Poly Parent News: January 2020

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Director's Message

Happy New Year!  Last month, we were proud to host nearly 10,000 parents, supporters and friends at Cal Poly’s 36th annual Fall Commencement as we conferred degrees on nearly 1,000 graduates. It’s the most exciting day of the year – celebrating our graduates’ accomplishments as a community - there is always a palpable feeling of love and pride in the room.

As we welcome students back from the break, we are now looking forward to the events of winter and spring quarter including the Martin Luther King Legacy event, Change the Status Quo conference, SLO Discovery Weekend, PolyCultural Weekend, Open House, and more!  Stay tuned for more details and sign-up information on these excellent programs. 

In fact, registration is opening in a few short days for SLO Discovery Weekend, held February 27 – March 1. Mark your calendars, book your stay in SLO, and plan to experience special events, excursions, and exclusive discounts for Cal Poly parents and supporters around SLO and campus.

Winter quarter kicks off a long stretch of academic focus for our students. Unlike fall quarter that concludes with a long holiday break, winter quarter segues into spring quarter with only one short week in between. This is a great time of year to consider sending a care package or some encouraging notes to your Mustang.

As always, we are here for you! Please connect with us often.

Tessa Stevens Espinoza, M.A. Ed.
Senior Director of Strategy and Engagement

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Supporting Your Student Through Academic Probation

If your student didn’t perform as well as hoped this past quarter, they might be placed on Academic Probation. Students are placed on Academic Probation when their grade point average drops below a 2.0 (C); those who fall into this category will have received an email stating that they are on Academic Probation during the winter break. You can find the full policy on Academic Probation online.

While being on Academic Probation can be overwhelming and upsetting for you and your student, it is not the end of your student’s academic career. There are attainable ways to improve grades and be removed from Academic Probation. Below you will find information about academic probation and Cal Poly’s procedures for notifying and supporting students:

  • First Year Students:
    • Students who are on academic probation status for the first time after Fall or Winter quarter of their first year must complete the First Year Success Program (FSP). The goal of FSP is to motivate and encourage students and give them practical strategies to move forward.
  • First Year Transfer Students:
    • Students who are on academic probation status for the first time after Fall or Winter quarter of their first year must complete the Transfer Success Program (TSP). The goal of TSP is to provide students the opportunity to connect with peers, staff, and faculty. In addition, students will learn about valuable resources and develop an individualized action plan to support their pursuit of continued success.
  • 2nd Year Students and Above:
    • If your student is not a First Year or Transfer student, they will be contacted by their College Advising Center about their next steps. In the meantime, they can use online academic resources and visit the Mustang Success Center if they have immediate questions.

Cal Poly also has several academic safety nets in place to support your student in adjusting their study habits, managing their time, and improving their academic performance. Below you will find several college-specific and general advising centers and academic support resources:

As a parent or supporter, you can familiarize yourself with these resources and encourage your student to utilize them. Pressure from parents and supporters to attain certain grades can often aggravate stress levels and worsen student academic performance. Let your student know that you are still proud of them and will always support them through the ups and downs of their academic career.

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New Year Parent Giving - Cal Poly Hunger Program

More than 27% of Cal Poly Students do not know where their next meal is coming from, according to a Cal Poly Basic Needs Task Force Report conducted in 2018. An additional 26% of students reported feeling anxiety over their ability to obtain an adequate amount of food.

Hunger is a real problem on campus, but you can help. As we enter Winter Quarter, please consider giving a gift to the Cal Poly Hunger Program. The program is entirely funded by generous donors and includes the Food Pantry, Meal Voucher Program and emergency meal plans for students with the greatest need.

A gift of $100 feeds four Cal Poly students for a week. Let's work together to make sure that students have the ability to focus on their classes, not their next meal. Give today.

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Get a Head Start on 2020-21 Housing Planning

Although it may seem early, now is the time for your student to start planning for next year’s living arrangements. There is a wide variety of housing options for students including on-campus apartments, off-campus apartments, and off-campus houses. Encourage your student to start now, consider all their options, and develop a budget for housing-related expenses including rent, utilities, food, etc.

On-Campus Living Resources:

On-campus housing application open dates:

TBD in March

2020-21 campus housing application/payment opens to current first-year students. Secure housing by completing the application and initial payment. Applications/payments are accepted as space allows. 

TBD in March

2020-21 campus housing application/payment opens to all continuing students. Secure housing by completing the application and initial payment. Applications/payments are accepted as space allows. 

TBD in March

Newly admitted first-year and transfer students apply for Fall 2020 campus housing. Secure housing by completing the application and initial payment. Transfer applications/payments are accepted as space allows. 

Off-Campus Living Resources:

Other, non-Cal Poly affiliated and/or endorsed resources suggested by current students include:

Please note that these resources are not affiliated with Cal Poly or officially endorsed by Cal Poly.

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Spring/Summer Breaks That Make a Difference

Alternative Breaks offers a chance to raise students' self-awareness, supplement their educational experience with the university, and demonstrate Cal Poly's enthusiasm to make a positive impact outside of the campus community. Students are immersed in another culture, which provides the opportunity to examine social issues and reflect on their own positions of power and privilege. Volunteer excursions give Cal Poly students a chance to make a lasting contribution and work together to develop skills as global citizens.

All trips include pre-trip orientation workshop, evening group reflections, and free time in the evenings to explore the area. All trips are led by Cal Poly staff. If you would like more information about applying to an Alternative Breaks experience, come to an information session or contact us at or (805) 756-5338.

Below are the upcoming 2020 Spring and Summer Break trips:

Seattle, Washington | Spring Break | March 22-28, 2020

  • Participate in meaningful community service projects
  • Serve around issues of homelessness, food insecurity, and addiction
  • Earn the emerging leadership certificate
  • Make lasting connections and friends
  • Application deadline: Monday, February 3
  • Info Sessions:
    • Mon, 1/13 | 2PM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 1/16| 10AM | UU 216
    • Tues, 1/21 | 2PM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 1/23 | 10AM | UU 216
    • Mon, 1/27 | 10AM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 1/30 | 10AM | UU 216

Italy | Summer Break | June 14-27, 2020

  • Participate in meaningful community service projects
  • Serve around issues of homelessness, senior citizens, and the environment
  • Experience immersive cultural excursions
  • Grow in your intercultural competence
  • Make lasting connections and friends
  • Application deadline: Monday, February 24
  • Info Sessions:
    • Mon, 1/27 | 3PM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 1/30 | 2PM | UU 218
    • Mon, 2/3 | 10AM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 2/6 | 10AM | UU 216
    • Mon, 2/10 | 3PM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 2/13 | 3PM | UU 216
    • Tues, 2/18 | 2PM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 2/20 | 10AM | UU 216

Nepal | Summer Break | June 14-27, 2020

  • Participate in meaningful community service projects
  • Serve around issues of children’s health, education, and the environment
  • Experience immersive cultural excursions
  • Grow in your intercultural competence
  • Make lasting connections and friends
  • Application deadline: Monday, February 24
  • Info Sessions:
    • Mon, 1/27 | 3PM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 1/30 | 2PM | UU 218
    • Mon, 2/3 | 10AM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 2/6 | 10AM | UU 216
    • Mon, 2/10 | 3PM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 2/13 | 3PM | UU 216
    • Tues, 2/18 | 2PM | UU 216
    • Thurs, 2/20 | 10AM | UU 216

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Resource Spotlight – Center for Military-Connected Students

Cal Poly has a variety of great resources for a diverse student body. Each month we will highlight one that may be beneficial or of interest to your student.

Cal Poly’s military-friendly campus offers an enthusiastic and supportive community for all veterans, service members and to our large group of military dependent students. The Center for Military-Connected Students (formerly the Veterans Success Center) is the central hub for resources, information and support. We strive to provide comprehensive assistance to all military-connected students.

The CMCS team assists students in navigating the complex web of VA and California State educational benefits. The dedicated and specially trained VA School Certifying Officials in the center are on hand to answer all questions related to GI Bill, Dependents Educational Assistance, Vocational Rehab and Fry Scholarship questions. Additionally, we can walk students and their parents through the process of applying for the California Veterans Dependents College Fee Waiver, a program that waives tuition and CSU fees at Cal Poly.

The Center also helps in accessing campus and community resources, in-state tuition, and provides hands-on leadership opportunities while supporting each student's individual academic and personal growth. All military-connected students are invited to drop by the center and check out our lounge area, free printing and coffee/tea/snacks. Like the CMCS on Facebook!

The Student Veterans & Dependents Club meets monthly in the center. Their goal is to assist in any way to help former brothers, sisters in arms, and dependents of veterans realize their full potential academically, socially, and in the workplace. Like the SVO on Facebook!

If you are a military-connected student or parent, please reach out to the CMCS for assistance and to be added to our newsletter email distribution list. The Center Coordinator, Kari Leslie, can be reached at 805-756-7112 or

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New Year’s Resolution #1: Get Involved

Does your student want to make some new friends, explore a new hobby, or pick up a new skill this quarter? There are hundreds of Cal Poly clubs, craft classes, intermural sports teams, and more that your student can join!

Getting involved with an organization has numerous benefits, including learning outside of the classroom setting, creating positive connections with fellow students, developing leadership and professional experience, and making a tangible impact on this campus. Check out the clubs, organizations, supports, classes, and more below:

  • Clubs
    • With more than 300 student organizations, Cal Poly has something for everyone. No matter what your student is passionate about, they’ll probably find at least one they’ll want to join.
    • Search the club directory online here.
  • Club Sports
    • The goal of the Club Sports program is to develop a safe, fun, and competitive environment that provides athletes with opportunities to develop their character, experience a recreational and competitive athletic competition at a multitude of skill levels, develop a lifetime appreciation for sport and physical activity, and represent Cal Poly at competitions across the nation.
    • Teams include: Badminton, Golf, Rugby, Sailing, Water Polo, Fencing Surf, Ski and dozens more!
    • You can find a full listing of teams and contact information online here.
  • Craft Center Classes
    • Taking a Craft Center class allows students to explore their creative interests with guidance from experienced instructors. Classes are offered each quarter. Students with little or no experience are encouraged to start with a class.
    • Classes including flameworking, ceramics, stained glass, surfboard shaping, and more!
    • Browse the full listing of Craft Center classes and their prices online here.
  • Poly Escapes
    • Poly Escapes offers student-led trips, equipment rentals, and an on-campus climbing park
    • Upcoming trips include backpacking in Big Sur, camping in Yosemite, rock climbing in Santa Barbara, snowshoeing in Mammoth, and more!
    • Find the full listing of upcoming trips online here.
  • Instructionally Related Activities
    • An Instructionally Related Activity (IRA) is an "out-of-class experience" that provides enrichment to students and enhances their learning at Cal Poly. Funding for recognized IRAs is provided through student fees. All IRA programs/activities are partially sponsored by an academic dean or department and are "integrally related" to a formal instructional program.
    • IRAs include the Equestrian Team, LA Design Week, Women’s Business Leadership Academy, Engineers Without Borders, Mock Trial, Rodeo and dozens more!
    • You can find a full list of recognized IRA programs by college online here.

If there aren’t any clubs that match your student’s interests or hobbies, they also have the opportunity to start a new one! Your student can find more information about starting their own club online here.

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Change the Status Quo: Social Justice Leadership Conference

The Center for Service in Action is excited to announce the 18th Annual Change the Status Quo: Social Justice Leadership Conference on Saturday, February 29, 2020!

This conference aims to empower students to use the Learn by Doing spirit to challenge social norms, ask critical questions, demand solutions and make lasting social change. Through guest speakers, inspiring workshops, and engaging sessions, students will leave the conference with a new-found sense and understanding of social justice, and how they can take ownership of their role in moving the needle with regard to social change.

This year’s keynote speaker is political and social activist, scholar, author, educator and National Women’s Hall of Fame Honoree, Angela Davis. 

Through her activism and scholarship over many decades, Angela Davis has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the world. Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice. We are thrilled to bring her to Cal Poly’s campus to kick-off this year’s conference.

For the second year the conference will include a White Privilege in Symposium in collaboration with the Cross Cultural Centers. The White Privilege Symposium challenges participants with agent identities to take social responsibility to think critically and learn about different socioeconomic-political identities and develop their awareness and skill-sets to foster an inclusive environment.

The series of workshops are designed to help participants process their agent identities and deepen their knowledge of power, privilege, and difference, and further develop participants’ anti-racist practices and tools kits to promote community building. Some activities include, but are not limited to personal reflection, small and large group dialogue on demystifying whiteness, power and privilege, moving past guilt and shame, identifying and examining structural and institutional racism, and the lifelong practice of developing anti-racist practice and unpacking identity.

To learn more about this event, please reach out to the Center for Service in Action at or 805-756-5834. 

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WITH US: Remembering Carson Starkey

Please support WITH US and Cal Poly as we work to raise $10,000 in memory of Carson Starkey. You are the X factor that can amplify this Upstander movement and help us hit our fundraising goal of $10,000 for 10 Years.

On December 2, 2008 Carson Starkey lost his life to a senseless and preventable tragedy. During his first term at Cal Poly, he was coerced to drink large amounts of hard liquor as part of a hazing ritual. He was only 18 years old when his peers stood by while he died from an alcohol overdose.

Carson’s parents Scott and Julia Starkey founded Aware Awake Alive, a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing future tragedies.  The lessons of Carson’s life have impacted thousands through Aware Awake Alive’s awareness campaigns, education programs, and advocacy efforts. In February of this year, their mission grew with the launch of WITH US, The National Network for Peer Accountability, a national multi-issue bystander intervention research center based within the Division of Student Affairs at Cal Poly.

The Center was established to expand on the peer-to-peer bystander intervention model of Aware Awake Alive and bring universities and prevention organizations together to address the many critical health and safety issues facing college students. Equipped with the knowledge, motivation, confidence, and skills, our students can step in to prevent issues of sexual assault, hate and bias, hazing, high-risk alcohol use, and other drug abuse in their communities.

Your gift will directly fund research and the development of our lifesaving education programs and awareness campaigns.

To give, visit the Cal Poly Giving Donation Website today.

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Cal Poly Float Wins Director Award at Rose Parade 2020

The Cal Poly Rose Float won the Director Award for most outstanding artistic design and use of materials at the 131st Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA on January 1, 2020. The theme for the parade this year was “The Power of Hope,” and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Pomona collaborated and chose to represent this theme with an “Aquatic Aspirations,” themed float. The float included underwater creatures including jellyfish, swimming fish, a rocking ray and kelp, as well as a 9-foot moving submarine, sunken shipwreck and a 13-foot moving octopus. The 18- by 55-foot float was seen by over 700,000 people in person at the parade, and viewed by almost 37 million Americans and 28 million international viewers on TV.

This year was the ninth consecutive year that Cal Poly’s float earned the “California Grown” designation from the California Flower Commission, which recognizes entries decorated with at least 85% of plant materials from California. This year’s float surpassed that mark by almost 10%, having -almost 95% California grown plant materials, including many grown on the two Cal Poly campuses.

Read more about Cal Poly’s involvement in the Rose Parade by clicking here!

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Cal Poly Receives “Gold” Ranking in Sustainability

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) allows universities to measure their sustainability efforts in categories including academics, engagement and operations. The STARS rankings include four tiers: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Almost a thousand colleges and universities currently use the system. Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo ranks third of all California State Universities, falling just behind CSU Northridge and CSU Chico. The gold ranking is upheld for three years, so Cal Poly will likely reapply in 2022, aiming for the platinum ranking, however there is more work to be done to achieve that goal. Many of the school’s sustainability programs run in the background, so those efforts may be hard for some students to identify. One of the current programs include Campus Dining’s bulk food bins which were implemented in October. These bins are a part of the university’s zero waste goals!

Read more about Cal Poly’s sustainability efforts by clicking here!

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Recommended Parent Reading List

Ever wish there was a how-to guide on parenting college students? While there might not be a manual on raising young adults, there are several helpful resources, articles, and books to help you support your student. Each quarter Parent & Family Programs will recommend a recent and relevant book or article for parents and supporters of students of all identities and backgrounds.

Winter Quarter Reading Recommendation: “The Gift Of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed” by Jessica Lahey

In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.

Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. As teacher and writer Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well-being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.

Overparenting has the potential to ruin a child’s confidence and undermine their education, Lahey reminds us. Teachers don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, restraint, and foresight—important life skills children carry with them long after they leave the classroom.

Providing a path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most importantly, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s failures. Hard-hitting yet warm and wise, The Gift of Failure is essential reading for parents, educators, and psychologists nationwide who want to help children succeed.

Want to start a local Cal Poly parent reading circle? Browse Facebook for the many local Facebook groups created and maintained by current and past Cal Poly Proud parents. Happy reading!

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 Important Dates and Deadlines

January 1 | Second installment of winter housing and dining payment plans due. (see fee schedules for payment amount.) A registration hold will be applied if the required payment is not made on time.

January 6 | Winter quarter classes begin.

January 13 | Room changes begin.

January 14 | Fall 2020 Continuing Students Application opens to all continuing students. Apply in your Housing Portal.

January 15 | Last day to add or swap classes via Student Center with a permission number

January 15 | Last day to drop classes, and change CR/NC grading option via Student Center

January 15 | Last day to submit class audit petition to the Office of the Registrar (5:00 pm).

January 15 | Last day to log in and adjust your PolyPlan to avoid being placed in the last rotation appointment (PolyPlanner non-compliant) for Spring 2020 term by 5PM

January 16 | Late Enrollment Appeal period beings. Form is available at the Office of the Registrar.

January 20 | Academic Holiday. Martin Luther King’s birthday observed.

January 21 | Classes follow a Monday schedule.

January 24 | Last day to submit Late Enrollment Appeal 5pm

February 1 | Third monthly installment of winter housing and dining payment plans due. (see fee schedules for payment amount.) A registration hold will be applied if the required payment is not made on time.

February 6 | PASS available for Spring 2020 Quarter.

February 17 | Academic Holiday. Washington’s birthday observed.

February 18 | Continuing students must submit the 2020 Continuing Student Housing application and finalize roommate groups before midnight in order to be eligible for the first round of room selection for campus apartments.

February 20 – March 3 | Continuing students select rooms and apartments for the 2020-21 academic year.

February 25 | 2020 Spring housing application opens.

February 25 | Last day to withdraw from course(s) for serious and compelling reason (5:00pm).

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Upcoming Events

January 10 | Wrestling vs Northern Illinois | 7-9:30pm | Mott Gym

January 10 | W. Terrence Spiller – Music Faculty Piano Recital | Spanos Theatre

For his annual recital to benefit the Music Department scholarship fund, concert pianist and music Professor W. Terrence Spiller will play W.A. Mozart’s Sonata in C Major, K. 330; Franz Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor, Op. 143; Franz Liszt’s “Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude” (“The Blessing of God in Solitude”) from “Harmonies poétiques et religieuses” (“Poetic and Religious Harmonies”) and Zoltán Kodály’s “Dances of Marosszek.”

January 11 | Swimming and Diving vs SDSU, Fresno St. | 11am-5pm | Anderson Pool

January 11 | Men’s Basketball vs CSU Northridge | 7-9:30pm | Mott Gym

January 12 | Met Live – Glass’ Akhnaten | 2-6pm | Harold Miossi Hall

Aten, the sun god, is glorified by Akhnaten, his wife Nefertiti, and Queen Tye, his mother. As the trio makes its pronouncement at the window, the sun rises behind them. Akhnaten and Queen Tye begin to make the changes that he has promised. He leads a revolt to banish the old religion and replace it with his own.

Star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo is Akhnaten with the striking mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges in her Met debut as Nefertiti. Karen Kamensek conducts in her Met debut that includes a virtuosic company of acrobats and jugglers.

January 17 | Wrestling vs Stanford | 6:30-9pm | Mott Gym

January 17 | Ken Hustad Bass Recital | 7:30-8:30pm | HP Davidson Music Center-0218

January 18 | Women’s Basketball vs UC Irvine | 2-4:30pm | Mott Gym

January 20 | Women’s Tennis vs Southern Utah | 10am-1pm | Mott Tennis Courts

January 22 | Beautiful: The Carole King Musical | 7-9:30pm | Harold Miossi Hall

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom — from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel the Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” and the title song. Beautiful took home two 2014 Tony Awards and a 2015 Grammy Award, with a book by Tony Award-nominee and Academy Award-nominated writer Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni, and choreography by Josh Prince.

January 23 | Women’s Basketball vs UC Riverside | 7-9:30pm | Mott Gym

January 25 | Swimming and Diving vs Santa Cruz | 11am-5pm | Anderson Pool

January 25 | Women’s Basketball vs UC Davis | 2-4:30pm | Mott Gym

January 28 | Emanuel Ax | 7:30-9:30pm | Harold Miossi Hall

An exclusive recording artist for Sony Classical, Emanuel Ax is a Grammy-winning American pianist and a teacher at the Julliard School of Music. He is a frequent, committed partner for chamber music and has worked regularly with such artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, and the late Isaac Stern. In celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, the virtuoso’s program will include Beethoven’s Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor, “Fu"¡r Elise;” six variations on an original theme for Piano in F major, Op. 34; Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2, No. 1; five variations for piano on “Rule, Britannia!;” and Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Op. 2, No.3.

January 30 | Men’s Basketball vs CSU Fullerton | 7-9:30pm | Mott Gym

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Important Campus Phone Numbers

Admissions | (805) 756-2311
Career Services | (805) 756-2501
Commencement Office | (805) 756-1600
Counseling Services | (805) 756-2511
Disability Resource Center | (805) 756-1395
Financial Aid Office | (805) 756-2927
Health Services | (805) 756-1211
Mustang Success Center | (805) 756-6211
Parent and Family Programs | (805) 756-6700
Student Accounts | (805) 756-1428
University Housing | (805) 756-1226
Cal Poly Police Department | (805) 756-2281

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