University President Soraya M. Coley revved up the Fall Conference crowd with a kickoff video that showcased both the campus and her need for speed.
The video shown at the Aug. 19 Convocation, an event that ushers in the start of a new school year for faculty and staff, featured Coley climbing into a student-built Formula SAE race car and seemingly speeding through the campus to get to the Kellogg Arena in time for the celebration.
She roars by the nationally ranked College of Engineering, the state-of-the-art Student Services Building and a group of students working on one of the grape vineyards, among other locales.
“Each shot is an integral part of our story,” she said. “When you put the whole story together, it is clear that Cal Poly Pomona is a special place. This video could not have been filmed on any other campus in the world.”
Fall Conference offered Coley the opportunity to also tell the story of how the university is working hard to ensure that students are successful. Cal Poly Pomona has transformed over its more than 80 years, becoming one of “the nation’s most effective engines of opportunity” and preparing students for both careers and life.
“We rise together because our individual success grows our institutional capacity, expands our collective vision of what is possible, and gives us the courage to make that vision a reality,” she said.
Graduation Initiative 2025 and Student Success
In January 2016, the CSU launched Graduation Initiative 2025, a systemwide effort to improve graduation rates and close achievement and equity gaps. While each of the CSU’s 23 campuses has its own set of goals and the system as a whole is making strides, Cal Poly Pomona was one of two to make progress in all six of the initiative’s core metrics this past year, Coley said.
Efforts to reach the university’s goals by 2025 include investing resources in hiring faculty and creating innovative programs. Cal Poly Pomona conducted 45 tenure-track searches in 2017-18 and 51 last year. Fifty tenure-track searches are approved for the coming year, she said. In addition to new faculty, the university tapped Graduation Initiative funds to hire eight graduation and retention specialists, as well as an e-advising coordinator.
A push to create and bolster innovative programs to help meet the goals of GI 2025 include:
- Implementing CPP Connect, which utilizes data, early alerts and predictive analytics to flag a student who misses a success marker.
- Creating a “Take 30” campaign to set students on a course for graduation.
- Offering summer completion grants, which provide tuition, books, parking and meals to students eight credits or fewer away from graduation.
- Tapping into artificial intelligence to create Billy Chat, a texting resource that relays information regarding orientation, registration and placement tests and enables students to ask Billy questions at any hour.
‘Our Most Valuable Resource’
Coley also discussed the ambitiousness of launching three crucial planning processes – the University Strategic Plan, the Academic Master Plan and the Campus Master Plan – at the start of her presidency.
Each plan has different areas of concentration, but they all intersect, she said.
“One of these crucial intersections is the fact that at Cal Poly Pomona, our people are our most valuable resource,” she said. “Since our progress as an institution is wholly dependent on your success in your respective roles, a primary thrust of our strategic planning involves empowering and supporting your own continued improvement.”
Initiatives focused on advancing organizational development and employee excellence include:
- The online resource YourLife@CPP, a website featuring institutional support resources geared toward prospective faculty.
- The expansion of professional and personal development resources, including the widely attended “Our Campus, Your Future” summit last February.
- Implementation of Concur, a paperless travel and expense management system designed to ease administrative burden across campus.
Future of Work and Human and Civic Engagement
Earlier this year, the university formally launched an initiative dubbed the Future of Work and Human and Civic Engagement. The aim of the initiative is to look beyond just preparing students to enter the workforce after graduation. The plan is to get an understanding of the essential skills students need to navigate the future and teach them those skills, Coley said.
A steering committee composed of faculty, staff and students has been formed, and analysis and campus-wide dialogue is underway.
“As a public educational institution located in one of the most dynamic and diverse regions in the nation, Cal Poly Pomona is perfectly positioned to be a national leader in understanding the future of work and its impact on human and civic engagement,” she said.
Formation of an Inclusive Excellence Council
In closing her remarks, Coley announced an effort to foster a campus climate “where everyone feels safe and welcome and can achieve their full potential.”
She shared her plans to create an Inclusive Excellence Council consisting of faculty, staff and students.
“This council will serve as an advisory group to help us understand our campus climate challenges, work with the campus community to find solutions, and gauge our success moving forward,” she said. “I look forward to sharing more details in the coming semester.”