Yuqing Melanie Wu brings love of problem-solving to new position as Pomona dean of the college

Professor Wu stands in front of a bookshelf in a black shirt and a pearl necklace
Professor Yuqing Melanie Wu previously served as a computer science professor before being appointed as dean of the college. (Courtesy: Pomona College)

As of July 1, Pomona College has a new dean of the college: computer science professor Yuqing Melanie Wu. She succeeds geology professor Robert Gaines, who had most recently served in the role beginning in 2019. 

In her new role, Wu oversees academic departments, programs and units, with an overall focus on improving student educational experiences. Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr expressed excitement when announcing the appointment in a May 16 email to students. 

“Throughout the search process, I was struck by her openness, transparency and eagerness to get input from across the College,” Starr said. “I know Melanie will be a key partner in supporting our talented faculty, promoting a compelling liberal arts curriculum for our students and elevating Pomona’s unique role in creating opportunity in American higher education.”

A Wig Award recipient and a member of the Global Pomona Project Steering Committee, Wu has written over 70 journal articles about her research on data representation and management, focusing on query languages, indexing and query optimization.

Wu taught computer science for over eight years at Pomona, chairing the department from 2017 until 2020. 

“In my new role as dean, the nature of the work may have changed, but the core mission stays the same,” Wu told TSL via email. “It is still about delivering the best education we can provide to Pomona students by building programs and recruiting and developing outstanding faculty and staff.”

Wu said that one of her main priorities is to bring transparency and efficiency to the role when supporting academic programs, faculty, staff and students. 

She also plans to help students better understand information regarding courses, programs and services offered at the college.

“One of the things I look forward to the most is problem-solving,” said Wu. “Every day, I wake up and look forward to working with my wonderful staff to solve problems for programs, departments and members of our community.”

“Every day, I wake up and look forward to working with my wonderful staff to solve problems for programs, departments and members of our community,” said Wu.

Emily Tomz PO ’23 has taken two of Wu’s classes: Discrete Math and Functional Programming (CS 54) and Introduction to Languages and Theory (CS 101). Tomz described Wu as one of her favorite professors, extremely passionate and always willing to help.

“Professor Wu is a very curious person,” Tomz said. “I think she’ll bring that energy to the table as dean.”

Summer Hasama PO ’24, who took Intro to Python in fall 2020, described Wu as “a great lecturer” who “strived to create a community within Zoom classes.”

“I believe she can foster a supportive community at school. She’s very approachable and open to chat, so I think she will do a great job at listening to the student body,” Hasama said.

For students who enjoyed Wu’s computer science classes, Wu’s appointment is bittersweet.

“While we’re disappointed that she might not be teaching as many computer science classes over the next few years, we’re so stoked for her and really proud,” Tomz said.

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