CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White’s first visit to Cal Poly Pomona this week was packed with meetings, presentations and meet-and-greets, but he often went out of his way to engage with people informally and on their turf.
After lunch Tuesday at Los Olivos, White stopped for moment to talk with Hector Rodriguez. The chief executive of the 437,000-student university system asked the facilities employee how long he’s worked at Cal Poly Pomona and about his job. Earlier that morning, White detoured to talk with a small group of students playing Spikeball near the Rose Garden. The chancellor simply introduced himself: “I’m Tim.”
And on his way to a meeting with ASI leaders, White picked up a copy of the Poly Post, which featured his photo and an article about his visit. “Look at that. Who is this old guy?” he joked.
“He’s a very understanding person,” said communication senior Sean Grabin, who escorted the chancellor Wednesday morning. “We were outside the CLA building. He stopped and just hopped right out of the [golf] cart and goes up to the first student he sees, just started asking them about the school.
“When I hear him talking with students and see the way he interacts, you can tell he’s listening and he really wants to know what their perception is.”
ASI President Chris Osuala, who had lunch with the chancellor on Tuesday, described him as “extremely student-focused and student-driven.”
“Here on campus, we are people. We can’t forget that and get caught up in the fact that we’re also a system,” said Osuala, who gave White a “CPP 4 Ivan” bracelet and received a $20 donation for Ivan Aguilar’s memorial fund. “We need to relate to each other as people so we can move forward in the various issues that are going on.”
During his two-day visit, White toured the campus and met with students, staff, faculty and university administrators. He also took questions at an open forum in the Bronco Student Center, which drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 250. Video of the forum is available at https://video.cpp.edu/Chancellor.
White answered questions ranging from employee salary and benefits to international travel to the conversion to the semester calendar. For some issues, he acknowledged that local campuses should make decisions that fit their needs. In other cases, White said he wasn’t fully versed on the details because he’s still learning on the job. (White took the helm of the CSU system in late December.)
In a sit-down talk with the media, White listed a few takeaways from his visit to Cal Poly Pomona: stunning pride, beautiful campus, informed people.
“There’s a lot of sense of purpose here and a lot of focus and a lot pride,” he said. “[You have an] interest in making sure that the students’ education is relevant for whatever career path they may choose… Students and certainly the leadership… are very focused on all the right things, so it makes me very proud.”
(Top photo: Chancellor Timothy P. White getting a demonstration from CyberDefense team students; Bottom photo: the chancellor with Billy Bronco)