The push to exceed the graduation rate target, strategic planning to ensure the best use of campus resources for student success, and the effort to navigate the internal and external factors that affect academic excellence were among the themes university President Soraya M. Coley touched on in her first convocation speech at Cal Poly Pomona.
More than 800 faculty and staff attended the convocation Monday, Sept. 21, which kicked off the annual Fall Conference. The event opened with a blessing by Native American elder Kim Marcus (Serrano and Cahuilla), creating a new conference tradition.
Piggybacking on the theme of the first speech she gave as president in January titled “My Journey to You and Our Journey Together,” Coley expanded on her vision for Cal Poly Pomona. She shared that since she arrived, she has completed 44 tours across campus, visiting 37 academic departments and seven administrative units. She met with more than 478 faculty and staff, as well as numerous student clubs and organizations and the leadership of the Associated Students Incorporated.
Emerging themes from those conversations focused on expanding academic excellence, improving facilities, and promoting more collaboration across departments, colleges, and divisions.
“We must improve graduation rates and continue increasing the diversity of our student, faculty, and staff profile,” Coley said. “There should be more hiring in areas of greatest demonstrated need. We must invest in faculty and staff development and be intentional about our support of faculty research and grant-seeking.”
Coley also announced that a university-wide strategic planning process will be completed by the end of the academic year, with more details to be announced in the coming weeks. The result will be the development of campus-wide goals and annual measures to chart the progress towards those objectives, she added.
“Incorporated into this process will be a campus master plan that examines our facilities, especially our academic space in conjunction with growth projections,” she said. “As it is appropriate, we will develop a strategic agenda for revenue generation, including public/private partnerships and a significant increase in fundraising.”
That planning will include discussions focused on how the university will use the site of the former Lanterman Developmental Center, which Cal Poly Pomona has dubbed Campus South.
She also discussed the internal and external factors on the horizon that could have an effect on the journey forward. Those factors include a lagging support for higher education in the face of increased need for access to it, student expectations that technology be integrated into the learning environment, and the need for the university to reexamine and reaffirm what it means to have a learn-by-doing approach or to be a polytechnic institution.
“I believe answering these questions is essential to crafting our identity as we continue to advance on the national stage of higher education institutions and pursue community, regional, national and international partnerships,” Coley said.
Coley also took the occasion to welcome new faces to campus, including Monique Snowden, a visiting American Council on Education fellow who serves as vice president of planning and institutional effectiveness at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara. Snowden will study Cal Poly Pomona’s work in government and external relations, strategic initiative setting and implementation and leadership styles.
Also new to campus is Provost Sylvia Alva; Benjamin F. Quillian, acting vice president and chief financial officer for administrative affairs; and Bedford McIntosh, vice president of University Advancement. Kathy Street, the acting vice president for student affairs and two new interim deans; Cheryl Wyrick in the College of Business Administration; and Nancy Hurlbut from the College of Education & Integrative Studies also were introduced.
She recognized her new Chief of Staff, Gary Hamilton, Executive Assistant Paulette Blumberg, her presidential scheduler and assistant Francine Ramirez, and Title IX Coordinator Linda Hoos.
Other highlights from the event included:
- The 14 newly tenured university faculty received recognition, as well as new staff and faculty.
- Professor Kyle D. Brown, who heads the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, received the George P. Hart Award for his leadership on campus and in the community.
- In October, a new Cal Poly Pomona mobile app will be available on iTunes and Google Play that will enable students to view their class schedule, check grades and register for classes.
Coley closed with a message about the university’s great potential and the importance of channeling the wealth of expertise faculty and staff have to take Cal Poly Pomona into the future.
“I am convinced that when we connect our centers of excellence and achievement throughout the divisions, and when we identity with clarity what makes this campus so special and build upon those strengths together, we will achieve even greater levels of excellence.”