Pomona College

This article is about the liberal arts college in Claremont, California. For the polytechnic university in Pomona, California, see California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Pomona College
Type Private
Established October 14, 1887
Endowment $2.101 billion[1]
President David W. Oxtoby
Academic staff
Undergraduates 1,663 (Fall 2015)[2]
Location Claremont, California, United States
Campus Suburban, 140 acres (57 ha)
Colors Blue and gold[3]
Nickname Sagehens
Mascot Cecil Sagehen
Website www.pomona.edu

Pomona College is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational, liberal arts college located in Claremont, California, United States. Established in 1887, it is the founding member of the Claremont Colleges. Pomona is an undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled approximately 1,640 students in fall 2015. The college maintains 48 majors and over 2,000 consortium-wide courses.

Pomona is ranked seventh out of all liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report and seventh out of all undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States by Forbes.[4][5] The college had a 9.1% acceptance rate for the 2020 admissions cycle and an endowment of $2.101 billion. Among the current student body, 70% of students hail from out of state, 60% receive need-based financial aid, and 64% identify as students of color and international students.[6]


Pomona College was established as a coeducational institution on October 14, 1887. The group’s goal was to create a college in the same mold as small New England institutions. The College was originally formed in Pomona, California; classes first began in a rental house on September 12, 1888. The next year, the school 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 had ten members in 1894.[7]

President Roosevelt speaks at Pomona College, 1903

Its founders’ values led to the College’s belief in educational equity. Like other Congregationalist-founded colleges such as Harvard, Dartmouth, Middlebury, Bowdoin, Pomona received its own governing board, ensuring its independence.[7] The board of trustees was originally composed of graduates of Williams, Dartmouth, Bates and Yale, among others, to help create "a college of the New England type."[8]

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. On October 14, 1925, Pomona College’s 38th anniversary, the Claremont Colleges were incorporated.[9] By 1997, the consortium reached its present membership of five undergraduate and two graduate institutions. The college has internship programs that sponsor nearly 200 Pomona students every year, and an annual summer research program that hosts 200 Pomona students, Pomona has one of the largest career preparation programs per capita. Pomona ranks eighth in the country for graduates receiving the most competitive graduate fellowships per capita.[10] In 2013, Pomona students received the most Goldwater Scholarships of any liberal arts college.[11] Nearly 85% of recent alumni attend graduate or professional school within ten years.[12] Pomona's is associated with the Claremont Colleges which offer the college supplementary resources.


Pomona’s campus is in Claremont, California, covering an area of 140 acres (57 ha). It includes 63 buildings, including 14 residence halls.[13] The campus in Claremont 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.[14] He purchased the empty land around the College while it was still available, securing the College’s future and allowing for expansion for years to come. 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 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.[15] Later buildings took inspiration from these styles, with usually three or fewer stories and stucco walls.

College Gates

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 built in 1921, and Oldenborg Center, a foreign language housing option for students that includes a foreign language dining hall.[16][17] 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[18]—Bridges Hall of Music ("Little Bridges"), a concert hall built in 1915 with seating for 600,[15] 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. The Studio Arts Hall, built in 2015 to Leed Gold Certification, is located behind the Oldenborg Center, and garnered national recognition for its steel-frame design.[19]

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"), completed in 2005,[20] the Lincoln and Edmunds buildings, both completed in 2007, the Sontag and Pomona residence halls, both completed in 2011, and the New Millikan Laboratory for Math, Physics, and Astronomy, completed in 2015. North Campus is also home to the Center for Creativity and Collaboration, established in 2015 and colloquially termed as "The Hive".[21]

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.[22][23] The two new academic buildings also house the first publicly accessible Skyspace art installation by renowned artist and alumnus James Turrell '65.[24][25] Pomona and Sontag Hall were built to LEED platinum standards, only the second large-scale residence halls in the country to earn that designation by their completion time.[26] Millikan Hall is the first LEED platinum certified science building on campus.[27]

North Campus dormitories house mostly juniors and seniors. Smiley Hall was built in 1908.[28] 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.

Marston Quadrangle

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, a recreation room, The Coop Store, and two restaurants;[13] Alexander Hall houses administrative offices. Athletic facilities are 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. A new parking structure on First Street serves as both a parking space for 600 vehicles and a soccer and lacrosse field.[29] Other Pomona facilities of note include the student group and lounge in Walker Hall known as the Women's Union, the Claremont Colleges' radio station, KSPC 88.7fm, located in the basement of Thatcher Music Building, 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. Another notable resource is the Robert J. Bernard Field Station north of Foothill Boulevard, and the Trail Ends Ranch, 3.9 miles (6.3 km) away from campus and owned by Pomona College.[30]

Along the north side of campus are several joint buildings maintained by the Claremont University Consortium. These include the Tranquada Student Center, home to student health and psychological services, Campus Safety, and the Huntley Bookstore. Honnold-Mudd Library, the joint Claremont Colleges library, holds 2 million volumes, 60,000 periodicals, 30,000 reels of microfilm, and over 1 million microfiche and microcards.[31]

The southern side of campus is directly adjacent to the Claremont Village, and less than 5 minutes away from the Claremont Metrolink Station. The campus is less than five miles (8.0 km) south of the San Gabriel Mountains, on top of the alluvial fans that have come from nearby San Antonio Canyon.


Crookshank Hall, Pomona College

Any student attending Pomona can enroll in up to 50% of their classes at the other four colleges in the Claremont Colleges. 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. Through the Claremont Colleges, Pomona students have access to over 2200 courses each year, including 230 English courses and 140 mathematics courses.[32] 81% of Pomona students take at least one class at another college.[33]

The average class size at Pomona is 15. Ninety-one percent of courses have under 30 students, and only 1% have more than 50.[34] All classes are taught by professors, and there is an 8:1 ratio of students to professors.[35] Eighty-five percent of faculty live within five miles (8.0 km) of campus, and each faculty member has two meal swipes each week, which they often use to interact with students.[36] Students take at least one course in each of five areas: Creative Expression; Social Institutions and Human Behavior; History, Values, Ethics and Cultural Studies; Physical and Biological Sciences; and Mathematical Reasoning.[37]

The Academic Support and Learning Center provides individual academic coaching and sponsored study groups.[38] The Writing Center offers free, confidential consultations for students with student Writing Fellows. Writing Fellows work to improve both individual papers and work with students to develop writing skills.[39] The Quantitative Skills Center provides one-on-one tutoring and workshops for any students seeking to enhance to their quantitative skills.[40] The Foreign Language Resource Center provides language equipment, tutoring, and books for students and faculty.[41] The Pacific Basin Institute provides support for the Asian Studies program, and hosts workshops and conferences in those topics.[42]

In addition, a number of cohort programs exist for underrepresented students. The Pomona Science Scholars Program (PSS) provides science advising and textbook funds. The High Achievement Program (HAP) provides freshmen a pre-college, one month summer program to participate in summer research. Pomona Scholars in Math and the 1-2-1 Math Summer Bridge Program are aimed in helping students transition into the math department at Pomona. In 2015, Pomona College, alongside the other Claremont Colleges, became an undergraduate partner for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF), which identifies 10 students to receive mentoring and resources in preparation for academia.[43]

More than half of Pomona students study abroad, mostly in the junior year.[44] Pomona offers 54 pre-approved programs in 34 countries.[45] Students can study abroad in any major, and petition to study abroad in an outside program.

Pomona has 47 majors; students who would like to create their own major are eligible to do so following specific guidelines. The 10 most popular declared majors for Spring 2016, in order, are: Economics (122), Computer Science (112), Mathematics (99), Neuroscience (60), International Relations (51), Molecular Biology (48), Psychology (45), Chemistry (45), Biology (44), and Linguistics and Cognitive Science (41). The most popular major for Class of 2015 graduates was mathematics.[46]


  2016[47] 2015[48] 2014[49] 2013[50]
Applicants 8,105 8,100 7,724 7,153
Admits 743 834 939 994
Admit rate 9.1% 10.3% 12.16% 13.9%
Enrolled N/A 400 470 397
SAT range N/A 2040–2300 2070–2320 2070–2320
ACT range N/A 30-34 31-34 31-34

Pomona College accepted 743 students from a record pool of 8,104 applicants. Before the waitlist was used, Pomona had a 9.1% acceptance rate. Fifty-two percent of the admitted students were U.S. students of color, 12% were international students, and 17% were first-generation college students. Approximately one-third of admitted students were valedictorian or salutatorian; 92% were in the top decile of their class.[51] In the previous year, Pomona College along with consortium member Claremont McKenna College became the first two liberal arts colleges to hit single-digit acceptance rates.[52] 400 students enrolled for the Class of 2019, representing a 48% yield of all the admitted students. 1157 applicants applied through early programs (ED1, ED2, Posse, and QuestBridge), and 174 (15%) were ultimately admitted.[6]

Of transfer applicants for the 2015–2016 year, 5.62% were admitted (20/356), and 15 of these admitted students enrolled at Pomona.[6]

Pomona is a Posse Foundation and QuestBridge partner college, and has different admissions processes for both. Pomona is also part of the Say Yes Education Compact, which offers full tuition scholarships to inner city youth.[53] Pomona announced its partnership with the Coalition application process, which links students to the college admissions process earlier and provides an alternative, portfolio-based application in contrast to the Common Application.[54]


University rankings
Forbes[55] 7
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[56] 7
Washington Monthly[57] 7

Forbes in 2016 rated Pomona 7th in its America's Top Colleges ranking,[5] which includes military academies, national universities, and liberal arts colleges. It rated Pomona 9th in 2012, 2nd in 2013, 8th in 2014, and 1st in 2015. Kiplinger's Personal Finance placed Pomona 2nd in its 2014 ranking of best value liberal arts colleges in the United States.[58] A National Science Foundation study on baccalaureate origins institutions of STEM PhDs from 2002–2011 ranked Pomona 12th in the nation for production per capita.[59] Pomona ranked 10th in the nation for PhD production from 1975–2004.[60] Money ranked Pomona College 22nd in the country out of the nearly 1500 schools it evaluated for its 2016 Best Colleges ranking.[61] Payscale ranked Pomona College 59th of all bachelor institutions for its 2015–2016 College Salary Report. Noticeably, 75% of survey respondents indicated that their jobs had high meaning, highest among any liberal arts college and 24th highest in the nation.[62] The Daily Beast ranked Pomona College 20th in the country out of the nearly 2000 schools it evaluated for its 2014 Best Colleges ranking.[63] The 2015 annual ranking of U.S. News & World Report categorizes Pomona as 'most selective' and ranks it tied for the 4th best liberal arts college in the nation (along with 2nd for "Best Value" and 8th for "Best Undergraduate Teaching).[64]

The Princeton Review ranked it the 5th best value in private colleges in 2013.[65] In 2010 Pomona was ranked number one in classroom experience by The Princeton Review.[66] It also ranked 6th for "Best Run College", "Great Financial Aid", and "Their Students Love Their College", 10th for "Happiest Students", 11th for "Most Accessible Professors", 14th for "Best College Dorms", and 16th for "Best Quality of Life", in the 2013 Edition of Princeton Review.[67] Pomona was one of the 22 schools in the country to receive the highest score possible, a 99, in environmental practices and sustainability. It also ranked 4th for "Great Financial Aid", 5th in "Best College Dorms", 5th for "Best Run Colleges", 7th for "Best Science Facilities", and 13th for "Their Students Love Their College", according to the 2014 Princeton Review.[68]

The Princeton Review also rated Pomona 96 for academic quality, 99 for admissions selectivity, and 97 for quality of life. Unigo named Pomona as one of the "Top 10 New Ivies" in 2013 and first for "Top 10 Wired Schools".[69][70] In 2011, it named Pomona as one of the 10 "Most Intellectual" colleges.[71]

In 2010, Newsweek ranked Pomona as the second "most desirable small school", eleventh "most desirable school", and fifteenth for production of students earning PhDs and/or winning prestigious fellowships. The school also ranked fifth for great weather and thirteenth for gay-friendliness.[72] In 2011, Newsweek ranked Pomona third for "Accessible Professors", 8th for "Top School for Activists", and 8th for "Brainiacs", a measure of competitive fellowships won by alumni and student selectivity.[73][74][75]

For the 2011–2012 year, Pomona had the fourth largest endowment per student of any undergraduate university or liberal arts college in the country, at $1,099,906.00 per student.[76] In a study on student debt produced by the Project on Student Debt for the Class of 2011, Pomona College was among the top 20 schools in the least amount of debt taken on by graduates.[77]

The Daily Beast rated Pomona College the 3rd happiest school in the country.[78] College Prowler gave Pomona an A+, to its academics, campus dining, campus housing, campus strictness, computers, weather, parking, and facilities. Pomona also received an A in diversity.[79] Pop culture website Flavorwire ranked Pomona 4th on its list of "The 25 Most Literary Colleges in America".[80] A 2003 study by The Wall Street Journal listed Pomona 13th on the list of "Top 50 Feeder Schools", measured by the number of graduates per capita in 15 select Top Ten graduate school programs.[81]

Professional development

The majority of faculty work with one or more students on research projects in a variety of academic disciplines.[44] The College sponsors a subsidized Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) for its students every year. Students may choose to either work side-by-side with professors, or pursue their own independent projects.[82] For the summers of 2012 and 2013, more than 460 students were involved with summer research.[83] Many students also work with professors or do independent research during the school year. In addition, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) summer research program sponsors a consortia college summer research program, enabling Pomona students to participate in research opportunities at the other Claremont Colleges.

The Pomona College Career Development provides pre-professional opportunities. The Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) connected 134 students in the 2014–2015 year to paid internships at 102 different organizations in Southern California, undertaken during the school year. Students receive a wage as well as transportation funding. The Summer Experience Funding (SEF) program provides funding for students with unpaid or low paying summer internships, including international internships. For the 2014–2015 year, 88 students received these awards in 72 sites, including with 16 international internships. Sites included UNAIDS, Yale University, Deloitte in China, and the Office of U.S. Senator Richard Durbin. The Shadow a Sagehen program enables current students to connect with alumni from a variety of career fields during winter break, and the SagePost program links students to alumni on a virtual platform. In addition, Pomona participates in Winter Career Recruiting, which provides travel funds for graduating seniors applying for careers in a variety of areas to Boston, New York City, Washington DC, and Los Angeles.[84]

Through its partnership with the Claremont Colleges and other consortia such as Selective Liberal Arts College Consortium (SLAC), Career and Intership Connections (CIC), and Liberal Arts Career Network (LACN), Pomona College provides its students with opportunities to connect with employers. Most career based events are five college in nature, enabling students to attend a larger diversity of events than would be available at a single liberal arts college. The online ClaremontConnect program contains over 7,900 job postings, and the LACN database contains over 13,000 postings. 215 employers hosted on-site informational events at the Claremont Colleges, and 108 employers participated in interview and on-campus recruiting specifically for Claremont College students, including McKinsey & Company and Google.[84]

For the 2014–2015 year, over 75 students received competitive fellowships, including 16 Fulbright Program fellows, 3 Gates Scholarship fellows, 15 National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships, and 2 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship recipients.[85] In addition, students are admitted to the most competitive professional and graduate programs in the country. Examples of destinations for Class of 2015 graduates were PhD programs at University of Cambridge, UC Berkeley, and Princeton University; JD programs at Columbia University School of Law and New York University School of Law; MD programs at Washington University School of Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine, and masters programs at Harvard University, University of Oxford, and Vanderbilt University.[84]



Racial composition of degree seeking Pomona College students [86]
Category Percent
White, Non-Hispanic 38%
Hispanic/Latino 15.16%
Asian, Non-Hispanic 14.19%
Black, Non-Hispanic 8.28%
International, Non-Hispanic 10.96%
Two or more races, Non-Hispanic 7.49%
Race or ethnicity unknown 5.42%

As of Fall 2016, the student body consists of 1660 undergraduate students. 50.6% of the students are female, while 49.4% are male. Approximately 22% of Pomona students receive Federal Pell Grants.[87] Current Pomona students hail from 49 states and 60 foreign countries.[88]

The freshman class contains 400 students, of which approximately 60.75% self-identify as students of color or international students. 74% hail from out of California; 14.5% hail from out of country. 14.5% are first-generation students (neither parent attended a four-year college), and 52.8% represent domestic public schools. Among initial academic interests, 32.5% are interested in the natural sciences and mathematics, 16.7% in the humanities and arts, 11.8% in the social sciences, 14.7% in pre-professional careers, and 17.8% in interdivisional studies.[89]

The freshman class had 25-75% score ranges (25% score at or below, 25% score at or above) of 670-760 on the SAT critical reading section, 690-770 on the math section, and 680-770 on the writing section, and 30-34 on the ACT Composite. 91.8 percent of this incoming class (of those from schools that officially rank students) graduated in the top decile of their high school classes, while 26.1% of these students were valedictorians.[90]

For the most recent graduating cohort, 91.3% of students graduated within 4 years, and 94.3% graduated within 6 years. The retention rate for the Class of 2018 was 96.9%.[6]

Costs and financial aid

Pomona practices need-blind admission for students who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, DACA status students, undocumented students, or who graduate from a high school within the United States, and promises to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for all admitted students, including admitted international students.[91][92] No loans are packaged in the financial aid package, though students can choose to borrow if so desired.[93] No merit awards or athletic scholarships are offered by Pomona.[94] Furthermore, need based financial aid is not available to international transfer applicants.[95]

For the 2014–2015 school year, Pomona charged a sticker price (tuition, room and board, and associated fees) of $60,532. Close to 40 million dollars worth of scholarships were awarded in 2014. 56% of students received a financial aid package, with an average award of $46,247. The scholarship awarded is scaled accordingly with the family income level of the student, ranging from $60,620 for the poorest students to $6,930 for students from backgrounds making above $160,000.[96]

Student life

The Claremont Colleges

Pomona is a member of the Claremont Colleges, and most social activities revolve around the five colleges, or "5Cs". 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 Graduate Institute, are part of the Claremont University Consortium. Notable benefits of being in the consortium include equal access to seven dining halls, the largest liberal arts college library collection, interaction with over 7000 students, special programs like Harvey Mudd's Clinic Program and Claremont McKenna's Semester in Washington DC which are available to all eligible 5C students, and the opportunity to do a housing exchange with another 5C College. Most events sponsored by each school are open to all of the five colleges.

Campus organizations

Pomona College in winter

There are more than 200 clubs and organizations across the Claremont Colleges.[32]

There are several media organizations at the Claremont Colleges, including most prominently The Student Life, the oldest college newspaper in Southern California.[97] It publishes a weekly print edition as well as online content. The Claremont Independent, a conservative magazine, has produced articles about the consortium campuses' political culture that have been picked up by national conservative media outlets and drawn intense criticism from many students.[98][99][100] The Golden Antlers publishes satirical content.[101] Pomona also has a student-run radio station, KSPC.

The Associated Students of Pomona (ASPC) serves as Pomona's central student government. Composed of a dozen or so elected representatives and numerous appointed committee members, ASPC represents Pomona's student body in discussions with the administration, provides funding for clubs and organizations, runs the Pomona Events Committee (PEC), and covers the cost of security and alcohol for social events.[102]

Pomona Events Committee (PEC) is a committee of ASPC, and creates on-campus and off-campus events for Pomona students. Some notable events include De-Stress, which is meant to provide students a relaxation period before Final Exams, the annual Ski Beach Day, subsidized excursions to attractions and venues in the Los Angeles region, and dances like the Yule Ball and the Spring Formal.

The Pomona Student Union (PSU) facilitates the discussion of political and social issues on campus. They describe their mission as "promoting honest and open dialogue in order to challenge the assumptions of students and the wider campus community."[103] They hold discussions, panels, and debates with prominent speakers with the goal of stimulating conversation and creating an environment in which all viewpoints are represented. Notable speakers the PSU has brought to Pomona include Jon Meacham, Mari Matsuda, Sam Harris, Nadine Strossen, and Michael Isikoff.

The Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company (CCBDC) is one of the largest organizations on campus, with over 130 dancers. It offers dance classes on a variety of expertise levels and showcases several events and performances each year.[104] CONTRAversial, the contra dance club of the Claremont Colleges, hosts monthly dances that are open to both students and community members.[105][106]

On the Loose (OTL) is the outdoors club of the 5Cs. OTL's mission is to get Claremont students into nature. Students can reach mountains, desert and the ocean all within an hour, and famous national parks such as Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Park are close to campus. OTL utilizes the Claremont Colleges Outdoor Education Center (OEC) for support in offering trips and adventures. The OEC loans equipment to students for free and teaches students vital outdoor skills. The OEC also trains trip leaders in leadership and wilderness first aid, including Wilderness First Responder certifications. Students interested in outdoor leadership can also take many workshops on outdoor leadership including Leave No Trace ethics and many outdoor skills classes offered for credit through the Pomona Physical Education Department. Examples are Beginning Rock Climbing, Beginning Backpacking, and Wilderness Survival.[107]

Pomona has numerous singing groups, including Men's Blue and White, Women's Blue and White, the After School Specials, the Claremont Shades, Midnight Echo, and Mood Swing. Other musical groups include the Pomona College Orchestra, Band, Choir, Glee Club, Jazz Ensemble, and Balinese Gamelan Ensemble. There is also an improv group, Without a Box.

There are three remaining local fraternities (out of the original seven), and no officially recognized national fraternities or sororities. Two of the three fraternities are co-educational (Nu Alpha Phi and Sigma Tau), while membership in the third (Kappa Delta) is still restricted to men. Five percent of men join fraternities.[108] None of the fraternities have special housing, and they are not considered to have a major impact on the social scene on campus.

Pomona is home to numerous student support offices, which provide mentoring programs to ease the transition for students who identify with a particular identity. These include the Women's Union (WU), Office of Black Student Affairs (OBSA), Asian American Resource Center (AARC), Students of Color Alliance (SOCA), Chicano Latino Student Affairs (CLSA), Queer Resource Center (QRC), and the International Place of the Claremont Colleges (I-Place).[109] The low-income and first-generation community on campus, Quest Scholars, has over 160 active members and provides all incoming first year low income students with upperclassman mentors.[110] The Pomona Advocates support survivors of sexual violence and work to promote consent culture.[111]


Football game

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. There are 10 men's and women's teams.[112] Once known as the Huns, the school's sports teams are now 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.

Over the years, a rivalry has formed between the opposing sports teams: Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS).

Club and intramural sports are also offered in a variety of areas, such as dodgeball, flag football, and surfing.[112]

The Physical Education department offers a variety of activity classes each semester, such as karate, playground games, geocaching, and social dance.[113]

Athletic facilities at Pomona include five basketball courts, four racquetball courts, two squash courts, a weight room, an exercise room, 2 pools, 2 tennis court complexes, a football field, a track, a softball field, a baseball field, and four fields for soccer, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, and field hockey.[114]

In the 2012–2013 year, out of the 9 SCIAC members, the men's team placed 3rd overall, and the women's placed 4th. The men's team placed 2nd in cross country, 1st in soccer, 1st in water polo, 3rd in swimming and diving, and 2nd in baseball. The women's team placed 2nd in cross country, 2nd in swimming and diving, 2nd in tennis, and 1st in water polo.[115]

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 16 residence halls:[116]

Harwood Court
South Campus

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

North Campus

Most residents of North Campus are juniors and seniors.

All first-years are placed into a sponsor group, with 10–20 other first years and 2 or 3 upperclassmen "sponsors". This is meant to ease the transition for incoming students.[119]


Pomona's Board of Trustees adopted the College's first Environmental Policy in 2002.[120] The school subsequently hired its first Sustainability Coordinator in 2008 and its Sustainability Integration Office was created in 2009.[121] The College buys local and organic food for its dining halls, has undertaken a variety of outreach initiatives; requires that all new construction meet LEED Silver standards; offsets a percentage of its emissions with Renewable Energy Credits; and reduces water consumption, especially in landscaping.[122] The College was awarded an "A" for its sustainability initiatives by the Sustainable Endowments Institute in the College Sustainability Report Card 2011.[123]

Rico Lebrun's Genesis at Pomona College

Pomona College Organic Farm

The Pomona College Organic Farm is an experimental Permaculture project located in the southeast corner of the campus[124][125] and was created by a group of three friends in 1998. Masanobu Fukuoka's book The One Straw Revolution provided the initial inspiration.

Although initially opposed by the college's administration, it has since been embraced and today grows some of the food used in Pomona's dining halls, composts dining hall waste, and facilitates a popular course on agriculture.

The Earth Dome II during construction in summer 2005

The Earth Dome II Project has redefined the scope and community base of the farm. A group of students and community members built an earth dome at the farm. The foundation was poured in 2004, and the main structural elements of the dome were completed by students and community members during the 2004–2005 school year.

Community engagement

The Draper Center for Community Partnerships, established in 2009, serves as Pomona's community engagement center.[126] The center provides students funding for summer and winter engagement, transportation costs for volunteering during the school year, leadership opportunities through which students can lead the various programs offered (known as Draper Center Coordinators), and advising for community engagement applications.[127] It also provides students, faculty, and local residents a multitude of community engagement programs, including:[128]



The number "47" has historical implications to the college.[130] 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. Pomona College is also located off exit 47 on Interstate 10.

This tradition is endorsed by the college, as seen in Pomona College's official website's explanation of the "mystery of 47".[130]

Ski-Beach Day

Near the San Gabriel Mountains and within driving distance of the Pacific Ocean, Pomona College takes advantage of its location to host an annual "Ski-Beach Day" each spring. It has been around for at least twenty years. 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.[131]


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 name and insignia as well as 3.5 in × 8.5 in (89 mm × 216 mm) 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."

Star Trek connection

Pomona College also has many connections to the Star Trek universe. In addition to the incorporation of the college's mystical number 47,[132] 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.[132]


Pomona alma mater

The alma mater caused controversy when it was discovered that the song was originally written to be sung as the ensemble finale to a student-produced blackface minstrel show performed on campus in 1909 or 1910.[133] 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. On December 15, 2008, the college announced a decision to retain the song as the Alma Mater, but not to sing the song at either commencement or convocation.[133]

Labor conflicts

On March 1, 2010, Pomona's dining service workers publicly announced their intention to attempt to form an independent labor union. That morning over 40 workers and 150 students marched from Pomona's two dining halls into President David Oxtoby's office and handed him petitions one at a time.[134] The petitions called for a "Fair Process," asking the College to remain neutral during the unionization process and to acknowledge the results of a card check. As of March 29, 90% of dining hall staff and 50% of Pomona students had signed the petition.[134][135][136]

On March 3, 2010, Oxtoby responded to the petitions, suggesting that the College would only support an NLRB-regulated secret ballot.[137]

On March 6, 2010, following Oxtoby's statement, workers and students rallied outside of Bridges Auditorium, marching over to Smith Campus Center in the midst of trustee meetings. Several workers spoke about specific grievances, followed by Pomona students, Pitzer Professor Jose Calderon, and Anthony Chavez, the grandson of Cesar Chavez.[138] A vigil on March 24 called for labor peace, with a demonstration of over 300 students, professors, and community members.

In 2011, the college, responding to a legal imperative, requested proof of work authorization from all of its employees, including faculty, staff, students on work-study, and senior administration. Seventeen workers (sixteen of them dining hall employees) could not produce documents showing that they were legally able to work in the United States, and they were fired on December 2, 2011. The episode increased tension over the issues of dining hall workers' rights and their place within the community. Some undocumented workers believed that they were targeted because of their connection to pro-unionization movements.[139]

Following an agreement between Pomona College and the union UNITE HERE in April 2013, the College's dining hall employees took part in a secret-ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on April 30, 2013, to determine whether they wished to be represented by the union. The vote was 56 to 27 in favor of being represented by UNITE HERE in collective bargaining. Representatives of the College administration and the union plan to meet for formal negotiations toward an initial contract in the near future.[140]

Alumni and faculty

Pomona has 24,651 living alumni. Of those who are working, 23.5% are in education, 23.8% are in business and finance, 10.4% are in law and government, 9.9% are in health and medicine, 4.3% are in science and technology, 5.1% are in arts and media, and 23% are in other fields.[13]

Of the 232 faculty members, 190 are full-time faculty and 42 are part-time faculty. Of full-time faculty, 58 (30.5%) are members of minority groups, 84 (44.7%) are women, and 190 (98.9%) have a doctorate or other terminal degree in their respective field.[141]

Notable alumni of Pomona College include historical cartographer Carl I. Wheat (1915); six-time Grammy Winning conductor Robert Shaw (1938); Gumby creator Art Clokey (1943); Walt Disney Company executive Roy E. Disney (1951); writer, actor, and musician Kris Kristofferson (1958); actor Richard Chamberlain (1956); California politician Cristina Garcia, light and space artist James Turrell (1965); Civil Rights activist and NAACP chairman Myrlie Evers (1968); former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller (1970); Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist Mary Schmich (1975);[142] Berkeley biologist Jennifer Doudna (1985); American Neo-Nazi and website operator Alex Linder (1988); U.S. Senator for Hawaii Brian Schatz (1994); and several Academy Award-winning screenwriters, including Robert Towne (1956).

Notable faculty of the past and present include the late novelist David Foster Wallace, former U.S. ambassadors Cameron Munter and Michael Armacost, novelist Jonathan Lethem, jazz musician Bobby Bradford, poet Claudia Rankine, composer Fannie Charles Dillon, and NBA basketball coach Gregg Popovich, who mentored alumnus Mike Budenholzer.


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