Documents, administrative records, and photographs of the Orfalea College of Business, formerly the Department of Business
Administration within the College of Social Science.
Economics coursework was embedded in Cal Poly curriculum of Agriculture, Dairy, Architecture, Engineering, and Home Making
from its earliest days. As stated in the 1903 First Annual Catalogue about Cal Poly, “The purpose of the school is to furnish
to young people of both sexes mental and manual training in the arts and sciences, including agriculture, mechanics, engineering,
business methods, domestic economy, and such other branches as will fit the students for the non-professional walks of life.”
Technical skills courses, including basic business skills, were designed for employment within the listed fields. </p>
More formal courses were introduced once Cal Poly became a college. By the 1950s, the Social Science Department, under the
Science and Humanities Division, offered courses in Agricultural Journalism and English that included routine report writing,
typing, and public speaking for business. Courses in Social Science now included courses in Economics as electives that included
book keeping, farm management, marketing, and commercial law. General economics courses were required as core curriculum in
some areas. The Engineering Department described the requirement as follows, “All majors are required to take courses in economics
and the social sciences because engineers work with men and money as well as materials and equipment.” Both the Air Conditioning
and Refrigeration Engineering Department and Architectural Engineering required Public Speaking, Principles of Economics,
and Commercial Law courses. Cal Poly was preparing graduates for business environments in a variety of technical fields.
A BS in Business Administration was first offered in the 1959-1960 school year in the Arts & Sciences Division. The program
was provided in part with faculty borrowed from the Department of Social Sciences that already offered courses in economics.
In 1965, the department became Department of Business Administration and offered programs in Accounting, Business Administration,
Economics, Finance and Property Management, Industrial Relations, and Marketing. By 1970, the School of Business and Social
Sciences had evolved; an MBA program was proposed and approved for the 1970-71 academic year.
The school reorganized in 1986 as the School of Business Administration and was accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate
Schools of Business (AACSB). The School became the College of Business in 1992. A Community Advisory Council and the Dean’s
Advisory Council serve to support and advise in the administration of the school. The same year a new building was constructed
that increased the building space by 7,000 sq. ft. to include a 128-seat flexible classroom. The college received a 10-year
accreditation by the AACSB in 1993.
In 2000, following a gift from Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s, the college was renamed the Orfalea School of Business. College
faculty and staff, with Dean William Pendergrast, developed a new mission statement for the college that focused on “integration
of business disciplines and technologies with an entrepreneurial spirit”. The mission and vision have since been updated,
but the curriculum remains focused on applied interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial ventures. In 2010 the school
launched the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, with locations on campus and in downtown San Luis Obispo. The Orfalea
College of Business has been featured in US News and Bloomberg lists of top business schools.
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