History of The Claremont Colleges

The Claremont Consortium:
“A Unique Model for American Higher Education”

My own very deep hope is that instead of one great, undifferentiated university, we might have 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. In this way I should hope to preserve the inestimable personal values of the small college while securing the facilities of the great university. —James A. Blaisdell, 1923

James Blaisdell’s vision

James Blaisdell’s vision gave rise to the consortium of educational institutions known as The Claremont Colleges. The Claremont Consortium was officially born on October 14, 1925, when Robert J. Bernard, the assistant to President Blaisdell at Pomona College, filed in Sacramento the articles of incorporation for The Claremont Colleges. This day was especially chosen because it also marked the 38th anniversary of the founding of Pomona College, the first of several allied colleges that would be established in Claremont. Blaisdell thereby created not only an alliance that is now widely recognized as one of the nation’s greatest centers of liberal arts education, but also a central coordinating agency for the consortium - an organization known today as the Claremont University Consortium.

The Claremont University Consortium started in 1925 as "The Claremont Colleges." In 1944, the "s" was dropped, and it became Claremont College. In 1961, the name was changed to Claremont University College; two years later, to Claremont Graduate School and University Center. Then in 1967, it was given the current name, Claremont University Center, in an effort to describe more adequately the organization’s scope and purpose. July 1, 2000, Claremont University Consortium was founded as a free-standing educational support institution of The Claremont Colleges. It carries the same duties and responsibilities as were formerly assigned to the Central Programs & Services of Claremont University Center, along with the charge to assist with group planning, the founding of new colleges and to hold lands for future expansion of the group.

The Colleges today

Seven educational institutions now constitute The Claremont Colleges: Pomona College, founded in 1887; Claremont Graduate University, 1925; Scripps College, 1926: Claremont McKenna College, 1946; Harvey Mudd College, 1955; Pitzer College, 1963; and the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, 1997.

The Claremont Colleges enroll more than 6,300 full-time students. The combined faculty consists of nearly 700 professors, with approximately 1600 staff and support personnel. Presently more than 2000 courses are offered to students attending the colleges. This is an impressive academic assemblage for an area that is only one square mile, and it is a classic example of the whole exceeding the sum of its parts.

Each year, students take roughly 6000 courses at a campus other than their home campus — about 16 percent of the total courses offered. This cross-registration is one of the consortium's most remarkable qualities. Undergraduate students experience the advantage of an array of course offerings found only in the most select universities.

The Claremont Colleges are now nationally and internationally renowned for academic excellence.

Intercollegiate cooperation

To work out specific issues of intercollegiate cooperation, the consortium maintains an extensive and highly effective network of intercollegiate committees. These range from a broad policy council to the highly focused and functional staff and faculty committees. These are more than a dozen such bodies contributing to the effective management and oversight of the consortium.

The group also benefits from an unparalleled level of cooperation in terms of support services. The Claremont Colleges Library is a superb example of this. The library collection ranks third among the private institutions in California, behind only Stanford and USC, and it is clearly larger than any one of the schools could afford to own on its own. "Pooling resources" and cooperation help to realize President Blaisdell’s dream of creating in Claremont a consortium with the resources of a major university and the intimacy of small colleges.

The colleges also share a variety of student support services, provided by CUC including the Student Health Service, Monsour Counseling Center, an interfaith office of chaplains, and a central bookstore, (Huntley Bookstore). Institutional support is also cooperatively provided in such areas as campus security, financial and human resource services, telecommunications, risk management, real estate, and physical plant maintenance. This level of cooperation is unmatched by any of the nearly 100 college consortia in existence throughout the country. Cooperation among colleges appears to be the wave of the future in higher education, and Claremont is already on the crest of the wave.

An evolving vision

Much has changed in the seven decades of The Claremont Colleges, and the. This evolution inspires a vital spirit of adventure and exploration, which President Blaisdell acknowledged in 1953 in his last address to the combined boards of The Claremont Colleges: "What is coming?" he asked. "We are only at the beginning. We are founders. We are the pioneers. The future beckons."

The Claremont Colleges

  • Pomona College’s comprehensive liberal arts curriculum emphasizes the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. It awards the bachelor of arts degree.
  • Claremont Graduate University awards master’s and doctoral degrees through five academic centers - in the humanities, social sciences, psychology, math, botany, fine arts, education, information science, management, and executive management.
  • Scripps College is the consortium’s liberal arts college for women, offering the bachelor of arts degree in 35 majors.
  • Founded as Claremont Men’s College, Claremont McKenna College, now a coeducational campus, offers a liberal arts curriculum with special emphasis in economics, government, and international relations.
  • Specializing in science, math, and engineering, Harvey Mudd College offers the bachelor of science degree but also includes coursework in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Pitzer College offers more than 30 majors in the sciences and humanities in a curriculum that encourages social responsibility and self-direction.
  • Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences offers a professional Master of Bioscience (MBS) degree as well as a PhD in Applied Life Science for MBS graduates. It also offers a Postdoctoral Professional Masters (PPM), a Postbaccalaureate Premedical Certificate Program, and a joint PhD program in Computational Biology with Claremont Graduate University.

Last updated: 9/8/2010 8:27:01 AM