In her third Convocation speech to faculty and staff, President Soraya M. Coley returned to the stage to share the progress made during her tenure and outline plans for new initiatives and projects.
Coley’s wide-ranging speech to an audience of more than 700 touched on everything from construction to semester conversion to new initiatives focused on branding and what she dubbed “The Future of Work and Human Engagement.”
“We have a very ambitious agenda this year, and some of the things we’re asking won’t be easy,” she said on Monday, Sept. 18, “but I am hopeful that we will have the confidence and determination to deal with the challenging times.”
Coley kicked off her arrival to the Bronco Student Center’s Ursa Major with a video of her stuck in campus construction traffic, concerned that she won’t get to Fall Conference on time. During the drive, the camera pans out to show Billy Bronco riding shotgun, just before the pair enter the side door of the room arm-and-arm and Coley makes her rounds shaking hands and giving out hugs to the tune of Pharrell’s “Happy.”
In her construction update, Coley called for the campus community to exercise patience this academic year with traffic and parking. Among the projects highlighted were the newly opened and realigned Kellogg Drive, which includes bike lanes both ways on Kellogg and a new walking path just to the west that is in the works.
She announced that the three-story Student Services and Administrative Building under construction is scheduled to be completed in early 2019. A new freshman-oriented living community, which will house 960 students, will begin accepting residents in 2019, with a second phase tentatively planned for 2022. The project will include a new dining commons as well.
With the progress of semester conversion on track, Coley told the audience that the first day of fall semester next year is set for Aug. 23. The change will shorten summer session to five weeks. Under the semester system, the running time of individual class sessions will be shorter, but the time over the entire term will be the same, she said.
“As I have stated, the challenges of semester conversion present a continuum from ‘oops’ to ‘oh my gosh,’” she said. “We know there will be a few ‘oops,’ but we do not want any ‘oh my goshes.’ And with all of us coming together this year, I am confident that we will have a successful transition.”
Coley also announced plans for some new initiatives. Cal Poly Pomona will launch a branding effort during fall quarter that will include assessing how to communicate with alumni, stakeholders and other constituents in the region, as well as creating a new university logo.
The president shared the blueprint for the next five years, with goals outlined in the newly crafted Strategic Plan, which she called “our GPS system.” Those goals include:
- Promote integrative learning, discovery and creativity by establishing “centers for excellence” that will capitalize on our polytechnic identity, strengths and opportunities for discovery, innovation, research and creative expression.
- Enhance student learning, development and success by designing effective strategies that optimize the retention, persistence and achievement of students from historically underserved populations.
- Prepare students for the future of work and civic engagement by implementing a plan for student success that starts with pre-admission and runs a full year past graduation.
- Strengthen our already vibrant economic impact in the region by boldly elevating our reputation and showcasing our unique polytechnic identity.
- Advance organization development and employee excellence, emphasizing the importance of becoming an employer of choice and continuing to be recognized as a “great place to work.”
Coley also highlighted the Student Success initiative, which implements strategies focused on academic excellence, greater access and inclusion, and also provides students with tools such as MyPlanner to help them take ownership of their progress.
The president also shared a new and “evolving” initiative linked to the Strategic Plan she calls “The Future of Work and Human Engagement.”
Coley said she plans to host a blue-ribbon group made up of leaders from diverse fields who will look at the role Cal Poly Pomona can play in the national discussions on higher education, and more specifically, a polytechnic education.
The initiative will focus on three components:
- Serving as an epicenter for creativity, innovation and discovery – Extend the work of the Innovation Idea Lab and the Office of Undergraduate Research, in collaboration with other programs, to promote creative solutions to local and global challenges, and engage in research and discovery.
- Leadership excellence – Focus on personal growth and leadership development for faculty, department chairs, staff, leads and supervisors, as well as administrators.
- Equity and inclusion – Striving to be one of the most multi-diverse campuses in the nation, not only among students, but among staff, administrators and faculty.
“I tell students all the time to dream big and have bold goals,” Coley said. “And that’s what I want for us as an institution. I want Cal Poly Pomona to expand its brightness in the region, the state and the country. I am happy because Cal Poly Pomona is a university on the move. Our campus is moving before our eyes as it expands to meet the growing needs of our students, faculty, staff and community.”