Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has taken a position as a scholar in residence at Cal Poly Pomona, officials said Thursday.`
Solis began this week and will guest lecture in classes, mentor students in the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences and help faculty develop curriculum.
A particular area of interest will be political science, Cal Poly spokesman Daniel B. Lee said. Solis received a bachelor's degree in the subject from the Pomona campus in 1979.
"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 said in a statement.
Solis grew up in La Puente and was the first in her family to attend college, at Pomona and then USC, where she earned a master's degree in public administration.
She worked in Jimmy Carter's White House in the Office of Hispanic Affairs and served in the California Legislature as an Assembly member and senator, focusing on issues such as minimum wage law, domestic violence, environmental safety and higher education.
She was elected to Congress in 2000 and pursued legislation to strengthen labor, immigration and environmental laws. In December 2008, President-elect Obama nominated Solis as the next secretary of Labor.
Upon her confirmation, she became the first Latina to serve in a Cabinet-level post.
She announced her resignation in January 2013, saying that she would return to Southern California and begin a "new future."
"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," Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz said in a statement. "That she is one of our alumnae makes it all the more sweeter. We are delighted to have her join us."
Solis' contract runs through the end of the 2013-14 academic year with an option to be renewed. Her salary on an annualized basis is $109,489, which is comparable to other visiting scholar positions, Lee said.
Her compensation is being paid through an endowment with no use of state funds, he said.