Office of the President

Continuously Improving the Employee Experience

May 4, 2023

Since the outset of my presidency, I have been committed to continuously strengthening the employee experience. A people-first ethos is reflected in our Strategic Plan, in which we remain committed to ensuring that faculty and staff have access to not only professional and skill development, but also pathways for advancement and a sense of belonging and community. 

We have made a number of strides in this area, including the creation of the Employee and Organizational Development and Advancement (EODA) unit in 2018, which initially focused on enhancing our learning and development infrastructure and later unified formerly disparate employee services and functions under a single umbrella. Over the last five years, EODA has provided valuable services to our campus including:  

  • Offering over 445 courses covering a diverse range of topics with over 7,400 repeat participants — a signal that employees have taken advantage of these programs as a central component of their individual development plans. 
  • Preparing staff members for assuming positions of greater responsibility through participation in the EDGE Program, resulting in a 38 percent promotion rate for participants within the first year of program completion. 
  • Modernizing operations through self-service and digitized functions, such as in-range progression (IRP) submissions and performance management, resulting in improved efficiency. Additional process improvements are underway.  

Since the workplace is continually evolving, particularly as we emerge from a global pandemic, I am committed to evolving our focus on faculty and staff as well. Informed by recent conversations with employee and faculty unions, and the Academic Senate, as well as findings from our regular pulse surveys and the recent Title IX and Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation (DHR) Assessment by Cozen O’Connor, I am pleased to announce two new initiatives in support of employee well-being and thriving.  

  1. Starting this fall, we will reestablish and expand the Office of Conflict Resolution Services and Ombuds with the intent to serve faculty, staff and students. I want to express my appreciation to the Academic Senate for initiating this effort through a resolution last spring. The professional staff recruited to develop this office will offer both responsive and proactive tools, and the training and resources to prevent and navigate conflict in a healthy way. Additionally, the ombuds will be available to any employee or student in need of neutral, confidential counsel on navigating conflict. 
  2. Reflecting the need to continue enhancing our employee experience, we are creating the People, Culture and Institutional Affairs (PCIA) unit in the Office of the President. This unit will integrate and align existing functions in support of our overall people strategy and includes: 
  • The reestablished Conflict Resolution Services and Ombuds
  • EODA/HR Operations (moving from the Division of Administrative Affairs), which strives to inspire employees to use their best skills and talents in the pursuit of excellence, and to uplift our university to act with purpose and passion to create the highest outcomes for students, staff and faculty; 
  • Employee/Labor Relations and Compliance (ELR), which supports and sustains positive and effective working relationships at CPP through dynamic solutions to employee and labor relations matters;  
  • The Office of Equity and Compliance (OEC), which administers our Title IX/DHR processes and cultivates a campus environment where members of our community can learn and work free of sexual misconduct, discrimination, harassment and retaliation; 
  • Inclusive Excellence, which is committed to creating and sustaining an inclusive campus climate; and  
  • Strategic Communications, which engages, informs and inspires internal and external communities through storytelling and transparent communications. 

I am expanding the duties of my chief of staff, Nicole Hawkes, to lead this PCIA unit. These new duties will be reflected in the title of vice president and chief of staff. Kimberly Allain (EODA/HR Operations) and Yasmin Iltchi (Employee/Labor Relations and Compliance) will have reporting lines to Nicole. Dawnita Franklin (OEC), Cindy Pickett (Inclusive Excellence), and Amon Rappaport (Strategic Communications) will continue in their current positions and will help to shape the direction and strategic priorities for this newly integrated unit. The search for the leader of Conflict Resolution Services and Ombuds will commence following further discussions with campus stakeholders about the vision for this office.      

We are starting the organizational shifts outlined above this month and will continue through the summer to assure the unit is aligned for launch in fall 2023. The summer will be a time for planning with the expectation of sharing more details in the new academic year about specific initiatives and ways you will have a voice in the future development of services and programs to support our employee experience.  

Over the course of these changes, all the ways you access critical services formerly associated with EODA/HR Operations, such as payroll and benefits, will remain unchanged. Those essential operational units such as budget, facilities, parking, planning, audit, enterprise foundation and police will remain under the leadership of Vice President for Administration and Finance Ysabel Trinidad.  

These changes align with our values of fostering a welcoming climate of inclusivity, mutual respect, equitable accountability, valued performance and transparent communications, enabling each of us to do our best work in service of Cal Poly Pomona’s mission.   


Soraya M. Coley Ph.D.