Office of the President

A Message from President Soraya M. Coley

May 30, 2020

Dear Cal Poly Pomona Community:

The murder of George Floyd and the senseless brutality of this tragedy has again laid bare the deep racism that persists in our country.  

Like many of you, my sadness and outrage are fueled by an accumulation of grief. I grieve for George Floyd – for Breonna Taylor – for Ahmaud Arbery – and for all those victims we have come to know in recent years, as well as those whose names we have forgotten or never knew. Racism continues to be the defining wound deep within our society. Make no mistake, all of the individuals named above would be alive today, except that they were African American.

We cannot simply pause from our regular lives and daily routines to reflect on the lives lost, as we so commonly do when there has been a national tragedy. To be sure, in these fraught times there is much that occupies our minds – and it can be convenient to conclude that such killings are “awful” or “shameful” or to feel sympathy for families and loved ones affected – and then to resume our daily lives. But that is not sufficient!

For many, these deaths are profoundly personal, acutely evoking painful memories of our own lived experiences and the emotions that are associated with them. We reflect on these life-ending events, faced with the harsh reality that it could have easily been us or those we love.  

The words of Martin Luther King Jr., written from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, continue to have tremendous resonance for the work before us: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

As an institution committed to educational opportunity for all, diversity and inclusion, and global and social responsibility, I take great pride in the knowledge that Cal Poly Pomona refuses to be a community of “good people” who exhibit “appalling silence.” Indeed, we defy the silence with our literal voices as well as the figurative voices sounded by our teaching and learning and by our unapologetic assertion of our CPP values. Our students, our faculty, our staff, and our communities expect that our values — our regard for humanity and each other — will consistently be reflected in our work, our teaching, and our engagement with one another.

We must continue to demonstrate, uphold and advance these values — now, more than ever — as the character of our country and our collective care for each other are being challenged. This is a time to reflect honestly on the history of our country and those pivotal moments when words, actions, and deeds have aligned to truly deliver on the promise of equal and fair treatment – of respect and dignity for all.

I ask you to join me in recommitting to the values we hold most dear and to carrying out the deeds that make those values a reality for ourselves, our communities, and our nation.


Soraya M. Coley, Ph.D.