Campus: Cal Poly Pomona -- September 18, 2002

Cal Poly Pomona President Bob H. Suzuki Announces Decision To Retire Following 2002-03 Academic Year

Cal Poly Pomona President Bob H. Suzuki used his State of the University address on Tuesday, Sept. 17, to publicly announce his decision to retire at the end of the upcoming 2002-03 academic year, his 12th as university president.

Suzuki told an audience of over 1,000 faculty and staff during the 2002 Fall Conference convocation that it was a difficult choice for him because so much progress is being made by the campus. But he explained that he and his wife, Agnes, realized there is never a good time to leave the presidency of such a dynamic campus.

“There will always be new initiatives, new challenges and more to do,” Suzuki said. “However, we are not getting any younger and would like to spend more time with our family, especially our grandchildren, and enjoy other aspects of life while we have the energy and our health.
The surprise announcement came at the end of Suzuki’s speech in which he reviewed the university’s accomplishments of the past year and outlined priorities for the coming year. Suzuki added that he was confident Cal Poly Pomona would reach new heights of excellence in the years ahead, a confidence based on the tremendous energy, initiative, enthusiasm and creativity he has seen in the faculty, staff and students.

“You must all work to preserve that spirit of empowerment at Cal Poly Pomona,” he said. “I believe it will be the key to the continued success of this outstanding university.”
California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed praised Suzuki for his role in the advancements made at Cal Poly Pomona during his tenure at the university.

“President Suzuki has been a visionary and an innovative leader. Under his leadership, Cal Poly Pomona has made major advances in expanding its physical facilities, improving its academic programs and instructional quality, raising funds from the private sector, and reaching out to the surrounding communities,” said Reed. “He has put Cal Poly Pomona on the map and leaves a strong legacy that will greatly benefit his successor.”

Reed said that a Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President will be formed in the near future, and that the selection process generally takes six months.

Suzuki assumed the position of president at Cal Poly Pomona in July 1991. Prior to that, he spent six years as vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University, Northridge. From 1981 to 1985, he was dean of graduate studies and research at California State University, Los Angeles.

Suzuki received his bachelor’s (1960) and master’s (1962) degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He earned a doctorate in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 1967.

On May 1, 1997, he was confirmed as a member of the National Science Board by the United States Senate. Nominated by President Bill Clinton to the 24-member board for a six-year term, Suzuki is currently being considered for reappointment. And in December 2000 Governor Gray Davis appointed him a member of the California Student Aid Commission.

During the past 20 years, Suzuki has served on numerous other bodies within the CSU system as well as at the state and national levels. These include the NASA Advisory Committee on Minority Graduate Researchers, the Council on Academic Affairs for the College Board, the CSU Educational Equity Advisory Council, the CSU Advisory Board for the Institute on Teaching and Learning, the National Advisory Board for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), and the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. He has also served as chair of the CSU Asian Pacific American Education Advisory Committee.

Leading accomplishments by the university during Suzuki’s tenure include:

  • Gained for the first time AACSB accreditation for the College of Business Administration, accreditation and re-accreditation of numerous other academic programs, and WASC re-accreditation for the university as a whole.

  • Raised more than $110 million from private sector sources, including a record $13.4 million during 2001-02. The university’s endowment has grown from $4 million in 1991 to $18 million in the current year.

  • Completed $185 million in new construction projects, the largest building program in the university’s history. One-third of these projects were fully or partially non-state funded.
    · Improved the quality of teaching through the establishment of the Faculty Center for Professional Development, which has developed new and more effective approaches to teaching, student outcomes assessment and the use of instructional technology.

  • Established International Polytechnic High School on campus. I-Poly now enrolls almost 500 diverse students and has sent 95% of its students on to higher education.

  • Developed the campus’ first high-speed network and greatly improved the hardware and software infrastructure of the campus, including establishment of the Instructional Technology & Academic Computing unit which has developed state-of-the-art television, distance education, and multi-media facilities.

  • Generated more than $75 million in grants and contracts from government agencies, including a record $8.5 million National Institutes of Health grant last year, and greatly increased the involvement of faculty and students in research and scholarship.

  • Completed construction of the $9 million Center for Training, Technology & Incubation, which contains two business incubators, along with the planning of a $150 million, 65-acre high technology park. These facilities will contribute to the region’s economic development and provide research and employment opportunities for faculty and students.

  • Promoted numerous diversity and educational equity programs—including the nationally acclaimed Academic Excellence Workshops, the Student Cultural Centers and the Cross-Cultural Retreat—which have improved the academic achievement of students from under-represented groups and promoted better intercultural relations on campus.

  • Engaged the university in community service and economic development activities, including a major effort to revitalize the city of Pomona through the establishment of the Cal Poly Pomona Downtown Center and a broad-based coalition of business and community leaders working together on the economic, community, cultural and educational development of the city.

Suzuki has been honored on numerous occasions for his contributions in the areas of community service, education and human/civil rights. Among many others awards, he was presented in March 2001 with the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership’s Inaugural Technology Leadership Award, and was also the first recipient of the Human Rights Award for Leadership in Asian and Pacific Island Affairs, which was presented to him by the National Education Association.


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