The Claremont Colleges (known colloquially as the 7Cs) are a consortium of seven highly selective institutions of higher education located in Claremont, California, United States. They comprise five undergraduate colleges (the 5Cs) — Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College (CMC), Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College — and two graduate schools — Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and Keck Graduate Institute (KGI). All of the members except KGI have adjoining campuses that together cover roughly 1 square mile (2.6 km2).
The consortium was founded in 1925 by Pomona president James A. Blaisdell, who proposed a collegiate university design inspired by Oxford University. He sought to provide the specialization, flexibility, and personal attention commonly found in small colleges, but with the resources of a large university. Today, the consortium has roughly 7700 students and 3600 faculty and staff, and offers more than 2000 courses every semester.
The colleges share a central library, campus safety services, and other resources. Among the undergraduate schools, there is significant social interaction and academic cross-registration, but each college still maintains a distinct identity. For the Class of 2020 admissions cycle, four of the five most selective liberal art colleges in the U.S. by acceptance rate were among the Claremont Colleges, and the remaining college, Scripps, had the second lowest acceptance rate among women's colleges. The Fiske Guide to Colleges has called the consortium "a collection of intellectual resources unmatched in America".
The five undergraduate colleges are:
- Pomona College (founded 1887), a small, coeducational, liberal arts college that offers majors in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Pomona College is the founding member of the Claremont Colleges.
- Scripps College (founded 1926), a small, liberal arts, women's college, which offers 35 majors in both the sciences and humanities.
- Claremont McKenna College (founded 1946), a small, coeducational, liberal arts college that specializes in economics, political science, international relations, and public policy. It also maintains a broad set of majors in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Claremont McKenna College is also home to the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance, which offers both an undergraduate program and a master's program in finance.
- Harvey Mudd College (founded 1955), a small, coeducational college specializing in engineering, mathematics, computer science, and the physical and biological sciences but also includes coursework in the humanities and social sciences.
- Pitzer College (founded 1963), a small, coeducational, liberal arts college noted for its core values of Social Responsibility, Intercultural Understanding, Interdisciplinary Learning, Student Engagement and Environmental Sustainability. Pitzer is part of the SAT optional movement among liberal arts colleges.
The two graduate universities are:
- Claremont Graduate University (founded 1925), awards master's and doctoral degrees in 31 disciplines: arts, humanities, social sciences, behavioral & organizational sciences, management/executive management, psychology, educational studies, religion, mathematical sciences, information systems & technology, community & global health, and botany.
- Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences (founded 1997), a biomedical graduate school offers professional Master of Bioscience (MBS) degree and PhD in Applied Life Science for MBS graduates. It also offers a Postdoctoral Professional Masters (PPM) and a joint PhD program in computational biology with Claremont Graduate University. The Keck Graduate Institute School of Pharmacy opened in 2014 offering a four-year Doctorate of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.). Keck Graduate Institute also sponsors a four-year undergraduate program in collaboration with the Minerva Project, termed Minerva Schools at KGI, though students are not physically present on the Claremont Colleges campuses.
According to the American Liberal Arts College rankings released by U.S. News & World Report in fall 2018, the "5Cs" were ranked among the top 50 liberal art colleges in the United States: Pomona College (#5), Claremont McKenna College (#9), Harvey Mudd College (#18), Scripps College (#30), and Pitzer College (#41). Additionally, all of the undergraduate colleges are categorized as "Most Selective". Forbes ranked the 5C's among the top 60 undergraduate colleges (including universities and military academies) in the nation and within the top 25 liberal arts colleges for its 2017 report: Pomona College (#10 overall, #1 LAC), Claremont McKenna College (#11 overall, #2 LAC), Harvey Mudd College (#18 overall, #5 LAC), Scripps College (#43 overall, #16 LAC), and Pitzer College (#59 overall, #23 LAC). Niche listed all of the undergraduate colleges within the top 30 small colleges in the United States as measured by surveys rating various components of the undergraduate experience: Pomona College (#2), Harvey Mudd College (#5), Claremont McKenna College (#10), Scripps College (#22), and Pitzer College (#29). U.S. News & World Report also releases individual graduate program rankings for the Claremont Graduate University, with several of its programs ranking in the top tier of graduate programs nationwide.
Shared facilities, programs, and resources
Each college is independent in that, for example, students receive their degrees from the one college in which they are enrolled, and administration and admissions departments are independent. The seven-institution Claremont Colleges system is supported by The Claremont Colleges Services (TCCS), which provides centralized services, such as a library, student health, financial and human resources, telecommunications, risk management, real estate, physical plant maintenance, and other services, for those colleges.
Shared facilities include the Libraries of the Claremont Colleges, Campus Safety, the Tranquada Student Services Center (which houses Baxter Medical Center, Monsour Counseling Center, and the Health Education Outreach), McAlister Center (home of the Office of the Chaplains and the Claremont Card Center), EmPOWER Center (which works to address sexual violence), the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (The Hive), the Huntley Bookstore, all dining facilities, and several sports facilities. The Claremont Colleges Library is an example of the level of cooperation in terms of support services. The size of the library collection ranks third among the private institutions in California, behind only Stanford and USC.
Shared academic departments include the Intercollegiate Women's Studies Center, the Intercollegiate Department of Chicano Studies, the Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies, the Intercollegiate Department of Black Studies, the Intercollegiate Department of Religious Studies, the Intercollegiate Department of Media Studies, and the Five-College Theater Department.
Shared intercollegiate programs include the European Union Center of California, the Chicano/Latino Student Affairs Center, the Office of Black Student Affairs, the Office of the Chaplains, Hillel, and the Queer Resource Center.
In addition, three of the Claremont Colleges—Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, and Scripps College—share a single science program. These three colleges pool their resources to create the largest academic department in Claremont, the Joint Science Department. Many research projects and courses utilize the Robert J. Bernard Field Station, an 86-acre (35 ha) natural area which consists principally of the rare Coastal Sage Scrub ecosystem.
Many clubs are open to students from all the undergraduate colleges. The Student Life, the largest student newspaper at the 5Cs, covers all five schools and publishes a weekly print edition as well as online content. KSPC 88.7 FM is the non-profit community radio station associated with the Claremont Colleges. Students from the colleges host KSPC shows and help run the station.
Comparison of undergraduate colleges
Before the idea of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona College was founded in 1887. Pomona began after a group of congregationalists envisioned a “New England-type” college on the West Coast. Pomona College relocated to Claremont, California after the college acquired an unfinished hotel in Claremont. And 23 years later, James A. Blaisdell became president of Pomona. Though in 1923, Pomona College faced a problem. The school’s population was growing. Thus, Pomona either had to go against their ideals of expanding or limit the amount of growth at the college. James Blaisdell developed a different option. He advised the college chose to form a consortium of differentiated small colleges, modeled after Oxford and Cambridge. In October 1923, President James A. Blaisdell of Pomona College wrote to Ellen Browning Scripps describing a vision of educational excellence he had for the future Claremont Colleges:
I cannot but believe that we shall need here in the South [of California] a suburban educational institution of the range of Stanford. 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 on the 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. Such a development would be a new and wonderful contribution to American education. Now the thing which would assure this future institution to Southern California is land ... It is now or never. To save the needed land for educational use seems to me to guarantee to Southern California one of the great educational institutions of America. Other hands through the centuries will carry on the project and perfect it. But never again can there come so fundamental a service as this.
The start of the Claremont Colleges came in 1925 with the addition of a graduate school, now known as Claremont Graduate University. The college was originally known as Claremont College and began to function in 1927. The second addition came in 1926 when Ellen Browning Scripps founded Scripps College. Scripps College allowed Ellen Browning Scripps to put-forth her plan of a school which offered women access to a higher education, to better their professional careers and to better their personal lives. Scripps College officially opened in 1927. In 1946, 86 students and 7 faculty members formed the fourth institution of the Claremont Colleges, known as Claremont McKenna College. CMC was formed as a fully male undergraduate school until women were admitted in 1976. In 1955, Harvey Mudd College became the fifth institute in the consortium. HMC was founded by Harvey Seeley Mudd, a former chairman of the Board of Fellows of Claremont College. He envisioned an undergraduate college in the consortium that focused its education in science and engineering. In 1963, Pitzer College joined the Claremont Colleges. Pitzer was founded as a college for woman focusing in social and behavioral college. Later in 1970, Pitzer enrolled 80 men. The school was named after Russell K. Pitzer, an important benefactor in the development of the institution. The final and seventh college to join the consortium was Keck Graduate Institute. KGI was founded in 1997 after a $50 million donation from W.M. Keck Foundation. The graduate school focuses on post-graduate biomedical applications. Alongside the institutions, Claremont College Services was founded on July 1, 2000. The Claremont College Services provides educational support to all the institutions in the consortium. Specifically, TCCS aids in projects of group planning, establishment of new institutions into the consortium and hold expansion lands.
Pomona College and Pitzer College compete together as the Pomona-Pitzer (PP) Sagehens. Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College also compete together as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) Stags (for male teams) and Athenas (for female teams). The teams participate in NCAA Division III in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). In the Division III Final Standings for the 2016-2017 year, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps ranked 4th nationally, while Pomona-Pitzer ranked 29th; they were the top two performers in the SCIAC.
Club and intramural sports
In addition to the Stags/Athenas and the Sagehens, there are several 5C club sports teams.
The roller hockey club, the Claremont Centaurs, won the Division 3 Championship of the West Coast Roller Hockey League in 2009–2010, 2010–2011, and 2011–2012.
The women's ultimate team reached Nationals in 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and won the tournament in 2012, and the men's ultimate frisbee were 2008 Southern California Sectional champions and 2011 Division III National champions.
In popular culture
The Claremont Colleges are referenced in Max Brooks's 2006 apocalyptic horror novel World War Z, in which the students at the colleges hold off 10,000 zombies by fortifying Scripps's walled campus. Brooks is an alumnus of Pitzer.
- James A. Blaisdell, the creator of the Claremont Colleges, declared in 1923 "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."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Claremont Colleges.|
- Claremont Colleges website
- Website of The Student Life, the 5C newspaper
- Claremont Colleges Photo Archive in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library