The Investiture of President Soraya M. Coley on Feb. 5 ushers in her era as the sixth president of Cal Poly Pomona.
More than 1,000 people, ranging from the California State University administration to students to alumni, watched history unfold. The Investiture ceremony was the first at the university since 1991.
With an abundance of voices in the audience, here is a sampling of views of the ceremony.
“It’s a new chapter for the university. I’m very excited to have President Coley as a female, a minority, a woman of color. I think it’s a huge opportunity for a city like Pomona to see this type of leadership.”
Norma J. Torres
Congresswoman, 35th Congressional District
“She really has an amazing view of where Cal Poly Pomona will be going. With a lot of pretty words, but it was pretty much what I was expecting to hear from her. One thing I wasn’t expecting to hear was the endowment, which I think was an amazing touch. I wasn’t expecting it but I’m not surprised. She loves students, she loves giving back to the community. That’s one of the ways that she’ll be doing that.”
President, Associated Students Inc.
’72, engineering technology
“I’m looking forward to her proposals of change to incorporate new faculty, new research and to start new relationships with the community. I think (we need) stronger relationships with the community, to work hand and hand to help economic development to get our students placed in the local community. But also to bring community leaders to our campus so our students can learn about social issues affecting Southern California.”
’79, social science
Professor and chair of the ethnic and women’s studies department
’72, electronic engineering
“In President Coley’s speech today we see the first signs of her positive response to the listening tour. She’s been very careful so far to say, ‘I’m out there listening.’ Candidly, she can’t be only a listener forever. At some point, a leader has to say, ‘This is where we are now and this is where I think we ought to go.’ The president’s three-point statement is something for the campus to digest and respond to. A very positive step forward.”
Professor of political science and former Academic Senate chair
“Cal Poly Pomona has changed my life. Many years ago, I came here for admission to chemical engineering. At that time, the school said it did not have openings in chemical engineering, but it did have room in electrical engineering, so I said I’ll take it. Well, that’s a subject I’ve loved all my life and because of that I became successful. I’m here today because of that.”
’70, electrical engineering
“The announcement of the endowment fund is an enormous demonstration to the campus and to the students. President Coley has always said that she is student-centered and this is a great way of showing that. Her commitment is more than just words.”
Senior, communication with an emphasis in public relations
“I feel extremely confident that President Coley is the right leader for our campus. She embraces the goal of furthering access to higher education, strengthening our partnerships with community businesses, and seeks to streamline technology in order to give the best services to students to help them graduate and succeed.”
Coordinator of marketing and health services relations
“This is a historical moment in the history of Cal Poly Pomona. It’s historical whenever you have a transition from one president to another, but the fact that we now have our sixth president and it’s our first female president and it’s our first African American president, it’s just monumental. It’s exciting for the whole community. It’s an opportunity for the community to coalesce and really come together, and really represent who we are as an institution. President Coley comes with a lot of passion and compassion. Just a lot of spirit. She’s down to earth. She cares a lot about Cal Poly Pomona and who we are. She’s the perfect fit.”
Byron Howlett Jr.
Acting associate vice president and dean of students
“Today is a great day in history for me to be here. This is my 20th year at Cal Poly Pomona and for me, to be here when the first black woman president is here, is a great opportunity. Martin Luther King Jr. had a statement where he said, ‘If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. Whatever you do, move forward.’ I believe that we as a university are moving forward. I’m glad to be participating.”
’93, behavioral sciences, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Cal State L.A.
“The fact that she has come up the ladder in other roles as a professor, a dean, a provost and now president within the CSU system means that she is well prepared to implement the special mission of the California State University system in opening the doors to the middle class. Cal Poly Pomona is a campus with a long tradition, and President Coley is reinvigorating the tradition by bringing fresh new energy to the campus.”
Dean of the College of Environmental Design
“I’m really excited to celebrate Dr. Coley and her presidency but also the community aspect, the part where she’s being able to others together and create a strategic plan and a vision. I am excited about hearing her and investing in Cal Poly Pomona and also just celebrating.”
’03, business marketing, minor in multicultural leadership studies
“This is my first year working at Cal Poly Pomona. This is President Coley’s first year as our president and as a female and as an African American, so I feel like this was a really big deal for this university and I’m really proud to be a part of history.”
Stacy De La Rosa
Division of University Advancement, gift processing and data entry assistant
“The Investiture of President Coley celebrates Cal Poly Pomona’s rich history and reaffirms our mission. Dr. Coley is making history as not only the first female president, but our first black female president. Her humble beginnings and perseverance will bring strength and perspective as she defines and architects her strategic vision.”
Information Technology Administrator, Student Affairs
“This is a historical moment at the university, to have Dr. Coley share her vision and to be introduced as our sixth president of this institution. I think it’s historic that we have an event like this that can bring faculty, staff and our major benefactors together in one place to celebrate this great day.”
Director of major gifts, The Collins College of Hospitality Management
“Soraya Coley and I have been friends since 1993 when she came on the board of directors of a non-profit agency in Orange County that I was directing. She was teaching at Cal State Fullerton in the human services department, which is here I also began to teach. I have known her for these past 25 years. We wrote a proposal-writing book together. She is the most wonderful woman in the whole world. She has the deepest concern for justice and fairness in education. She works tirelessly to see that come to fruition. She is a remarkable woman and that’s why I’m here: to celebrate Soraya Coley.”
Longtime friend and former colleague
Melanie Johnson, Gary Fong, Michelle Magcalas, Tambra Williams and Dana Ekhtiar contributed to this story.