Loyal Colleague

Planned gift will facilitate professional development to keep faculty among the best and brightest

  Patrick Lee

Collins faculty, such as Patrick Lee, are “the best and brightest group of people,” says Robert Palmer, whose gift will provide travel and other opportunities.

Most private donors are satisfied with giving back to students — tomorrow’s leaders — but the importance of supporting faculty in staying up to date in their professional field is also vital yet often overlooked.

After 23 years of teaching at The Collins College of Hospitality Management, Robert Palmer has helped fill that void by pledging $350,000 for professional development for his former colleagues.

Faculty are expected to be excellent teachers, competent researchers, skilled writers and presenters,” Palmer says. “That often requires travel money, continuing education, conference attendance, research funding and time to concentrate. Universities are less able to support such activities.”

According to Interim Dean and Professor Ed Merritt, professional development is one of the cornerstones of being an effective faculty member because it helps shape exemplary students.

“Robert Palmer’s contribution is a significant and very generous measure in helping ensure that faculty members are able to keep current in their fields of teaching and research,” Merritt says.

Palmer, a former hospitality law and human resources professor, says Collins faculty are “the best and brightest group of people” he has ever worked with. “There’s a lot of my life and history wrapped up in Cal Poly Pomona and The Collins College,” he says.

He believes that if you value a cause or organization, you should show it.

“That financial support should increase as you prosper,” he says. “So any gift now is just a natural extension of what I’ve done in the past.”

Before coming to Cal Poly Pomona in 1988, Palmer worked for the National Restaurant Association, gaining a perspective he brought to the classroom.

“His experience as legal counsel for the association offered endless examples of real world issues for his law classes,” says 2005 alumnus Ryan Distelrath.

For more than two decades, Palmer used his knowledge, experience and punchy wit in the classroom, making him a favorite to many. He Planned gift will facilitate professional development to keep faculty among the best and brightest could get a class of 50 students in hysterics over otherwise mundane legalese.

“Palmer is one of those professors that you defend when people say his class is boring,” says 2009 alumnus Brandon Fisher. “All you are thinking is, ‘Were you listening?’”

Alumni were asked on Facebook what they thought of Palmer, and a common theme emerged: inspiration. His excitement for hospitality law was infectious and moved many students to consider law school.

“All his stories and his great spin on every situation made me realize law was something I was really interested in,” says 1998 alumna Pateel Boyajian. “We spoke numerous times about getting a graduate degree. … Now here I am, an attorney for almost 10 years, enjoying what I do.”

Just as Palmer left a mark on the lives of many of his students and colleagues, his planned gift will leave a lasting mark on The Collins College.

Planned gifts are an excellent way for people to have an impact without making a cash donation, says Gina Johnson, director of major gifts. Now retired, Palmer is comfortable paying it forward to the institution that bettered his life.

“He has pledged a gift of property and has designated it to Cal Poly Pomona. Upon his death, we will receive the asset value and his gift will greatly impact the college’s future,” she says.

People live for their money today and do not always think about what happens to their assets when they age, Johnson says.

“If you don’t have a living trust, state probate law will designate where your assets will go,” she adds. “The cost of establishing a living trust is minor compared to the cost of probate and the possibility of your chosen heirs not receiving your assets upon your death. We can help you make a better plan and leave your mark at Cal Poly Pomona.”

The Collins College of Hospitality Management offers the first and largest four-year hospitality management degree program in California and is the only hospitality management college on the West Coast.

The primary campaign goals for the college include endowment funds that support professorial
positions, unrestricted student scholarships and faculty development.

Edward Merritt, Interim Dean
(909) 869-2269

Gina Johnson, Director of Major Gifts
(909) 869-5349