Pitzer Family Foundation Donates $3 Million to Pitzer College for Expansion of Science Program

Keck Ext Rendering
W.M. Keck Science Center Rendering

Claremont, Calif. (April 1, 2019)—The Pitzer Family Foundation (PFF) has donated $3 million to Pitzer College to support the growth and expansion of science facilities at the W.M. Keck Science Department (KSD), which is transitioning to a joint Pitzer College and Scripps College program.

Along with a $1 million donation from the PFF in April 2017, this gift will reinvigorate Keck Science’s facilities and academic programs to provide a more effective twenty-first century science education for Pitzer and Scripps students. It will also enable the colleges to move forward with the construction of a new $65 million shared science facility located directly west of the original KSD building.

The W.M. Keck Science Department (KSD) focuses exclusively on undergraduate science education and provides instruction in small-classroom and lab settings while offering numerous opportunities for students to conduct research. KSD is administered cooperatively by the participating colleges and is a national leader in the development of interdisciplinary science courses and programs.

Teaching Lab
Teaching Lab Rendering

Since 2002, the number of Pitzer students majoring in sciences at KSD has increased by almost 300 percent with students’ growing realization that basic scientific literacy is ever more crucial to pursue their commitment to social justice and engaged citizenship. More Pitzer students currently major in one of the biological sciences, which include biochemistry, biology, biophysics, human biology, and molecular and organismal biology, than any other discipline. Both biology and human biology consistently rank among Pitzer graduates’ top 10 majors. Forty Pitzer students majoring in science were awarded prestigious post-graduate fellowships, including many Fulbright scholarships and National Science Foundation (NSF) awards.

The Pitzer family’s sustained generosity and involvement have been vital to ensuring the success of Pitzer College since Russell K. Pitzer’s founding gift in 1963. Over the intervening 55 years, the family has consistently stepped forward to lead the way at pivotal moments in the College’s history, most recently in support of KSD.

The PFF said in a statement: “The Pitzer family is proud to endorse the expansion of science education at Pitzer College. This gift continues the long history of supporting science established by Kenneth S. Pitzer, the son of the founder of the College, and his wife, Jean Pitzer. We believe the new science building is integral to the vision of Pitzer College set forth by President Oliver, and we look forward to the project’s successful completion.”

Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver said, “The College appreciates the generous support of the Pitzer Family Foundation to improve undergraduate science education through the expansion of the Keck Science Department. On behalf of the entire Pitzer College Community, and in particular our faculty and students who pursue teaching, learning, and research in the sciences, I extend our most sincere gratitude to the Pitzer family for their long-standing support and their commitment to superior science education.”

Pitzer College was founded in 1963 by the citrus grower and philanthropist Russell K. Pitzer. The PFF has continued a tradition of generous support for the College. In 2007, it provided $5 million for the construction of Sanborn Hall in Phase I of the College’s Residential Life Project in memory of Flora Sanborn Pitzer, the founder’s wife. The Foundation also gave $500,000 to establish the Pitzer Archive and Conference Center in Skandera Hall in 2012. In addition, members of the Pitzer family have established numerous endowed scholarships, professorships, and an endowed directorship of international programs at the College.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

About the W.M. Keck Science Department

The W.M. Keck Science Department is the interdisciplinary home to all biology, chemistry, and physics faculty for Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Scripps colleges. The department is administered cooperatively and is housed within an 81,000-square-foot center located at the intersection of the three colleges. The department offers 13 discrete degree options, including dual-degree programs in partnership with schools of engineering and majors in conjunction with disciplines outside the sciences. The W.M. Keck Science Department provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary instruction in small class settings and numerous opportunities for students to conduct research.

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