Letters spell out long campus history

By Ana Brenda Ibarra

Overlooking the campus and visible from as far as Valley
Boulevard lies one of Cal Poly Pomona’s landmarks: the CPP letters
on Kellogg Hill.

Although most students and faculty are familiar with the
letters, few may know the history behind them. Ronald Simons,
associate vice president of special projects, is one of the few
individuals on campus who can trace the history of the letters on
the hill back to when the landmark was first created in 1958.

Simons said the letters were not originally placed on Kellogg
Hill, but had to be moved there after discovering that the letters
were placed on land that was not Cal Poly Pomona’s property at the

The letters were first built by students with support from
alumni and originally only stood with one “P.” The second “P” was
not added until 2003.

“The letters are tradition and identification,” said Simons. “We
wanted to give Cal Poly Pomona its own identification, something
that would set us apart from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. To do that
we added the third [letter] on the hill.”

Simons said previous University President, Bob Suzuki, along
with his wife Agnes, stressed the importance of building a stronger
identity as Cal Poly Pomona rather than just Cal Poly.

This is why the Alumni Association decided to honor Suzuki with
the redesigned and refurbished CPP letters on the hill. The new CPP
design seen today was chosen from a contest held by the Art

It is Cal Poly Pomona’s tradition to allow campus organizations
to paint the letters to reflect their pride and colors.

The letters are managed by the Office of Student Life and
Cultural Center, which grants permission to clubs and organizations
that want to paint the letters.

At the beginning of each school year, the letters are
traditionally painted green and gold by Orientation Services.

Afterwards, campus clubs begin making their reservations.

This fall, Cal Poly Pomona’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and
Transgender (LGBT) organization was the first to decorate it,
choosing a bright rainbow pattern.

Students such as Marco Maldonado, a fourth-year history student
and social justice leader for the Native American Cultural Center,
who have gone up to the letters on several different occasions,
have experienced how treacherous the trail can be.

“Painting the letters is an accomplishment,” said Maldonado.
“Getting up that hill is a challenge, but the hardest part is
getting down.”

The approximately 10 minute hike is not an easy walk, but for
some, it’s worth the effort.

“The best way to know what it’s like is to go up there and
experience it yourself,” said Justine Budisantosos, a third-year
hotel and restaurant management student and Rose Float Club
President. “I’ve been there a couple of times, and it’s

Budisantosos also mentioned the dangers students can face when
going up the hill.

“Besides having to watch out for rattlesnakes and being extra
careful not to slip, it is also a mission to coordinate people up
the hill, especially if you have a big group,” said

Cal Poly Pomona’s landmark has been standing for half of a

A few guidelines students have to follow when painting the
letters on the hill have changed through out time.

Before, clubs had access to the letters for only a few days, but
now clubs can display their colors for a couple of weeks.

“It was a good project, it was very well thought out, and it has
lasted,” said Simons.

Letters spell out long campus history

Daniel Nguyen / The Poly Post

Letters spell out long campus history

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