|University supporter Darcel Hulse
recently retired to Wyoming, but the
impact of his work can be still seen
across campus, from the Engineering
to the Industrial Action Council.
"Engineering affects everything. That's been intriguing to me all my life," says Hulse, 65, who took his degree in mechanical engineering in 1970 and spent 42 years in the energy industry. "Engineering reveals the secrets of how things function and work. It's integral to our lives."
The same can be said of Hulse and Cal Poly Pomona: He has been as integral to the College of Engineering as, say, a steering column is to the race car that students built for a Formula SAE competition earlier this year.
Mahyar Amouzegar, dean of the College of Engineering, agrees.
"Darcel Hulse has been a true champion for the College of Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona," the dean says. "For more than two decades, he has offered meaningful support and taken on important leadership roles."
During the 1980s, Hulse helped organize and recruit the Industrial Action Council, a group devoted to ensuring that students in all fields of the highly ranked college had "the best engineering education and practical experiences before they entered the workforce," Hulse recalls.
"We stand side by side with grads from other major engineering universities, and we don't lack for expertise or practical knowledge," he notes proudly. "I don't want to ever see that change. But it takes commitment and time."
As founding chairman of the IAC, Hulse employed an engineer's ingenuity to get the ball rolling on construction of Building 17, home to the engineering college's laboratories.
It was no easy feat: Building 17, Hulse says, was on the bottom of a long list of projects awaiting state funding during tough budget times. But Hulse had a unique solution: Why not raise private funds to offset some of the state's portion? When he and his fellow IAC members met with the CSU chancellor, they made a bold proposal to raise 30 percent through private investments — and that boldness paid off. The project moved to the top of the list and opened in 2001.
"It was a great deal for the state because it stretched their dollars, but it didn't just help the state or Cal Poly Pomona get its building," Hulse explains. "It showed other state schools a way to accomplish their plans too. I like to think that we were groundbreaking. We gave them a roadmap."
Hulse's efforts highlight the challenges today that public institutions face. State schools rely on taxpayer support, which, unfortunately, means that "few people think of offering private help," Hulse says. It's a point on which Patrick Stewart, a director of major gifts for university advancement, concurs.
"We really have to create stronger cultures of philanthropy at our state schools. That's why people like Darcel are so incredibly important," Stewart says. "They understand why we need to do this: to keep access and affordability at a level where more people, rather than fewer, can enjoy this education. Darcel gets it."
It's no surprise that he does. Growing up in nearby Monrovia, one of six children, Hulse belonged to a hard-working, blue-collar family that couldn't afford to send him to a private university to study how machines work.
The CSU system, however, enabled him to follow a course and rise to become a successful executive at Unocal and then Sempra Energy. Today, newly retired to Wyoming with his wife, Lainie, Hulse still feels a sense of urgency for alumni in engineering and elsewhere to give back to Cal Poly Pomona.
"I would have had many doors closed in my life, but they were opened because of my Cal Poly education," he says. "That's what some alums fail to realize or appreciate. If we let institutions like ours falter or shrink, there's going to be somebody else who has the door closed on opportunities."
The College of Engineering boasts one of the
largest undergraduate engineering enrollments in
the country. Its programs are nationally ranked and have well-earned reputations for putting theory into practice and for producing industry-ready engineers.
Campaign support for the college will fund
the endowment of professorships in each of the
disciplines, create sustained programmatic resources and allow for the revitalization of laboratories.
Mahyar Amouzegar, Dean
Patrick Stewart, Director of Major Gifts