Poly Parent News: June 2020

This Month's Newsletter

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Message from Our Team

Dear Parents and Supporters,

We are sending you a virtual hug for overcoming one of the most challenging quarters in our university’s history. Whether your student has decided to stay in SLO or move back home, we appreciate all you have done to support your students. We would like to open this newsletter with a letter from our Dean of Students, Kathleen McMahon.

Please enjoy our June edition of Poly Parent News and stay in touch this summer!

The Parent and Family Programs Team


Message from the Dean of Students

Dear Parents and Supporters,

Despite our adaptability as an institution in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are faced with an even more significant and important challenge: the tragic killing of unarmed black Americans has brought forward the necessary and immediate need to focus our attention on identifying and eliminating anti-blackness in our communities. The Office of the Dean of Students is committed to affirming and supporting success and wellness for our black students.

We have all adjusted to new realities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the dean of students, I have watched my team rise to the challenge to ensure students receive the care and support they need during this difficult time. Throughout spring quarter, we discovered innovative ways to engage students in virtual formats, awarded $7 million of federal emergency aid to students with financial and emergency needs, and planned alternate ways to celebrate the Class of 2020, given the cancellation of our in-person ceremonies.

The Cal Poly community is most vibrant when our students are zipping across campus to the next lab, club event or fitness class. I understand how difficult the transition to a virtual quarter has been and empathize with their challenges. I am impressed with their resiliency and flexibility as they (and you all) adjusted to taking classes from home and managing a global pandemic. While students are still in the process of finishing finals, we encourage you to take a moment to reflect on all that you and your students have overcome together. We are so proud of you all.

My heart goes out to our graduating students who cannot end this quarter with the most celebratory day of their academic career -- commencement. I know many of you are feeling a loss as well, as it is such a commemorative experience to watch your student walk across the stage. We promise to create a time of celebration, pride, and reflection for our students and families as soon as it is safe to do so.

Although none of us can predict what the future holds, I remain confident that we will continue to serve and support our students on their educational and developmental path. We are continually learning from this new modality and improving how we serve students in these unprecedented times. Thank you for your commitment to your student’s success, as we know you had to flex and bend this quarter as well. Please continue to share your feedback on how things are going with your student and how we can improve our support.

In community and health,

Kathleen McMahon, Ed.D.

Senior Associate Vice President and Dean of Students

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Kathleen McMahon joined Cal Poly in February 2016 and currently serves as Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. As Dean of Students, she serves as the point of contact for student crisis intervention and is responsible for leading programs and services that directly support the success and wellbeing of Cal Poly students. In her letter to parents and supporters, she writes about the transition to a virtual quarter for the entire Cal Poly Community.

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Message from Parent Advisory Council Chair Marla Nakaso

Dear parents and supporters,

Congratulations to the parents and supporters of our 2020 graduates!

Commencement weekend is almost here, and I am sure this isn’t how you imagined commemorating and recognizing the amazing achievements of your graduate. We all had big plans to come to San Luis Obispo to celebrate their degree from Cal Poly. I think many of us set reminders a year ago to make sure we scored an advanced hotel booking and made reservations at our favorite local restaurant – I sure did. But like all parents of the class of 2020, our plans had to be altered and re-imagined. Our community, our country and the entire world is a changed place because of the current pandemic.

I am hoping the disappointment of missing out on a traditional commencement ceremony will soon be forgotten. But what remains forever is that your student is a Mustang for Life – that will never be taken away. From SLO Days to WOW to their senior project and all the Learn by Doing experiences in-between, they have earned a coveted Cal Poly degree. What I’ve witnessed as a parent and learned through my involvement with the university, are the Mustangs values of hard work, integrity, creativity, innovation, compassion, and resilience that have been paramount in our graduates’ Learn by Doing education. I am confident your student will take these Mustang attributes, their intellect, unique talents, curiosity and passion out into the world – a world that I dream will be more just and kind because of leaders and changemakers committed to the diversity and inclusion of ALL people.

We are so Cal Poly Proud of the Class of 2020. On behalf of the Parent Advisory Council, we celebrate our graduates! We also celebrate the faculty, staff, administrators, coaches, and mentors. Most importantly, we celebrate YOU, the parents and supporters that championed and guided them along the way.

Back at home in the bay area, we have fun plans to commemorate this important milestone for my daughter. It’s not SLO, but our route is set for a morning drive-by “home crawl” followed by a small socially-distanced celebration that includes an imaginary stage, pomp and circumstance playlist, yard signs, yellow marigolds planted in the garden, and a Cal Poly flag proudly flying - ending with a Zoom party complete with Cal Poly virtual backgrounds, shared stories and cherished memories. I cannot wait to see and hear how you will celebrate. Please remind your graduate to throw up that cap in a joyous celebration of a job well done!

The entire Cal Poly family celebrates your amazing graduate with an abundance of joy and pride! Go Mustangs!

Wishing you all the best. Stay well.

Marla Nakaso

Parent of Kelly, 2020 graduate of the Orfalea College of Business

Chair, Parent Advisory Council

Marla Nakaso served as the Chair for Parent Advisory Council for four years. This Spring, her mustang will complete her degree from the Orfalea College of Business. Nakaso shares how her plans have drastically changed this quarter, considering that she started planning commencement a year ago. This pandemic has changed our lives in ways we never imagined but despite the changes, she has still found a way to keep an uplifting spirit and continue to celebrate.

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Celebrate the Class of 2020

Is your Mustang graduating? Showcase how Cal Poly Proud you are their achievements by downloading printable banners and lawn signs, Zoom backgrounds and social media images at Be sure to use #CalPolyGrad to show us how you are celebrating this momentous occasion!

Also, be sure to visit the new Spring Commencement 2020 celebration website to access commencement downloads, recognize graduates, and purchase gifts and other memorabilia.

A special prerecorded tribute to graduates featuring campus leaders and special guests will be emailed to grads on Friday, June 12, and shared on the Spring Commencement 2020 websiteInstagram account and Facebook page. Sign up to receive the tribute video email here

In addition, the university is mailing special Grad Packs gifts to graduates the week of finals so grads should be on the lookout for a special delivery!

For additional questions, contact the Commencement Office at

Please note that at this time, the university is still in the process of planning a future in-person celebration for the Class of 2020 and do not have any details to share at the moment. When we do, we will share them right away. For additional information, please visit

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Cal Poly Recognizes Six Outstanding Graduates from the Class of 2020

Great Grads’ Reflect on Their Achievements, Goals, Struggles, and Futures

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Learn by Doing experience at Cal Poly is a recipe for graduates’ future success. With hands-on classrooms, labs and projects; supportive extracurricular opportunities; and cross-disciplinary learning aimed at enabling problem solving and innovation, Cal Poly graduates are primed to make an immediate difference in the world. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has marked an unprecedented end to many Cal Poly students’ time at the university in 2020. Ongoing concerns for public safety are delaying graduates’ chances to take the stage in a traditional commencement ceremony. But this year’s graduating seniors are nonetheless prepared to embrace the next phases of their lives and careers. 

“Graduation looks different this year, but the stellar quality of our graduates remains the same,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “We look forward to the opportunity to invite all of our Spring 2020 graduates back to campus later this year or in 2021 to celebrate their achievements. In the meantime, we know that we are sending the best and the brightest on to begin their careers or continue their educations — to meet the problems of today’s world head-on and make a tangible, positive impact in their industries and their communities.”

Read full Cal Poly News story.

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On-Campus Housing Move-Out Information

Former residents that left items in their room due to COVID-19 can now schedule a move-out appointment to retrieve their items. Please encourage your student to utilize their Housing Portal to select from scheduled move-out arrival and departure times over a period of weeks. Strict social distancing guidelines will be in place for the duration of your visit.

Please do not return to campus immediately, or without an appointment at any time, as there will be limited staff due to rotating schedules. They will not be able to let you into your room, and the locks have been changed.  

San Luis Obispo hotels are open to Cal Poly students and families who are traveling to the area to move out and need lodging. Call the SLO Visitor Center at 1-877-SLO-TOWN for assistance in connecting with available options.

Retrieving Items

If your student is interested in returning to Cal Poly to retrieve their items: 

  • Sign up for a time in their Housing Portal. Please plan your travel; we cannot accommodate residents who arrive outside of their scheduled arrival time.
  • Campus staff will be on hand to open rooms for your student. We will not be re-issuing keys, and the keys you may still have will not open your space.
  • Please bring no more than two additional people with you from your permanent residence.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be required, so please bring a cloth face covering and plan to wear it while in all buildings. Campus will also be taking strong social distancing measures to ensure the continued health and safety of our community. 

Pack and Ship + Pack and Store

Cal Poly has secured some options to pack and ship or pack and store your belongings. If you are interested in having your items shipped to you or stored, at your cost, you may contact one of the following three moving companies.  These companies will only be retrieving items from residents’ rooms on June 15-19.


If you would like to donate any of your items to local thrift stores, there will be donation stations in the lobbies of your building. Please do not leave any trash or belongings behind; otherwise, you may incur a cleaning fee.  

Any items left in rooms after Friday, June 19, will be donated or disposed of. 

Damage Charges

Damage charges are typically posted to student accounts by late July. Unless otherwise communicated by RA staff, damage charges will be split evenly between all assigned residents of the room or apartment.

Residents will be notified of charges through their Cal Poly email and may request a review of any charges assigned.

Find more important housing dates here. If your student has any questions, they can contact their Resident or Community Advisor, or CSD.

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Online Networking and Mentoring Platform for Students and Alumni

Career Services and Alumni Engagement have partnered to launch Cal Poly Career Connections, an exclusive online networking and mentoring platform for Cal Poly students and alumni. Career Connections offers students a way to easily connect with alumni to seek career advice and mentoring.  The platform provides alumni an opportunity to support and engage with current students and to network with other alumni. The platform launched for alumni last year. Students will be invited to log in through their portal. Cal Poly faculty and staff who graduated from Cal Poly are invited to join Career Connections as alumni mentors.

For more information, visit

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Resource Spotlight: Cal Poly Basic Needs

Cal Poly has a variety of great resources for a diverse student body. Each month Parent and Family Programs staff will highlight one that may be beneficial or of interest to you and your student.

Cal Poly's Basic Needs Initiative seeks to ensure that all students have access to the resources needed to focus on education and success at Cal Poly. According to California State University (CSU) data, 27% of Cal Poly students experience food insecurity and another 12% experience homelessness. These problems affect hundreds, even thousands, of students and the consequences can impact their physical and mental health and academic performance.  One highly utilized service is the Cal Poly Hunger Program, which includes the Food Pantry, Meal Vouchers, and CalFresh.

Food Pantry

The Cal Poly Food Pantry ensures that all students have access to nutritious meals every day. It is a short-term service that assist students who are experiencing food insecurity due to a financial struggle. Thanks to our generous donors, students can choose from a wide variety of packages and canned foods, frozen meals, and personal hygiene products. Health Education can also connect students with other resources if their needs are more demanding.

Meal Vouchers

The Meal Voucher Program aids students who suffer from food insecurity. Students can apply each quarter for up to two meals per week. The available dining venues are Einstein’s, Canyon Cafe, and the Avenue.

Cal Fresh

CalFresh is the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides money to eligible students on an EBT card (similar to a debit card) that can be used at grocery stores or farmers’ markets to help students in access enough quality food. The CalFresh Outreach Team at Cal Poly also helps connect you and other students to other food resources on campus.  We participate in events around campus and work to normalize the discussion of food insecurity on college campuses and raise awareness of the issue.

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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 and Family Programs staff will recommend a book for parents and supporters of students of all identities and backgrounds.

Spring Quarter Reading Recommendation: “How to Raise an Adult” by Julie Lythcott-Haims

In How to Raise an Adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims draws on research, on conversations with admissions officers, educators, and employers, and on her own insights as a mother and as a student dean to highlight the ways in which overparenting harms children, their stressed-out parents, and society at large. While empathizing with the parental hopes and, especially, fears that lead to overhelping, Lythcott-Haims offers practical alternative strategies that underline the importance of allowing children to make their own mistakes and develop the resilience, resourcefulness, and inner determination necessary for success. Relevant to parents of toddlers as well as of twentysomethings (and of special value to parents of teens) this book is a rallying cry for those who wish to ensure that the next generation can take charge of their own lives with competence and confidence.

Learn more at

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COVID-19 Updates

Cal Poly is actively monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). We are proactively engaged in pandemic planning with our public health partners, including the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department and the CDC. The university is following the guidance of the CDC and our local health officials. For the latest updates, resources and information from the university, please visit and be sure to review the FAQ page.

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Upcoming Dates, Deadlines and Events

Office of the Registrar Calendars and Deadlines

Student Accounts Payments

University Housing Calendar

Cal Poly Events Calendar

Download the What’s Up Now guide to view virtual Cal Poly events

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Campus Contact Information

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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