On April 20, Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya M. Coley announced via a campuswide email the appointment of Christina M. Gonzales as the vice president of student affairs. With over 20 years of experience, Gonzales is bringing a new perspective to CPP that will help the institution grow.
Since the end of the 2019 fall semester, a committee of students and faculty formed to meet candidates for the position and hear why they would be suitable for CPP. In the last month leading up to Gonzales’ appointment, the committee held meetings via Zoom due to the precautions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am grateful for Dr. Sullivan’s leadership since June and look forward to working for and supporting Vice President Gonzales soon,” said Tari Hunter, director of the Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers.
Associated Students, Inc. President Pasindu Senaratne, a fourth-year business management student, was one of the students serving on the committee.
“I thought Christina had the best interview by far,” Senaratne said. “From the beginning, she could tell you her goals and how she measures her success with results. That is the type of mentality that I prefer to have.”
Gonzales will be replacing Dr. Eileen Sullivan who served as the interim vice president for student affairs. Sullivan has over 25 years of experience in higher education administration. The Poly Post reached out to Sullivan regarding her future plans, however did not receive a response in time for publication.
Gonzales, a first-generation college graduate, grew up in a rural town in New Mexico. Her parents worked hard with an eighth-grade education, and fought for equal rights, equal pay and equal benefits for others within their community. It was her father, a World War II veteran and copper miner, who had the most influence on her going to college.
“He thought education was very important and going to school was important, even though he did not know what that meant,” Gonzales said. “He was always supportive. He told me to get the education you need, and that will open doors for you.”
After completing her Bachelor of Science at Western New Mexico University and receiving her Master of Arts in education management and development from New Mexico State University, Gonzales worked at Arizona State University (ASU), UC Berkeley, and University of Colorado, Boulder. Before working at ASU, her first job was at Rio Salado, a small community college in Arizona.
“I’ve had most jobs where I really worked my way up,” Gonzales said. “I was (at ASU) for about 11 years, and I had a lot of promotions and was given a lot of opportunities to do special projects. It gave me a lot of experience.”
When the associate dean of students position at Berkeley was posted, Gonzales knew the change was good for her because it was a new chance to learn and move up.
Gonzales experienced a lot of activism on social issues and found it as a great opportunity to work with students to overcome their frustrations and issues. After Berkeley, she went to Boulder for a little over seven years, serving as the vice chancellor for student affairs.
“With CPP, the whole mission of learning and getting experience while you’re a student is amazing,” Gonzales said. “When I saw the vision that the president has set moving forward just in terms of student success, especially for first-generation students and low-income students, that really spoke to my heart.”
As vice president of student affairs at CPP, her goal is to help and support students so they can finish their degrees and make their mark in the world.
Terri Gomez, associate vice president for the Office of Student Success, served as the chair of the committee for interviews.
Gomez spoke highly of Gonzales, acknowledging that she has held critical roles at a number of institutions that correlate to CPP.
“She’s a seasoned leader with a tremendous amount of experience,” Gomez said. “She has served (at) a lot of institutions across the country, and I think that sort of depth of experience is going to serve our campus well.”
Gonzales’ goal when she gets to campus is to familiarize herself with the campus and student life to form a connection with CPP and help students to the best of her abilities.
Gonzales will start her new position at CPP July 1.
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