Office of the President

President's Biography

Soraya M. Coley

Dr. Soraya M. Coley is the sixth president of the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). An accomplished educator and administrator with four decades experience in higher education, Dr. Coley is the first woman to be named president of Cal Poly Pomona. She has ushered in a new era of strategic leadership for the campus, establishing a vision for Cal Poly Pomona as a model for an inclusive polytechnic university that inspires creativity, discovery and innovation, embraces local and global challenges, and transforms lives.

As president, Dr. Coley leads an institution with nearly 30,000 students and 2,700 faculty and staff. Under her leadership, Cal Poly Pomona has continued to grow its legacy as the most diverse polytechnic university in the country and as a national leader in promoting social and economic mobility. Dr. Coley formally took office in January 2015, and during her tenure enrollment has grown by 6,000 students and graduation rates have reached historic levels.

A student-centered, faculty- and staff-focused and community-minded administrator, Dr. Coley has led a campus-wide effort charting a new course for Cal Poly Pomona that will define the university for decades to come. To guide this effort, Dr. Coley led the creation of a new strategic plan and launched planning processes to re-envision both the academic enterprise and the campus’ physical presence. As part of Dr. Coley’s student-centered focus, Cal Poly Pomona has made a historic transition from quarters to semesters — a move that will improve the academic experience for students and increase career opportunities both during their time at Cal Poly Pomona and after they graduate.

Coley came to Cal Poly Pomona from California State University, Bakersfield, where she was the provost and vice president for academic affairs from 2005 to 2014. She served as interim vice president for university advancement from 2011 to 2012. She has also held positions at California State University, Fullerton, the National Center for Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, and Alliant International University.

In 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Pres. Coley to the California Future of Work Commission, which is charged with making recommendations to the Governor and Legislature regarding the kinds of jobs Californians could have in the decades to come, the impact of technology, methods of promoting better job quality, modernizing worker safety net protections, and ready the state's workforce for the jobs of the future through lifelong learning.

Dr. Coley is also a member of the American Council on Education Women’s Network, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative, and the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs. She is a former member of the board of directors for Children and Family Futures as well as the Kern County Schools’ “Ready to Start” program. In 2000, she was recognized as “One of Ten Women Making a Difference” by Orange County Metro Magazine

Coley earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Lincoln University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in social planning and social research from Bryn Mawr College.

She is married to Ron Coley, who served two decades of active duty as a pilot in the Marine Corps, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After his military service, Mr. Coley enjoyed a distinguished career in public service and higher education administration, including six years as Senior County Administrator in Orange County, California, and multiple senior positions at the University of California.