Alumni Mike Boyle and Bill Penick, Class of 1966, Bring Back Campus Chimes

Alumni Mike Boyle and Bill Penick, Class of 1966, Bring Back Campus Chimes
Mike Trethowan, a technician for Maas-Rowe Carillons, works on wiring for the Cal Poly Pomona's new carillon system located in the Engineering building.
Alumnumnus Mike Boyle, class of '66, and his daughter Kaylee listen to the new chimes ringing.

A familiar sound has returned to the Cal Poly Pomona campus. While they may not ring a bell to current students, the carillon chimes that now sound every quarter hour from the top of Building 9 are as much a part of campus tradition as the university's green and gold colors and Bronco mascot.

After a five-year hiatus, the chimes are ringing again thanks to the Business Administration alumnus Mike Boyle and Mechanical Engineering alumnus Bill Penick, both from the class of 1966.

The original carillon bells were a gift to the university given by the class of 1966. The carillons were the brainchild of Penick, the 1966 class president.

“Historically, the classes had always given a present to school  whether it was a sundial, a bench or a goalpost  and I thought chimes would be charming for the campus atmosphere,” says Penick. “To me, the chimes embody tradition and the feeling of an academic atmosphere.”

Penick began pricing electronic chimes and, after realizing how costly the project would be, solicited help from the future 1966 class president in his junior year.

As junior class president that year, Boyle organized a fund-raiser to bring in $1,200 needed to purchase the chimes. Boyle and his classmates convinced local businesses to donate their services, and, in the end, raffled off tickets at a dollar a piece for a chance to win dinner and a movie for two, plus a ride in a limousine  driven by Boyle and a friend wearing rented tuxedos.

“We wanted to give the college a nice gift, and we didn't want it to be an afterthought,” recalls Boyle. “We hoped it would be something that would have an impact on the college.”

After raising the funds, Penick worked with an electrical engineering student and the university's maintenance department to install the system.

For more than 30 years, the six-speaker, 200-watt unit mounted on top of the engineering center played only the Westminster toll, ringing on the hour, and also sounding at 30 minutes past, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Seniors from the class of 1999 made an additional gift to upgrade the system by replacing the aging mechanical clock with an electronic clock.

Last August, Boyle brought his 15-year-old daughter, Kaylee, to the Cal Poly Pomona campus to show her his old stomping ground and share with her some of his fondest college memories. As a resident of Colorado Springs, Colo., he had not been back to campus since graduating, and it was his daughter's first trip to a college campus.

“One of the memories I wanted to share while we toured was the ringing of the chimes throughout the campus every hour,” says Boyle. “But alas, no chimes.”

Disappointed, Boyle inquired about the chimes and found out that they had finally “conked out” a few years ago. He then contacted campus officials who in turn got a hold of Penick, and the two began working with University Advancement to restart the chimes on behalf of the class of 1966.

“Although I hadn't returned to campus for many years, I'd always felt that there was a part of me here, and the chimes represented that,” he says.

The university was able to revamp the carillon system after Boyle and Penick raised the necessary funds to purchase a new state-of-the-art carillon system. They headed up a fundraising campaign to class 1966 which resulted in numerous gifts, enough to purchase new equipment. Coupled with a personal class member gift, former class gift balances and a $5,000 incentive award from the University Educational Trust, an endowment totaling $17,000 is now available to maintain the system in perpetuity. Art Phelps, broadcast engineer in Instructional & Information Technology Learning and a 1963 university alumnus, will maintain the system.

Penick and Boyle will return to campus on Monday, May 9, for an official dedication to celebrate Cal Poly Pomona's beautiful set of chimes that will continue to represent the class of 1966. At exactly noon, the pair will flip the switch for the ceremonially dedication ring. The campus community is invited to join the ceremony, which will be attended by President Michael Ortiz, campus staff and fellow classmates. The dedication party will congregate at the entrance of the Engineering Building at 11:45 a.m. and then proceed to the sixth floor where the newly revamped system is housed.  

“This experience helped my daughter see why I enjoyed my college experience so much and why I have such a warm spot in my heart for the four years I spent at Cal Poly Pomona,” says Boyle.

“Cal Poly Pomona gave me an incredible foundation for what's been a blessed, wonderful, successful life, and I just wanted to give something back,” says Boyle, who now runs The Mike Boyle Restaurant Show on 710KNUS News/Talk in Colorado.

Penick, who hasn't been back to Cal Poly Pomona in 15 years, says he is looking forward to returning for the dedication ceremony.

“Earning my engineering degree was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life, and I came out of Cal Poly Pomona far more educated than any rivals I've faced in the business world, and I'm grateful for that,” says Penick, who now owns and operates Cartel Industries, a precision sheet metal manufacturing company in Irvine.

For more information on the ceremony, contact Rachiel Lucero, project coordinator, at (909) 869-4799.