Skip To Content

Highlights from the 1940s


"The faculty and staff at Voorhis during those years not only were fully qualified in their respective fields of expertise, but they also were endowed with the missionary spirit to provide service beyond what could have been expected from their conditions of employment. Hours of work were secondary. Rather it was, ‘How much can we do in the hours in a day that are available.’”

— Harold O. Wilson, dean of the Voorhis Unit from 1946 to 1950

Poly ViewsJanuary 26, 1940
The first issue of the student newspaper, the Bronc’s Cheer, is published on the San Dimas campus. It ceases publication on May 17 but will return two years later as Poly Views.


July 1940
An estimated 1,100 boxes of Valencia oranges are harvested from the campus groves.

September 1940
Fall quarter enrollment stands at 113.

Many students join the military to fight in World War II. Horticulture student Dick Schade becomes a Camouflage Corps instructor, testing plant camouflage methods.

Charles Albert Cook becomes the first student to be shot down and captured by the Nazis.

April 1942
A Victory Garden display is the highlight of Poly Vue. (Victory Gardens were grown during World War II to help stretch the nation’s food supply.)

Kellogg Ranch is turned over to the Army, where soldiers are trained in horsemanship under the direction of Maj. Charles Team. Italian prisoners of war, who are housed at the nearby fairgrounds, provide landscaping and build block walls at the remount station.

Professor Howard Hawkins and his family live on the Voorhis campus during the war to oversee ongoing farming operations. Former student Seldon Kempton assists. Remaining students are reassigned to the San Luis Obispo campus.

Cal Poly joins the California Collegiate Athletic Association. La Verne College (now the University of La Verne) becomes its main rival. Athletic teams play at a disadvantage because students are required to attend San Luis Obispo for their senior year.

February 1946
Harold O. Wilson is appointed dean of the Voorhis campus, where he serves until 1950.  

September 1946
The Voorhis campus reopens. Mandatory physical examinations of all 270 students begin at 7:30 a.m. Nearly 90 percent are veterans.

Fall 1946
Students vote on the athletic teams’ name. By a vote of 62-43, Broncos defeats Rancheros.

The 19-member school band announces that it needs clarinet, saxophone, baritone and bass horn players.

Prudy , a dog who often sat in on classes and served as the unofficial campus mascot, dies after eating strychnine-laced food intended for coyotes.

Poly Views resumes publication. The first yearbook, Madre Tierra, is published.

January 1947
A legislative analyst in Sacramento recommends that the Voorhis Unit be closed. Supporters of the college mount such a loud objection that the Legislature scraps the idea.

April 1, 1947
Poly Views reports in its April Fool’s edition about a baseball game between the Broncos and the Cleveland Indians.

May 1947
The campus community celebrates the return of Poly Vue.

Ownership of Kellogg Ranch is transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because of a lack of funds to maintain the property, the department decides to sell the ranch and the horses. Congressman Richard Nixon is among those who compel the federal government to halt the auction of W.K. Kellogg’s beloved Arabians, and the land is sold the next year to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for $1. (Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946, winning the seat from Jerry Voorhis, who served from 1936 to 1946.)

Nine new faculty members are added, bringing the total to 21. Student enrollment exceeds 400.

Two-story barrack-type buildings, shipped in as war surplus from the state of Washington, are erected to meet the growing demand for married-student housing.

Poly Views editorializes that speed bumps are going to give visitors a bad impression of campus.

JRose Paradeanuary 1, 1949
Cal Poly makes its first entry into the Rose Parade, whose theme was “Childhood Memories.” The float, a joint effort of the Voorhis and San Luis Obispo campuses, wins the Award of Merit. Chip Batcheller, son of horticulture Professor Oliver “Jolly” Batcheller, rides the large floral rocking horse.

January 1949
Snowmen appear, and students toboggan on the hills on the south end of campus. It is the first snowfall in the area in 16 years.

Summer 1949
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation gains ownership of the ranch and donates it to the state of California with these stipulations: The property must be used for education; classes must be taught in agriculture and animal husbandry; the Arabian horses must be maintained; and public horse shows must be resumed.

October 10, 1949
Poly Views reports on the theft of $32 in scholarship money — “the most malicious robbery in campus history.”

December 14, 1949
A sign reading "California State Polytechnic College, Kellogg Unit" is posted at the ranch gate. 

^ Back to the top