Rob Goldberg, Pomona College’s chief operating officer and treasurer, will be leaving for Swarthmore College at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr announced via email Feb. 25.
Starr described the news as “bittersweet,” adding that she and the college owe a debt of gratitude to Goldberg.
“Rarely has it been more true: We had the gift of the right person at the time we needed him most,” she said, referring to Goldberg’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Goldberg will become vice president for finance and administration at Swarthmore College, a location that allows him to be in closer proximity to his family.
But leaving Pomona was not an easy decision for Goldberg.
“I have mixed feelings,” Goldberg told TSL. “I really love it here. I think this is a great institution. I love working for President Starr. … But family first, so that’s why I decided to take the opportunity to [move to] Swarthmore, which is close to where most of my family is concentrated in the Philadelphia area.”
Goldberg joined Pomona in early 2020 after serving as the chief operating officer of Barnard College for six years and working for the federal government for 25 years, including as a senior budget official for the U.S. State Department. He received the Department of State’s Distinguished Honor Award in 2013.
During his two years at Pomona, Goldberg oversaw the college’s public health response to COVID-19, managed the college’s finances and helped Pomona begin implementing its strategic plan.
“When I look back at my time at Pomona, it will be defined by the role that I played in helping Pomona move through the [COVID-19] crisis,” Goldberg said.
Though Goldberg has been at Pomona just over two years, he has developed strong ties with the student body.
“I think it’s been a great partnership,” Goldberg said about his work with the Associated Students of Pomona College. “I had a similar relationship with the student government when I was at Barnard and it’s a rewarding part of the job.”
Adeena Liang PO ’23, ASPC’s vice president of finance, has weekly meetings with Goldberg and said that they loved working with him.
Liang has worked with Goldberg on a variety of projects, like setting up a dining services food review committee, pushing for cross-campus dining and starting conversations with trustees about divesting Pomona’s endowment from fossil fuels.
“He is always straightforward and direct,” Liang told TSL. “While his main responsibility lies with the finances of the College, Rob is always, always extremely receptive to student opinions and ideas. He always goes above and beyond to make sure students and their well being are prioritized in decisions.”
Liang added that Goldberg has been instrumental in helping ASPC achieve financial stability by facilitating the transfer of ownership of the Coop Fountain from ASPC to dining services. As a result, ASPC is no longer in debt to the college and can apply the newly freed sum of $150,000 to address student needs instead.
Nirali Devgan PO ’22 has also worked extensively with Goldberg as ASPC’s chief of staff last year and as its president this year. She praised Golberg’s attention to day-to-day operations at the college as well as big-picture issues.
“Whether it was thinking about the pros and cons of an ultimate meal plan for students or thinking big picture about long-term student input on endowment investments, Rob always came to meetings prepared, answering questions with accuracy and honor[ed] each train of thought with validity,” Devgan said. “I always appreciate his candor and compassion in meetings. Anyone can easily tell that he cares about what was best for the community.”
Details about Goldberg’s send-off and the search for a new vice president, COO and treasurer will be provided to the college in coming weeks, according to Starr.
For Goldberg, leaving Pomona will be a hard goodbye.
“I’ll miss it here tremendously,” he said. “This is a great place. It’s special. I’ll miss the interaction with the consortium. I’ll miss my counterparts at the other colleges. But for my family, I’d be here for the long haul.”