Donation Funds HD Upgrade to Student-Run TV Studio at Cal Poly

Retired Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson and wife, Cheryl, give $100,000

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Thanks to a $100,000 donation to the Cal Poly Journalism Department from Bill and Cheryl Swanson, the university’s student-run television studio will be outfitted with the latest cameras, switchers and other equipment, allowing students to broadcast in high definition.

“We chose to make this donation because we believe in Learn by Doing, and Cal Poly students deserve the best,” said Bill Swanson, chairman of Cal Poly’s Foundation Board and retired chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Raytheon Company.

The total cost of the renovations will be about $125,000. The remodeled, state-of-the-art facility will be ready for students to use in spring quarter, in early April. A formal dedication of the new facility, named the Bill and Cheryl Swanson Broadcast Studio, will take place Friday, May 5. 

Maintained by the Journalism Department and the College of Liberal Arts, the studio is a broadcast laboratory where students produce a live 30-minute weekly newscast, a weekly sports show, and numerous talk and interview shows. 

Located in the Graphic Arts Building on campus, the space is a fully functional broadcast facility, complete with robotic cameras, a Chroma Key wall, and prompting, captioning and audio mixing equipment. The current studio was established in 2003. Through the years, gradual improvements were made to more closely match what students would experience at commercial broadcast facilities after graduation. However, the studio had not yet adjusted to the biggest change in the industry since it was open — a shift from standard to high definition. 

Cal Poly alumnus Bill Swanson learned of the need for an upgraded studio at last year’s Evening of Green and Gold, the university’s annual donor recognition event. When he stopped by the booth for the student-run media group, Mustang News, graduating journalism senior Leah Horner explained the potential benefits for students. 

Bill Swanson invited Horner to make a presentation at the upcoming Foundation Board meeting. After the presentation, the Swansons offered to fund the studio upgrade.

“This is monumental for so many students,” Horner said. “High definition is industry standard. When we shoot in standard [definition], we are decades behind the industry. But now with HD, we’ll be learning on exactly the same equipment any TV station across the country is working with.”

- College of Liberal Arts:
- Journalism Department:

Bill Swanson is a retired chairman and CEO of Raytheon Company
About Bill Swanson
Bill Swanson is a retired chairman and CEO of Raytheon Company. Swanson served as chairman and CEO of Raytheon from January 2004 to March 2014, at which time he stepped down from the role of CEO. His more than 42-year career with the company came to a close with his retirement in September 2014. During his tenure as CEO, Raytheon’s sales grew 26 percent, its stock price and dividend each increased three-fold, and company debt was virtually eliminated. Swanson also strengthened Raytheon’s culture with a focus on core company values, ethics, diversity and the customer, while transforming the company’s community engagement by championing corporate responsibility, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and armed services support. Swanson graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in industrial engineering in 1973. He was the Honored Alumnus for Cal Poly’s College of Engineering in 1991 and received an honorary doctorate in science from Cal Poly in 2005.

About the Cal Poly Journalism Department
Cal Poly’s Journalism Department offers a professional program that prepares students for real-world careers. Beginning with core courses that establish a strong foundation in the field, journalism majors then focus on media specializations of their choice. Students have the opportunity to acquire practical experience by working for the department’s converged media center, newspaper, campus radio and TV station, or the student public relations agency. 

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