The Educational Opportunity Program is celebrating forty years of academic success with EOP statewide in California at all Cal State campuses as of 2009! At Cal Poly, EOP is actually forty-one years old in 2009, with our SLO program beginning one year earlier in 1968. Cal Poly always likes to lead the charge!
The last time we celebrated EOP was in September 2003, when it was declared Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Month in California by the State Assembly through Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 124, which "lauds EOP and EOPS for its efforts and stresses the importance of keeping these programs available for the next generation of California." Specifically, the measure "expresses the appreciation for the accomplishment of these programs."
The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) was initiated at Cal Poly in 1968, due in large part to the vision and professional commitment of Dr. Everett Chandler, Dean of Students at the time. Dr. Chandler had a personal interest in starting an EOP program at Cal Poly. Even prior to legislative funding, Dr. Chandler focused his efforts on pulling together a group of administrators, counselors and other committed staff of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs to develop a successful pilot EOP program. "Dr. Chandler was one to give gentle pushes to other administrators," explained Dr. Carl Wallace (former EOP Director) and as Dean of Student Affairs, Chandler chose to create a pilot program for 22 students in 1968."
Dr. Chandler called superintendents and principals of high schools in California to request the applications for highly-motivated high school graduates to participate in this new program at Cal Poly. The first EOP Director, Dr. Richard Martinez, along with Dr. David Sanchez (former Cal Poly faculty member), focused both on EOP program development and the initiation of an ethnic studies department at Cal Poly. Collaboration with Admissions, Housing, Student Life, Counseling and other key campus constituencies supported this first incoming group of Educational Opportunity Program students.
Thanks to the diligence and foresight of professionals such as Dr. Chandler, and the hard work of the original twenty-two Cal Poly EOP students, sixteen of these students now have college degrees and two work at Cal Poly, shared Walter Harris, who is one of the original twenty-two students. Now an Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Cal Poly, Walter shared that his strongest influences that first year were Dr. Lorraine Howard and Dr. Glen McRae, the two counselors with whom the first students had weekly contact and support.
The following year, in 1969, state funding from the California Legislature was passed to establish the Educational Opportunity Program in California. In its first years, EOP provided significant support to program participants and continues to make a "tremendous impact on families and individual lives of our students," offered Dr. Carl Wallace. Students were under considerable pressure both academically and personally at Cal Poly, many of whom were far away from home, both geographically and demographically. EOP bridged the isolation and supported many students' first steps away from home; most were the first in their families, communities and schools to attend a CSU, and especially, Cal Poly. Forty years later, EOP, as a part of Student Academic Services, continues as a supportive environment, now for over 600 eligible students, which provides critically important academic and personal advising and key academic enhancement services upon which students can rely as they enter the university and progress toward graduation at Cal Poly.
The Educational Opportunity Program at Cal Poly includes several unique features, all of which amplify and support academic excellence, rather than only support student survival. Cal Poly EOP is woven into campus programs and departments, connected with both Student Affairs and the college departments. At Cal Poly, EOP is part of an umbrella department in Student Affairs, called Student Academic Services, which also coordinates Connections for Academic Success, Educational Talent Search, EOP College Bound, Student Support Services, Summer Institute, Upward Bound, the Academic Skills Center, and several campus-wide academic enhancement programs.
The EOP counselors work in partnership with each academic college, providing academic and personal advising to students in the six colleges. Through these six partnerships, first year seminars are coordinated by EOP counselors to all incoming EOP students. Seminars cover key topics that focus on student success in the first year at Cal Poly.
A wide range of highly successful academic enhancement services have been borne out of EOP staff creativity, including Supplemental Workshops in Math and Science, Summer Institute, Study Sessions and the grants which have initiated many grant-funded efforts: Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, Student Support Services, MESA (formerly MEP) and Student Affirmative Action. Cal Poly EOP has developed these successful programs and then found campus-wide interest in several of them, fostering the expansion of participants and funding support to allow for mainstream student participation, especially in programs such as Supplemental Workshops in Math and Science.
The high energy, clear dedication and impressive creativity of the staff of the Educational Opportunity Program have supported the development of this program as a vital Cal Poly program. EOP has spawned many continued programs and activities over the past forty years, as well as provided the campus with a highly-skilled cadre of professional staff who contribute invaluably to the fabric of the institution through student academic advising, university committees and strong year-to-year retention and graduation rates. Cal Poly EOP has kept pace with the high standards of the campus and has focused its efforts on continued excellence in all areas of the curricula and co-curricula. Most of all, EOP students have worked diligently and relentlessly to be prepared for admission, compete academically and graduate from Cal Poly, to the pride of their families and the many staff who have mentored and supported their impressive successes over the program's forty year history at Cal Poly.