Cheryl Koos, Cal Poly Pomona’s latest American Council on Education fellow, is arriving at a time when the California State University system has seen an infusion of women into senior leadership positions.
In the last year, women have been selected to lead four of the universities. System-wide, 10 of the 23 CSU campuses now boast female presidents.
Koos, former interim chair of the Department of Political Science and professor of history at Cal State L.A., is eager to be part of this new wave of leadership when she starts her ACE fellowship in the fall quarter. She will see firsthand how University President Soraya M. Coley deals with issues ranging from government relations to strategic planning.
“This is an exciting time for women in the CSU,” Koos says. “Watching that transformation from the vantage point of a female president’s office is going to be fascinating and enriching experience. I’m looking forward to that.”
Koos also will work with and shadow Provost Sylvia Alva and other administrative leaders to observe different leadership styles and to work on projects related to leadership development. In addition, she will sit in on the president’s cabinet meetings.
“President Coley and Provost Alva have excellent reputations within the CSU system as being innovative leaders,” Koos says. “ACE wants its fellows to be placed with leaders who understand the changing landscape of higher education.”
A faculty member at Cal State L.A. since 1999, Koos has served as the interim chair for political science for the last two years and is also special assistant to the provost for leadership development. Previously, she served as chair of the Department of History for seven years and also led Cal State L.A.’s General Education Revision Committee. Koos also taught at La Sierra University in Riverside.
She has published articles and book chapters on the politics of female identity, masculinity, and reproduction in France between World War I and World War II. Koos earned her doctorate in history and a graduate certificate in gender studies from USC. She received her bachelor’s in history from Biola University.
“Thinking about gender and politics and gender in leadership has been at the forefront of my research and scholarly interests for my entire career,” Koos says. “Working with two established women who are leaders within the higher education community and within the CSU is very exciting for me.”
This is the second consecutive year that an ACE Fellow has selected Cal Poly Pomona as a leadership study site. Koos was selected based on her academic credentials and potential for administrative leadership, recommendations of colleagues, assessments of the interviewing teams of senior administrators and overall qualifications.
“This is a period of tremendous change in higher education. Administrators are being asked to do more and more with less and less, especially within state systems like the CSU,” Koos says. “Thinking about creative and visionary ways of approaching thorny problems and finding solutions is necessary.”
Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program is designed to strengthen institutions and leadership in higher education by identifying and preparing faculty and staff for senior positions in college and university administration.
The 2016-2017 ACE fellows consist of 29 participants. Nearly 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the program in the last 50 years, and more than 80 percent of the participants have served as leaders of colleges and universities.
“Cal Poly Pomona has an excellent reputation in the Southern California area and I wanted to stay within the Cal State system for my ACE fellowship year,” Koos says. “I spent the last 17 years of my career as a professor at Cal State L.A. The Cal State system is my home and I am dedicated to the students we serve.
“I wanted exposure to a different Cal State campus and one with a different character. As a polytechnic, it’s very different in focus than my home campus but it also has the best of the liberal arts and sciences tradition as well,” she says. “Cal Poly Pomona also has a special place in my family; my brother earned his bachelor’s degree in urban planning from here and my niece has also attended Cal Poly Pomona.”