Records related to the development and administration of the International Center at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo including the
records of inaugural director Jon M. Ericson, and the Peace Corps Program records containing the letters and reports of Robert
E. McCorkle, retired professor and former Director of International Education and Programs.
The International Center maintains administrative authority and university-wide oversight of international education at Cal
Poly and functions as the clearinghouse for all international education initiatives, programs, and activities supported by
Cal Poly has participated in international education as a host campus since the 1950s. At that time Cal Poly conducted training
activities for foreign students sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by the Agency for International Development,
and by developing countries. The campus sent its first faculty team overseas, to Zambia (Northern Rhodesia), in 1963 to assist
with developing a college, partly based on Cal Poly’s “learn by doing” philosophy.
In 1985 President Baker called for the internationalization of programs at Cal Poly. Following this prompting and due to increasing
interest international studies, an International Relations minor was proposed by Jon Ericson, Dean of Communicative Arts and
Humanities (later to become Liberal Arts), and approved for the Political Science department in 1986. The same year, Don Floyd
of Social Science Department and William Little of the Foreign Languages wrote a proposal for a campus International Center,
and submitted the proposal to Vice President for Academic Affairs, Malcom W. Wilson and the Academic Senate for review. Floyd
and Little, along with Jon Ericson carried the proposals through the senate to establish a centralized international programs
center on campus.
On 26 January 1988, the Academic Senate approved a resolution to fund and staff an International Center (AS-271-88). Goals
included “centralizing dispersed aspects of Cal Poly international activities and functions”. Dr. Jon Ericson stepped down
from his role as Dean of Communicative Arts & Humanities to take the role of Director of International Program Planning. The
department was designed to serve students, faculty, administrators, and the community with international affairs on campus
as a center for activities including the already established office of International Education and Programs.
The International Center included oversight of the Peace Corps program which had been active on campus since 1961, soon after
the Peace Corps was established by Executive Order 10924 under President Kennedy. By 1962 West Germany, Norway, and Belgium
had sent diplomats to tour Cal Poly’s Peace Corps Program as a model system to for Peace Corps programs. In 2015 Cal Poly
was named one of the Peace Corps’ top volunteer-producing universities.
Robert E. McCorkle, Cal Poly alum, studied Farm Management at Cal Poly. After completing his undergraduate in 1956, he undertook
a Master’s in Agricultural Economics at the University of California, Davis. Later, McCorkle returned to Cal Poly to join
the Agricultural Business Management Department as professor of Agribusiness which he taught for over fifty years.
McCorkle became involved in domestic and overseas programs supporting agricultural development. He worked in Afghanistan with
the Farmer-to-Farmer Training Program, and assisted the Zamibian Ministry of Agriculture in through the United States Agency
of International Development. He became the Director of International Education and Programs in 1971 and managed the Peace
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