Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya Coley symbolically takes reins

February 5, 2016
In The News

POMONA >> In a symbolic move, authority of Cal Poly Pomona was passed to new President Soraya M. Coley during a ceremony Friday afternoon.

Coley became Cal Poly’s sixth president Jan. 1 2015, and on Friday she was presented with the university’s medallion by California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White. The bronze medallion features the five-branched tree from the university seal and has the name of the past presidents inscribed on the back. It symbolizes Coley’s authority, responsibility and commitment to the campus community.

The theme of Friday’s event, “the impossible made possible,” was based on personal experiences, Coley shared, during the more than two-hour ceremony at the Kellogg Gymnasium.

Coley is the first woman and first African-American to hold the position.

Growing up in a legally segregated South, Coley said the messages she received was that her education and work environment relegated her to certain economic and social boundaries.

Support from her parents, family and the community — coupled with changes in the law — filled her with a message of hope, resiliency and pride that she could succeed.

“The door of opportunity was pried wide open, so that I could proudly walk through and achieve the improbable dream of standing here before you today as Cal Poly Pomona’s sixth president,” she said. “My journey compels me to keep the doors open for all who aspire to enter, regardless of background and circumstances.”

Far too many live in the state of impossibility, Coley said.

During a nearly 30-minute address, Coley shared her vision for Cal Poly, higher education and strategies for student success

Coley added she and her husband, Ron, would be establishing an endowment fund in their name for the benefit of students, faculty and staff. Further details of the fund will be released next week, university officials.

“The work we do here matters,” she said. “I believe we have the imperative to help others seek the possibility of achieving the impossible.”

Educators and local dignitaries praised Coley for not only being a forward-thinker but a leader who is dedicated to helping the powerless.

Speakers included Los Angeles County Supervisor and Cal Poly alum Hilda Solis, as well as Rep. Norma Torres, D-Chino.

“She has dedicated her career to making sure young people reach their fullest potential,” Torres said.”It is a new day at Cal Poly Pomona. It is a new day in Pomona.”