Dear Pitzer Community,

Recently, there have been several changes at the Cabinet level here at Pitzer College. As you are aware, we are in the midst of restructuring our advancement and communications into one administrative unit, and we are renewing leadership in our Office of Student Affairs and searching for a new Vice President of Advancement and Communications. Now, I want to share with you our plans to consolidate some functions of the Cabinet to enable us to be more efficient, achieve greater impact and ultimately, help the College be more successful in our post-pandemic future.

Jamie Jorgenson, Pitzer College Chief Legal Officer and Chief of Staff to the president, has decided to move back to the Midwest to be nearer to his and his wife’s extended family. He has been at the center of some of the most important issues facing the College over the past few years, including the strategic planning process, Title IX policies and procedures at Pitzer and The Claremont Colleges (TCC), the transition of the Keck Science Center, and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In all of these areas and more, he provided wise counsel, collaborated effectively with Pitzer and TCC stakeholders, and exhibited strong leadership on critical and timely matters.

Thankfully, this does not mean that we will lose Jamie’s engagement with Pitzer. He will continue his work in higher education as a partner at Husch Blackwell (HB), a top 100 law firm with one of the leading higher education practices in the country. We recently negotiated an agreement with HB to provide Pitzer’s legal services, and Jamie will serve as our primary point of contact at the firm. This is an ideal situation, as Pitzer will benefit greatly from Jamie’s familiarity with our operations, culture, history, and needs. 

While Jamie will physically be leaving Pitzer and Claremont at the end of the month, he will remain an important part of our efforts in many areas. Please join me in wishing Jamie, Amanda and their children a smooth transition to Denver.

I am excited about the depth and breadth of expertise at HB that will now be available to the College. The firm’s Higher Education Practice Group includes over 30 lawyers who specialize in the unique legal issues that confront colleges and universities. There are just a handful of firms in the U.S. that can match HB’s experience in the higher education sector. I am confident that this will be a great move for us.

Moving forward, I will consolidate some functions and take advantage of the existing strengths that we have in the Cabinet. I am pleased to announce that I have promoted Laura Troendle to the new position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Treasurer. As COO and Treasurer, Laura will be responsible for providing executive leadership as well as operational and financial oversight for the College. The Chief of Staff responsibilities will be rolled into this position as my strategic advisor. Laura will be the coordinator of policy across the College, much like she has been for our COVID response. She will take on additional responsibilities, including supervising Pitzer’s Title IX Coordinator, Corinne Vorenkamp.

Pitzer is not the first institution in Claremont to have a Chief Operating Officer; both Pomona and CMC utilize the COO model as they depend heavily on that role for strategic thinking across the institution. I believe Laura has the exceptional skill set to excel in this position. We have seen how she has used her strong analytical and financial skills to help lead us budgetarily through the COVID crisis. Moreover, she also has excellent people skills and a demonstrated commitment to open and transparent decision-making that is a hallmark of Pitzer College. The COO role is an acknowledgment of her outstanding abilities. Please join me in congratulating Laura.

I want to thank our faculty, staff, students, and my cabinet for their amazing flexibility and commitment to Pitzer College during this most difficult year. While we will continue to face challenging times ahead, I am confident that our renewal, restructuring and consolidation of our cabinet will bring the kind of innovation we need to improve our processes, lower administrative costs, increase efficiency in our operations, and position us to build upon our ability to deliver a quality educational experience for all our students.

Provida Futuri,

Melvin L. Oliver