Pitzer@Home Community Features

Here you will find our community features and profiles from our Pitzer@Home Central newsletter. Want to recieve this communication? Make sure we have your updated email information here.

  • June 15, 2022 - Faculty Spotlight: Nancy S.B. Williams - Associate Professor of Chemistry

    Nancy S.B. Williams, Ph.D - Associate Professor of ChemistryNancy S.B. Williams, associate professor of chemistry, arrived at Claremont in 2003 to begin teaching in the Keck Science Department. Professor Williams, a graduate of Harvey Mudd College, was thrilled to return to Claremont as a professor. As a Keck Science Department chemistry professor, Williams teaches students hailing from Pitzer, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna Colleges. Professor Williams’ courses include General Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and Inorganic Synthesis. Recently, Pitzer@Home caught up with Professor Williams to chat about the Keck Science Department and the evolution of the state-of-the-art facilities dedicated to providing students and faculty with innovative teaching laboratories, classrooms, spaces to study and collaborate indoors and out, and community meeting rooms. 

    Professor Williams was excited to talk about the building of “The Nucleus,” a new student-centric, 65,000-square-foot science center—expected to be completed in Fall 2024. The focus of the new building will be on teaching labs, where faculty will train students in the hands-on practice of science. Williams is looking forward to spaces that allow the laboratory to be the high point of students’ experience with science, because she says science cannot be learned by thinking about it, but only by doing it. 

    For Williams, the study of science is tied to her commitment to social, gender, and environmental justice. She sees science as the practice of learning from the world so that we can do new things in it. What we learn and what we choose to do with that knowledge depends on the questions we ask and the problems we are committed to solving. Keck Science faculty participate in Pitzer community governance, and Williams is a part of the Pitzer discussions and activities advancing the College’s diversity and inclusion core values. Professor Nancy Williams is a proud member of the greater Los Angeles transgender community and sings with the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles. Generous with her time to the three college communities in partnership with the Keck Science Department, Williams speaks publicly about trans and non-binary rights both within the chemistry community and in the broader community. Williams has volunteered with several social justice organizations doing voter canvassing on trans rights, immigrant rights, prison reform, and abortion rights, in locations stretching across the nation. More locally, Williams was involved with the commitment of Scripps College to accept trans women as applicants. She was on the planning committee for the 2017 #Resist March, in which the Los Angeles LGBTQIA+ community replaced the traditional Pride Parade with a march in solidarity with those whose rights and dignity were and remain under attack. She advocates for trans and non-binary health care for our students through Student Health Services and works with a group called Trans Advocacy, Programming, Acceptance, and Support (TAPAS), meeting weekly to find ways to improve structures within Pitzer that impact trans and non-binary students.   

    Thank you, Nancy, for speaking with us, and Happy Pride!

  • May 10, 2022 - Alumni Feature: Brad Johnston '99, Entrepreneur

    Brad Johnston at a free coding class with TanoshiRecently, Brad Johnston ’99 spoke with Pitzer@Home about Pitzer’s impact on his life, his experience as an entrepreneur, and the founding his company Tanoshi. Created in 2016, Tanoshi was based on a mission to build technology products that close gaps in digital learning. This gap begins in kindergarten and grows, causing many students to struggle, particularly those without a computer in their home, missing out on skills such as basic typing.

    Discovering Pitzer and Purpose
    When selecting a college, Brad wanted two things: finding a school with the best education possible and one that fit his beliefs. He chose Pitzer. As a student, Brad worked as the Mead Marquis Library manager, listening in on workshops and lectures while working. During an event, Brad learned about Rotary scholarships; and he knew he had been in the right place at the right time. He wanted one “so bad” that he worked on the application more than in his classes. He was awarded the scholarship and traveled to Australia to earn a master’s degree in Commerce and International Business. The motto for Rotary, “service above self,” was a perfect fit for Brad. While on Rotary, he volunteered in many ways, including the Olympics and Paralympics hosted by Sydney, Australia, in 2000. He also volunteered as a middle school girls’ basketball coach and led afterschool P.E. classes for children of families with low income. It struck Brad realizing that it was not just in America where poverty and opportunity gaps existed. It was in Australia and worldwide. This opportunity gap would become his focus, where he believed he could make the most significant impact.

    Founding a Startup
    Initially, Brad was recruited into Big Tech, where he discovered profit was king. Brad felt out of place as a servant to the community. Brad’s experiences at Pitzer were foundational for questioning the status quo and learning about the experiences of others, cultural identity, and history. Halford Fairchild, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Africana Studies, blew up Brad’s understanding of how America was built on the legacy of slavery. Brad found not only a friend but learning about Chicano Latino history and studies through friendship with Joaquin Calderon ’99, son of José Z. Calderón, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Chicano/a-Latino/a Studies.

    Brad knew the direction in his life would be to run a company. Two co-founding partners joined him, Lisa Love and Greg Smith, and in 2016 Tanoshi, which means “fun” in Japanese, was launched. Tanoshi proved traction after hitting number one on Amazon and appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2020, receiving a $500K deal. For Brad, this underscored you can do good for others and be number one. Feedback from the parents of young users inspires the team and makes the sacrifices worth it, saying, “My child is enjoying learning for the first time,” and “My kid now wants to be a coder!”

    For more about Brad's company, visit tanoshikidscomputers.comPaying it Forward
    Brad started his company to close learning gaps for millions of children and and is currently recruiting for this early-stage startup company. Brad emphasized how important classmates are as a network, sharing advice for the Class of 2022, “Invite each other to connect via LinkedIn (and PitzerConnect) because you never know who will bring you that next opportunity or when you will have an opportunity to give to somebody else.”

    Congratulations, Brad on founding a company dedicated to social justice! Thank you for the interview!

  • April 12, 2022 - Alumni Feature: Marguerite Elliot ‘71, Sculptor

    Marguerite Elliot ’71 flew across the country fifty-five years ago for a new beginning in California at a new college, sight-unseen, named Pitzer College. This adventure kicked off a lifetime of exploration into different things and finding her way. Established just five years earlier, Pitzer College, too, was finding its way.   

    Recently, Pitzer@Home caught up with Marguerite, now a sculptor from the Bay Area who will return to Pitzer in Fall 2022 to exhibit her work with the Pitzer College Art Galleries. For Marguerite, Pitzer was “nontraditional and willing to experiment, with nothing set in stone,” fostering in her the freedom to do the same.

    Joining the Women’s Building
    After graduating with a B.A. in Studio Art, Marguerite joined
    the Woman’s Building for artists in Los Angeles. Her art focused on social and political issues, including feminism, nuclear proliferation, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and homelessness. She created multimedia art installations and collaborative performances staged at Los Angeles City Hall, California Institute for Technology, and other highly visible locations. In a virtual Pitzer College Art Galleries and Pitzer@Home Alumni Artist Talk on October 24, 2020, Marguerite chronicled her activist art career and remarkable experiences at the Woman’s Building. She co-edited The Woman’s Building and Feminist Art Education 1973-1991: A Pictorial Herstory, published in 1991.   

    California Sentinel: Eco Warrior
    California Sentinel: Eco Warrior
    Steel 23K Gold Leaf, Paint, Wire
    144” x 36” x 24”

    What She Learned At Pitzer
    At Pitzer, Marguerite loved working with ceramics and clay and the magic that happens when “you hit something with fire.” Ultimately, Marguerite shifted to steel and became a welder, where she handled a 3,200-degree torch, sculpting art out of steel as elements of nature. She finds inspiration in nature, a source of peace and wellness. Marguerite’s advice to emerging student artists? “Keep trying new things, don’t put constraints on yourself about what you should and shouldn’t do. Plus, plan a third of your time to promote yourself, apply for grants and artist residencies, and collaborate with other artists.” She asserts that “networking and making connections and follow-up are important. It’s not just about being a creative genius.”  

    Her Sentinel Series
    Recently, Marguerite unveiled her series of giant outdoor public sculptures, titled
    Sentinels, that, according to Marguerite, “keep watch over our sacred lands, and symbolize the interface between technology and the environment.” A Sentinel titled “Where Have All the Birds Gone?” will be exhibited later this year at the Newport Beach Sculpture Exhibition just 40 miles southwest of Claremont. Marguerite prefers her art to be in the public sector because “a lot of people see it, it is not hierarchical, and not just in a museum or gallery.” Marguerite’s art pieces in public spaces can rotate from one location to another, exposing her work to a broader audience.   

    Returning to Pitzer
    Watch for more from Marguerite Elliot when she returns to Pitzer College in the Fall with an exhibition on campus hosted by the Pitzer Art Galleries. Until then, connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

  • April 12, 2022 - Faculty Spotlight: Paul Faulstich - Professor of Enviromental Analysis

    Paul FaulstichThis month Pitzer@Home had the opportunity to sit and talk with Paul Faulstich, professor of environmental analysis, who will retire from Pitzer this summer after thirty-one years of teaching. With this chapter coming to a close, Professor Faulstich meditates on his connection to the institution – joining the College community in the 70s as a student, becoming a professor in the 90s, and then years later celebrating his daughter, Karina Faulstich ‘15, who graduated with a self-designed major. Marveling at the depth of his relationship with Pitzer, he relishes the love he feels, noting that, “the College represents stages of my own life.” 

    Professor Faulstich teaches courses in art and environmental studies. Recent classes include Visual Ecology, Restoring Nature: The Pitzer Outlook, and Progress and Oppression: Ecology, Human Rights, and Development. He was a student of and credited his creative spirit to Carl Hertel, Pitzer’s first professor of art and environmental design, who taught at Pitzer from 1966 to 1996. Environmental justice is central to Pitzer’s Environmental Analysis program – humans and the environment working hand in hand. “Having the first program with environmental justice as the backbone and requirement for the major,” Faulstich credits Pitzer as having been at the forefront of the emergence of environmental justice in Environmental Analysis.  

    Faulstich graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Art in 1979. As a student, he did a lot of rock climbing and mountaineering, often spending weekends in the desert. Upon graduation, he received the Watson Fellowship, traveling to Australia to study Aboriginal sacred places, “changing the trajectory of everything” for him. Faulstich conducted his Ph.D. field research in Australia and has returned many times, blending the experience into his role as a professor. “A lot of what I learned from my work with Aboriginal communities became central to my teaching,” Faulstich notes. He has been a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Australia and Visiting Fellow at two Australian universities and maintains deep ties with the Indigenous community of the Central Desert where he worked. 

    Professor Faulstich plans to take this new chapter one page at a time. He plans to continue doing art, maintain his trail camera work, and stay active at The Claremont Colleges by teaching a course in Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He is grateful that his connections with the Pitzer community, landscape, and beyond have been a part of his identity formation. Thank you for the conversation and all you have done at Pitzer, Paul Faulstich. See you at Alumni Weekend 2022 

  • March 18, 2022 - Faculty Spotlight: Barbara Junisbai - Associate Professor of Organizational Studies

    On a recent sunny day, Pitzer@Home sat down with Pitzer College Associate Professor of Organizational Studies, Barbara Junisbai, who began teaching at Pitzer in 2016. Professor Junisbai teaches in Pitzer’s Inside-Out Pathway-to-BA program and is currently the Faculty Co-Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CLT) at The Claremont Colleges. Her research interests include comparative political organizations and institutions, authoritarianism, democratization, post-Soviet politics and society, and learning-centered pedagogy and academic assessment.  

    Professor Junisbai is excited about teaching a course this semester on college through the Inside-Out program, where students examine college as an institution and experience, with a feeling of intensity in every class. She finds that “students are so curious about what others think, and each moment has a sense of urgency – this is our moment.” As a part of the course, the class reads works by former Pitzer students, like senior theses and student organization statements, where reforms were made in response to the call for change. Professor Junisbai encourages students to take a loving approach to their critique. “If we want a strong organization, we need a good feedback loop.” She sees that students feel empowered and understand that critique and feedback can fuel the power to create change.   

    “This is the greatest job I’ve ever had,” Professor Junisbai unequivocally states. Speaking with her during our dynamic interview has been truly inspiring. Currently, alongside Jeff Lewis, associate professor of organizational studies, Professor Junisbai is working with students majoring in Organizational Studies and the Office of Alumni & Family Engagement to create an Org Studies student organization. Alumni are needed more than ever to connect with current students and share their Pitzer experiences and career journeys. We invite Org Studies alumni interested in becoming involved to email engagement@pitzer.edu. 

  • February 15, 2022 - Faculty Spotlight: Tom Borowski - Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

    Tom Borowski, assistant professor of Neuroscience and coordinator of the 5-C Neuroscience Program, arrived at Pitzer in 2004. Two years later, he became the primary coordinator for the Joint Medical Program. Recently, Pitzer@Home caught up with Professor Borowski to learn more about this program. He enjoys running the program and advising small cohorts of students, of whom approximately 75 percent go on to become physicians. Professor Borowski teaches Pitzer courses that include Foundations of Neuroscience, Brain and Behavior, Physiological Psychology, and Neuropharmacology and Behavior.  

    The Joint Medical Program, a linkage program, enables students to complete their Pitzer coursework in three years, followed by four years of study at Western University of Health Sciences. In addition to a strong interest in Medicine and a strong GPA, the Pitzer College-Western University joint admissions committee pays attention to how students contribute to their community.  

    Admitted students take seminar courses critical to the study of Medicine. They are responsible for completing three internships in clinical, multi-perspective, and assisted-living settings. In fact, students work with retired faculty and Claremont elders at the San Antonio Gardens assisted-living center. Students major in Human Biology and can complete a minor degree in other areas such as Data Science, Sociology, and Music.  

    The Pitzer faculty pioneers for the Joint Medical Program were Professor Emerita of Sociology, Ann Stromberg, and Professor Emeritus of Biology, David SadavaNorma Rodriguez, Flora Sanborn Pitzer Professor of Psychology, and Allen Jones, Professor Emeritus of Psychology/Neuroscience, also contributed to its foundation. Today, Associate Professor of Sociology, Alicia Bonaparte, works with students in the program and has since her arrival at Pitzer in 2008.  

    Professor Borowski calls the program “terrific” and appreciates the relationships forged with his advisees. He gets well-acquainted with the students through consistent and intentional activities, investing in their success, and maintaining contact long after graduation. Thank you, Tom Borowski, for sharing the background and high caliber nature of the Joint Medical Program! 

    If you would like to give to the David Sadava Endowed Scholarship endowed scholarship in honor of his pioneering work, visit our general donation page and type in David Sadava Endowed Scholarship.   

    Located five miles from Pitzer College, the campus of Western University of Health Sciences is a modern academic health center with a medical center, research and teaching laboratories, a medical library, and smart lecture theaters.   

  • January 21, 2022 - Faculty Spotlight: Menna Bizuheh - Associate Professor of Economics

    Menna Bizuneh, associate professor of economics, joined the Pitzer community in 2014. As a beloved professor and academic advisor, her most recent courses include Time Series Analysis, International Finance, International Trade, Senior Seminar, and Principles of Macroeconomics.    

    Recently, Professor Bizuneh spoke with Pitzer@Home about her admiration and gratitude for the Pitzer economics alumni who shared their experiences with students taking economics, particularly in senior seminar classes. This past fall, 11 Pitzer graduates spoke about their career journeys and jobs in the industry, each volunteering more than three hours talking with students. The economics field group could not have been more pleased and valued the alumni’s relatable connection with current students by discussing shared experiences and applying Pitzer’s core values in a professional setting.    

    A testament to their dedication, the economics field group (Linus Yamane, Maya Federman, and Menna Bizuneh) offer continual student guidance and learning alongside organizing programs. Economics events see a great turnout when students engage with alumni with whom they can relate. These programs include dinners, class talks, and women in economics coffee hours. There is evidence that these student-alumni encounters have an exponential return on investment for the industry. The number of women majoring in economics has increased in recent years, with female economics majors reporting that engaging with female graduates was significant to their college experience. These events happen with the support of the Harvey Botwin Endowment for Economics, founded by Pitzer College alumni, faculty, staff, and friends to enhance the student experience for seniors studying economics and doing economic-based research.  

    Thank you to Menna Bizuneh, associate professor of economics, for sharing this exciting moment in time for economics at Pitzer. Menna is an active member of the College community, the economics field group, and, most importantly, in the lives of her students.   

    A special thank you to the fall 2021 alumni speakers: Jacquelyn Aguilera ’19, Alexandre Baude ’18, Therese Boter ’19, Nicolas Decavel-Bueff ’19, Celine Hylton-Dei ’19, Noah Kline ’18, A.J. Leon ’18, Laura Nicklas ’19, Vikramaditya Salwan ’18, Tavis Towner ’19, and Zac Veitch ’20.  

    To provide unique social experiences for students in the economics field group and senior seminar courses, consider making a gift to the Harvey Botwin Endowment for Economics today. To give online, visit our website, select “Other” in the fund designation menu, and type “Harvey Botwin Endowment for Economics.”  

    Thank you for your support! 

  • January 21, 2022 - Staff Feature: Vince Greer - Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students

    Claremont, Calif. (October 29, 2021)—Pitzer College has named Vince Greer, a student affairs leader with extensive experience in diversity and inclusion initiatives, assistant vice president and dean of students, effective December 1, 2021. Greer will step into the role previously held by Sandra “Sandy” Vasquez, who became vice president for student affairs in July 2021. Greer’s appointment comes after a national search.

    Calling Greer “an inspirational and transformational leader,” Vasquez said his professional expertise and personal affinity for fostering student development, retention, success, and mentorship amongst diverse student communities “clearly resonated with the search committee and the greater college community.”

    “I look forward to the dynamic impact Vince will make to further enhance student success, community belonging, inclusive excellence, and belonging initiatives at the College,” Vasquez said.

    Greer comes to Pitzer from Claremont McKenna College (CMC), where he has served as the inaugural dean for diversity and inclusion and director of CMC’s new CARE Center. In that role, he has worked with the CMC community to build capacities across the institution to ensure that students of broadly diverse backgrounds, identities, experiences, perspectives, and ideas are able to thrive. He has also served two terms as co-chair for the 7C Claremont Colleges Inclusive Excellence committee. In addition to CMC, Greer has held a variety of positions at a range of higher education institutions, including DePauw University and Brown University.

    Greer said he is honored to be selected to serve as dean of students at Pitzer College.

    “I couldn’t be more enthusiastic to join the Pitzer community, a place whose institutional pillars and ethos directly align with my own personal and professional affinities and passions,” Greer said. “I look forward to partnering with our incredibly invested student body and alumni community, globally renowned faculty as well as esteemed staff colleagues across campus and community partners.”

    Greer said he is committed to helping cultivate more transformational learning experiences that foster interdisciplinary intellectual inquiry, co-curricular and experiential learning, and intersectional identity development through capacity building, service, and activism.

    Originally from the Southside of Chicago, Greer says he is a proud Posse Scholar alumnus. Outside of work, his hobbies include traveling, spending time with his family, DJing, reading, watching, and playing sports—notably basketball.

    Greer holds a BA in English Writing from DePauw University and received his Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University. A graduate of the Social Justice Training Institute, he is certified in Social Justice Mediation and a trained University of Michigan Intergroup Dialogue facilitator.