Pitzer College consolidates cabinet leadership, adds chief operating officer position

A woman has red hair and wears a lavender top and black blazer.
Laura Troendle has been appointed as Pitzer’s new Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer. (Courtesy: Pitzer College)

Pitzer College announced changes to its cabinet leadership in a Feb. 17 email from President Melvin Oliver to the community, including the addition of a chief operating officer position.    

Laura Troendle will assume the role of chief operating officer, a position now merged with the responsibilities held by the college’s chief of staff. In addition to undertaking chief of staff responsibilities, Troendle will continue her position as treasurer, coordinate Pitzer’s policy, provide executive leadership and be responsible for operational and financial oversight for the college, according to the email. 

Pitzer is the latest institution among the Claremont Colleges to have a chief operating officer, following Claremont McKenna College and Pomona College.  

Oliver expressed confidence in Troendle’s executive leadership, operational and financial oversight and ability to “lead [Pitzer] budgetarily through the [COVID-19] crisis.”

Pitzer was the only undergraduate Claremont College that did not furlough any staff members when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the other undergraduate colleges in the consortium to furlough staff members amid budget shortfalls. Their endowment was valued at $144 million as of November 2020, according to previous TSL coverage on 5C endowments. $86 million of that endowment — or approximately 60 percent — was in the form of unrestricted funds, making it the most flexible and operational endowment of the 5Cs.

Jamie Jorgenson, Pitzer’s previous chief legal officer and chief of staff to the president, stepped down from his duties late February. During his time at Pitzer, he oversaw several domains, including Title IX policies and Pitzer’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the email. 

As Jorgenson ventures further into his career in higher education, he will continue to facilitate Pitzer in a new legal endeavour the college is undertaking. 

He will serve as the “primary point of contact” between Pitzer and Husch Blackwell, a top law firm in the country with leading practices in higher education. Pitzer recently negotiated an agreement with HB to receive the firm’s legal services, and Oliver expressed his optimism about the “depth and breadth of expertise” the firm can provide for Pitzer. 

“I am confident that our renewal, restructuring and consolidation of our cabinet will bring the kind of innovation we need to improve our processes, lower administrative costs, increase efficiency in our operations, and position us to build upon our ability to deliver a quality educational experience for all our students,” Oliver said. 

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