Office of the President

Our Continuing Investment in Staff Success

February 6, 2023

Dear Staff and Faculty, 

I write in response to a communication transmitted to CPP’s CSUEU Chapter 319 membership last week stating that the chapter’s executive board “unanimously decided to issue a vote of no confidence” in my leadership. I asked to meet with the statewide CSUEU leadership to learn more about this action. At the meeting, I learned that there was no “formal” vote by the chapter’s executive board, rather an assumed “consensus” among them. I understand that a similar sentiment from CPP SUPA was also issued last week.  

I am heartened by the staff and faculty who reached out to me over the last few days to express their support. Neither these individuals, nor I, disagree that our staff and faculty need more support. They reached out to me to affirm their understanding of the differences between systemwide bargaining issues and the campus-specific implementation needs. I appreciate this demonstration of support and encouragement, while remaining fully cognizant of the work we must continue to undertake in support of our campus personnel. I want to share how we are investing in staff and address other concerns the communication raised. 

Increased Staffing Levels

The last few years have been challenging as we all worked to respond and adapt to the global pandemic, the “great resignation,” and an evolving work environment. During the early days of the pandemic, the CSU system office collected base permanent dollars from each campus to support bargaining unit salary increases, and these base dollars have not been returned to the campus. At CPP, we offered an early exit program to help absorb the impact and conserve resources in anticipation of additional campus adjustments. 

Over the past four years, we were able to hire approximately 419 CSUEU employees, the cost of which was mitigated by 327 early exits, retirements, and other resignations. We also gave salary increases to 350 staff. I have consistently championed fair and competitive compensation for faculty and staff during my legislative visits. Last spring, I was invited by the local chapter to join Senator Connie Leyva and CSUEU leaders on campus to call for $287 million in state funding for CSU staff salaries. 

Continuing Investment in Staff Promotional Paths

In 2018, I created the Employee and Organizational Development and Advancement (EODA) unit to provide staff with professional development opportunities and prepare them for career advancement and promotion. Since then, we have offered over 445 professional development courses attended by 7,437 repeat participants, as well as individual professional development planning, several certificate programs and programs customized for departments.  

Often when units are recruiting for staff positions, they require and seek immediate evidence of candidates having the experience or skill to address the current demands of the position. This requires our campus to plan for, and consistently invest in, upskilling and reskilling programs, performance feedback and management systems to achieve both individual success and the continued advancement of the campus. Staff development remains one of my highest priorities and is a fundamental component in our university strategic plan. I am proud of what we have done in EODA, and we are planning even more focused investments to ensure our long-term success amid the rapidly changing landscape for higher education. 

CSU Issues Beyond My Authority

As many of you know, there are matters beyond my authority as Cal Poly Pomona President, including union contracts and presidential salaries, which are determined, approved, and managed by the CSU Board of Trustees and the Office of the Chancellor. 

Other Allegations  

Some members of the campus community may not have seen my recent message to campus regarding our handling of fiscal improprieties in the past. In it, I provided information about the cases that were publicly addressed and resolved. The actions taken regarding these matters were in compliance with applicable law and policy. 

Inviting Participation

I always welcome the opportunity to discuss important issues affecting our campus with the leaders of our campus-based unions. The most recent discussion was held with all staff unions on January 30 as a follow-up from our recent Campus Conversation which focused on the challenges facing CPP and higher education. The CSU is forecasted to see a year-over-year decrease in enrollment and to be below the state-funded enrollment target this year. While we are among the few campuses that have met enrollment targets, the number of prospective students is decreasing while the competition to attract them is intensifying. This requires that we develop innovative solutions and redouble our efforts to support the success of our students, staff and faculty. To this end, I have invited union leaders to come together to help inform the creation of a stronger employee value proposition, working in partnership through EODA.  

Please know that my Cabinet, campus management, and I value the contributions of staff and faculty. We welcome and appreciate everyone’s participation and input as we co-create our future.


Soraya M. Coley, Ph.D.