Pitzer President Melvin Oliver to retire at the end of 2021-22 academic year

Melvin Oliver served as Pitzer College’s sixth president, becoming the first Black president of any of the Claremont Colleges. (Courtesy: Pitzer College)

Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver will retire from his post at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, he announced in an email to the Pitzer community Thursday. He served as the school’s sixth president, beginning his tenure July 1, 2016 and becoming the first Black president of any of the Claremont Colleges.  

In his 45-year career in higher education and philanthropy, Oliver has been a teacher, scholar, administrator and leader. Although his decision to retire was received with “considerable regret” by Pitzer’s trustees, Board Chair Donald P. Gould said in a follow-up email, his contributions to Pitzer were highly appreciated. 

President Oliver has calmly and skillfully navigated the College through a period of unprecedented challenges during his tenure,” Gould said Thursday. “He has done so while staying true to the College’s core values and pushing Pitzer forward in its educational mission.”

The board of trustees will soon begin its search for a seventh president, slated to take office by the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic year. The presidential search committee, which has yet to be formed, will be chaired by trustee Tom Brock PZ ’83, the current chair of the board’s Academic Affairs Committee, Gould said.

“President Oliver will leave the College in a much stronger place than when he arrived, and for that and much more, the Board and the College will be forever grateful.”

Donald P. Gould

An interim president will be selected in the coming weeks and will take office July 1, 2022. 

As his time at Pitzer draws to an end, Oliver said he hopes to help resolve the college’s challenges with Title IX procedures, oversee construction progress on the new Scripps Pitzer Science Center and move forward with the college’s diversity, equity, inclusion and justice initiatives

He expressed his gratitude at the relationships he and his wife Suzanne formed with several members of the Pitzer community, as well as the next steps in their life.

“Suzanne and I look forward to the next stage of our lives where we can focus on ourselves and our family without the stress and responsibilities that are part of a college presidency,” he said.  

Gould hopes to celebrate all of Pitzer’s many accomplishments under President Oliver’s leadership at a later time. 

“President Oliver will leave the College in a much stronger place than when he arrived, and for that and much more, the Board and the College will be forever grateful,” Gould said. 

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