December 5, 2022
Dear Pitzer Community,
The final fall semester stretch is underway as we anticipate winter break. I know how hard faculty, students, and staff work at this time of year, and I salute and support you all! I also send warm wishes to our alumni and families who are doing the same.
I knew when I arrived on the job this summer that our most critical activities would be about the short term, focusing on a return to campus—a real return—and on renewing campus traditions and re-engaging in person with our extended community: students, faculty, staff, families, and alumni. Pitzer’s Strategic Plan 2025 is our beacon for long-term excellence, and I was pleased to report to College Council and in my College update during Family Weekend that our progress toward meeting its goals remains on track. Our Plan is rooted in Pitzer’s motto: Provida futuri—mindful of the future; it is a collective pledge to provide an innovative, distinctive liberal arts education to our current students and the next generation.
Building a Thriving Community and Belonging at Pitzer
This semester we launched Convenings, a grass-roots approach to building community. We gather faculty, students, administrators, staff, alumni, and trustees to listen to each other as we explore topics we really care about in our community. These conversations are providing great insights into what makes Pitzer special and how we can become an even closer-knit community of scholars, thinkers, creators, and change-makers. Participants’ thoughts on why we are optimistic about the future of Pitzer will be compiled to share with the community and our next president.
Our Faculty-in-Residence are another way we join together in community at Pitzer. I want to acknowledge Assistant Professor of Psychology Steffanie Guillermo and Assistant Professor of Sociology Jessica Kizer, who are living in residence halls this year, building community and engaging students in an immersive living/learning environment.
I’ve written before about Strive2Thrive, Pitzer’s holistic approach to student self-care, health, and well-being, managed by the Office of Student Affairs and inspired by our family leadership. Additional funding has allowed the College to expand support, resources, and workshops to help every student at a time when the world is a challenging place. Strive2Thrive is still in its 2022 campaign to raise even more support, and I urge anyone who can do so to consider making a gift toward its fiscal year-end goal.
It is found in the classroom, in the lab, and anywhere in the community that our students excel. Opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty continue to expand, creating original research and creative projects.
- Assistant Professor of Psychology Marcus Rodriguez engages students with work in Africa and China in the Global Mental Health Lab.
- The Community Engagement Center, Robert Redford Conservancy, Keck Science, and CASA Pitzer have collaborated in science and activism with students, faculty, and local partner organizations to address water concerns in the Mojave Desert city of Adelanto.
- The Claremont Colleges’ Sustainable Fashion Magazine, PZ Threads, worked with the Hive and CMC’s Kravis Lab for Social Impact to host workshops and talks about sustainable fashion for PZ Threads Fashion Week.
- Our joint science department has begun its planning to evolve into the Pitzer Scripps Science program, housed in the Nucleus, the science building that is steadily rising on campus, with a fall 2024 opening.
Giving to Pitzer is increasing as we emerge from the pandemic, build our Advancement team, and expand its outreach in new, creative ways. I am out on the road with that team and key faculty, visiting alumni, catching up with current donors, and seeking to engage new ones. Thank you to the nearly 360 individual supporters who answered the call to give to the Pitzer Fund on GivingTuesday last week! If you missed it, you can still give through the end of the year by visiting here. Your gifts help our students in three significant areas: scholarships and financial aid, student internships, and the vital work of our Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative (which, coincidentally, welcomed Melvin and Suzanne back to campus last week for its annual lecture organized by Professor of Political Studies and Chicano Studies Adrian Pantoja, P’18 P’24, and team).
Our work building community will help prepare us to welcome our next leader to the College. Seeing Melvin Oliver last week reminded me of how exciting this arrival will be and provided an opportunity to reflect on Melvin’s contributions to Pitzer. Earlier this fall, I had the pleasure and honor of meeting a particularly historic presidential pick from Pitzer’s past: former president Marilyn Chapin Massey, our first woman president, who served for a decade beginning in 1992. We talked about the challenges, changes, and triumphs of that decade as we imagined the bright future we will each watch unfold under the next president. New leaders bring new ideas, and the best of them guide the institution in bettering itself and evolving, as all institutions must. I am grateful that our community is open and engaged as we anticipate our new president’s arrival.
I look forward to 2023. Wishing you, your family, and friends a joyous holiday season. And yes, to our students: good luck on exams!
Jill Klein P’15