After 46 years at CMC, Professor Ward Elliott will retire from teaching in May 2014. Elliott, the Burnet C. Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions, has been a professor at CMC since 1968 – then, Claremont Men’s College – and has taught the Politics portion of the Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) major curriculum since 1986, along with other government courses at CMC.

Prof. Elliott with PPE students, Thesis Day 2009
Prof. Elliott with PPE students, Thesis Day 2009

In addition to Professor Elliott’s large role in CMC’s PPE program and Government department, Elliott’s tenure at CMC has also included the successful promotion of the Truman Scholarship program to CMC students and coaching the Claremont Rugby Team. Additionally, he has written over 40 pages of CMC history, and lists “Putting CMC on the map” as one of his foremost causes on his webpage.

Outside of CMC, Elliott has been an influential voice in smog policy in Southern California. Elliott was President of the Coalition for Clean Air between 1980 and 1986, and is credited with creating the concept of High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes.

Aside from his work researching and teaching in government, Elliott’s expertise also includes extensive research regarding the works of William Shakespeare. Founder of the Claremont Shakespeare Clinic, of which he was the co-advisor from 1987 to 1994, Elliott has co-authored multiple publications with fellow CMC professor Robert Valenza examining Shakespeare’s supposed authorship of the works accredited to him.

In emails to his advisees as well as PPE students and alumni, Elliott announced this month that he will take a sabbatical next fall and return for the Spring 2014 semester to teach PPE Politics for the last time. Regarding his upcoming retirement, Elliott wrote in one email that he is getting “ready to step down next year with some very happy memories.” Another of his emails also stated that he has been allowed to retain his office in the Kravis Center for a period of three years following his retirement. “I expect to be around many a late pm,” Elliott wrote to advisees, explaining that he will continue to be accessible on campus.

Looking towards the future of the PPE program after his retirement, Professor Elliott suggested that his successor as PPE’s professor of the Politics segment “will most likely be my colleague, George Thomas,” wrote Elliott. Thomas is currently an Associate Professor of Government at CMC, whose expertise is in American constitutionalism.


  1. “Another of his emails also stated that he has been allowed to retain his office in the Kravis Center for a period of three years following his retirement.” Pretty sure that’s for cleaning

  2. LOTS of alumni will miss him, and his famous singing parties. Some of us have kept showing up there over the years… Have a great retirement – you’ve earned it in spades!

  3. PPE with Prof. Elliott was the best! He is one of the main reasons I wanted to come to CMC, and he did not disappoint. He will be missed, but I am sure he will continue to hold his singing parties to celebrate well into the future!

  4. Professor Elliott changed my world-view. I am very happy to have taken his seminar. What a great sense of humor and warm spirit, always taking pictures, telling stories, and hosting parties. He and Myrna also donated books to my classroom when I became a teacher. Thank you professor Elliott for everything!

  5. One of the sweetest ol’ gents I’ve ever met. Extremely open to all opinions, nonjudgmental, and loves his students unconditionally. I cannot overemphasize how lovely of a person Professor Elliott is!

  6. Professor Elliot consistently and successfully helped his students appreciate the absurdity of American politics through humor. The love he had for his students and the CMC community was always on display. He will be missed dearly.

  7. The PPE Class of 2011 (more popularly known as the Lewds) came together because of Professor Elliott. From suspicious pinatas to “killer” voting contests, our class was very much hrown outside of the box — and we enjoyed every second of it. Thanks, Professor Elliott, for being the reason we 12 came together and for making our college experience in the biggest way.

    We’re expecting many more singing parties and flip cup games to come even post-retirement — we can’t get enough of him!

  8. Our PPE class trip to the Chino Prison Transfer Facility continues to remind me to stay on the straight and narrow!

  9. Ward Elliott was, is, and will remain a CMC institution and our school won’t be the same without him. In every class and throughout every interaction he was always kind, inquisitive, provocative, and will undoubtedly be missed. Thanks, Ward (and Myrna!) for everything!

  10. I’m still dealing with the guilt (and over-guilt) that it’s been so many years since my last singing party. WE – if the rumors are correct, come sabbatical in Athens. The sun always shines, the people are beautiful, and (if you go to enough receptions) you never pay for your own drinks…Gree is surprisingly like CMC!

  11. Elliott showed us that we did not need to take ourselves too seriously. I am not sure how much of our semester was based on politics, and how much it was just a really awesome check about our role in the world. I still remember most of the books we studied during that semester, and I consider it one of the highlights of my CMC life. Did he ever finish that book?

  12. I can feel the Earth quaking beneath me (even here in Sweden) as I hear the news. Ward Elliott is a CMC and PPE institution, a kind and generous man, and his years of service and dedication are an example to us all. The singing parties were magnificent. Here’s to you, Ward. Skål!

  13. Thank you, Prof. Elliott, for all you have done for the entire CMC community over the past half century. What a remarkable gift you’ve given to all those who’ve had the good fortune to cross your path.

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