President Pamela Gann Speaks to Senate

At 9:30 last night in Bauer Forum, the President of Claremont McKenna College, Pamela Gann, addressed the ASCMC Senators and CMC students.  Immediately after Miles Bird was sworn in as ASCMC’s new Vice President, Gann took the stage to present her plan for the future and answer questions from the student body in an open forum - for the first time since the SAT scandal of late January. She began by outlining her plans for the immediate future and coming academic year.  She addressed speculation that the school was planning on growing by replying, “We are over-enrolled.  In the immediate future our goal is to get us rebalanced a little bit…Each students costs more than what [they] actually pay to attend the college.”  She allowed that the school did have future plans to grow to about 1600 and that CMC is currently purchasing 40 acres of land to the East of campus to allow for growth in the future.

Gann discussed the upcoming North Mall renovations that will take place this summer and will be completed by the time students return to campus.  She explained they will, “double the width of the space of the Emett student center” and provide much more outside seating.  As far as long-term projects go, Gann stated that her number one goal was a new fitness and athletics center.  She elaborated that besides facilities for physical education requirements and varsity athletics, the new center will provide an “arena [that] would seat 2000 people” and host athletic events as well as non-athletic events such as speakers and concerts.

She addressed concerns that there are not enough 24 hour study spaces on campus by noting that security measures such as surveillance cameras and keycard access need to be added before expanding the hours of the spaces that already exist.  Gann did note, however, that hopefully by next year the Kravis Living Room, the Crockett Reading Room, the Hub, and several classrooms will be open 24 hours.

Gann listed the new faculty that have officially been hired, citing additions in the Keck Science faculty and the Robert Day School of Economics, in addition to new professors with expertise in British literature, neuropsychology, economic development with an emphasis on Africa, European history, and Holocaust Studies.  She announced the progress of CMC’s fundraising campaign stating, “we have a goal of $600 million which will be the largest campaign for a liberal arts college.” Gann lauded the campaign’s success and revealed that it has already raised $525 million towards the initial goal.

As soon as the floor was opened to questions, the first student called upon addressed the SAT score manipulation, Gann’s reluctance to speak with the student body, and her future plans to repair the school’s reputation.  Gann noted that the independent review is nearing completion and will be made publicly available on the website as soon as it completed.  As far as her lack of a dialogue with students, she explained, “You have to understand that…in the heat of the moment it was more important for the purposes of the college and the college’s reputation that we be very careful about what was being said.”  She pointed to social media as an example of how explanations and discussion could be taken out of context in harmful ways.  Gann continued, “We have spoken with our creditors, we have spoken with the Department of Education… We will continue to be open and transparent.”

Gann further explained that the debacle hasn’t shown any effects on admission yet; only one prospective student has asked to be moved from Early Decision 2 to the Regular Decision applicant pool.  She also pointed out the silver lining, “This had to do with an administrator, it didn’t have anything to do with you and I can think of ten worse things that could have happened.”

The next student asked about the Mid Quad renovations that are to take place in the next two years.  Gann replied, “We are not tearing any buildings down.  We are stripping them in that they will be totally redone on the inside, there may be some renovations and additions. They are expensive renovations but we are not taking down the walls.”  She also mentioned the possibility of about a dozen rooms being added to the West side of Marks.  In response to a follow-up question about the Kravis reflection pool she explained that it “will be repaired this summer and it will be a reflecting pool but we’ve got to take out a lot of it and find out what the problem was.  We just didn’t want to disrupt campus for as many weeks as that would take.”

In the final question of the night, a student expressed frustration at CMC trying to fund a new athletic center in light of the fact that there is no art, dance, or music building on campus.  Gann explained the limited art presence on campus by responding, “The arts are definitely in the Claremont colleges, so we in the consortium subspecialize.”  Further, she noted that several other campuses have facilities in that vein that are available to CMC students, so CMC has chosen to focus on other departments that are its specialty.  She concluded by saying, “We do have a campus center in the Master Plan where we will have gallery space and performance space, but that is not a formal department.  I don’t see that changing anytime soon.“  And with that final note, Pamela Gann thanked the assembled students for the opportunity to speak and the Senate continued on to other official business.