Thomas Poon, Ph.D., became executive vice president and provost on June 1, 2017, and leads the university’s Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management, and Student Affairs divisions, including overseeing the university’s educational, scholarly, creative activities, student and professional development, athletics, registrar, and admissions areas. He is also a tenured professor of chemistry. Poon reports to the president.
Under Poon's leadership, the University has experienced significant enrollment and curricular growth. Since 2017, LMU has welcomed 89 new faculty to its tenure-line ranks, including 52 faculty of color. Undergraduate enrollment has grown by 4%, and LMU's graduate offerings have increased with the addition of new programs in business analytics (MSBA), management (MSM), performance pedagogy (MFA), online educational leadership (EDD), and global entrepreneurial management (MGEM).
Poon has also been fortunate to collaborate with various campus leaders to realize institutional success and new initiatives at the university. In 2018, LMU opened its Playa Vista Campus, a stunning 50,000 sq ft facility in the heart of Silicon Beach, L.A.'s technology hub and home to over 500 companies and start-ups. That same year, LMU celebrated its excellence in the liberal arts and sciences with the installation of a new chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Poon oversaw the long overdue recognition of the university as a leading research institution through its transformation from masters serving to R2 institution by the Center for Postsecondary Research through its Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This also led to a reclassification of LMU from regional to national university status by U.S. News and World Report.
Poon has written numerous peer-reviewed articles, including many with undergraduate co-authors. His collaborative research and analyses on the American sweetgum tree, for example, have been referenced in academic publications and extensively reported by the news media. Poon has contributed chapters and co-authored books on pedagogy, chemistry, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. He has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation increase the pipeline of Ph.D. students in STEM fields, acquire cutting-edge instrumentation, and integrate the sciences into the undergraduate curriculum. He pioneered textbook methodologies and created hybrid-learning approaches that have been adopted by other authors and have become prevalent in teaching chemistry. His OCHEM educational website has been highlighted in the journal Science and has helped college students learn organic chemistry since 1999.
Additionally, Poon has supported, developed, and led a broad range of academic and social justice initiatives in his higher education career. Highlights include his work in study abroad, including the establishment of an exchange program in Bhutan; the development of hybrid programs in Vietnam and Brazil; the enhancement of a tropical field station in Costa Rica; and the reopening of a program in Nepal just eight months after two devastating earthquakes. He also expanded mentorship resources for first-year students and provided opportunities for incarcerated men to earn college course credits through a partnership with the California Rehabilitation Center.
Poon earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at UCLA in 1995 and his Bachelor of Science degree in 1990 at Fairfield University, a Jesuit institution. He has competed in several triathlons and marathons, including the Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City and Boston marathons. His personal interests include professional and Division I sports, film and cinema, and music. He plays guitar and ukulele, and he has recorded audio books for the visually impaired.