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Pomona College

Pomona College is a private residential liberal arts college located in Claremont, California. It has ranked in the top ten of liberal arts colleges nationally according to the U.S. News and World Report rankings since their inception. Founded in 1887 in Pomona, California, by a group of Congregationalists, the college moved to Claremont in 1889 to the site of a donated hotel, retaining its name. The school enrolls 1,548 students.

The founding member of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona is a non-sectarian, coeducational school. Its founders strove to create "a college of the New England type;" but better. In order to reach this goal, the board of trustees included graduates of Williams, Dartmouth, Colby and Yale. Beginning in 1925, the Claremont Colleges, which have grown to include five total undergraduate and two graduate institutions, have provided Pomona's student body with the resources of a larger university while preserving the closeness of a small college.


Pomona College was established as a coeducational institution on October 14, 1887. The group wanted to create a college in the same mold as small New England institutions. The College was originally formed in Pomona; classes first began in a rented house on September 12, 1888. The next year, the school was moved to Claremont, at the site of an unfinished hotel. This building would eventually become Sumner Hall, current location of the Admissions and the Office of Campus Life. The name – Pomona College – remained after the relocation. The College’s first graduating class consisted of ten members in 1894.

Its founders’ values led to the College’s belief in educational equity, and in 1904 graduated Winston Dickson, one of the first African-American students in history to attend Harvard Law School. Like other Congregationalist-founded colleges such as Harvard, Dartmouth, Middlebury and Bowdoin, Pomona was given its own governing board, ensuring its independence. The board of trustees was originally composed of graduates of Williams, Dartmouth, Colby and Yale, among others, to help create "a college of the New England type."

In the early 1920s, the College’s growth led its president, James A. Blaisdell, to call for “a group of institutions divided into small colleges—somewhat of an Oxford type—around a library and other utilities which they would use in common.” This would allow Pomona to retain its small, liberal arts-focused teaching while gaining the resources of a larger university, shared among other similar small colleges. On October 14, 1925, Pomona College’s 38th anniversary, the Claremont Colleges were incorporated. By 1997, the consortium reached its present membership of 5 undergraduate and 2 graduate institutions.

Pomona's strength has been its quality of education and preparation for graduate and professional schools as well as postgraduate fellowships. In 2007, 24 members of the Class of 2007 were awarded Fulbright Scholarships along with four other alumni, thus making Pomona tied with Brown University for third in the nation and first among liberal arts colleges. Pomona was also named as one of the New Ivies by Newsweek magazine.


Pomona’s campus is located in Claremont, California, covering an area of 140 acres. It includes 59 buildings, including 12 residence halls. The campus in Claremont originally began with the donation of an incomplete hotel—what would become Sumner Hall. It quickly expanded from 7 buildings in 1909—the time James Blaisdell took over as President. He had the foresight to purchase the empty land around the College while it was still available, securing the College’s future and allowing for expansion for years to come.

Currently, First Street borders the campus on the south, Mills and Amherst Avenues to the east, Eighth Street on the north, and Harvard Avenue on the west. Claremont Graduate University, Scripps College and Claremont McKenna College are adjacent to Pomona’s north, from west to east respectively. Pomona is divided into North Campus and South Campus, casually divided by Sixth Street, with a few exceptions. Many of the earlier buildings were constructed in the Spanish Renaissance Revival and Mission Styles, usually only one or two stories in height. Bridges Hall of Music, designed by Pasadena architect Myron Hunt, is an example of these styles combined. Later buildings have taken inspiration from these styles, with usually three or fewer stories and stucco walls.

South Campus consists of mostly first-year and sophomore housing and academic buildings for the social sciences and humanities. Among the notable dormitories are Harwood Court, originally a women’s dorm constructed in 1921, and Oldenborg Center, a foreign language housing option for sophomores that includes a foreign language dining hall. Also of note is Sumner Hall, Pomona’s first building, Bridges Auditorium (“Big Bridges”)—used for concerts and speakers with a capacity of 2,500—Bridges Hall of Music (“Little Bridges”), a concert hall built in 1915 with seating for 600, and Carnegie Building, which houses the Politics and Economics departments. It was originally built in 1929 as a library for the College. Marston Quadrangle is located between Carnegie Building and Bridges Auditorium, one of two quadrangles on campus. The Pomona College Organic Farm is hidden behind The Wash on the southeastern corner of campus.

North Campus is also a mix of residential and academic buildings. Most of the academic buildings house science departments. Among the notable buildings are the Richard C. Seaver Biology Building (“Seaver West”), built with environmentally friendly features, completed in 2005, and the Lincoln and Edmunds buildings, both completed in 2007.

The Lincoln and Edmunds buildings were the first buildings in Claremont to garner a gold certification award from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Program. The two new academic buildings also house the first publicly accessible Skyspace art installation by renowned alumnus James Turrell '65.

North Campus dormitories house mostly juniors and seniors. Of interest is Smiley Hall, the oldest dorm West of the Mississippi, constructed in 1908. While it is south of Sixth Street, it is still considered a North Campus dorm. Frary Dining Hall, one of two dining halls on campus, is the location of the murals “Prometheus” by José Clemente Orozco, his first work in the US, and “Genesis” by Rico Lebrun.

Also located along the south side of Sixth Street are buildings central to the campus. Smith Campus Center is home to many student services, including a mailroom, The Coop student store and two restaurants; Alexander Hall houses administrative offices. Athletic facilities are located to the south of Sixth Street and to the east of Smiley Hall. The Rains Center is the main athletic facility with a fitness center, gym and locker rooms. Adjacent to Rains Center is Merritt Football Field, Alumni Baseball Field and Haldeman Pool. Other Pomona facilities of note include the student group and lounge in Walker Hall known as the Women's Union, the Sontag Greek Theatre—an outdoor amphitheater, as well as The Farm, an experiment in sustainable farming and the Seaver Theatre Complex, built in 1990 with a 335-seat auditorium, 100-seat experimental theater and several other studios and rehearsal spaces.

The campus lies less than five miles (8 km) south of the San Gabriel Mountains, on top of the alluvial fans that have come from nearby San Antonio Canyon. The campus is relatively flat, with a slight uphill grade from south to north, because of this. Mount San Antonio (also known as Mount Baldy) is 14 miles (22 km) north of the College and is visible from the campus. The Mount Baldy Ski Lifts is a popular spot for students to ski in the winter because of its convenient location. On clear days, the Chino Hills are visible to the south and San Bernardino Mountains to the east.


The Claremont Colleges

Pomona is a member of the Claremont Colleges, and most social activities revolve around the five colleges, or "5-Cs." Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Scripps College, Pitzer College and Harvey Mudd College share dining halls, libraries, and other facilities throughout the contiguous campuses. All five colleges, along with Claremont Graduate University and the Keck Institute, are part of the Claremont University Consortium.

Any student attending Pomona can enroll in up to half of his classes at the other four colleges and can major at any of the other four schools so long as the his requested major is not offered at Pomona. This policy is similar across the Claremont Colleges; it is meant to give students the resources of a larger university while maintaining the positive qualities of a small liberal-arts college.

Over the years, a rivalry has formed between the opposing sports teams: Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS). In reality, these teams consist mostly of students enrolled at either Pomona or Claremont McKenna, respectively, which has intensified the rivalry between these particular neighbors.


In 2007, 15.74% of applicants were admitted to Pomona, the lowest acceptance rate in the college's history. The Class of 2011 has median scores of 750 on the SAT critical reading section (IQR of 700-770), 750 on the math section (IQR of 700-770) and 740 on the writing section (IQR of 690-760). The median composite SAT was 2240. The average ACT score is 32. Eighty seven percent of this incoming class (of those from schools that officially rank students) graduated in the top decile of their high school classes, with 15% being valedictorians.

The body of about 1,550 undergraduate students hails from 47 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and 26 foreign countries. It is composed of 7% African American students, 16% Asian American, 11% Latino American and 1% Native American, according to a self-identification survey.

Pomona has both need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid policies. In the 2006-2007 academic year, 53% of students received a financial aid package. The average award in 2005-2006 was about $29,700; $24,700 of scholarship and $5,000 of work study and loans. As of December 13, 2007, the College announced it will be among the first colleges nationwide to eliminate loans in favor of grants in financial aid packages. The total cost of tuition, room and board and other fees will be about $43,155 in the 2006-2007 school year. The College’s endowment stands at $1,762,680,000 for the 2006-2007 academic year; it was ranked 39th in American institutions in 2005. Its endowment per student in the 2007 fiscal year was $1,138,888, ranked 6th in U.S. institutions and first among liberal arts colleges.

Pomona is currently ranked 6th nationally among liberal arts colleges according to the U.S. News & World Report.

Student life

Campus organizations

There are several newspapers operated at the Claremont Colleges, including The Collage and The Student Life, which is the oldest college newspaper in Southern California. Other campus publications include political magazines The Undecided, the Claremont Port Side, and the Claremont Independent; and the literary magazine, Passwords

The Pomona College Queer Resource Center is a student center addressing the needs and concerns of LGBT students at all five colleges.

The major resource center and student group at Pomona College addressing gender issues is the Women's Union

The campus also has an active environmental group, the Pomona Campus Climate Challenge group, that is focused on tackling climate change and creating a culture of sustainability on campus

There are 3 remaining local fraternities (originally there were 7), and no officially recognized national fraternities or sororities. Two of the three fraternities are for male Pomona students only; membership in the third is open to Claremont Colleges students of any gender.

Residential life

Pomona is a residential campus, and students must apply to live off campus. Virtually all students live on campus for all four years in one of Pomona's 12 residence halls.

South Campus All first-year students live on South Campus. As a result, the four dormitories that line Bonita Avenue are referred to as Freshman Row.

  • Mudd-Blaisdell is Pomona's largest and newest residence hall. It is home to 280 students living in doubles and singles. It is the only air-conditioned dormitory on Freshman Row.
  • Harwood Court houses 170 students. It was built in 1921, is the oldest dorm on South Campus, and the second-oldest West of the Mississippi (after Smiley).
  • Wig Hall has space for 113 students, mostly in doubles.
  • Lyon Court is the only all-freshman dormitory. It houses 78 students, mostly in doubles.
  • Oldenborg Center is home to 140 students, mostly sophomores. Oldenborg residents live in language or special interest halls, and are expected to participate in the Center's extracurricular activities. Oldenborg also contains a foreign language dining hall, which serves lunch Monday through Friday. The Center is air-conditioned.
  • The Cottages are three small, separate housing units on the corner of College and Bonita, in the village. Students fill out a special application to live in the Cottages, which are substance free.

North Campus Most residents of North Campus are juniors and seniors.

  • Smiley Hall is Pomona's oldest residence hall. It was built in 1908 and houses 60 students. Currently, the first two floors of Smiley are home to Unity Dorm, while the third is substance free.
  • Walker Hall houses 112 students in singles and two-room doubles. First-year transfer students live in Walker.
  • Clark I contains two five-person suites, as well as two-room doubles. 116 students live in Clark I.
  • Clark V has space for 95 students in singles and two-room doubles.
  • Norton-Clark III is home to 120 students in singles and one- and two-room doubles.
  • Lawry Court consists of three towers, each of which has three floors. Each floor contains eight single rooms around a lounge and bathroom. 72 students live in Lawry Court.

Unique traditions


The number "47" has held mystical importance for Pomona students for forty-eight years. Two different stories about its roots exist. Campus lore suggested that in 1964, Pomona math professor Donald Bentley produced a convincing mathematical proof that 47 was equal to all other integers, and that other faculty members and senior students could not disprove his equation at first sight. (By the 1970s oral history had grown this tale into a 1950s McCarthy-era exercise by an unnamed professor, and that it was a symbolic attack on the "big lie" political style of the Red-hunters of the era.) Another version — later verified by Bentley — holds that two Pomona students on a summer grant project in 1964 hypothesized that 47 occurred far more often in nature than random number distribution would explain. Soon the entire school was looking for 47s... and of course they found them! 47 organ pipes in Lyman Hall! 47 eucalyptus trees on College Avenue! Crowds began to cheer at football games when the ball was on the 47 yard line, when basketball game scores for either team reached 47, or when 47 seconds were left on a game clock. Interestingly, Pomona College is located off exit 47 on Interstate 10.

Over time the phenomenon built on itself. Alumnus Richard Chamberlain's character in the movie Shōgun drew number 47 in a lottery with a small number of people. The film Absent Minded Professor, filmed at Pomona College, had a final score of 47-46 in the Flubber basketball game. Writer Joe Menosky, a 1979 alum, included the number 47 in the show Star Trek: The Next Generation when he joined in its fourth season: damaged shields fell to 47 percent strength; 47 colonists were missing; 47 minutes would display on a timer. The traditions continued through Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Robert Justman, associate and supervising producer of the original Star Trek series and Star Trek: Next Generation, sent his children to Pomona College in the 1980s. The web link for a full list of Star Trek 47s is below.

Video games, especially those by Intellivision, also displayed 47s regularly on screen and on game boxes. This turned out to be the work of Pomona graduates and Intellivision game designers Don Daglow, Eddie Dombrower and Dave Warhol; Daglow and Dombrower also made 47 the number on the batter's uniform in the seminal Earl Weaver Baseball game from Electronic Arts. Additionally, the main character in the game Hitman is called "Agent 47", or simply "47".

The number 47 does indeed hold a bizarre, sublime status in the minds of Pomona students. Exactly why is unknown to most everyone, including Pomona students. However, this is a tradition endorsed by the college, as seen in Pomona College's official website's explanation of the "mystique of 47."

Ski-Beach Day

Uniquely situated in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Pomona College takes advantage of its location to host an annual "Ski-Beach Day" each spring. While the origin of this tradition is unclear, professors and various campus staff have noted that it has been around for at least twenty years. Some hypothesize that the day is a salute to other liberal arts colleges, as most of them are on the relatively frigid East Coast or in the Midwest.

Students board a bus in the morning and are driven to a local ski resort where they ski or snowboard in the morning. After lunch, they are bused down to an Orange County or Los Angeles County beach for the rest of the day.


Rooted somewhere in the mists of the 1940s, originally the outgrowth of an unhappy group of women students protesting on-campus policies, Mufti is a secret society of punsters-as-social-commentators. Periodically their 3.5x8.5 sheets of paper are glued to walls all over campus, with double-entendre comments on local goings-on: when beloved century-old Holmes Hall was dynamited to make way for a new building in 1987, the tiny signs all over campus announced "BLAST OF A CENTURY LEAVES THOUSANDS HOLMESLESS." Although nominally vandals under constant threat of punishment by the school if caught, Mufti are actually celebrated as part of the school's tradition on the Pomona website. As the school states: "The adhesive used to plaster the sheets over campus is not easily removed, and College administrators have tried many tactics to persuade the group to make their statements less permanent. At one point, former Dean Shelton Beatty offered to post the Mufti fliers himself, just to ensure that the glue would not damage the buildings. A few days after his offer, a stack of Mufti fliers appeared in his locked office. The message simply read, 'Mufti comes unglued.' True to his word, Dean Beatty made his rounds of campus, posting the fliers with a more water-soluble adhesive. However, this compromise did not last. The following week, sheets again appeared with the message, 'Mufti stuck up again.'"

Political Correctness

While institutionalized political correctness is not a phenomenon unique to Pomona, this college deserves recognition for the depth of its commitment to securing a harmonious environment for its entire student body. Racist, sexist, or heterosexist comments written in bathroom stalls typically provoke campus wide emails from one of the deans. These emails reprint the comment in full and include an official denunciation of this and other "bias-related incidents." (Classist incidents do not provoke the same level of outrage.)

The student body is often eager to protest breaches of political correctness, as occurred during the Kerri Dunn hoax of 2004.


Also known as "ponding," students celebrating their birthday can expect to be taken by their friends, usually when they least expect it, and thrown into one of the five fountains on campus.


It is a documented fact that one of the monikers used by Pomona College sports teams until 1946 was the Huns Officially, Pomona joined at this point with nearby Claremont Men's College to form the Sagehens. Today's Sagehen teams are made up of Pomona student athletes and those of nearby Pitzer College. Claremont Men's College (Now Claremont McKenna) students compete with students from Scripps and Harvey Mudd Colleges--leading to a fierce cross-campus rivalry. Popular legend, however, holds that "Huns" was deemed by the administration to be politically incorrect, and that the name was then officially changed to the Sagehens.

According to school legend, the Associated Students of Pomona College once ran a poll in which they asked the student body: "If you could change our mascot, what would you choose?" Several generic options were given (Wildcats, Bears, Tigers, etc.), but in the end, a write-in candidate won: "The Flaming Owls of Death." Unfortunately, "The Flaming Owls of Death" only garnerned a plurality, and not a majority, so the Sagehen mascot stuck.

Senior Week

Senior week is a tradition where, between the end of classes (seniors having taken finals one week early) and graduation, seniors from Pomona College rent houses at Mission Beach in San Diego. During the week they have a good time bonding and hanging out one last time, before the they disperse across the country. Students from other years are encouraged to come down as long as they are willing to sleep on the floors.


The school's athletic program participates, in conjunction with Pitzer College (another consortium member), in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the NCAA's Division III. The school's sports teams are called the Sagehens. On October 6, 1923, Pomona College and USC played in the inaugural game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, with the Trojans prevailing 23-7.

Fight Song

When Cecil Sagehen Chirps
Words by then student, now professor Graydon Beeks '69 and Brian Holmes '68
Music by Brian Holmes '68

"When Cecil Sagehen chirps, we're gonna fracture the foes of Pomona's might!
When Cecil Sagehen chirps, we're gonna wail on their bods for the Blue and White!
Our foes are filled with dread, whenever Cecil Sagehen flies over head!
We're gonna C, we're gonna H, we're gonna I-R-P, When Cecil chirps his way to victory! Chirp!"

"'Push On, Pomona'"

Words and Music by Terry Koenig '13

"Push on, Pomona, to a victory, cheer Pomona's men,
Push on, Pomona, to a victory, for we've got the stuff to win and win again!
Just watch them smash, and crash, their way through ev'ry line,
Show the old Pomona fight!
For all we have to do is stand behind the White and Blue
And we're-------All Right!"

Push On, Pomona was replaced by When Cecil Sagehen Chirps as the School fight song in the early 1970s.

The School Alma Mater

"Hail, Pomona, Hail"

"Hail, Pomona, Hail,
We thy sons and daughters sing
Praises to thy name,
Praises of thy fame,
'Til the Heavens above shall ring
To the name of Pomona
Alma Mater, Hail to thee
To the spirit true of the White and Blue
All Hail, Pomona, Hail!"

The Alma Mater recently attracted some controversy when it was discovered that the song was originally written to be sung during a minstrel show performed on campus. Due to this controversy, the Alma Mater was not sung during the 2008 commencement ceremony to give the college time to consider the song's future at Pomona.

Notable alumni

Famous dropouts

  • John Cage
  • David Ossman of the Firesign Theatre
  • Twyla Tharp
  • Marianne Williamson, Author and spiritual teacher
  • Frank Zappa Zappa, then a resident near Pomona College in San Bernadino County, would occasionally bring samples of his scores to Prof. Karl Kohn. This was not part of a normal undergraduate program, nor was it some form of school-sanctioned visiting student arrangement, but simply informal private lessons. By 1970, Pomona publications referred to Zappa having studied there, and Kohn's name appears on the cover of Freak Out! (1966) under the heading "These People Have Contributed Materially In Many Ways To Make Our Music What It Is. Please Do Not Hold It Against Them". Zappa contributed to the renovation of Pomona's Bridges Hall of Music, and one of the seats in the hall bears a plaque with his name.
  • Anthony Zerbe

Hollywood & Pomona College

Over the years, many films and television shows have been shot in and around Pomona College, including:

Pomona College also has many connections to the Star Trek universe. In addition to the incorporation of the college's mystical number 47 , a writer for the series who attended Pomona College (Joe Menosky) may have used the Oldenborg Center as inspiration for The Borg, a drone-like race of assimilated half-machine creatures The foreign language dormitory was popularly referred to as "the Borg" long before Star Trek The Next Generation, and for many years the students who chose to live there had the reputation of never leaving the building except to attend classes (the air-conditioned building has its own dining hall, theatre, library, and computer rooms). Even the cube-shaped spacecraft of the television series is reminiscent of the design of the dorm (which from the air resembles the letter E). Menosky has neither confirmed nor denied the well-reported account.


Humanities and Fine Arts

Natural Sciences

Social Sciences

Interdisciplinary Programs


External links

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