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Profiles of the 6 Claremont Colleges and How They Grew

November 15, 1987

Pomona College has several reasons for celebrating.

It was listed in a recent U. S. News & World Report magazine as one of the top 10 private liberal arts colleges in the country and the only one of the 10 in the West. During the past year it ranked at or near the top in several other academic surveys and was named the standout "cool liberal arts college" by Rolling Stone magazine last March.

Initially founded by the Congregational Church, it has halls of ivy similar to those at many Eastern colleges. The former Claremont Hotel, moved, remodeled and renamed Sumner Hall, is near the 1908 Carnegie Library building, noted for its classic pillared architecture. Most of the early dormitories remain, standing side by side with modern science laboratories.

Despite the poverty the dean's wife wept about 22 years earlier, James A. Blaisdell was successful in convincing several millionaires that the college had potential. He launched a $1-million fund drive in 1910.

E. Wilson Lyon, a one-time Rhodes scholar at Oxford, was president from 1941 to 1969, and, after Blaisdell, was the college's strongest influence. He hand-picked new faculty members, became acquainted with every student and recruited financial support.

The same kind of intimacy continues today for the 1,325 students, according to Elizabeth Ligon of Loveland, Colo., and Sara Lounsbury of Boulder, Colo.

"My professors all know me by name," Ligon said.

"It is a very personal school," Lounsbury said. "They will not let you get lost in the shuffle."

Today, with an endowment of almost $233 million, Pomona College has what president David Alexander calls "the most generous friends and alumni of any institution of its size in the country."

Some of its financial success dates to 1944 and the innovative "Pomona Plan," through which people who endow the college in their wills receive financial management services and a guaranteed annual income. The plan has brought the college $70 million in contributions and has been emulated by many other schools.

Harvey Mudd, Russell K. Pitzer and Donald C. McKenna, for whom other colleges in the group were named, and Roger Revelle, namesake of one college at the University of California, San Diego, are all graduates of Pomona.

"I don't know of any other college with so many graduates who have colleges named for them," Alexander said.

Each of the men had distinguished careers, served on various college boards and contributed significant amounts of money to academic institutions.

Among the most famous graduates were actors Robert Taylor (Class of 1933), Joel McCrea (1928), Richard Chamberlain (1956), and Kris Kristofferson (1958), a Rhodes scholar.

Other notable alumni are George C. S. Benson (1928), founding president of Claremont McKenna College and a leader in the founding of Harvey Mudd and Pitzer colleges; Roy E. Disney (1951), vice chairman of Walt Disney Productions; Kenneth L. Brown (1959), former U. S. ambassador to Zaire, and R. Stanton Avery (1932), an industrialist.


Number of applicants 3,192 Number of freshmen 391 Total enrollment 1,325 Tuition $11,120 Total costs (room, board, supplies) $16,830 Median SAT scores, Verbal 620 Math 670 Endowment $232.6 million

Students for this school apply in different numbers for each semester, often skipping semesters. Very few live on campus, and there are no SAT scores for graduate schools. The endowment fund is intertwined with that of the Claremont University Center, which is the 22 services such as libraries, auditorium and health services, that serve all the colleges.

The dedication of the Drucker Graduate Management Center last month brought "just an army descending on us--captains of industry, all the major business press and even some international coverage," said John David Maguire, the school's president.

Named for the 78-year-old professor hailed at the dedication as "one of the most innovative thinkers of our time," the Drucker Center provides education for businessmen and managers and will award master's and doctoral degrees.

It is the newest of more than a dozen special institutes and clinics the Claremont Graduate School conducts. Among them are the Claremont Center for Economic Policy Studies, which examines major economic policy issues, and the Mathematics Clinic, which has teams of students, faculty and post-doctoral mathematicians working on problems submitted by clients from industry and government.

The Institute for Antiquity and Christianity does research on the origins of Western civilization, including the ancient Near East, classical Greece and Rome and early Judaism and Christianity. It sponsors public lectures and seminars and produces several publications on antiquity and Christianity.

The school is one of only three institutions in the country that give only graduate degrees. The others are Rockefeller University and the Bank Street College of Education, both in New York.

"We're all phenomena of the 20th Century, as graduate education is," Maguire said.

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