Summer News from President Trombley

May 26, 2009
Dear Pitzer Community,

Thank you for all your efforts in making this year, the College’s 45th, another rewarding one for our students. I am very pleased to be back from my sabbatical and returning during the most joyous time of year on campus—commencement—was especially uplifting.

True to my sabbatical announcement, I happily enrolled in racecar driving school and also finalized a contract with Knopf publishing for a third book about Mark Twain that I began researching long ago in those pre-web days of 1993. The extra time spent with my family was precious, and this year we celebrated my son’s 13th birthday and my father’s 90th. Pitzer was never far from my mind during my sabbatical, and I returned briefly for Family Weekend and the February board meeting, and when necessary worked with board committees and our vice presidents.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Peter Nardi’s caring stewardship of the College while I was away. I would also like to express my appreciation to the president’s office staff as well as the president’s cabinet for their constant professionalism and expertise.

This past year, the Pitzer community continued its important work, including making significant progress on the academic strategic planning process, publishing scholarly books and giving papers at national conferences, being awarded fourteen Fulbright Fellowships, sending 72% of our senior class on study abroad opportunities, launching a redesigned and reorganized Web site, earning nearly $1.4 million in foundation grants for scholarships and internships, and achieving nearly 90 percent participation in the faculty/staff Annual Fund campaign and 100 percent student participation in the senior gift in support of the senior class scholarship and the Grove House outdoor classroom. Notably, despite the current economic situation, both campaign drives raised even more money than last year’s.

Also this year, the College met budget realities by reducing non-compensation costs to protect Pitzer’s workforce: going into 2009–10 our budget will be balanced without endowment spending, there will be no forced faculty or staff layoffs, faculty and staff salaries will be modestly increased, financial aid for students will increase, and we will welcome to campus five new faculty–three replacements of retired faculty and two new positions. I would like to express my appreciation to Yuet Lee and Lori Yoshino for their hard work in crafting multiple budget draft documents in response to the quickly changing environment.

I also note the work of Arnaldo Rodriguez and his admission staff, as well as the faculty who participated in the College’s admission events throughout the year. Faculty participation in admission events for prospective students and their families is an important reason why we are so successful in our recruiting efforts. This year Pitzer set another new record in the total number of applications received. For the second year we are among the ten most selective liberal arts colleges in the country. We met the College’s recruitment goals for the year while honoring our commitment to meet 100 percent of every admitted student’s demonstrated need through a financial aid package that will include grants, work-study and loans. In the fall we look forward to warmly welcoming the country’s (in fact, the world’s) best and brightest young people to campus.

Each summer I enjoy writing to you about current and upcoming campus plans. I believe we are all looking forward to the much needed auditorium renovation, which is scheduled to be completed spring 2010. This renovation is made possible through funds received from one of the largest private donations ever made to the College—three million dollars from Robert Day, the chairman, president and CEO of the Keck Foundation and former chair of the CMC board of trustees. Upon Mr. Day’s suggestion and with the blessing of the Avery family, the new auditorium will be renamed Benson Auditorium in honor of one of Pitzer’s founding board members, George Benson. (The building itself will still be called Avery Hall.) Larry Burik and his team have begun working with Pankow Special Projects Group on auditorium demolition and Dennis Trotter and his advancement team have raised over $300,000 in support of the project, which includes a $250,000 gift from trustee and former board chair Gene Stein and his wife Mindy in support of the new auditorium atrium. Because of work being done in the auditorium this summer, nine faculty from Avery Hall have kindly moved to different spaces throughout campus where they will stay over the summer, returning to their offices before the fall semester begins.

Other projects taking place this summer include Joe Clements’s continued program of re-landscaping our grounds with native and drought resistant plants. New campus signage inspired by the new dormitory signage will be installed and include campus directories, way finding, building and room identifications, and regulatory signs. Installed adjacent to the future site of the new Commencement Plaza will be new art benches and a Sick-Amour art tree. Pitzer students learned about Sick-Amour through Ciara Ennis’s 2008 summer course, The Industry of Art Making in Southern California, and advocated bringing the project to campus. The Commencement Plaza is slated to begin construction this fall and we will hold our first graduation there in spring 2010. Most immediately, I am looking forward to alumni reunion this weekend and to welcoming our alumni and their family members. An exciting program has been designed and all members of the Pitzer community are invited.

In just a few short weeks, Pitzer College’s 46th year will begin and we are well prepared to welcome it. I wish you all a wonderful, productive and rejuvenating summer.

Laura Trombley

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