Jennifer Brown, announced to be the new provost and vice president of Academic Affairs last month, was introduced to the Cal Poly Pomona community on Feb. 23 at her first in-person event on campus.
After several weeks of juggling two jobs and working toward a smooth transition from the University of California, Riverside to CPP, Brown was finally able to get a feel for the campus spirit at a two-hour meet-and-greet event. The event’s format allowed for faculty and staff, as well as students, to line up around the Student Services Building’s multipurpose room to get a chance to greet Brown.
Brown expressed her excitement at getting the chance to be on campus for the event.
“Given the COVID context, I really hope that just having a human interaction and being able to say, ‘hi’ is going to be important,” said Brown. “So, I just hope it’s the start of a great relationship with faculty and staff who come today.”
While trying to remain COVID-19 conscious, faculty and staff hesitated on how to properly greet Brown in-person. Because COVID-19 has created limitations regarding physical touch, Brown greeted people in the various ways they were comfortable with, whether it was a first bump, elbow touch or a handshake.
Traci Lew, associate director of admissions and evaluation for the campus’ Enrollment Management and Services, who showed up to greet Brown said, “To be able to do anything in person is really exciting right now and to have this as our first opportunity, which is meeting our new provost, I feel is even extra special. We have not seen anybody in person in the last two years and so for this to be the first person we get to greet coming to campus, I personally feel it is very special. She’s going to be the head of our division so it’s nice that even though she hasn’t officially started, she’s taking time out of her day to get to know everyone and for us to get to know her.”
Collectively, attendees were enthusiastic about engaging in an in-person format. Various professors from the different colleges Brown will oversee also stopped to say hello and introduce themselves.
Both Eeman At-Taras and Ondieki Gekara, professors in the Animal & Veterinary Sciences Department, were thrilled to meet the provost after hearing about her educational background.
“We’re so happy to get the opportunity to meet provost Brown,” said At-Taras. “We are excited because she has an agricultural background and for us that’s really a positive thing, so we’re looking forward to her being on campus.”
Although there was not an overwhelming number of students in the crowd, the students who did make an appearance were drawn in by Brown’s eagerness to get a sense of campus culture.
“I feel like she’s a great addition to the campus,” said Lashelle Hudson, a hospitality student. “She is really embedded to the mission of Cal Poly Pomona and she seems very eager to help the students.”
At the end of the event, Brown expressed that although this was the first time she participated in an event like this, she felt it gave her a chance to get to know the people who she would be working with and a chance to hear the needs of faculty and staff.
“I’ve tried to talk about being an advocate, learning, understanding challenges, celebrating wins, wanting to make sure that what they need from the university, I’m open to hearing,” said Brown. “I’ve also tried to set some realistic expectations that we can’t fix everything at the same time but the opportunity to prioritize, engage and strategize with folks who really care for this university, that’s going to be really exciting for me.”