Lydia Chen Shah steps in as Interim Director of CPP’s Center for Community

By Joseph Rodriguez 

The Center for Community Engagement appointed Cal Poly Pomona international and business marketing Professor Lydia Chen Shah as the interim director Oct. 18.

As the CCE is still in the hiring process for a permanent director, Chen Shah will use her experience working alongside the program as a faculty associate to take control temporarily. Chen Shah is a CPP alumna and has taught at the school since 2012, providing her familiarity with the campus community.

The members of the CCE and the Office of Academic Innovation will have to adjust with the transition of going from one director to another, but Chen Shah is ready to work with her team and show CPP how much she cares for her fellow Broncos.

Chen Shah spoke about past experiences that led her to pursue leadership in the CCE. She has led the Faculty Fellows Program and has also been an advisory training resource to CCE for faculty who want to do this kind of community engagement.

Interim Director for the CCE Chen Shah has started to establish plans to improve foundational stability with how the program works with different parts of campus. Some plans she mentioned include helping student clubs that want to collaborate with the community and helping faculty to incorporate service learning in their courses.

The CCE brings its resources outside of campus to the Pomona area and other surrounding cities. Chen Shah has experience with the program branching out to other areas as she noted the organization has always strived to not be limited to Pomona and has also partnered with Los Angeles Works, another community engagement program based in downtown Los Angeles.

The CCE has many faculty members who are already familiar with Chen Shah’s work. One of those members is Jesus Bermudez, an administrative analyst who worked alongside Chen Shah for the Bronco Startup Challenge.

Bermudez shared some of the benefits of having Chen Shah temporarily lead the CCE.

“She’s a go-getter and she’s very on top of her tasks,” said Bermudez. “If she has deadlines, she will meet those deadlines and she’s good at following through. Whether it’s a program or an event, she will follow through and make sure everything is ready.”

Along with Bermudez giving Chen Shah high praise, he also mentioned the CCE has been positively affected since her appointment. The program is focusing more on rebuilding the foundation that was left behind rather than starting up new plans.

The CCE already has a number of programs underway such as the Winter Clothing Drive, Bronco Stampede of Service and College Core. Chen Shah is overseeing most of these projects as the interim director and is planning on furthering them to enhance the CCE.

Besides faculty having positive feedback for Chen Shah, some of her former students are also excited to see her be rewarded with her interim director role. As someone who taught for more than a decade in the Department of International Business and Marketing, she has had the chance to connect with plenty of students.

Lydia Chen Shah (middle right) and the CCE help the community at a local food drive. | Joseph Rodriguez

One of those former students is Caitlyn Kubulan, a 2018 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing management. Kubulan explained how Chen Shah fits into the CCE, which focuses on developing methods for community outreach.

“I feel like her expertise is a big thing and I feel like she has a heart for community service,” said Kubulan. “She is definitely a good leader and I know she will guide the CCE to be very successful in their initiatives.”

Staff such as Lizette Rayela, the Engaged Learning coordinator in the CCE shared positive remarks about what others have said about Chen Shah.

“Other faculty have been telling me that she’s great and that I’m lucky to be working with Lydia,” said Rayela. “So far, she’s been very helpful and just an awesome and inspiring person to work with.”

Chen Shah is excited and humbled to fill the interim director role for the CCE. She is ready for the various tasks and duties she will now oversee and is focused on providing meaningful ways to explore community engagement.

“Cal Poly Pomona is a very special place, and our students are amazing,” said Chen Shah. “The staff and faculty truly are amazing as well. The people I’ve got to work with as a part of the CCE care deeply about our student’s success and we want to grow community engagement for our university.”

Feature Image Courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona

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