Given by President Laura Skandera Trombley, September 1st, 2003.
To the Class of 2007—Welcome to your future. Speaking on behalf of our community, we are very glad that you, our future graduates, are joining us.
Students, we are gathered here today to mark your beginning at Pitzer College. This is an important day for you and for the college because you are about to become part of our history. As I said to you earlier today, you are a very special class as you are part of the College’s 40th anniversary. For four decades, Pitzer College has offered a transformational educational experience to young people with the same hopes, dreams, and concerns that you have. Today is also a special day for our nation, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the day Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on Washington. Pitzer was founded at a time when people dared dream of a better world, one in which every man, woman, and child would live peacefully in a socially responsible society. This is a dream we still hold today at Pitzer College. Through our teaching and research, our outreach to the community, and our daily interactions with each other here on campus, we strive for a better, more just world.
As we celebrate our 40th founding this year, I thought it appropriate to share some history with you. Pitzer College is named after Russell K. Pitzer, a Pomona College alumnus, class of 1900. Mr. Pitzer was the largest owner of citrus groves in California. Most of you will be living in Sanborn Hall, which is named after his wife, Flora Sanborn. After supporting Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, and Harvey Mudd College for many years, Mr. Pitzer became interested in beginning a new Claremont College and pledged his support. On February 15, 1963 Pitzer College was founded. The college’s symbol is an orange tree, in tribute to our founder, and we maintain an orchard of orange trees, just north of the grove house. Ours is a unique history, and a living one, as there has always been a member of the Pitzer family on our board of trustees.
The previous generations of students who attended Pitzer College came here hoping to change their lives and their communities. All of these people, all these spirits are still here at Pitzer in every hallway and in every building, and their contributions have played an enormous role in shaping the present that you inherit today. Here is the message reflected in the achievements and adventures of these past generations of students: you are the most important agent in shaping your education. Your future does not begin four years from now, it begins this very moment. You are now our living history, here at Pitzer College.
This moment is special and when I look at your faces, I know I’m looking at the future of our nation and our world. Pitzer College is dedicated to preparing you to live the liberal arts and all of the faculty, staff and administrators here are ready to help you in your life journey. I wish you all great success.
Will the faculty please rise? Students please rise, and step forward to greet the Pitzer College faculty.