Public Affairs, The California State University

Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz to Retire

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Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz publicly announced today his decision to retire in December 2014. A lifelong educator and higher education administrator, Ortiz’s career spans more than 40 years. He was appointed to his position by the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees in 2003 and served as the university’s fifth president.

“Cal Poly Pomona has been my entire life for almost 11 years. While I cherish the time I’ve had as president and have enjoyed being immersed in our vibrant campus community, it’s time for me to spend more time with my family and grandchildren. I appreciate the support and confidence that the campus community and the community at-large have shown me during my tenure. I am proud of the many accomplishments made by the faculty, staff and students. It has been a privilege, an honor and a pleasure to serve as president,” Ortiz said.

During his 11-year tenure, the university posted an increase in graduation rates, completed many significant building projects, improved student access to educational programs, and expanded its philanthropy efforts to include the largest cash gift in the history of the CSU system. Finally, under his leadership, the university earned numerous citations for academic excellence, including being named as one of the best universities in the West according to the 2014 rankings of the U.S. News & World Report and one of the 100 best values in higher education in the United States, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine’s 2014 ranking.

“Without question, President Ortiz has left an indelible mark on the Cal Poly Pomona and the entire CSU system through his leadership, vision, sacrifice and service,” said Timothy P. White, chancellor of the CSU.

“He will also be remembered as a tireless champion for under-represented students, and for helping the Chancellor’s Office expand its Latino and Asian American Pacific Islander Initiatives. His personal commitment to improving access and degree completion has forever touched the lives of thousands of students who are now proud alumni and making a difference in their local communities through the education they received at Cal Poly Pomona. The campus’ reputation for excellence and innovation is due to President Ortiz’s unwavering commitment to student success,” White added.

Campus accomplishments

During President Ortiz’s tenure, the campus’ reputation as an academic powerhouse and program innovator has spread throughout the state. He and his team successfully guided the campus through the 2011 Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation process, earning the campus the maximum accreditation period of 10 years.

The campus revitalized the International Program and English Language Institute, and continued its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. For the fourth consecutive year, the Princeton Review recognized Cal Poly Pomona in its annual “Guide to 322 Green Colleges.” The Sierra Club also cited Cal Poly Pomona as one of the top 100 green campuses in the United States.

In addition, President Ortiz has endorsed and championed a long-standing Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo tradition of participating in the Rose Parade. Each year, students design, build and decorate the float – which has become another example of the university’s renowned “learn by doing” model.  Entries have an impressive track record of success, winning a total of 52 awards, including the Crown City Innovation Award for this year’s entry, Bedtime Buccaneers.

Also, the campus is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary of serving California and the greater community.

Finally, President Ortiz leaves behind an impressive track record of employee longevity and a campus culture that celebrates inclusion, respect and transparency. Under his leadership, the campus earned a system-wide reputation for its ability to attract and retain talented faculty and staff. This is attributed, in part, to the dynamic learning environment built and supported by President Ortiz and his team.

Advancement and partnership hallmarks

 President Ortiz is credited with securing the largest cash gift awarded within the CSU system. In 2010, he and his team secured a $42 million donation from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The gift, dubbed the Kellogg Legacy Endowment, is being used to restore programs – reduced and/or eliminated during the recent recession – that support degree completion. The Kellogg Legacy Endowment recently funded the construction of a new Veterans Resource Center to serve active-duty servicemen and women, veterans and their dependents. Moreover, The Campaign for Cal Poly Pomona, now in its final stages, will contribute $150 million to student scholarships, academic programs, and construction projects upon its completion.

Capital improvements

 Since 2007, the campus has completed a number of large capital improvement and new construction projects:

  • Constructed a new 2,400-space parking structure;
  • Unveiled a newly renovated, expanded University Library;
  • Constructed a new College of Business Administration complex;
  • Announced a $10 million expansion of The Collins College of Hospitality Management;
  • Constructed a new Veterans Resource Center;
  • Constructed new facilities for the International Polytechnic High School housed on campus;
  • Increased student housing with the construction of three new residential suites; and
  • Nearing completion of the Bronco Recreation and Intramural Center.

The Cal Poly Pomona Foundation Inc. earned recognition for its Innovation Village research and technology park. The campus also received an outstanding real estate project award from the Association of University Real Estate Officials. The award recognizes an innovative, cost-effective project that has had a significant positive impact on a university.

Awards and honors

Over the course of his illustrious educational career within the CSU, President Ortiz has received:

  • the President’s Award from NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) for advancing the quality of student life on campus;
  • the Pomona Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award;
  • the Education Award from the San Gabriel Valley Civic Alliance; the Inland Empire Image Influential Latino Award by Hispanic Lifestyle;
  • the Alfredo G. de los Santos Jr. Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education;
  • the Golden Hands Achievement Award by the Boys and Girls Club of Pomona Valley; and
  • the Service to the Community Award by Hermanos Unidos.

He also has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and been cited as Latino Leaders magazine’s Top 25 Latinos in Education, Hispanic Business magazine’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics and earned the Local Hero Award sponsored by Union Bank and KCET Public Broadcasting.

Work history and educational background

 President Ortiz’s commitment to higher education was sparked at an early age as he, along with his three brothers and sister, became the first generation of college graduates in the family. A graduate of the University of New Mexico, Ortiz earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Albuquerque before moving on to the University of North Carolina, where he completed his Ph.D. in early childhood special education.

He began his career in higher education at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where he served as a full-time faculty member, Chair of the Department of Special Education and Director of the Office of Extension Instruction. Ortiz was also a special advisor to the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation in 1974.

He served as Associate Provost and Interim Provost at the Colorado State University-Pueblo. His tenure in Pueblo also included administrative responsibilities as Dean of Continuing Education and Director of Summer School.

Ortiz joined the CSU system at Fresno State, where he served as Associate Provost and Professor of Special Education and later as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs.  In 2003, he was appointed president of Cal Poly Pomona.

Professional accomplishments

Ortiz is a charter member of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment Leadership Circle. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the BACCHUS and GAMMA Peer Education Network and is co-chair of the HACU/USDA Leadership Group, the Advisory Board for the USDA/HSI Collaborative, and the Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence through the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). He serves on several committees of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), including the Committee on Economic and Workforce Development, Task Force on Sustainability, and the Millennium Leadership Initiative Executive Steering Committee. He also serves on the Aspen Institute Commission on No Child Left Behind, California Campus Compact, the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy & Jobs and was elected to the Governing Board of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).

In addition to these duties, he is the chair of the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Fair Association, as well as a member of the Executive Advocacy Group for the City of Pomona Youth and Family Master Plan, the Board of Bright Prospect in Pomona, the Pomona Valley Boys and Girls Club Advisory Board, the Inland Empire Education Council, and the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership Advisory Committee.


About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 437,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff. The CSU awards about 96,000 degrees annually and since its creation in 1961 has conferred nearly 2.8 million. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. The mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. Connect with and learn more about the CSU at CSU Social Media. Show how the CSU matters to you and take action.