Presidents Meet in Unique Discussion Panel

The presidents of the five undergraduate institutions of the Claremont Consortium, as well as the CEO of the Consortium, met for the first time in fifty years on February 28. Pitzer College’s president Laura Trombley was unable to attend, but sent a substitute member of Pitzer’s administrative staff in her place. The six school leaders came together to form a discussion panel which discussed a number of current policy issues at the 5C’s, as well as the future of the consortium as a whole.

(Watch a video of the event here.)

Organized by the Forum and the Pomona Student Union, the event took place in the Little Bridges Auditorium on Pomona’s campus, and was moderated by CMC’s Michael Wilner, editor-in-chief of the Forum.

The event was organized into two sections. First, Wilner asked each of the presidents to respond to three preplanned questions, then students in the audience were allowed to ask questions of the panel.

In the first portion, Wilner first asked the Presidents to comment on the nature of competition between the schools, specifically whether or not it limits the schools capabilities to publish research papers as separate entities rather than as one institution. Robert Walton, CEO of the consortium, pointed out that “There are times when [the five schools] are very competitive with each other, … but they are equally as strong in their collaboration. I do think that the competition actually adds a lot of value.”

In response to another question, this time regarding the different alcohol policies of the different schools and how they play off against each other, Claremont McKenna’s President, Pamela Gann, discussed the school’s alcohol policy, which can be described as one of the most liberal of the colleges. She stated, “I do think one of the inevitable roles of college is socialization of students to appropriate uses of alcohol.” Harvey Mudd College’s President Maria Klawe added that “We have really upped the alcohol education” as a means of keeping students safe.”

The candor of the event was exceptional, and each of the Presidents was professional, while at the same time demonstrating some of the same good-natured competitiveness that the students of the 5C’s know and love so well. Mr. Walton summed up the shared attitude of the Presidents best when he offered his closing remark, saying “I’m sure in thirty years, all these great colleges will be better but, right now, this is the number one consortium in the United States, hands down.”