operations including maintenance, upgrades and renovations, which are funded from corporation reserves.

Role of the Corporation Diagram - Text description follows

  • The corporation provides commercial services:
    • Dining and vending services
    • Textbooks, supplies
    • Retail sales and related services
    • Printing and copy services
    • Commercial sales using Cal Poly names & symbols, and licensing of such names and symbols
    • Business services for corporation operations
    • Alcohol services
  • The corporation, in cooperation with Cal Poly, provides fiscal services for:
    • Aid-to-instruction programs
    • Conference, workshop, center and institutes
    • Associated Students, Inc (ASI)
    • Cal Poly Housing Corporation
    • Swanton Pacific Ranch
  • The Corporation provides fiscal & support services for:
    • Post-award of sponsored projects including related centers and institutes
    • Administration of certain gifts
    • Holding, usage and liquidation of real property and other gifts-in-kind
    • Endowments, restricted gift, and special activity accounts
    • Funding advances or guarantees for projects and construction
    • Miscellaneous activities as requested by Cal Poly