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Challenge gift puts CSUB near goal
  November 16, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456,,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138,

Castle & Cooke chairman and chief executive officer David Murdock has pledged up to $1 million to California State University, Bakersfield's NCAA Division I campaign, matching dollar for dollar all donations since Oct. 20.

When Murdock, also CEO of Dole Food Co., made this pledge, the university had raised $4.04 million. Since then, another $524,000 has been raised, bringing the total raised so far to $4.56 million, not including the Castle & Cooke match.

Following a meeting with CSUB President Horace Mitchell, Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy, Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall and Castle & Cooke California President Bruce Freeman, Murdock pledged that Castle & Cooke would match all donations dollar for dollar up to $1 million. In other words, the company is already committed to matching the $524,000 raised since Oct. 20, and depending on what happens in the next few weeks, that commitment could increase to $1 million. That would put CSUB over its $6 million goal.

Murdock has joined with U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas of Bakersfield to co-chair the final push of the campaign. Radio executive Rogers Brandon, CPA Geoff King and Stinson Stationers President Ben Stinson have been spearheading the campaign since its inception 14 months ago. They welcomed the help of Murdock and Thomas. "We are so close to our goal that I am confident that with David Murdock and Bill Thomas joining our team that we'll soon reach it," Brandon said.

Murdock said that the "reason I have volunteered to help CSU Bakersfield meet its goal of raising $6 million to move the athletic program to Division I is to help transform life at the university into an exciting experience that will attract many more freshman to enter a four-year program.

"As you may know, one of our community's greatest problems is the exit from Bakersfield of many of our brightest students to attend universities that have more exciting campus activities, particularly athletics. We need to keep these students in Bakersfield to develop the skilled labor force that is necessary to make Bakersfield one of California's leading cities.

"We also need to help rally the Bakersfield community and the university alumni to support increased giving for all aspects of the university's growth. Although I am not an athlete myself, I appreciate the importance of athletics in generating community support and pride.

"Consequently, I have embraced CSU Bakersfield President Horace Mitchell's vision for the university and have agreed to his request to a challenge gift of $1 million, whereby Castle & Cooke will match the next million dollars of donations to raise the final $2 million needed to move to Division I athletics."

Freeman said the company wanted to continue in the tradition of its predecessors supporting the educational needs of Bakersfield and the southern San Joaquin Valley. It was the Kern County Land Co. that donated 375 acres for a state university campus in 1962. Kern County Land Co. was purchased in 1967 by Tenneco Inc., which formed Tenneco West as its Kern County land development subsidiary. In 1986, Tenneco West was sold to Castle & Cooke, which has continued in the tradition of Kern County Land and Tenneco West.

"Castle & Cooke has been a developer of the west side of Bakersfield for 20 years with standards of high quality and beauty," Freeman said. "This gift, which will bring so much to the community, is perfectly in keeping with those standards."

In May 2005, Mitchell announced that the university would initiate the process of moving the highly regarded CSUB athletics program from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I. "The move to Division I is an important aspect of the continuing development of the university and the Greater Bakersfield community," Mitchell said.

"CSUB faculty and staff have worked diligently to move us forward. Our students and community members have been significant contributors as well. It is without question that our academic programs are our highest priority," Mitchell said. "New state funding to the campus, beyond covering mandatory costs, will be based largely on enrollment growth. Our move to Division I will complement our excellent academic programs with enhanced quality of the student experience, which will make us a university of choice. And with growth comes greater resources and the opportunities to explore new offerings in many areas."

The university's goal is to raise $6 million to help fund the added costs of Division I affiliation. For those who would like to help with the Division I campaign, please call (661) 654-2136.