Skip to main content
College of Engineering

Cal Poly Couple Makes Gift for the Future

Robert and Susan Brown

Robert “Bob” and Susan Brown are first-generation college graduates. Bob’s father drilled oil, and Susan’s family worked on the family farm in Oxnard. When Bob and Susan left home to attend Cal Poly, their fathers didn’t see the point of college.

“My dad thought women should be wives and mothers,” says Susan. “When I arrived at Cal Poly, women were expected to be secretaries, nurses or teachers.”

The Browns say they felt at home at Cal Poly and in sync with its Learn by Doing philosophy. Cal Poly’s hands-on approach to education matched the strong work ethic their parents taught them. They met on campus and later married. Bob graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1962 and went on to become a research engineer with Lockheed Martin, Rocketdyne and Northrop. Susan earned her degree in home economics in 1962 and had a satisfying career in education and nonprofit management.

The Browns both had successful careers and planned for the future with a 401(k) and long-term investments. After the sale of Susan’s family ranch, the couple discovered that they had money to donate to a worthy cause and immediately thought of Cal Poly.

The Browns established two charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) over the past 15 years that will provide them with income payments for their lifetime and an immediate income tax deduction. When the payments come to an end, the remaining funds will support both the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science and the College of Engineering.

“After researching options initially, we realized that contributing through a CRT provided tax benefits and would allow us to also receive income,” says Bob. “Over the years, we’ve been impressed with how well Cal Poly has done with the investments. Despite the economic downturn, the university fund managers stayed a steady course, and we’ve been very pleased with our quarterly payouts.”

The Browns have been so happy with the consistency of payments from their CRTs they were inspired to establish a charitable gift annuity and a generous bequest.

“We never dreamed we’d be able to provide gifts like this to honor our parents and help Cal Poly,” says Susan.

“We feel very lucky that we’ve been able to make this investment. We have great confidence that our gifts are well placed.”