Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers

Cultural Centers’ 25th Anniversary

Celebrating the Cultural Centers

In 1995, Cal Poly Pomona welcomed Cultural Centers to campus, and we are honored to be celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year.  The theme for the virtual celebration is “Chapter 25: Honoring Our Roots”. Our goal is to honor the 25 years of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice work of the Cultural Centers, alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, and community allies while connecting with the campus community. We are celebrating our legacy virtually through our introduction of a podcast, Chapter 25: Tracing Our Roots, on the Anchor platform to document our cultural center story from diverse perspectives and a campaign designed to highlight our past Cultural Center leaders and their contributions.

Anniversary Podcast
Chapter 25: Tracing Our Roots

Welcome to Cal Poly Pomona’s Cultural Centers 25th Anniversary Podcast, where we explore how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. The purpose of this podcast is to illuminate the legacy of the Cal Poly Pomona Cultural Centers and celebrate the community members that have uplifted the voices of our diverse population at Cal Poly Pomona. The podcast is a collaborative project led by the Office of Student Life & Cultural Center staff and student staff at Cal Poly Pomona. However, all views expressed in this podcast are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers and the university. A new podcast episode will be available every Friday for the remainder of the Fall 2020 semester.


Podcast Link

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Our Story, Our Timeline

The foundation was set for the first Cultural Center when Associated Students Incorporated (ASI) funded the first Women’s History Month in 1975.

The following year, the Women’s Center was developed and was housed in the ASI offices, which were in what is now the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center. Although the name of the center has changed several times over the years, women’s resources have always been part of the Womxn’s Resource Center.

The ReEntry and WoMen’s Resource Center added ReEntry Services and expanded their services to men

Multicultural Council (MCC) chartered as an umbrella council for all the cultural-based student clubs and organizations. The Associated Students, Incorporated funds the council.

Inaugural Cross-Cultural Retreat (continued through 2020)

“Third World Grass Roots Multicultural Coalition” was established with Asian and Pacific Islander, African American, Xicano, and South Indian students working collaboratively to organize and initiate changes on campus. The Black Student Union (BSU) Executive Board, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), and students from ASI were meeting separately with administrators to discuss the need for a RAZA Center for the Xicano/Latino students and a Study Center for the African American students

  • WASC completed its review of the campus and indicated that the University should institutionalize diversity efforts on campus. The WASC team report stated, “There is a need for the university to move aggressively toward creating a climate which supports women and “minorities” (WASC report, pg. 7).

Dr. Bob H. Suzuki, Cal Poly Pomona’s Fourth President, made diversity one of the centerpieces of his presidency.  “Achieving Excellence through Diversity” was his inaugural theme.

  • Pride Alliance Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies Faculty and Staff Association founded.
  • A formal proposal for a Multicultural Center was submitted to President Bob H. Suzuki.
  • Several on-campus leaders, faculty, and groups were part of this writing group.

With the support of many student communities, a demonstration and march to the Vice President’s Office were led by Chicano/Latino students to fight against injustices on campus, Proposition 187, and to advocate for the establishment of a Cultural Center. This became the turning point in the efforts of all underrepresented students at Cal Poly Pomona.

  • This protest resulted in regular meetings with administrators to seriously address the needs of the community, including Cultural Centers. This was the birth of the RAZA Council Members, and the RAZA Council would oversee the implementation of the many demands placed on the administration. After a year and a half of building coalitions with other cultural communities and discussions between Cal Poly Pomona administration and the RAZA Council, the opening of the Cultural Centers was announced.
  • Fred Henderson, Director of Student Life, was charged by President Suzuki to work with the various cultural groups to renovate and furnish Building 95 for use as the Cal Poly Pomona Cultural Centers.

Three Cultural Centers opened at Cal Poly Pomona, the African American Student Center, Asian and Pacific Islander Center, and Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education.

  • The individual cultural centers were created so that professional staff members could address issues that are unique to each community.

“The Cultural Centers were designed based on the developmental framework that students are often ready to first learn about their own culture before opening up to learning about the cultures of others. Students have several identity transitions, which occur at new levels of complexity, depending on the context, throughout their life span. The cultural centers assist them in understanding their identities and the forces that impact them. Students’ identity development varies depending on what they have been exposed to before college. The Cultural Centers “meet students where they are at” and also collaborate to highlight student’s multiple identities to encourage students to move further along the developmental spectrum. Each Cultural Center coordinator actively works with the culturally-based:

  • Academic courses
  • Affinity groups
  • Alumni associations
  • Clubs and organizations
  • Community organizations
The African American Student Center, the Asian & Pacific Islander Student Center, and the Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education were inaugurated with part-time coordinators in each center for the first year.
  • Full-time coordinators were hired in 1996.

In 1996, the Pride Center opened its doors with a part-time advisor for the first year.

  • Initially, the cultural centers did not include the Pride Center-Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Center. However, several gay and lesbian students met with the Vice President for Student Affairs and requested to be included.

The Pride Center relocated to Building 1, and the coordinator became a full-time staff member. 

  • The coordinator was the first full-time professional staff to run an LGBTQ resource center in the CSU system.

The Native American Student Center opens at Cal Poly Pomona under the direction of an advisor and student volunteers.

Dr. Gene Awakuni, Vice President for Student Affairs, gave permanent money for each of the cultural centers’ operational needs, including student assistants.

  • Two years later, budget cuts begin, and the cultural centers ultimately lost over 35% of their permanent base budgets.
  • The Office of Student Life and the Cultural Centers merged into one department to become the Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers (OSLCC).

In the fall of 2003, a full-time permanent Coordinator was hired for the Native American Student Center.

  • In 2003, both the Native American Student Center and the Pride Center moved to the University Plaza building and joined the Office of Student Life in the historic Kellogg building. The Native American Task Force and the African American Task Force were established.
  • Cultural Centers Exit Surveys (2003-2009): First distributed only to students that participated in the cultural graduation celebrations, and in 2008 the survey was modified and sent to an expanded list of students.

Cal Poly Pomona is an officially qualified Hispanic-Serving Institution because the university’s total enrollment of 19,885 comprised 30.5 percent, Hispanic students.

Cal Poly Pomona is recognized as one of the nation's best campuses for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, according to The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, the first comprehensive campus guide to highlight the 100 most LGBT-friendly campuses in the United States.

The fifth President, Dr. J. Michael Ortiz’s “University Vision and Identity Exercise,” results in identifying the “Celebration of Diversity” as one of Cal Poly Pomona’s six University core Values.

  • The Stop Violence Office and the ReEntry and Women’s Resource Center were merged to officially become CPP’s sixth Cultural Center: Violence Prevention & Women’s Resource Center.

Student Affairs developed a Calendar of Religious and Cultural Holidays website, based on a referral from the Academic Senate.

The Cultural Centers celebrated 15 years on the Cal Poly Pomona campus

  • Cultural Centers External Program Review completed. Program review of mission, programs, services, organizational structure, resources, assessment, and evaluation.

Cultural Centers Exit Surveys were distributed to participants of the 2014 cultural graduates, and the results were presented at Stories of Successful Learning and two student affairs conferences including the California Council of Cultural Centers in Higher Education and Marymount University’s Student Engagement conference. A project titled: A Qualitative Assessment of Obstacles and Successes for Cultural Graduation Participants.

  • 6% of the participants mentioned that there were financial obstacles, more than any other reason, to their success at Cal Poly Pomona. 
  • 5% of the respondents highlighted that their academics (e.g., trouble getting classes, advisors, selecting the right major) were obstacles.
  • 5% of students mentioned that determination, hard work, and strong motivation were the reasons they graduated.
  • 3% responded that family/community/friend support as a significant reason for their success.
  • 2% of graduates listed that the Cultural Centers provided community/friend building that led to their success.
  • 9% of respondents listed the Cultural Center resources (printing, books, advice, and leadership development) as contributors to their success.


The Cultural Centers celebrated 20 years on the Cal Poly Pomona campus.

The Violence Prevention & Women’s Resource Center’s name is changed to the Women’s Resource Center


The Women’s Resource Center’s name is changed to the Womxn’s Resource Center to be inclusive of all womxn.

The César E. Chávez Center for Higher Education celebrated the 25th anniversary of Día de los Muertos  .

The 30th Cross-Cultural Retreat is hosted by the Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers.

The Cultural Centers celebrates 25 years on the Cal Poly Pomona campus