Parking concerns, semester conversion plans and campus improvements dominated the discussion during the fall quarter Pizza with the Presidents.
For President Michael Ortiz, the event offered him one more opportunity to field questions from students before he retires in December.
Ortiz said his retirement plans include spending time with his wife, Betty. He listed the first time he addressed faculty and staff at Fall Conference, the Kellogg Foundation’s $42-million gift to the university and people’s kind response to him and his wife leaving as his fondest memories.
Pizza with the Presidents has been a Cal Poly Pomona tradition for more than a decade, Ortiz said, adding that since the start, organizers of the event have given out more than 50,000 slices of pizza and nearly 25,000 cans of sodas and bottles of water to students.
Several of the questions from students dealt with the need for more parking on campus.
Ortiz and Steven Garcia, vice president for administrative affairs, shared that a 1,500-space parking structure in Lot K will be completed by fall of 2016. A parking garage under a planned new student services building is expected for 2018. Ortiz said there is also a plan to expand parking near The Collins College of Hospitality Management.
One student asked why the cost of parking has gone up without visible improvements to the lots.
Mike Biagi, director of parking and transportation services, said prioritizing maintenance projects takes time. The university is building its reserves so that it can fund the new parking structure and other improvements, he added.
Another student asked why the university had closed off parking on nearby streets.
Ortiz said that the university did not restrict parking on Temple Avenue. The city of Pomona took away parking on Temple because of safety concerns, he said.
Students also asked about the planned change from the quarter to the semester system.
Ortiz said the change was prompted because the CSU chancellor wants Cal Poly Pomona to be in line with the other CSU campuses. The semester system also will help the university better serve students with challenges and reduce the costs of textbooks because they would be purchased two times a year instead of three.
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Marten denBoer said that the alignment of Cal Poly Pomona’s calendar with that of other CSU schools would make the transfer process easier, give students more weeks in which to absorb new information learned in class, and make planning for study abroad, athletics, and other opportunities easier.
How the classes will be scheduled after conversion is still under discussion, denBoer added.
Several students inquired about various projects, including planned fixes to campus roads and whether more study rooms could be added across the university to supplement those in the University Library.
Ortiz said that road improvements on campus are capital construction projects and require state approval to move forward, which is a lengthy process. Cal Poly Pomona has been trying to get approvals for six years to get roads repaired, he said, adding that the university is working with Los Angeles County to get bike lanes installed.
As for library study rooms, Lisa Rotunni, executive director for institutional research and academic resources, said that the university is looking for available spaces.
James Cox, ASI president, said his organization has a study lounge in the Bronco Student Center that is open to students.
One student also asked if improvements to landscaping at the northeast corner of Temple Avenue and South Campus Drive could be made to improve the visibility for drivers turning at that intersection while pedestrians are crossing.
Ortiz said he has experienced the dangers of crossing that intersection.
Biagi said improvements to that intersection will be made as part of the construction of the new parking structure. Plans call for the addition of a second right turn lane from South Campus on to Temple and reconfiguration of the crosswalks for pedestrian safety.
For a more in-depth recap of the event, see the Storify account below: