March 11, 2016

Contact: Nate Alcorn

Cal Poly Names Bruce McPherson and Col. Joe Righello as 2016 Open House Grand Marshals

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Former California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and Col. Joseph Righello, commander of Camp San Luis Obispo, will serve as grand marshals of Cal Poly’s 2016 Open House on Saturday, April 16.

Righello and McPherson, both Cal Poly alums, were selected for their embodiment of this year’s Open House theme, “Celebrating the Mustang Legacy,” for contributions to the Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo communities.

Righello represents ROTC, which is celebrating a centennial on college campuses across the nation (and 64 years at Cal Poly). McPherson has a connection to Mustang News, the student media organization, which is celebrating 100 years at Cal Poly in 2016.

Cal Poly will invite the public to campus April 16, starting with the annual Poly Royal Parade. The parade begins at 9 a.m. at Grand Avenue near Perimeter Road and travels north and west to Via Carta, ending at Dexter Lawn, where the opening ceremony takes place. Seating is available along the parade route.

This year’s grand marshals will again ride in the parade.

Righello, a former Army aviator and commander, has commanded Camp San Luis Obispo, the original home of the California Army National Guard, since November 2012. As a Cal Poly student, Righello joined the university’s ROTC program in 1978 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1980. He later graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College and earned a master’s degree in international security and civil-military relations from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.

As a Cal Poly student, McPherson was a sports editor of El Mustang, the student-run newspaper now called Mustang News. He spent 26 years working for his family’s daily paper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, where he began as a reporter and served as editor from 1967 to 1992, when his focus shifted to politics. 

He served as a state assemblyman from 1993 to 1996 and as a state senator, representing San Luis Obispo, from 1996 to 2004, when he retired because of term limits. McPherson was defeated in the 2002 election for lieutenant governor by incumbent Cruz Bustamante but was appointed California’s 30th secretary of state in 2005 and served to 2007. In 2012, he was elected to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, District 5.

Cal Poly’s 23rd annual Open House will take place April 14-16. The event allows admitted and current students, their supporters, alumni and the San Luis Obispo community to spend the weekend exploring what the Cal Poly and the surrounding San Luis Obispo area has to offer.

April 16 activities following the parade include the Campus Showcase, a Kids’ Fair, live music, the Poly Royal Truck & Tractor Pull, the Poly Royal Rodeo, and much more.

For more details about Cal Poly’s Open House weekend, visit or call the Open House office at (805) 756-7576.

# # #