Earl Gales Jr.
CPP Magazine

Planning for the Future

ENV Alumnus' Scholarship Will Advance Equity, Inclusion and Excellence

By Samantha Gonzaga

At a time when the country is reckoning with the long-term effects of systemic racism coupled with a global pandemic that disproportionately affects people of color, it is timely that the head of one of the nation’s largest minority-owned architecture, engineering and construction management firms would create a new endowed scholarship to help advance equity.

But Earl Gales Jr. (’72, urban and regional planning) had long been thinking about a scholarship for students at the College of Environmental Design. A decade ago, he saw a need to prepare students for shifts in the urban planning and architecture professions. Whether they’re caused by technological innovation and evolving business models, or an accounting of the design disciplines’ roles supporting and advancing equity, one thing remains immutable. Gales saw that students would need support in their academic studies to thrive in a future that he believes is full of promise.

“I think we have an opportunity to start pre-training people in high schools and giving people opportunities during their freshman year to prepare them for what we think is going to come in the future,” says Gales, chairman and CEO of Jenkins/Gales & Martinez, Inc. and a founding board member of the Cal Poly Pomona Philanthropic Foundation.

The Earl Gales Jr. Endowed Scholarship will support Cal Poly Pomona’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, making higher education more accessible to students from underrepresented groups or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. As early as spring 2021, it will award $2,000 to an undergraduate and/or graduate student in the urban and regional planning or architecture programs. Qualifying students must have at least a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate involvement in equity and inclusion efforts in higher education.

“Student diversity is one of most important values at the university,” says Professor Dohyung Kim, past chair of the Department of Urban & Regional Planning. “Equity, inclusiveness and diversity are also core principles of urban and regional planning. With the help of Earl Gales Jr., the scholarship will make a difference for the department to support the education and career development of bright, creative students of color.”

The College of Environmental Design’s programs — architecture, art (visual communication design and art history), landscape architecture, and urban and regional planning and the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies — have long been nationally recognized for its diversity. Last year, Planetizen’s Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs ranked the graduate urban planning program No. 4 for the largest percentage of minority representation.

The accolade reflects the college’s commitment and ongoing efforts to attract, retain and invest in talented scholars and academics of color. As part of its 2019-23 Strategic Plan, the college formed the Diversity and Plan of Action Committee, composed of faculty, staff and students. Over the summer, a group of architecture students established the Cal Poly Pomona chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (CPP-NOMAS), while landscape architecture lecturer Steven Chavez and alumni Sara Abed (’14, landscape architecture) and Alejandro Armas (’18, landscape architecture) formed the National Association of Minority Landscape Architects.

“Thanks to Earl Gales’ generous support, generations of students will receive a fine design education at Cal Poly Pomona,” says Interim Dean Lauren Weiss Bricker. “The scholarship encourages applicants committed to the needs of communities of color. We see this scholarship as a catalyst for the creation of similar support for students in every ENV department and center.”

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