President’s Fund for Excellence

Students studying in the Fletcher Jones Language Lab

The President’s Fund for Excellence provides a pool of immediately accessible resources to underwrite critical priorities, seize emerging opportunities, and support initiatives that celebrate the values of Pitzer College: community, diversity, dialogue, inquiry, and action. Contributions to this fund give President Melvin L. Oliver the ability to say “yes,” especially to programs and projects that ensure Pitzer is a welcoming and inclusive community for every student, faculty, staff member, and visitor.

Suzanne Oliver and President Melvin L. Oliver

We are pleased to share that during President Oliver’s inaugural year, 2016–17, $550,000 was secured for the President’s Fund for Excellence. This includes a commitment of $50,000 from President Oliver’s wife, Suzanne Oliver, in honor of his inauguration, as well as a $125,000 planned gift from married alumni Diane Parro ’80 and Jon Parro ’81.

Below is a sampling of projects that have received support from this fund, and we encourage you to visit this page often to see how the fund evolves and continues to support our students.

Pitzer Community Dialogues Program — With support from the President’s Fund, the Office of Student Affairs hosted a fall 2017 dinner and lecture as part of its Pitzer Community Dialogues Program series. At the event, Dr. Shafiqa Ahmadi, associate professor of clinical education at USC’s Rossier School of Education and co-director of the Center for Education, Identity, and Social Justice, spoke about the intersection of free speech and hate speech.

Again in 2018, the President’s Fund supported a Community Dialogues Program, this time featuring Keith Edwards who presented “Putting My Man Face On: College Men’s Gender Identity Development.” A diversity, social-justice and gender identity scholar, Dr. Edwards’ talk provided insight into transcending traditional expectations of men, reducing sexism and misogyny, and ways men can live with more authenticity and humanity.

Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science Conference — The President’s Fund provided funding for two minority STEM students—Jacquelyn Aguilera ’19 and Brandon Drea ’20—to attend the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) 2017 Conference. SACNAS is a society of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists—from college students to professionals.

Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students — In 2018, the President’s Fund helped Deronisha Arceneaux ’19 attend the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The conference, intended to support underrepresented students pursuing careers in STEM fields, was themed “Shaping Tomorrow’s Diverse STEM Leaders Today.”

Black Intersections Conference — The President’s Fund has supported the Office of Black Student Affair’s Black Intersections Conference since its inception in 2017.This annual conference examines subjects impacting Black communities both locally and globally, serving as a forum for students, faculty, and staff of African descent to share knowledge and enjoy community. The 2019 conference theme was “Ignite. Imagine. Invest.” It provided participants the opportunity to ignite interest in the studies of their peers, imagine new possibilities and interrogate what it means to deeply invest in their community. Three Pitzer College students served as presenters at the 2019 conference.

Research in Botswana — The President’s Fund provided support for Pitzer students to travel to Southern Africa to conduct research on vaccine development at the University of Botswana. For several years, Pitzer College has been involved in developing low-cost vaccines to address urgent animal health and human welfare issues in Southern Africa.

Thank you for your generous donation to help me do research in another country and allow me to learn about the technology, language, and culture…Not only did I learn new scientific techniques but I was able to build friendships that will last a lifetime. I want to thank you again for giving me this opportunity to do research in Botswana.  ~ Jacqueline Barragan ’20

Pursuit of Graduate School — The President’s Fund continues to subsidize fees associated with the tests and preparatory materials for several students to ensure that low-income students can overcome obstacles in the pursuit of graduate studies and achieve their educational goals.

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With your support, President Melvin L. Oliver can continue to foster intellectual curiosity at Pitzer College.