Dean Ricardo Townes to retire after 17 years at Pomona College

The Pomona College clock tower and Walker Hall on Bixby Plaza as viewed from outside Frary Dining Hall.
In his 17 years at Pomona, Dean Ricardo Townes helped build up student leadership and mentorship opportunities and reform the college’s residential life program. (Anna Choi • The Student Life)

Pomona College associate dean of student mentoring and leadership Ricardo Townes is retiring, Dean of Students Avis Hinkson announced in an email to students Wednesday. 

Townes will retire June 1, after 17 years at Pomona. Initially holding an interim position in 2004, Townes was appointed dean of campus life and associate dean of students the following year. He held the position for a decade before serving as associate dean of student mentoring and leadership. 

Townes is perhaps known best by current students for his broad work helping build up student leadership and mentorship opportunities. In addition to his work developing identity-based peer mentoring programs, he has served as Pomona’s liaison to the Office of Black Student Affairs, Chicano Latino Student Affairs, the Queer Resource Center, the Office of Institutional Diversity at Harvey Mudd College and Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment at Scripps College. Townes has also advised  Pomona’s Judicial Board since 2004.

The college’s residential life program was also much reformed by Townes, who constructed its current staffing structure. He provided support for residential advisers and on-campus students as the on-call dean, attending to emergencies that occured after hours. During this time, Townes also served as a grievances officer for students and staff for 10 years. 

An “early advocate” for student engagement in sustainability, according to Hinkson, Townes collaborated with ASPC to begin Pomona’s ReCoop program, which prevents students’ reusable items and furniture from being tossed out at the ends of semesters.

In Townes’ absence, the college will conduct a national search for its next associate dean of student mentoring and leadership, according to Hinkson. 

“Dean Townes truly will be missed by students, faculty and staff alike. His easy smile and good humor envelop a heart committed to seeing students achieve their potential and leave Pomona with the skills necessary to achieve success as they define it,” Hinkson said. 

“He has supported his colleagues on an array of work projects and yet, most will remember when he sat with them and offered advice in a difficult moment.”

Pomona will celebrate Townes’ retirement “in a few weeks,” with details forthcoming. 

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