Campus Highlights:
Cal Poly Pomona​​

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Excerpted from the Chronicle of Higher Education: Race on Campus

​When registration for the spring of 2022 opened at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, Terri Gomez was watching the enrollment numbers closely. At Cal Poly Pomona, half of its 25,000 students are Hispanic.

Three-quarters of the students who weren’t enrolling were from the cohorts who’d started college in fall of 2019, fall of 2020, and fall of 2021 — in other words, the students who’d had their education disrupted by the pandemic and been forced to take mostly online classes, said Gomez, associate provost for student success, equity, and innovation. Nearly 60 percent were Hispanic.

Students often don’t respond to emails or phone calls, but Cal Poly Pomona used its chatbot, called Billy Chat, to text students and ask what was going on. Nearly 20 percent of the students thought they’d enrolled for the spring semester even though they hadn’t. It turned out there were hundreds of students with courses sitting in their online shopping cart who just hadn’t clicked the “register” button. Other students were eligible to enroll but hadn’t yet done so for various reasons.

Cal Poly Pomona opened a second registration period for those students. More than 600 of them enrolled.

About 1,800 students had registration holds due to past-due balances. So Gomez advocated for the university to temporarily lift the holds. She told her colleagues: “We are going to lose these students.” After the holds were lifted, 700 of the students enrolled for spring.

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