Office of the President

President's Biography

Soraya M. Coley

Dr. Soraya M. Coley is the sixth president of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). An accomplished educator and administrator with four decades of experience in higher education, Dr. Coley is the first woman and first African-American scholar 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 helps anyone who dreams of success achieve it.   

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. Under her tenure since 2015, enrollment and graduation rates have reached historic levels. 

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. In addition, 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 Dr. 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 readying 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.  

 In 2023, Dr. Coley received the American Council on Education Donna Shavlik Award, which honors an individual who demonstrates a sustained commitment to advancing women in higher education through leadership, career development and mentoring.  

Dr. 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.