Pomona Releases Strategic Plan on Diversity

Pomona College President David Oxtoby released a draft of a strategic plan for diversity titled
“Lighting the Path to
2025: A Vision for Diversity” in an email to the student body Oct. 7. Prepared by the President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity
(PACD), the plan aims at creating a more diverse and inclusive campus over the next decade.

The plan came about when PACD—a group of faculty members, staff members and students founded
by Oxtoby in 2005 to advise the president on issues of diversity—called for a long-term strategic plan for
diversity in its 2011-2012 annual report.​ PACD has been developing the plan
over the past two years.

According to Oxtoby, the goal of the plan is to
“really think intentionally and strategically about diversity.”

“It’s not that [the plan] sets numerical goals,
but it tries to create an intentional framework for thinking about diversity so
that we’re thinking about all dimensions,” Oxtoby said. “It’s not just about who’s in the community, but it’s about their experience in the community. It’s about success in a
diverse environment.”

“Lighting the Path” seeks
to address diversity in four areas of the college: access and inclusion,
climate and community, scholarship and learning, and institutional vitality.

The
strategic plan outlines specific goals for each area. For instance, the plan
lists an aim of increasing the number of transfer students from community
colleges. It also includes the goals of supplementing mental health and wellness resources
for students, eliminating disparities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) achievement across demographics and fostering connections between students and alumni.

The
10-page plan is a live document, meaning that the released version is a
“working draft,” as indicated on every page of the document. With its release,
the plan is now open to responses from Pomona constituents.

Fernando Lozano, an associate dean, associate professor of
economics and PACD member,
commented on the importance of these responses.

“We would love to have the support of students,
of faculty, of friends of the college,” Lozano said. “In that sense, I guess
our biggest challenge would be if people are apathetic when they receive this
plan and they don’t participate.”

Students
can submit feedback through an anonymous form available on the college’s website until the response period ends Oct. 31. Forums will be held for
faculty members and students to respond to the draft, and PACD will also meet with student groups and the Board of Trustees for their input.

After reviewing each constituent’s feedback, PACD will revise the document and send it to Oxtoby
for review by the end of the fall semester. According to the timeline included
in the plan, “Lighting the Path” should be finalized before spring semester.

Associate Dean of Students for
Student Development and Leadership Daren Mooko, a PACD member, commented on the rapid timetable of
the plan, which would originally have planned for 2030 until Oxtoby
suggested a new goal date of 2025.

“The president has set some very ambitious
timeline goals,” Mooko said. “It’s clearly a top priority for him.”

Asian American Mentor Program Head Mentor Eileen Chen PO ’15 commented on the challenges of the plan’s
goal-based format.

“The major goals outlined in the new strategic
plan for diversity look great, but I think it’s less clear how the college
plans to work toward them,” Chen said. “I would really like to see Pomona
continue to be proactive about developing concrete strategies and involving
students, faculty and staff in that process.”

Chen added that the
opportunity to respond to the plan is crucial.

“Students have an enormous
power to advocate for the changes and goals outlined in the strategic plan, and, as a campus, I believe we need more of both dialogue and action,” Chen said.

Chicano/Latino Student Affairs mentor Selena Pacheco PO ’17 commented on the importance of a comprehensive view of diversity in the plan. 

“There are so many factors that go into a ‘diverse community,’” Pacheco said. 

She identified socioeconomic diversity as one of the
greatest diversity challenges Pomona faces. 

Students are aware of a “distinctive separation” that class creates, Pancheo added. “They sense it, and whether or not they are from a
similar class kind of plays a role in determining friendships.”

Mooko expressed enthusiasm about developing the plan.  

“It is a very exciting
process to sit down and just imagine and just talk about aspirations,” Mooko said. “And to
know that the college wants you to do that is pretty exciting. There’s almost nothing we can’t do.”

There will be a student-organized forum regarding the plan Oct. 27 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Smith Campus Center 201. Students can also access the college’s feedback form at pomona.edu/about/diversity/Presidents-Advisory-Committee.aspx.

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