Dear Pitzer Community,

I’m writing with a heavy heart to share the news that Arnaldo Rodriguez, who served as Pitzer’s vice president of admission and financial aid from 1997 to 2011, passed away on June 27, 2021.

Arnaldo believed higher education was a transformative experience that should be accessible to everyone. His commitment to equity and access shaped his approach to college admissions. During his 14-year tenure at the College, the total number of applicants to Pitzer more than doubled, and he championed the rights of underserved and undocumented students. In 2012, Pitzer established the Arnaldo Rodriguez Scholarship to honor his enormous contributions to the College.

Arnaldo saw college as a gateway to a better future, and he was passionate about helping expand life-changing opportunities for young people. His colleagues say that passion infused the energy, enthusiasm, and wide, welcoming smile he brought to the office every day.

Pitzer Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid Yvonne Berumen ’97 said Arnaldo was her “greatest mentor.”

“Arnaldo was the best of our profession,” she says. “He taught me so much about leadership through his everyday actions. He was genuine and humble, which made it easy for students, staff, and faculty to connect with him. He loved Pitzer, and Pitzer loved him.”

Arnaldo came to Pitzer with many years of experience in his field, including serving as the dean of enrollment services at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. After retiring from Pitzer, he became a consulting vice provost for enrollment and communications at Saint Mary’s College. He earned is EdD. in educational leadership from Seattle University, his MA in counseling psychology from the University of Oregon, and his BA in psychology from the University of Portland.

When asked about his tireless work to ensure undocumented students in the US could go to college, Arnaldo said, “If you believe as I do that education is a transformative experience, this is a way to enrich the country—to bring everyone to the table. It’s the right thing to do.”

Arnaldo dedicated his career to bringing everyone to the table and doing the right thing. As we mourn his passing, we are so grateful for all he did for Pitzer and for promoting equity and access in higher education. We see his legacy in our approach to admissions and in the lives of the many Pitzer graduates who may never have walked through Pitzer’s Avery Gates had it not been for Arnaldo Rodriguez.

Please join me in offering condolences to Arnaldo’s family for their loss. They are in the process of planning a memorial service. In the meantime, the family shared that those who would like to honor Arnaldo’s life and work are welcome to contribute to Pitzer’s Arnaldo Rodriguez Scholarship, Inland Valley Hope Partners, or Homeboy Industries. 


Melvin L. Oliver
President, Pitzer College