Dear Pitzer Community:

In my time at Pitzer, I have witnessed and experienced what makes this college stand apart. We are not typical, and the typical approaches to donor relations, fundraising and communications are not serving us well. Sometimes it is difficult to admit we were not on the right path, but there is a quote from Theodore Roethke that I appreciate, “Over every mountain there is a path, but it may not be seen from the valley.” I feel it is time for a transformation in communication and advancement at Pitzer.

The past year it has become abundantly apparent that we need to be mindful of the digital transformation we have experienced. We need to communicate with our students, alumni, and friends where they are, and challenge ourselves not to fall back on traditional channels. We need to connect with people outside of Pitzer in fresh and creative ways to broaden our impact and build upon the community that supports Pitzer students. We need to tell Pitzer stories – more widely, more effectively, more passionately. Stories about our talented and successful students, faculty, staff, and alumni and the impact they are having on the world.

Earlier today, I made changes in the leadership and structure of advancement and communications. I am combining the advancement and communications teams to take advantage of the opportunities to make connections with our constituents in a more efficient and coordinated fashion. We will need to invest in these areas to build the team we need, and collectively the new team will also serve to support student recruitment, academic operations, as well as me and my office. This unified team will be charged with communicating our unique Pitzer identity in a way to attract greater recognition, and resources for our innovative academic and co-curricular programs, our campus, and our students.

We have some excellent staff working in both areas; however, I firmly believe we need a new strategy and strong, creative, and consistent leadership to develop and lead the team going forward. As such, we are starting a national search immediately. In the meantime, while we conduct the search, Jim Marchant will serve as interim vice president of advancement and communications. In addition to overseeing communications, marketing, and public relations at Pitzer over the past seven months, Jim worked in a senior position in advancement for five years and served in various vice president roles at the College for fourteen. I have confidence that Jim will provide steady and valuable leadership during this transition.

Laura Troendle will lead the search for our new Vice President of Advancement and Communication. In the next week or so, I will announce the members of a small advisory committee to help us review candidates. We hope to have a new Vice President at mid-year.

Change can be hard; however, I know that the College’s core values unite us, and we will continue to provide our students with a high-quality liberal arts educational experience. It is my belief that these changes will enable us to do this even better, and for many more generations of Pitzer students.

Provida Futuri,
Melvin L. Oliver