Former U.S. Labor Secretary Solis to Return to Cal Poly as Scholar-in-Residence

Solis, who grew up in La Puente, is a Cal Poly alumna.

The following news release is courtesy of Cal Poly Pomona.

Alumna and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will return to Cal Poly Pomona to serve as a scholar-in-residence beginning this winter quarter. 

“This is a rare opportunity to have someone with Hilda’s long record of experience in public service come and be part of our learning community,” says Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz. “That she is one of our alumnae makes it all the more sweeter. We are delighted to have her join us.”

Solis, who became the first Latina to hold a cabinet-level position in federal government and to be elected to the California State Senate, brings to the campus her uncommonly wide range of experience and knowledge about public service, government operations, and public policy.

“I thank President Ortiz for this great opportunity to return to my alma mater. I look forward to being a part of this great institution, and engaging with both the faculty and students in meaningful discussions about public policy and many other important issues,” Solis says.

As a scholar-in-residence, Solis will consult with faculty and mentor students in the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences (CLASS), and make presentations that benefit the campus and the communities Cal Poly Pomona serves.

“We are thrilled that she will be joining us and look forward to the expertise she will bring to our learn-by-doing tradition,” CLASS Dean Sharon Hilles says. “This is a marvelous opportunity for the students, faculty and university.”

A daughter of immigrants who were involved in labor unions, Solis grew up in La Puente. She was the first in her family to attend college, enrolling in Cal Poly Pomona. On campus, she worked as a student assistant recruiter in the Educational Opportunity Program and a summer orientation leader.

Solis graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal Poly Pomona in 1979. Two years later, she earned her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. She worked in the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs under President Jimmy Carter and later served as a management analyst in Office of Management & Budget’s Civil Rights Division.

Her political career began when she was elected to the Rio Hondo Community College District Board of Trustees in 1985. Solis served there until she was elected to the California State Assembly in 1992, representing the San Gabriel Valley. Just two years after that, she became the first Latina elected to the California State Senate.

In the legislature, Solis supported raising the minimum wage by referendum and authored 17 laws against domestic violence. She backed a bill to enforce a court ruling that undocumented immigrants could attend college if they had established California residency. Solis also served on committees that dealt with higher education, environmental safety, labor and groundwater contamination and landfill leakage.

In 2000, she became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for getting a California law passed that established environmental protections for minority communities. Solis argued that polluting projects were disproportionately located near minority and low-income neighborhoods.

That same year, she defeated an 18-year incumbent in the Democratic primary for the 32nd Congressional District seat. In Congress, Solis made labor, immigration and the environment her key issues, backing legislation to train workers for green jobs.

In December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Solis as the next secretary of labor. The U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment in February 2009, making Solis the first Latina to serve in a cabinet-level position. As secretary, Solis strengthened enforcement of workplace safety rules, hiring additional inspectors for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and penalizing employers for violations. She also touted the creation of 5.8 million private sector jobs during her tenure.

Solis announced her resignation as labor secretary on Jan. 9, 2013, saying she wanted to return to Southern California and spend more time with her elderly mother.
Vito Spago November 24, 2013 at 09:18 AM
A liberal that used the fact that she was a minority and a woman to get to the top. You know there had to be hundreds of open doors for latinas in schools, colleges, panels, politics in this age of affirmative action. All you had to do was step on through. BTW, does Solis have a husband, children? (Husband is Tax Cheat Sam H Sayyad, that you never hear of) Seems she fits the feminist mold. Heaven forbid if she was a family woman. BTW, look it up: She was a butt kisser to Pelosi which helped her to advance and Obama used her support to get the Hispanic vote. The cabinet position was her reward. It helps to be at the right place at the right time with the right sex and the right race. Stepping down to help her 87 year old mother? More likely, no more asses to kiss to make up for her lack of ability. She also was responsible for the manipulation of the unemployment data just prior to the 2012 election that made Obama look good. There is an investigation going on now where she could be looking at jail time. I am surprised Cal Poly signed her on under these circumstances, although the position of Scholar-in-Residence is pure BS. She also graduated from USC. Very telling that USC will have nothing to do with her.
Vito Spago November 24, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Yes, these latinos are just having a giant group hug. Obama is in there somewhere after he sold out his fellow blacks (but don't tell them, it is a secret). I attended the University of Calif (Berkeley). The university just got a new President, Obama Butt Kisser, Janet Napolitano, She is being paid an insane CEO level salary for a job for which she has absolutely NO training. Who said the Obama admin is not full of cronyism. Remember that Napolitano said "the system worked" after the underwear bomber tried to blow up an airliner. She was roundly criticized for such a stupid statement
Concerned Parent November 24, 2013 at 02:38 PM
I am so glad she is not the US secretary of labor anymore. Maybe we will see some positive changes in our country.


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