Pomona is a four-year undergraduate institution that enrolls approximately 1,800 students. It offers 48 majors in liberal arts disciplines and roughly 650 courses, as well as access to more than 2,000 additional courses at the other Claremont Colleges. Its 140-acre (57 ha) campus is in a residential community 35 miles (56 km) east of downtown Los Angeles, near the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Pomona suffered through a severe financial crisis during its early years, but raised enough money to add several buildings to its campus. Although the first Asian and black students enrolled in 1897 and 1900, respectively, the student body (like most others of the era) remained almost all white throughout this period. In 1905, during president George A. Gates' tenure, the college acquired a 64-acre (26 ha) parcel of land to its east known as the Wash. In 1911, as high schools became more common in the region, the college eliminated its preparatory department, which had taught pre-college level courses. The following year, it committed to a liberal arts model, soon after turning its previously separate schools of art and music into departments within the college. In 1914, the Phi Beta Kappa honor society established a chapter at the college. Daily attendance at chapel was mandated until 1921, and student culture emphasized athletics and academic class rivalries. During World War I, male students were divided into three military companies and a Red Cross unit to assist in the war effort.
Confronted with growing demand in the 1920s, Pomona's fourth president, James A. Blaisdell, considered whether to grow the college into a large university that could acquire additional resources or remain a small institution capable of providing a more intimate educational experience. Seeking both, he pursued an alternative path inspired by the collegiate university model he observed at Oxford, envisioning a group of independent colleges sharing centralized resources such as a library. On October 14, 1925, Pomona's 38th anniversary, the college founded the Claremont Colleges consortium. Construction of the Clark dormitories on North Campus (then the men's campus) began in 1929, a reflection of president Charles Edmunds' prioritization of the college's residential life. Edmunds, who had previously served as president of Lingnan University in Guangzhou, China, inspired a growing interest in Asian culture at the college and established its Asian studies program.
Pomona's longest-serving president, E. Wilson Lyon, guided the college through a transformational and turbulent period from 1941 to 1969. The college's enrollment rose above 1,000 following the war, leading to the construction of several residence halls and science facilities. Its endowment grew steadily, due in part to the introduction in 1942 of a deferred giving fundraising scheme pioneered by Allen Hawley called the Pomona Plan, where participants receive a lifetime annuity in exchange for donating to the college upon their death. The plan's model has since been adopted by many other colleges.
Men protesting the opening of Frary Dining Hall to women in 1957
During the tenure of president David Alexander from 1969 to 1991, Pomona gained increased prominence on the national stage. The endowment increased ten-fold, enabling the construction and renovation of a number of buildings. Several identity-based groups, such as the Pomona College Women's Union (founded in 1984), were established. In the mid-1980s, out-of-state students began to outnumber in-state students.
In 1991, the college converted the dormitory basements used by fraternities into lounges, arguing that this created a more equitable distribution of campus space. The move lowered the profile of Greek life on campus.
Pomona's Studio Art Hall, completed in 2014, garnered national recognition for its steel-frame design.
In the 2000s, under president David W. Oxtoby, Pomona began placing more emphasis on reducing its environmental impact, committing in 2003 to obtaining LEED certifications for new buildings and launching various sustainability initiatives. The college also entered partnerships with several college access groups (including the Posse Foundation in 2004 and QuestBridge in 2005) and committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of students through grants rather than loans in 2008. These efforts, combined with Pomona's previously institutedneed-blind admission policy, resulted in increased enrollment of low-income and racial minority students.
Pomona requested proof of legal residency from employees amid a unionization drive by dining hall workers in 2011. Seventeen workers who were unable to provide documentation were fired, drawing national media attention and sparking criticism from activists; the dining hall staff voted to unionize in 2013. A rebranding initiative that year sought to emphasize students' passion and drive, angering students who thought it would lead to a more stressful culture. Several protests in the 2010s criticized the college's handling of sexual assault, leading to various reforms.
The campus consists of 88 facilities as of 2021[update], including 70 addressed buildings. It is bounded by First Street on the south, Mills and Amherst Avenues on the east, Eighth Street on the north, and Harvard Avenue on the west. It is informally divided into North Campus and South Campus by Sixth Street, with most academic buildings in the western half and a naturalistic area known as the Wash in the east. It has been featured in numerous films and television shows, often standing in for other schools.
Pomona has undertaken initiatives to make its campus more sustainable, including requiring that all new construction be built to LEED Gold standards, replacing turf with drought-tolerant landscaping, and committing to achieving carbon neutrality without the aid of purchased carbon credits by 2030. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education gave the college a gold rating in its 2018 Sustainable Campus Index.
Crookshank Hall in the Stanley Academic Quadrangle
South Campus consists of mostly first-year and second-year housing and academic buildings for the social sciences, arts, and humanities.
A row of four residence halls is south of Bonita Avenue, with Frank Dining Hall at the eastern end. Sumner Hall, the home of admissions and several other administrative departments, is to the north of the dormitories. Oldenborg Center, a foreign-language housing option that includes a foreign-language dining hall, is across from Sumner.
Marston Quadrangle, a 5-acre (2 ha) lawn framed by California sycamore and coastal redwood trees, serves as a central artery for the campus, anchored by Carnegie on the west and Bridges Auditorium on the east. To its north is Alexander Hall, the college's central administration building, and the Smith Campus Center (SCC), home to many student services and communal spaces. East of the SCC is the Center for Athletics, Recreation and Wellness (Pomona's primary indoor athletics and recreation facility) and Smiley Hall dormitory, built in 1908.
The college gates historically marked the northern edge of Pomona's campus.
At the intersection of Sixth Street and College Avenue are the college gates, built in 1914, which mark the historical northern edge of the campus. They bear two quotes from President Blaisdell. On the north is "let only the eager, thoughtful and reverent enter here", and on the south is "They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind". Per campus tradition, enrolling students walk south through the gates during orientation and seniors walk north through them shortly before graduation.
North Campus was designed by architect Sumner Spaulding, and its initial phase was completed in 1930. It consists primarily of residential buildings for third- and fourth-year students and academic buildings for the natural sciences.
Pomona is governed as a private, nonprofit organization by a board of trustees responsible for overseeing the long-term interests of the college. The board consists of up to 42 members, most of whom are elected by existing members to four-year terms with a term limit of 12 years.[d] It is responsible for hiring the college's president (G. Gabrielle Starr since 2017), approving budgets, setting overarching policies, and various other tasks. The president, in turn, oversees the college's general operation, assisted by administrative staff and a faculty cabinet. The college has 821 total employees as of the fall 2020 semester. Pomona operates under a shared governance model, in which faculty and students sit on many policymaking committees and have a degree of control over other major decisions.
Pomona's office of financial aid is in Sumner Hall.
Pomona has an endowment of $3.03 billion as of June 2021[update], giving it the seventh-highest endowment per student of any college or university in the U.S. The college's total assets (including its campus) are valued at $3.93 billion. Its operating budget for the 2021–2022 academic year was $245 million, of which roughly half was funded by endowment earnings. That year, 46 percent of the budget was allocated to instruction, 2 percent to research, 1 percent to public service, 13 percent to academic support, 16 percent to student services, and 22 percent to institutional support. In 2021, Fitch Ratings gave the college a AAA bond credit rating, its highest rating, reflecting an "extremely strong financial profile".
For the 2022–2023 academic year, Pomona charged a tuition fee of $58,818, with a total estimated on-campus cost of attendance of $84,064. In 2021–2022, 57 percent of students received a financial aid package, with an average award of $50,261, including 37 percent of international students, who received an average award of $49,106. The college meets the full demonstrated need of all admitted students, including international students, through grants rather than loans. It does not offer merit awards or athletic scholarships.
Pomona offers instruction in the liberal arts disciplines and awards the Bachelor of Arts degree. The college operates on a semester system, with a normal course load of four full-credit classes per semester. 32 credits and a C average GPA are needed to graduate, along with the requirements of a major, a first-year critical inquiry seminar, at least one course in each of six "breadth of study" areas,[e] proficiency in a foreign language, two physical education courses, a writing-intensive course, a speaking-intensive course, and an "analyzing difference" course (typically examining a type of structural inequality).
Pomona offers 48 majors, most of which also have a corresponding minor.[f] For the 2021 graduation cohort, 21 percent of students majored in the arts and humanities, 40 percent in the natural sciences, 25 percent in the social sciences, and 15 percent in interdisciplinary fields. 14 percent of students completed a double major, 25 percent completed a minor, and 2 percent completed multiple minors. The college does not permit majoring in pre-professional disciplines such as medicine or law but offers academic advising for those areas and 3-2 engineering programs with Caltech, Dartmouth, and Washington University.
Individually, Pomona offers approximately 650 courses per semester. Additionally, students may take a significant portion[g] of their courses at the other Claremont Colleges, enabling access to approximately 2,700 courses total. The academic calendars and registration procedures across the colleges are synchronized and consolidated, and there are no additional fees for cross-enrollment. Students may also create independent study courses evaluated by faculty mentors.
Estella Laboratory, opened in 2015, houses Pomona's physics, astronomy, and math programs.
All classes at Pomona are taught by professors (as opposed to teaching assistants). The average class size is 15; for the fall 2021 semester, 93 percent of traditional courses[h] had under 30 students, and only two courses had 50 or more students. The college employs 265 faculty members as of the fall 2021 semester, approximately three-quarters of whom are full-time, resulting in an 8∶1 ratio of students to full-time equivalent professors. Among full-time faculty, 37 percent are members of racial minority groups, 45 percent are women, and 97 percent have a doctorate or other terminal degree in their field. Students and professors often form close relationships, and the college provides faculty with free meals to encourage them to eat with students. Semesters end with a week-long final examination period preceded by two reading days. The college operates several resource centers to help students develop academic skills in quantitative tasks, writing, and foreign languages.
Research, study abroad, and professional development
More than half of Pomona students conduct research with faculty. The college sponsors an annual Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), in which more than 200 students are paid a stipend of up to $5,600 to conduct research with professors or pursue independent research projects with professorial mentorship. The Pomona College Humanities Studio, established in 2018, supports research in the humanities. Pomona is home to the Pacific Basin Institute, a research institute that studies issues pertaining to the Pacific Rim. The Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity, colloquially termed "the Hive", was established in 2015 to support creative learning.
Pomona's Career Development Office is in Alexander Hall.
The Pomona College Career Development Office (CDO) provides students and alumni with career advising, networking, and other pre-professional opportunities. It runs the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP), which provides stipends for completing unpaid or underpaid internships during the semester or summer; more than 250 students participate annually. The office connects students with alumni for networking and mentoring via the Sagehen Connect platform. During the 2015–2016 academic year, 175 employers hosted on-site informational events at the Claremont Colleges and 265 unique organizations were represented in 9 career fairs.
For the 2015 through 2018 entering classes, 97 percent of students returned for their second year, giving Pomona one of the highest retention rates of any college or university in the U.S. For the 2015 entering class, 86 percent of students graduated within four years (the highest rate of any U.S. liberal arts college) and 93 percent graduated within six years.
The top industries for graduates are technology; education; consulting and professional services; finance; government, law, and politics; arts, entertainment, and media; healthcare and social services; nonprofits; and research. Pomona alumni earn a median early career salary of $73,700 and a median mid-career salary of $146,400, according to 2021 survey data from compensation analytics company PayScale.
Pomona is considered the most prestigious liberal arts college in the Western United States and one of the most prestigious in the country. However, among the broader public, it has less name recognition than many larger schools.
Pomona has rated similarly in other college rankings. In 2015, the Forbes ranking placed it first among all colleges and universities in the U.S., drawing media attention. Pomona is the third most desirable college or university in the U.S., according to a 2020 analysis of admitted students' revealed preferences among their college choices conducted by the digital credential service Parchment.
Pomona has the lowest acceptance rate of any national liberal arts college in the U.S. as of 2021[update]. The college admitted 6.6 percent of applicants for the 2021 entering class, 58.5 percent of whom chose to enroll. The number of transfer applicants admitted has varied by year; in 2021, Pomona admitted 39 of 465 applicants (8.3 percent).
Race and ethnicity of students (fall 2022 semester)†
Pacific Islander (0.5%)
Native American (0.2%)
† "Hispanic" includes Hispanics of any race. All other categories refer to non-Hispanics.
As of the fall 2022 semester[update], Pomona's student body consists of 1,777 degree-seeking undergraduate students and a token number of non–degree seeking students. Compared to its closest liberal arts peers, Pomona has been characterized as laid back, academically oriented, mildly quirky, and politically liberal.
The student body is roughly evenly split between men and women, and 91 percent of students are under 22 years old. Approximately 62 percent of domestic students are non-white and 12 percent of students are international, making Pomona one of the most racially and ethnically diverse colleges in the U.S. The geographic origins of the student body are also diverse, with all 50 U.S. states, the major U.S. territories, and more than 60 foreign countries represented. Twenty-seven percent of students are from California, with sizable concentrations from the other western states. The median family income of students was $166,500 as of 2013[update], with 52 percent of students coming from the top 10 percent highest-earning families and 22 percent from the bottom 60 percent. The college has been increasing its enrollment of low-income students since the early 2000s, and was ranked second among all private institutions and eighth among all institutions in The New York Times' 2017 College Access Index, a measure of economic diversity. Various religious and spiritual beliefs are represented among students, with many leaning secular.
Among students in the 2021 entering class who submitted test scores, the middle 50 percent scored 730–770 on the SAT evidence-based reading and writing section, 740–800 on the SAT math section, and 33–35 on the ACT. Among students with an official high school class rank, 30 percent were valedictorians, 93 percent ranked in the top tenth, and all ranked in the top quarter.
Pomona is a residential campus, and nearly all students live on campus for all four years in one of the college's sixteen residence halls. All first-year students live on South Campus, and most third- and fourth-year students live on North Campus. Housing is offered in various configurations, including singles, one-room or two-room doubles, and "friendship suites" consisting of a cluster of rooms, often around a central common area. All incoming students are placed into a sponsor group, with ten to twenty peers and two or three upper-class "sponsors" tasked with easing the transition to college life but not enforcing rules (a duty given to resident advisors). Sponsor groups often share activities such as "fountaining", a tradition in which students are thrown into a campus fountain on their birthday. The program dates back to 1927 for women and was expanded in 1950 to include men.
Pomona's social scene is intertwined with that of the other 5Cs, with many activities and events shared between the colleges. The college's alcohol policies are aimed at encouraging responsible consumption and include a strict ban of hard liquor on South Campus. Dedicated substance-free housing is also offered. Overall, drinking culture is present but does not dominate over other elements of campus life, nor does athletics culture. Violations of the student code are typically handled by the student-run Judicial Council, known as "J-Board".
Pomona's dining services are run in house. All on-campus students are required to have a meal plan, which can be used at any of the Claremont Colleges' seven buffet-style dining halls.[i] The menus emphasize sustainable and healthy options, and the food quality is generally praised. Every night Sunday through Wednesday, Frary Dining Hall opens for a late-night snack. Meal plans also include "Flex Dollars" usable at the various campus eateries, including the Coop Fountain, Coop Store, and sit-down Café 47 in the SCC.
Some extracurricular organizations at Pomona are specific to the college, whereas others are open to students at all of the Claremont Colleges. In total, there are nearly 300 clubs and organizations across the 5Cs.
The Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) is Pomona's official student government. Composed of elected representatives and appointed committee members, ASPC distributes funding for clubs and organizations, represents the student body in discussions with the administration, runs student programming (such as the Yule Ball dance and Ski-Beach Day) through the Pomona Events Committee (PEC), and provides various student services such as an airport rideshare program.
There are several media organizations at the Claremont Colleges, the largest of which is The Student Life, the oldest college newspaper in Southern California. It publishes a weekly print edition as well as online content. Pomona also has a student-run radio station, KSPC. The Claremont Independent, a conservative magazine, has produced articles about the 5Cs' political culture that have been picked up by national conservative media outlets and drawn criticism from many students.The Golden Antlers publishes satirical content. Pomona's yearbook, Metate, was founded in 1894 and discontinued in 2012. The college's official magazine, Pomona College Magazine, is published three times per year by the communications office.
Pomona has numerous clubs or support offices which provide resources and mentoring programs for students with particular identities, including female, non-white, Asian, South Asian, Latino, black, indigenous, multi-ethnic or multi-racial, international, queer, religious, and undocumented or DACA recipient students.[j] The college's first-generation and low-income community, FLI Scholars, has more than 200 members. The Campus Advocates and EmPOWER Center support survivors of sexual violence and work to promote consent culture.
On the Loose (OTL), the outing club of the 5Cs, sponsors trips to outdoors destinations. Its flagship event, an annual hike up Mount Baldy in swimwear or goofy costumes, can draw more than 100 participants. It is affiliated with the Outdoor Education Center of Pomona College (OEC), which lends equipment to students for free and provides outdoor leadership training.
The Pomona Student Union (PSU) facilitates the discussion of political and social issues on campus by hosting discussions, panels, and debates with prominent speakers holding diverse viewpoints. Other speech and debate organizations include a mock trial team, model UN team, and debate union. Pomona's secret society, Mufti, is known for gluing small sheets of paper around campus with cryptic puns offering social commentary on campus happenings.
There are several dance groups on campus, including the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company (CCBDC), which has more than 130 dancers and has won multiple national championships. The Pomona College Theater Department produces four mainstage productions and a dance concert each year, and there are several smaller student-run productions as well. The 5Cs have two improv groups, Without a Box and Underground Theatrical Institution (UTI).
Pomona's music department manages several ensembles, including an orchestra, band, choir, glee club, jazz ensemble, and Balinese gamelan ensemble. All students can receive free private music lessons. There are eight a cappella groups on campus. One, the Claremont Shades, hosts the annual SCAMFest concert, which draws singers from other Southern California colleges.
Students on Alternabreak, a week-long community engagement trip held over spring break, care for trees in a Los Angeles park.
The Draper Center for Community Partnerships, established in 2009, coordinates Pomona's various community engagement programs. These include mentoring for local youth communities, English tutoring for Pomona staff, and volunteering trips over spring break. It also operates the Pomona Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), a three-year pre-college summer program for local low-income and first-generation students of color.
The number 47 has historical implications to the college and has been incorporated into various aspects of campus life. The tradition began in the summer of 1964, when two students, Laurie Mets and Bruce Elgin, conducted a research project seeking to find out whether the number occurs more often in nature than would be expected by chance. They documented various 47 sightings, and professor Donald Bentley produced a false mathematical proof that 47 was equal to all other integers. The number became a meme among the class, which spread once the academic year began and snowballed over time.
Notable 47 sightings include the fact that Pomona is located off of exit 47 of Interstate 10, and the fact that the largest residential building on campus, Mudd-Blaisdell (formally Florence Carrier Blaisdell and Della Mullock Mudd Hall, a title with 47 characters), was completed in 1947 and contains a staircase with 47 balusters.
Many Pomona alumni have deliberately inserted 47 references into their work.Joe Menosky (class of 1979), a writer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, inserted 47 mentions into nearly every episode of the show, a practice that has been picked up by other Star Trek writers. Pomona hosts a community service–oriented celebration every April 7 (abbreviated 4/7 in the U.S.). In the early 2010s, the college's clock tower was set up to chime on the 47th minute of the hour.
As part of Pomona's 10-day orientation, incoming students spend four days off campus completing an "Orientation Adventure" or "OA" trip. The OA program began in 1995, and is one of the oldest outdoor orientation programs in the U.S.
Every spring, the college hosts "Ski-Beach Day", in which students visit a ski resort in the morning and then head to the beach after lunch. The tradition dates back to an annual mountain picnic established in 1891.
Pomona's "Green Bikes" program maintains a fleet of more than 300 bicycles that are rented free to students each semester. The college has several Zipcar vehicles on campus that may be rented and owns vehicles that can be checked out for club and extracurricular purposes. PEC and SCC off-campus events are usually served with the college's "Sagecoach" passenger bus.
Club and intramural sports are also offered in various areas, such as dodgeball, flag football, and surfing. The physical education department offers a variety of activity classes each semester, such as karate, playground games, geocaching, and social dance.
The football team in 1911
Pomona's first intercollegiate sports teams were formed in 1895. They competed under several names in the school's early years; the name "Sagehen" first appeared in 1913 and became the sole moniker in 1917. Pomona was one of the three founding members of the SCIAC in 1914, and its football team played in the inaugural game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1923. In 1946, Pomona joined with Claremont Men's College (which would later be renamed Claremont McKenna College) to compete as Pomona-Claremont. The teams separated in 1956, and Pomona's athletics program operated independently until it joined with Pitzer College in 1970.
^The college also frequently uses gold as an accent color, and its athletics teams use blue and orange to represent both Pomona and Pitzer, its athletics partner.
^The Clark numberings are derived from Spaulding's original plan for North Campus. Clark II became Frary Dining Hall, Clark VI became Walker Hall, and Clark VII became Walker Lounge; Clark IV and Clark VIII were never built.
^The unelected trustees consist of the college's president and two non-voting ex-officio members, the chair of the alumni association and chair of national giving. At least 10 trustees must be alumni, including one who has graduated within the last 11 years.
^"David Alexander". Los Angeles Times. July 27, 2010. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved August 14, 2020. David Alexander, 77, who brought national standing to Pomona College during a two-decade tenure as president, died Sunday
^"1984". Pomona College Timeline. Pomona College. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
^Nishimura, Mikiko; Kim, Allen; Bhatt, Bhuwan Shankar (2019). "Policies and Practices of Diversity and Inclusion in Liberal Arts Colleges". Doing Liberal Arts Education: The Global Case Studies. Singapore: Springer Nature. p. 113. ISBN978-981-13-2877-0.