June 30, 2023

Dear Pitzer and Claremont Colleges Communities,

I write with excitement and gratitude to be officially joining Pitzer College as its seventh president tomorrow. I want to take this opportunity ahead of the holiday weekend to greet you all and to convey briefly how happy my wife Isabelle and I are to be with you.

First, I would like to thank the entire Pitzer community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, supporters, and friends—for your warm welcome and active engagement in both the transition thus far and the earlier process that led to it. Pitzer is a special place, made so by its people and their dedication to it, and I feel and appreciate that every day. I am grateful to Board of Trustees Chair Don Gould, search committee chair Tom Brock ’83, search committee members, trustees, and members of the College’s senior leadership team for sharing their time, experience, and knowledge with me during this transition. And last (but far from least), I offer abundant thanks to Jill Klein P’15 for stepping in as Pitzer’s interim president this past year and, especially, for her generosity of time and spirit in facilitating a smooth transition and handoff.

Taking on this role is enormously exciting for me, for both professional and personal reasons. The challenges facing higher education today are substantial. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision banning the consideration of race in college admissions is just the latest example of one type of those challenges, and we should not expect the broader national context to get easier in the coming years. That said, I am thrilled to come to Pitzer precisely because it is unusually well placed to meet those challenges. Pitzer’s mission and values, dating back to their origins in the 1960s and as they have developed over time, are exactly the right ones to face the stubborn societal problems we face as a community, both locally and globally. In many ways, I see the world coming around to where Pitzer has been, and I am eager to work in collaboration with all of you to keep it at that forefront and help it play an even more important leading role in this space. 

On a more personal level, as a Claremont Colleges (PO ’88) alum, I am delighted to return to Claremont. In innumerable ways both intellectual and personal, Claremont is where I became who I am. It is where I developed a passion for learning, education, and research. That passion, in turn, directed me to the path that led me into higher education, first as a graduate student and then as a professor, and eventually in leadership. Fittingly, that same path has now led me back “home,” to Claremont. Isabelle and I could not be happier to be joining the Pitzer and Claremont communities.

Like other schools and higher education more broadly, Pitzer also faces its own specific challenges. Among those, the Pitzer community has in recent years experienced multiple presidential transitions, which bring inevitable uncertainty. As we get to know each other over time, I want to affirm that I will approach all issues that we face together as a learning community in full good faith and collegiality, with respect for our system of shared governance and with as much transparency as possible and, most importantly, always prioritizing our shared mission, core values, and community values. That mission and those values call upon us all to work through difficult problems together and with mutual respect in the service of our broader educational mission and purpose. I am eager to begin to get to know and work with all of you, both in Claremont and across the region, nation, and wider world, as we partner together to advance Pitzer College.

There are other transitions occurring at Pitzer this summer, including in Student Affairs and in Advancement and Communications. Just as I have been coordinating closely with Interim President Klein and the rest of the senior leadership team these past several months to facilitate a smooth transition in the President’s Office, I am working closely with leadership and staff in each of these areas to ensure continuity and effectiveness in support of our students, faculty, staff, programs, and operations. I will share more news about interim (and later, longer-term) plans in these two areas as we finalize them, which I expect to happen over the coming weeks. In the meantime, please join me in thanking Vice President for College Advancement and Communications Kimberly Shiner, Vice President for Student Affairs Sandra Vasquez, and Dean of Students Vincent Greer for their work on behalf of Pitzer and in wishing them well in their next endeavors.

Thank you again. It is my true and heartfelt pleasure to join the Pitzer community at this time of great complexity, promise, and hope. I look forward to connecting with as many of you as possible in person (and otherwise) soon. In the meantime, I wish you all a happy and restful Fourth of July weekend and a replenishing summer. 

Provida Futuri,

Strom C. Thacker