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.
"I think Blaisdell may have believed the other colleges would be feeders to the graduate school, but later he came to believe undergraduates should go elsewhere," Maguire said.
"Now, as all the schools are increasingly recognized elsewhere, only 14% of our students were undergraduates at Claremont (Colleges), and 11% are international students."
Most of the students who attend Claremont Graduate School, the largest in the cluster, have established themselves professionally and attend on a part-time basis.
One recent graduate is Tom Jones of San Marino, who earned a master's degree from UCLA in 1964 and entered Claremont Graduate School in 1980 to earn another master's degree in business and a doctorate in executive management.
"Going back to Claremont allowed me to update myself in everything that happened in the theoretical side of management in the past 20 years," said Jones, a real-property manager who devotes much of his time to philanthropic work.
"Peter Drucker helped me work on my dissertation, and that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Jones said. "He was already famous 20 years earlier when I was at UCLA. I never dreamed I would study with such a great man. I couldn't have planned a better experience."
Jones' recent book, "Entrepreneurism: The Mythical, the True and the New," is based on his dissertation. He is Southern California alumni chairman for Claremont Graduate School's first major capital campaign, to which he and his wife gave $1 million last year.
Maguire said the $50-million "Campaign for Preeminence" is now over the $40-million mark.
Claremont Graduate School
Number of applicants 1,300 Number accepted last year 860 Total enrollment 1,700 Tuition (full time) $9,930 Endowment (combined with Claremont University Center) $50 million
When she was asked in 1923 to endow a new college in Claremont, Ellen Browning Scripps, 87, asked only that it be "something special and unique."
The result was a women's school that opened in 1926 and stayed a women's school when most others--including Pitzer College--went co-ed in the 1960s and 1970s.
Scripps, who played a significant role in the founding by her family of the Scripps-Howard Newspapers, told James C. Blaisdell that she wanted "a campus whose simplicity and beauty will unobtrusively seep into the student's consciousness and quietly develop a standard of taste and judgment."
The result was 26 acres of Mediterranean-style buildings furnished with fine antiques, forming a quadrangle of lawns and gardens.
The curriculum, Scripps wrote to Blaisdell, should have "the objective of developing mental equipment rather than amassing information . . . to enable the students to live confidently, courageously and hopefully."
Thus the curriculum focused on the humanities and the arts.
Despite the Scripps fortune, and partly because it is a women's school, Scripps College suffered financially for years. President John Chandler said the lack of money--which resulted in low faculty salaries and deteriorating buildings--stemmed partly from "old patterns in which a husband would make a major gift to his school, but his wife was expected to get hers out of the sugar jar."
But the school's financial fortunes have changed recently, Chandler said, and Scripps raised $8 million in 1986, double its 1985 figure.
Scripps College's special gift to higher education, Chandler said, "is that women's college students develop much more quickly and broadly, so that when they get out into the world a disproportionate number of our graduates become leaders in their work or as volunteers. Studies show this is partly because male students tend to dominate classroom discussions. Even though we have a few men from the other colleges in most of our classes, there is no way a Scripps woman would not speak up. Here, they don't hide their brains or their values. That does a lot for them."
Brighid Brady, a senior English major from Riverside, said she "didn't choose this because it was a women's college, but because it was academically strong."
"But there's something about a women's college--a special atmosphere. You get such support in the dorms and classes," she said.
Lucinda Payne, a senior American studies major from Seattle, said Scripps "is a better school because it's small, and it's for women. You get more sure of yourself, with the kind of support we give each other."
One of the students' resources is a library with several outstanding collections, among them one of the country's oldest collections of books, magazines and manuscripts by and about women. Another is a collection of Gertrude Stein memorabilia.
Scripps has opened a new Humanities Institute that last weekend was host to participants from all over the country in discussions of "Justice and Its Limits."
Number of applicants 647 Number of freshmen 168 Total enrollment 578 Tuition $10,800 Total costs $15,720 Median SAT Scores, Verbal 540 Math 560 Endowment $49.3 million
Joking about college names in one of his nightclub acts, comedian Bill Cosby once got a big laugh when he said "Harvey Mudd!"
Equal to the humor, college officials persuaded Cosby to be that year's commencement speaker.
The smallest of the Claremont colleges usually gets the last laugh.
Sending out recruitment literature that it calls "junk mail" to the country's brightest high school students, Harvey Mudd attracts freshmen with the highest Standard Aptitude Test scores of all the Claremont Colleges. About 35% of this year's freshmen were National Merit Scholars.
More than 40% of Harvey Mudd's graduates--the highest percentage in the country--have earned Ph.D. degrees. The doctoral degrees cover a wide range of fields, even though Harvey Mudd awards bachelor's degrees in only engineering, physics, chemistry and mathematics.
Harvey Mudd, founded in 1955, has unusual features: It requires its students to take one-third of their classes in the humanities and expects them to abide by a liberal honor code. The school provides superior laboratory equipment and has well-established scientists on its faculty.
"The object of this school is to contribute as fully as possible to the technical leadership of the next generation," said founding President Joseph Platt.
Recalling the school's beginning, Platt said: "It was by no means clear at the beginning that things would fall into place. We were able to get people of great stature on our faculty, and it took real courage and commitment on their part to come to a place nobody heard of.
"When we invited our first students, we had no way of knowing if any would apply," Platt said. "For a lot of them, it was hard to explain why they would go to a school their parents never heard of." The school became accredited when it graduated its first two students in 1959.
The college was named for a benefactor and former board member of the Claremont colleges. Harvey Mudd's family, now headed by his son, Henry Mudd, gave $2 million to get the college started and donated another $16 million last year.
Kevin Morris, 19, of Huntington Beach, majoring in engineering with a computer science emphasis, is postponing his junior year to take a $40,000-a-year job with a computer programming company in Westminster.
"I credit the college for the knowledge and maturity that led to my getting this offer," said Morris. "I'll definitely be back. Richer."
Number of applicants 1,066 Number of freshmen 151 Total enrollment 540 Tuition $10,800 Total costs $17,070 Median SAT scores, Verbal 630 Math 740 Endowment $51 million
Claremont Men's College was unknown when it opened on a shoestring in 1946, primarily for World War II veterans whose G. I. Bill would pay for their educations.
All that has changed. It is now the abundantly endowed, coeducational Claremont McKenna College, widely known for producing a high number of business and political leaders.
Donald McKenna, an industrialist and benefactor for whom the school was renamed in 1981, remembers that the first students lived in the basement of nearby Bridges Auditorium, which they decorated with potted plants and dubbed "The Coconut Grove."
"We had Quonset huts and old (portable) military buildings, and it was the greatest experience!" McKenna recalled from his home in Laguna Beach.
George C. S. Benson, the college's first president, remembers that on the Saturday night before the first registration, he and his wife interrupted their first faculty dinner to unload an unexpected delivery of college furniture.
"I enlisted all the new faculty to do that," recalled Benson, who still lives in Claremont, teaches political science at Claremont McKenna College and is writing a book on ethics.
"I think I knew by the end of the second year this was going to be a good college," Benson said. "By the third year, the students got the notion this college was going somewhere."
From the very beginning, Benson said, it was understood that Claremont McKenna College would be a men's college, in part to balance the well-established Scripps College for women. But postwar attitudes about educating women changed and, with little opposition, women were admitted in 1979.
Specializing in political science and economics--subjects that once did not attract women--the student body of 840 is now about one-third women.
College spokesmen say one of the school's outstanding features is its Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, whose four dining rooms and lounges are used constantly by faculty and students for a wide variety of forums and programs.
McKenna, 80, a regular at school events, was among about 100 who heard author John Irving speak at a recent Athenaeum luncheon. The author of "The World According to Garp" and "Hotel New Hampshire" was one of several artists-in-residence at the school this year. Others will include novelist and playwright Elie Wiesel, who will make his third visit on Feb. 4, and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, scheduled for March.
At the close of Irving's informal talk--where he wore jeans and a polo shirt and answered students' questions in detail--student Teddy Kellam from Denver marveled: "I'm so impressed. Events like this make a small school seem like a big metropolis."
Ernie Garcia, a junior who transfered from Southern Illinois University, said he chose the school because "every reference book lists this at the top in government and international relations, and that's what I'm here for."
The school has six well-known institutes for the study of public affairs, including the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, which is believed to have the country's largest database of political demographic statistics. Besides serving customers who pay for services, the institute assumes a new mission every year that provides free or low-cost information on issues of social consequence.
The Rose Institute achieved its greatest fame in 1982 after it released a three-year study of redistricting in California that challenged the ways that political districts were shaped--and sometimes gerrymandered--to the advantage of incumbents or political parties.
"We made many people mad with that--both Democrats and Republicans," said the Rose Institute director, Alan Heslop. "But it was our belief that redistricting is too important for politicians to do in back rooms."
The most important change the study brought about, he said, was "bringing attention to the plight of the Latino population," whose voting strength has often been diluted by redistricting. The institute's current mission is researching the political effects of California's Latino population, based on current demographics.
"We have tried to be a place where people in need of information on politics, elections, campaigns and issues can come and get free" or low-cost information, Heslop said.
The Rose Institute, like the others, is part of the school's academic program and uses students to help conduct its research.
Of the school's 5,500 graduates, 240 are chairmen and chief executive officers of businesses. "That's an astounding number," a school spokesman said.
Richard J. Flamson III, chairman and chief executive officer of Security Pacific National Bank, was among the first graduates. Others are Robert A. Day Jr., chairman of the Trust Co. of the West; Henry R. Kravis, partner in the investment banking firm of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co., and Ryal R. Poppa, chairman and chief executive officer of Storage Technologies Corp.
Other notable graduates include Rep. David Dreier (R-La Verne), Fred Lazarus, president of Maryland Institute College of Art, and Paul Schulz and Michele Walsh, 1985 graduates who were Rhodes and Marshall scholars, respectively.
Number of applicants 1,471 Number of freshmen 221 Total enrollment 840 Tuition $11,080 Total costs $16,500 Median SAT scores, Verbal 580 Math 640 Endowment $84 million
Pitzer College was founded for women in 1963, the year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique" energized the women's movement.
The college became co-educational in 1970, the year dissident students burned the Bank of America branch in Isla Vista, near UC Santa Barbara, and four students were killed at Kent State University in Ohio.
A heritage of social change marks the youngest of the Claremont colleges, which from the beginning aimed at innovation.
President Frank Ellsworth uses "different" and "non-traditional" to describe Pitzer's students, faculty, government and a curriculum that focuses on the social and behavioral sciences.
Calling SAT scores "culturally biased," Ellsworth said Pitzer looks beyond traditional measurements to find "creative and independent men and women of diverse backgrounds who do well in a relatively unstructured environment."
"We want our students to develop a consciousness, to learn about how they as individuals can deal with social issues," Ellsworth said.
One-third of Pitzer's students belong to racial minorities and 70% come from outside of California, more than at any of the other Claremont schools.
Instead of majors, students have "areas of concentration." There are few course requirements, and students work closely with advisers to plan their individual courses of study.
There is no student government, but students are voting members of all school and faculty committees, deciding everything from changes in curriculum to faculty salaries.
Earlier this year, some Pitzer students slept in makeshift shelters to experience homelessness, then spent weekends among Los Angeles' homeless and devised programs to aid them. In 1985, students voted to provide sanctuary for Central American refugees, and last year Pitzer voted to withdraw investments from companies that do business in South Africa.
Pitzer's External Studies Program sends hundreds of students abroad every year to study in Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Rome and on a schooner that sails from Woods Hole, Mass.
With its modern architecture and innovative curriculum, Pitzer looks like an outsider among the more conventional Claremont colleges.
"It's not as different as it once was," said Stephen Glass, professor of classics since 1964.
"It was considered quite revolutionary in its early days, and sometimes other colleges rolled their eyes. But that was a fertile time to try things, and we had no deep-piled traditions, no entrenched years and ways of doing things," he said.
Since then, Glass said, "Many schools have followed in Pitzer's wake, and the passage of time has made the school less different from others. But what still makes it so singular is that it trusts and likes its students very much and gives them unusual responsibilities. I think Pitzer is an enormous success."
Pitzer's first president, John Atherton, remembers the beginning "when there was nothing. We had the site of the old village dump with nothing on it but rocks and sagebrush."
Ellsworth said: "Unlike some of the other Claremont colleges, we were not founded with a big endowment or the promise of one. Thus we are undercapitalized in terms of endowment, facility and people. We need a dozen faculty more than we have."
Unlike Glass, Ellsworth believes that Pitzer's differences still make it unique.
'Doing Something Right'
"At a time when liberal arts colleges are looking the same, I think Pitzer is emerging as one that offers a really different education," he said. "Applications have more than doubled in the last three years, so we're really doing something right."
If student Brian Richardson has any complaint, it is that one of his classes has 70 students in it. The sophomore from Portland, Ore., said he chose Pitzer because it was small, "so I could get a one-to-one relationship with my professors."
But Richardson said he has succeeded in "designing my future" and having a say in school administration, which also drew him to Pitzer.
Jennifer Eberhardt of Cornish, N. H., chose Pitzer from a catalogue of colleges because of "the self-designed major, and taking classes at the other schools, and the climate." Nobody she knew in Cornish had heard of Pitzer, Eberhardt said, "but I had a feeling it had some clout."
Number of applicants 1,013 Number of freshmen 200 Total enrollment 734 Tuition $10,960 Total costs $15,574 Median SAT Scores, Verbal 505 Math 540 Endowment $10.5 million