Melvin L. Oliver: Pitzer College’s 6th President

A letter from Shahan Soghikian ’80
Chair, Pitzer College Board of Trustees

Dear Pitzer College Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, it is my great pleasure to announce Melvin L. Oliver, an accomplished scholar, author, educator and administrator, as Pitzer College’s sixth president, effective July 1, 2016. more…

Pitzer College Welcomes President-Designate Melvin L. Oliver on March 10, 2016


35 thoughts on “Melvin L. Oliver: Pitzer College’s 6th President

  1. Melvin,
    I visited Pitzer College years ago to help with diversity efforts. I was very pleased to hear of your appointment. In these challenging times I cannot think of a person with more wisdom and knowledge to address critical issues. I also hope that you have fun with students, faculty and staff.

  2. Melvin – I cannot think of a more qualified scholar to assume this important position! Congrats form a former Ford Foundation colleague!

  3. Dear Dr. Oliver,
    I am writing this note to publicly celebrate your appointment. I am certain that you will indelibly contribute to the campus community, as you have to my life.
    Proud Mentee

  4. Time allows for transformation at every turn. Welcome to my school and my dream. Class of 1989!

  5. First of all congratulations on this post at the prestigious Pitzer. Working on diversity initiatives at two higher eduation institution, I appreciated your response to the roommate issue “While Pitzer is a community of individuals passionately engaged in establishing intracultural safe spaces for marginalized groups, the Facebook post and several subsequent comments are inconsistent with our Mission and values,” At the core of higher education institutions vision is to ensure that our students will become global thinkers and achieve personal and professional goals in this changing society. Experiencing and living with people from diverse cultures, religions, countries, etc. will enhance their experiences. Although the VP of SA will need to investigate the negative responses to RA’s and RD’s, that does not negate or supercedes standing by the mission and values of the institution. Wishing you much Success at Pitzer! Gretchel Hathaway, CDO and Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at Union College.

  6. Congratulations Professor Oliver! I worked for you at the Institute for Social Science Research during my UCLA days. I still reference The Declining Significance of Race given the current political and social turmoil. Sadly, we haven’t moved onto more class-related issues. Just shows how the social science matter as far as addressing social and economic divisions. Best of luck in your new gig!

  7. Hello! Congrajulations on your new position as president of Pitzer College. I am Andrew Bailey a prospective transfer student for the spring of 2017 from South Central/Inglewood, CA. I attend UC Merced. I hope that I can make a difference in Pitzer College as you are beginning your journey. As an African American male the odds are against me to be successful, but with your new position you give hope and meaning to the word determination & knowledge as I aspire to do the same if I get in to Pitzer. Thank you and cheers!

  8. President Dr. Melvin L. Oliver,

    Congratulations and Welcome to Pitzer College. May your presidency bear much fruit!

    Very warm regards,
    Romarilyn Ralston

  9. Dear President Dr. Melvin L. Oliver,

    Congratulations on your position as Pitzer College President. It is really important to see Black leadership at the Claremont Colleges. As a former Office of Black Student Affairs employee, I would like to invite you to attend Social Lunch at OBSA. I am sure the staff and students at OBSA have already reached out to you. Social Lunch happens every first Wednesday of the month at 12:00 pm. It is a great place to connect with and give support to Black students across the Claremont Colleges.Thank you for taking on such a challenging position.

    With My Sincerest Gratitude,

    Janet Echeverria ’15

  10. Welcome aboard President Designate Melvin L. Oliver and your backbone, Suzanne- So excited to have you join the Pitzer Family. Its truly one of a kind. Thanks for all you two do, are, and will create. We are blessed to have you both. 🙂

  11. Welcome to Claremont, Melvin. Good luck with your new position. Steve

  12. Professor Oliver: On behalf of the National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association and, personally, as a wealth gap colleague, let me express our congratulations on your new position as President of Pitzer College. We are looking forward on how we can find ways to collaborate in your new endeavor.

    Rudy Arredondo
    National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association
    Washington, DC

  13. Congratulations
    Dr. Oliver as your appointment as President of Pitzer College.
    The school is fortunate to have you in a leadership position.

  14. Congratulations, Mel. You have indeed come a long way, as you said in your message to the Pitzer community. But you have worked hard to get to this place and are deserving of this honor and opportunity. Best wishes are you take over the reins and advance the mission of the College.

  15. Professor Oliver: This is Ricardo Stanton-Salazar (formally UCSD, USC). I’ve not seen you for some years. I just finished teaching a class at UC Santa Barbara; I believe you had already relocated. I recall your scholarship was considered pathbreaking, and certainly, it was important to me in the early and impressionable part of my career as a sociologist. I send you my sincere congratulations on your recent inauguration as President of Pitzer College. I sincerely believe you will provide outstanding leadership in the months and years to come; my colleagues and friends at Pitzer are fortunate to have you. RD Stanton-Salazar

  16. Godspeed Dr. Oliver as you come to lead one of our nations finest in college education while adhering to the mantra of shared learning in a diverse environment ! Our family toured Pitzer this past summer while our son is applying to enter college this fall. We’ve become enamored with this west coast gem as we watched Mr.Soghikian passionately introduce you to the Pitzer community. We remain excited as you continue the equitable and considerate leadership of Presidents Trembley and Poon before you.

  17. Dr. & Mrs. Oliver –

    On behalf of SCR, thank you for meeting with us during your visit last week. I think it was evident from our meeting that staff members are deeply committed to Pitzer College and the success of the students that attend and will attend Pitzer in the future. We are so excited to have an individual of your caliber to lead us as we blaze new trails. We look forward to working with you and wish you so much success. We also look forward to working with Suzanne as she assists you in your new role. Again, it was a pleasure meeting with you and Suzanne and we can’t wait till you are at Pitzer in July.

    Garrett Terrones
    Chair, Staff Council Representatives

  18. Hello Melvin,
    congratulations of being our next President of Pitzer. I am coming to Claremont for the reunion weekend as this will be my 50th reunion from when I graduated from Pitzer. There were 10 women in my class – we came in as Juniors in 1964 and graduated in June of 1966. The Pitzer experience changed my life. I look forward to meeting you.

    I also would like to know if you know Jim Joseph who was a chaplain at the Claremont colleges when I was there. He was a very significant part of my time at Pitzer, as he helped me find a way to go to the South in the Spring of 1965 as part of my Sociology/Anthropology study about race relations in the US. He arranged for me to be a student at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa Alabama for 1 semester, and that changed my life. I have invited Jim to the alumni weekend and Nancy Treser-Osgood has also reached out to him. I just wanted you to know about his in case you are also friends with him.

    I do look forward to meeting you.
    Sara Wood Smith
    class of 66

  19. Dear President Oliver,

    It was a pleasure to meet you and Suzanne. I did not get a chance to see you speak in person but I just saw the video and I thank you for the encouragement and passion for Pitzer. Pitzer has a special place in my heart I have here for 35 years. I look forward to working with you. As our new President you might think about the 4th of July parade representing Pitzer.

  20. Welcome and Congratulations. Was looking for people that maybe related on my fathers side of the family and was wondering if you have any relations in New Orleans. If so would like to talk when you have time. Again Congratulations and Good Luck.

  21. Dr. Oliver-
    On behalf of the New Resources community, we wish to extend our warmest welcome! Congratulations and welcome to the family.

    Eduardo Salas

  22. Dr. Oliver,
    Welcome to Pitzer and the Claremont Colleges. As you make history, keep the history of the Colleges in perspective. I look forward to supporting you.

  23. Congratulations! As a prospective new family, I was pleased to see your selection as President. We have undergone a similiar process at UPrep in Seattle with our head of school search. Change can bring such great promise to an organization. My son and others will be fortunate to have such a great role model at the helm.

  24. Congratulations to the Pitzer’s College Board of Trustees for their selection of Dr. Melvin Oliver. You have provided a collaborative and respected scholar to assist the college stakeholders to move up the ladder of excellence. Dr. Oliver I commend you on taking this next step in your illustrious career.

  25. Welcome to Pitzer, and congratulations President-Designate Oliver!

    I hope you do well in the work ahead for Pitzer, and remember that students, as well as staff have an equal voice so both should be listened to.

  26. Congratulations! So excited and cannot wait to see how you continue to move Pitzer in the direction of being the most amazing college ever! 🙂

    Latonya Potts (formerly Turner), Class of 1997

  27. Dear Mr. Oliver, As a graduate of Pitzer !975, and on behalf of my big sister Katie Gibbs 1964 I welcome you. My son Wesley Eagle-Gibbs ,also a Pitzer Graduate 2012+/- My father, Dr. George Gibbs, was a founding faculty member at CMC and an undergraduate of Pomona 1930’s. later Phd ,Berkeley 1955 , Economics.
    Best Regards, Thomas T.A.G.Gibbs

  28. On behalf of President and members of the NAACP Pomona Valley Branch 1085B, we send a strong welcome.
    We appreciate your commitment to Social Justice and Education for all.
    How can we collaborate?

  29. Welcome Dr. Oliver to the Pitzer family!

    I am delighted to (virtually) meet you, and I am thrilled to learn about your academic and professional commitment to social science, anti-racism, and community-building, which is so very well-aligned with Pitzer’s values. As a Pitzer alumna from a working-class background, I believe that your arrival signals a new day for our college to embrace and sustain diversity, and to take meaningful strides to fulfill its potential as a superbly relevant, productive, critically important institution of higher learning.

    I wish you a warm welcome and many successes at Pitzer.

    Elaine Waldman, Class of 1990

  30. Dear President designate Oliver, the consortium is extremely excited about your announcement. Personally it’s wonderful to have an African American assume the highest position on campus. Additionally, you and your wife bring a commitment to community that will be very exciting. I read an older article that indicated your wife is engaged in supporting the elderly. I’m on the board for Pilgrim Place, a highly regarded CCRC. I hope, after you get settled, she will be interested in getting to know more about Pilgeim Place and offering some volunteer time. My partner’s son is a graduate of Wm Penn (he’s 38) so there’s additional excitement about your arrival! I look forward to meeting and working with you in the near future. Sincerely, Denise Hayes, VPSA for the Claremont University Consortium.

  31. Respected President Oliver,

    On behalf of the class of 2019 and Pitzer College it’s such an honor and a pleasure to read all about your journey to Pitzer College. We cannot wait to meet with you and grow with you through our core values and community here in Claremont.

    Best Regards,
    Class of 2019

  32. Welcome President-designate Oliver!
    We are extremely pleased to welcome you to Pitzer College and to the Claremont Community!! We are very excited to have an African American at the helm of this prestigious college.

    Best Regards,

    Raquelle Holmes, ’82

  33. Welcome to the flock President-Designate Oliver!

    Pitzer is a very special place that truly remains in the hearts of its Alumni. I look forward to meeting you and engaging in thoughtful conversation about my beloved alma maters future!

    Warm regards,

    Bernadette Coghlan-Walsh ’87

  34. President-Designate Oliver,

    As a newly elected member of Pitzer’s Alumni Board and a former President of Pitzer’s Student Senate, I welcome you to the Pitzer Community! All of us look forward to working with you as the leader of this incredible educational institution.

    All the best,
    Jon Rice

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