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College of Science and Mathematics

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Website Update

Dean Bailey to Retire at End of 2016-17 School Year

48 years of dedication, contributions for Philip Bailey  

Two men laugh together with the ocean in the background Phil Bailey, College of Science and Mathematics dean, left, shares a laugh with former
Cal Poly President Warren J. Baker during the dedication of the Cal Poly Pier in 2001. 


Dean Philip S. Bailey has announced that he will retire from Cal Poly at the end of the upcoming 2016-17 school year. When he retires, Bailey will have been at Cal Poly for 48 years and served as dean for 34 years.

Bailey joined the College of Science and Mathematics faculty in 1969 as an assistant professor of chemistry. He became associate dean in 1973, dean in 1983, and served two stints as interim vice-president for academic affairs in 1989-90 and again in summer 2015. During his 33 years, he has hired almost all the college’s current faculty and staff.

Image of man wearing a shirt and tie smiling
Dean Philip S. Bailey

Bailey coined the college’s motto “It’s all about our students,” and has taken that mission to heart. Even as dean, he taught at least one lab or lecture almost every term.

“I really enjoy working with and mentoring students. They’re absolutely the reason I’ve stayed at Cal Poly for 47 years, and they’re the reason I’ve enjoyed my job so much as both a professor and a dean,” Bailey said.

To encourage student success, he started the Study 25-35 campaign, which encourages students to study 25-35 hours per week. The idea is now taught to incoming freshmen campuswide at the beginning of each fall quarter and has been adopted at several other universities.

"Phil’s contributions to Cal Poly are beyond measure,” said President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “I appreciate all that he has meant — and continues to mean — to Cal Poly.

Dean Bailey and his wife, Christina,  a former chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, have invited more than 15 Cal Poly students of multicultural or multiracial background to live with them over the years. The Baileys have assisted numerous students financially and otherwise in completing their college degrees, while raising four adopted, mixed race children of their own.

Contributing to the community at large as well as the university, the Baileys designed a chemistry magic show to interest children in science. They have performed the show for more than 125,000 people and published 30,000 copies of a DVD of the presentation.

Some of Dean Bailey’s most lasting achievements have transformed the campus visually. Faculty Offices East and the Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics, both built under his leadership, frame the upper end of campus.

Bailey tirelessly championed the need for the Baker Center and insisted on the building's current location at the geographic heart of campus, which symbolizes the central role of science and mathematics in a polytechnic education. He also involved faculty to help design classrooms and labs with the latest innovations in active learning.

"Phil’s contributions to Cal Poly are beyond measure."

— Jeffrey D. Armstrong, Cal Poly President

"Every student at Cal Poly takes at least one class in the Baker Center. With plenty of study space and the studio classrooms that combine lecture and lab, it’s really a student-centered building,” Bailey said. “So many people worked so hard on this building. I’m proud to have been part of it.”

Bailey was also instrumental in fund raising for the building and received the Provost’s Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy in 2010 for leading the effort to raise $19 million in private funds.

His other awards include an Ambassador of Goodwill award for his support of African-American and other underrepresented students, a joint California Senate-Assembly resolution for his nearly 50 years of service to Cal Poly, the Faculty Excellence in Advising award from the California State Students’ Association, and the Sandra Gardebring Ogren Leadership Award for accomplished leadership and indispensable support of Cal Poly.

Following retirement, Bailey will direct Cal Poly’s Frost Program, which includes student scholarships, funding for undergraduate research, and the construction of the new Science and Agriculture Teaching and Research Complex. The complex will house dedicated lab space for student-faculty research and provide hands-on experience for hundreds of students.

“I’m so grateful to have worked with so many wonderful students, faculty and staff members. I’m looking forward to my final year as dean and to completing the planning and fundraising for the new undergraduate research facilities,” Bailey said.

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