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Cougars & Mustangs

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I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with Risk: University of California edition, but our own California Polytechnic State University has been winning big time. At 9,678 acres, Cal Poly is the largest land-holding university in California. Granted, not all of this land is part of the campus itself, but with a proper subway system it could be, and with the kind of curriculum the school is known for, that’s slightly more plausible than it might initially sound.

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It seems another successful roll of the dice has occurred, though, because it’s time to add in another 450 acres to that terrifyingly high number. As usual, I am being playful about something reasonably benign, so at the Risk of turning this into a negative, here’s the scoop: These 450 acres of avocado and lemon orchard are a donation from Stuart “Stu” and Jan Bartleson, a couple hailing from Santa Maria. Their donation of this ranch is one of the largest private land donations in Cal Poly’s history. Do I find it noteworthy that within the last couple of years, both Cuesta and Cal Poly have announced remarkably massive donations that threaten to set records? Yes, but provided I don’t let my imagination run away with me, this isn’t startling so much as it is wonderful.

There’s excitement to be found in the thought that the Central Coast’s collegiate offerings are allowed room to keep pushing limits. That Cal Poly’s land ownership numbers will now have broken 10,000 acres is a cause for celebration. Since purchasing the land in 1985, Stu Bartleson has used it mainly as a feedlot for cattle, despite at one time planning to develop it with a hotel and 18-hole golf course. He initially planted lemon trees to prove the property had water. Upon donating the property to Cal Poly, he was said to be extremely happy that its produce would continue to be cultivated in the future. He wished it to remain as it is today, and the Mustang mantra of Learn By Doing ensures exactly that, as the ranch provides yet another opportunity for students to have a hands-on experience with their education.

Although the Bartleson Ranch will one day prove to be a wonderful asset to the Cal Poly experience, we’ve reached the end of that school’s finals week, and with that end, so many students move to bigger things. Some better, some worse, some helpful, some disparaging ... wherever the future may take ye, dear Mustangs, best of luck. Best of luck.

Contributor Chris White-Sanborn bids a soft farewell to the Class of 2015. Send collegiate news to cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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