press release

Unocal donates pier, endowment to Cal Poly for new marine science education center

The following news release was issued by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo, Calif., Nov. 29, 2001 - Unocal Corporation donated its historic pier in Avila Beach to California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo) for the establishment of a marine science education and research center in ceremonies here today.

The Cal Poly Marine Science Education and Research Center will be operated by the university's College of Science and Mathematics. The laboratory facility will be the only one of its kind between Santa Barbara and Monterey, and the only one in the nation focusing on undergraduate education.

The center will allow faculty and students to conduct research projects in many areas, including marine science, oceanography, marine geology, meteorology, marine biotechnology, bioremediation, molecular biology, biochemistry, and mathematical, statistical and computer modeling.

"This once-in-a-lifetime donation is just the latest example of Unocal's long-time interest in and support of Cal Poly's science programs," said Cal Poly President Warren J. Baker. "The center will not only benefit Cal Poly students and faculty, but also will increase the understanding and stewardship of the Central Coast's marine life.

"Unocal's continuing generosity enhances Cal Poly's "learn-by-doing" educational philosophy by providing our students, especially undergraduates, hands-on experience," he said.

The concrete pier is six-tenths of a mile long. Built in 1984, it is valued at $18 million. Unocal will also establish a $3.5 million endowment for maintenance and operation of the facility.

A wooden pier was originally built on the site in 1914 and was bought by Unocal in 1941. The wooden structure was destroyed by winter storms in 1983, and the current pier was rebuilt the following year. Unocal used it for loading and unloading of crude oil and petroleum products until the mid-1990s.

"This gift today will help assure a legacy of quality, learn-by-doing education for future generations of Cal Poly students," said Mark Smith, Unocal vice president who oversees the company's Central Coast operations. "We have been a long-time partner with Cal Poly, and graduates of this fine university have played an important role in Unocal's business.

Smith also noted that the gift to Cal Poly was the result of a two-year-long effort by Unocal and Cal Poly professionals, as well as government officials. "The dedication and effort of all parties made today a reality," Smith said.

Including today's gift, Unocal has donated more than $28 million to Cal Poly programs over the past five years. Unocal has been a major supporter of Cal Poly's world-renowned Environmental Biotechnology Institute, which is leading research into the use of biotechnology to improve ecosystems.

The pier's existing office building will be renovated for teaching, research, office and meeting areas. Students working on research projects will be bused from the campus to the pier.

"Our undergraduate students will participate in the development of what surely will become a nationally recognized marine science center," said Philip S. Bailey, dean of Cal Poly's College of Science and Mathematics. "Their research will be cutting edge, important to the marine research community and beneficial to the Central Coast."

Cal Poly offers a marine biology concentration within the biological sciences department as well as a quarter-at-sea program around the Pacific Ocean in collaboration with the CSU Maritime Academy.

Future plans for the pier include partnerships with local educational institutions such as Cuesta College, Hancock College and the San Luis Obispo County schools, and with community non-profit organizations.

Updated: November 2001