Charged with curating opportunities for experiential learning, discovery and innovation, Olukemi “Kemi” Sawyerr has been appointed as Cal Poly Pomona’s Associate Vice President for Academic Innovation.
Sawyerr, who joined the university in 2002, has served as the Interim AVP for Academic Innovation since August of 2018, during which she guided the establishment of the newly created Office of Academic Innovation and the institutionalization of the Learn Through Discovery (LTD) initiative aimed at providing every Cal Poly Pomona student a signature polytechnic experience.
“Dr. Sawyerr brings extensive experience building relationships across multiple CPP divisions and a variety of internal and external stakeholders,” Associate Provost for Student Success, Equity and Innovation Terri Gomez said. “I’m confident she will lead the unit effectively and I look forward to working with her as she expands on the responsibilities associated with her role.”
Sawyerr will provide strategic direction and administrative oversight to the Office of Academic Innovation, which curates opportunities for experiential learning, discovery and innovation for the Cal Poly Pomona community through the Center for Community Engagement, Kellogg Honors College, Office of Undergraduate Research, Student Innovation Idea Labs, the CPP NSF I-Corps site, and LTD.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve the campus in this capacity,” Sawyerr said. “I look forward to working with the Academic Innovation team to advance the mission of Cal Poly Pomona by cultivating the success of our students through experiential learning, discovery and innovation.”
Sawyerr’s first position at Cal Poly Pomona was as an assistant professor in the Management and Human Resources Department in the College of Business Administration.
She served as the inaugural director of the Student Innovation Idea Lab, creating the infrastructure to engender and support student creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. She has overseen the creation of innovative learning spaces on campus including the iLab, the Library Maker Studio, and the off-campus Innovation Orchard incubator.
Sawyerr has founded multiple innovative curricular and co-curricular programs through which Cal Poly Pomona students gain experiential learning opportunities in the spirit of learn-by-doing. These include the Cal Poly Pomona Entrepreneurship in STEAM (E-STEAM), iStartup Academy, NASA Technology Assessment, and CPP NASA LEAP programs.
Her curricular innovations have garnered her national and international attention, including an invited presentation at the Thematic University-Business Forum: Breaking Boundaries for Future Careers sponsored by the European Commission. Her most recent research focuses on the impact of entrepreneurship education on learners. Her research has appeared in multiple peer-reviewed journals and she has presented her work at national and international academic and professional conferences.
Sawyerr earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Texas Women’s University, and a doctorate from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. She spent eighteen years as a faculty member and administrator at Cal Poly Pomona.