Cal Poly

Orfalea College of Business

In Brief

In Brief
From case competitions to client work, Learn by Doing makes its mark on business.

Cal Poly marketing students working with Marketo.Marketo Debuts in Cal Poly Classrooms

Cal Poly’s Marketing area is the first and only university program to teach Marketo in the classroom.

Cal Poly’s Marketing area has announced an innovative partnership with the automated software powerhouse Marketo to develop curriculum that weaves the program into an upper-division marketing course. In 2014, marketing Professor Jeff Hess began teaching Marketo in his redesigned BUS 419: Strategic Marketing Measurement, a course that could be used as a model at other universities in the future.
In Hess’ class, students learned how big data ideas are transforming marketing and redefining what is possible in a marketing campaign. They created digital communication designed to engage customers, track their online behavior, and create value-based segmentation. The partnership is an example of the college’s emphasis on data-driven technologies now impacting all facets of business. Marketing area Chair Lynn Metcalf believes this Learn by Doing experience with Marketo will give graduates a competitive edge as they transition from college to career. Marketo is a complement to the other data software Cal Poly continues to teach, including IBM’s SPSS, Google Analytics, Cision, Qualtrix and Dialogr.

Professor Eduardo ZambranoEconomics Professor Speaks at United Nations Environment Programme

Eduardo Zambrano, associate professor of economics in the Orfalea College of Business, presented research findings at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on April 17, in Geneva, Switzerland. Zambrano is part of a team of international scholars helping UNEP develop an index to measure progress toward a “green economy.” The project is part of the U.N.’s mission to encourage nations to set measurable goals for sustainable development that contributes to its social, economic and environmental stability. The U.N. plans to publish the team’s findings in the coming months and debut the index in 2016. Zambrano was selected based on his previous work on the U.N.’s Human Development Index, a measure of average achievement in three key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable, and having a decent standard of living.

The Orfalea College of Business front entranceCal Poly Business Degrees Rank High for ROI recently ranked Cal Poly No. 18 in the nation for return on investment for its business degrees, based on a 20-year net return for in-state students. Cal Poly was one of only 10 public institutions in the nation to make the list. Read more about Cal Poly’s ranking at



A Cal Poly LITC student and the on-campus officeTax Masters

Cal Poly’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) celebrates five years of helping community members fight back against daunting fines and fees levied by the Internal Revenue Service.

The LITC was founded as a service-learning project rooted in Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy to empower accounting students to tackle complex tax cases while working with underserved communities. The clinic has grown to become an essential local resource, assisting thousands of California clients through consultations, education and direct assistance before the IRS, California’s Franchise Tax Board, and U.S. Tax Court. Cal Poly students have helped save clients nearly $1.2 million in tax liabilities by substantiating client expenses, filing the proper tax forms, and negotiating settlements. It remains the only clinic of its kind between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Students have also assisted LITC attorneys, including LITC Executive Director Lisa Sperow and clinic founder Eddy Quijano, in 22 client cases handled in the U.S. Tax Court. Today, the Cal Poly LITC remains the only non-law school low-income taxpayer clinic in the country assisting unrepresented litigants as part of the U.S. Tax Court’s Calendar Call Program.

By the Numbers
2,881 community members have been helped by the LITC’s educational outreach, advising and providing representation in tax court.
164 student accountants have completed their senior projects through the LITC.
$1.2 million the amount Cal Poly’s LITC has saved its clients since 2010.

Visit to read testimonial and client stories.

The Cal Poly local CFA Challenge team at the Los Angeles competitionFinance Students Win Local CFA Challenge

A team of students from the Orfalea College of Business won the local Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute Research Challenge for the second consecutive year. Finance seniors Erin Averill, Robert Ricci, Divyan Waland, Aaron Hay and Nate Fisher represented Cal Poly at the event in Los Angeles. The Cal Poly students competed against teams from the College of the Canyons, Claremont Graduate University, UC Santa Barbara and USC. The competitors were charged with analyzing and making buy/ sell/hold recommendations for The Walt Disney Co. The Cal Poly team advanced to the Americas Regional competition in Atlanta, where it reached the semifinal round competing against universities from the U.S., Canada and Latin America. The students were advised by Finance area Chair Cyrus Ramezani, San Luis Obispo financial advisor Phillip Cohl, and finance alumni David Larsen and Scott B. Kirk. For more details, visit

Cal Poly students working at SpecrightCal Poly Partners with Specright

Specright, a specification management startup based in Irvine, Calif., recently opened an office in San Luis Obispo to partner with Cal Poly’s Packaging Program. The company hired 15 industrial technology and packaging students to reverse engineer packages from its beta-testing clients. Cal Poly students then build custom specification profiles in Specright’s proprietary system.

“We have been unbelievably impressed with the maturity and professionalism of Cal Poly students and the skills they have,” said Brett Hall, Specright’s vice president of product development. “They can come in and immediately make a contribution. We’re thrilled with the partnership.”

While Cal Poly will be a source of packaging engineers for Specright, the startup in turn works with faculty to evolve curriculum and packaging best practices in a variety of industries. According to company spokesperson Adam Fugate, the company is already expanding to include more manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, and packaging commodities clients.

Professor Earl Keller lectures students“Killer Keller” Retires After 28 Years

Professor Earl Keller, a pillar of Cal Poly’s Accounting area, has taught thousands of students since 1987. Many students remember him as “Killer Keller” for commanding the discipline’s most difficult courses. During his tenure, Keller touched the life of almost every accounting student at Cal Poly, always sharing insights from his experiences as an auditor, a controller and a consultant during litigation cases for the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, American International Group (AIG), and on cases involving the now-defunct Enron.

Much of Keller’s life has been devoted to inspiring students and providing guidance to policymaking agencies to promote the accounting profession. With his retirement effective this spring, Keller’s Cal Poly legacy will be honored with a student scholarship. Thanks to a founding contribution from Keller himself, the scholarship will benefit students pursuing a Master of Science degree in accounting at the Orfalea College of Business.

You can honor Keller’s legacy by supporting his scholarship. Contact Sheri Boscaro at or give online.

A VITA students helps a client with taxesCal Poly Hosts VITA Clinics

In 2015, more than 90 IRS-certified Cal Poly accounting students prepared taxes through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) clinics held throughout the Central Coast. Combined, the clinics filed 779 tax returns this year for low-income residents. Cal Poly has hosted VITA clinics every year since 1992.

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