The search for a new Chief of Staff for the office of the president held an open forum for the two finalists.

Candidate Melanie M. Muenzer met with university officials on May 7 while candidate Nicole A. Hawkes visited on May 10.

Melanie M. Muenzer wants to facilitate student success at CPP. (Emily K. Cohen | The Poly Post)

Chief of staff responsibilities include overseeing most of the president’s staff, the daily office operations, office budgets, and all activities and services provided by the Office of the President.

Muenzer, currently vice provost at the University of Oregon, is driven to be a leader in education because she cares greatly about the socio-economic challenges that many students face.

Muenzer explained she realized one day, early on in her career, “If you’re rich you get a better education than if you’re poor,” and she wanted to change that through her work.

She served in the White House during the Obama administration as white house liaison and deputy assistant secretary in the Department of Education.

She aspires to come to Cal Poly Pomona for personal reasons but wants to continue her quest to facilitate student success while at this university.

“Equal access to quality education is what drives me,” said Muenzer.

Hawkes, presently associate provost for strategic initiatives and chief of staff at Boston University, works in education because of the opportunities it provides diverse students.

“Education is about opportunity and I am deeply committed to that mission,” said Hawkes.

She held a variety of positions with the University of Southern California, including associate provost for academic affairs.

The role of chief of staff includes overseeing and working with other university leaders to manage crises, solve problems, mediate conflicts and communicate with students and the public whenever necessary. The chief of staff plays an intrinsic role in the functionality of the inner workings of the university.

The forums were open to the CPP community, and the university gave all of CPP the opportunity to contribute to the search by giving feedback about the candidates through an evaluation-style survey online.

The survey was anonymous and closed May 14.

The university posted a video of each of the forums online, as well as both candidate’s individual resumes.

Officials from the president’s office said in an emailed statement that they value all feedback about the candidates during the search committee’s process finding the right individual for this position.

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