second largest gift in Pomona history extends the remarkable legacy of
Frank R. Seaver, Class of 1905.
still a junior, Frank R. Seaver, Class of 1905, set the tone for his familys
history of philanthropic service to Pomona.
In 190304, he recruited fellow students for a challenging cause.
They plotted lines, hefted boulders, wielded rakes and planted grass to
create, amid the sweep of dry chapparal beneath the San Gabriels, Pomonas
first football field.
Ninety-nine years later, the College has received $23.3 million from the
Seaver estate to help fulfill another vision: the renewal and expansion
of the Seaver Science Center, considered one of the Wests educational
jewels when it was conceived in the 1950s.
Over the course of 50 years, three generations of the Seaver family
have written one of the great chapters in philanthropy at Pomona College,
said Peter Stanley, president of the College. This magnificent gift
completes what Frank Seaver began a half-century ago when he set out to
give Pomona the best undergraduate teaching facilities for science in
the Western half of the United States.
These facilities have enabled Pomona to hire and retain outstanding
faculty, and to give those faculty and their students exceptional opportunities
for research as well as classroom teaching. Because of this, Pomona ranks
among the top 10 of all colleges and universities in the United States
in the percentage of its graduates who subsequently earn PhDs in the sciences.
Seaver, a biology major at Pomona, went on to study law at Harvard University.
He practiced in Los Angeles and was elected a freeholder of Los Angeles
County, an office that was a predecessor to the Board of Supervisors.
As a freeholder, he helped draft the Los Angeles County Charter. He joined
the California Naval Militia before the start of World War I, and during
the war years, married a piano teacher from Chicago, Blanche Ebert.
While in the militia Seaver became acquainted with California oil magnate
Edward L. Doheny, and he subsequently went to work for Dohenys companies
as a counsel and executive. During the Great Depression, Seaver struck
out on his own. He took over the small Doheny Stone Drill Co. and renamed
it Hydril Corporation. The company makes blowout-prevention equipment
and other specialized parts for the oil industry. Especially during the
industrys early years, oilfield workers faced fearful odds of injury
and death from blowouts as they fed sections of pipe into the hole when
a drill bored into deep interstices of scaldingly hot oil under extreme
pressure. Advances by Hydril and others have sharply reduced the dangers
of such explosive eruptions and spills, and Hydril equipment is now used
in every major oil-producing region in the world.
The Seavers are best known for their philanthropy, however. Frank Seaver,
the first president of the Associated Student Body, was a Pomona trustee
from 1947 until his death in 1964. Between 1958 and 1965, gifts from the
Seavers funded the construction of the Seaver Laboratory for Biology and
Geology, known as Seaver South; the Seaver Laboratory for Chemistry (Seaver
North), which was completely renovated in 2001 as part of The Campaign
for Pomona College; and the Millikan Laboratory for Physics, Mathematics
The theatre-like lecture halls, stationary lab equipment and clearly delineated
disciplines that characterized science teaching when the Seaver Science
Center was built have since yielded to small-group and collaborative studies,
rapid changes in technology, and multidisciplinary research. To respond
to changes in the way chemistry and the life sciences are taught, the
renovation and expansion of Pomonas science facilities was made
a major goal of the five-year comprehensive campaign that began in 1997.
Victoria Seaver Dean, president of The Seaver Institute, which administers
the trust of the Seaver estate, said the Institutes board members
are excited to be involved in the renewal and expansion of the Seaver
Science Center. This project is consistent with the legacy of Frank
R. Seaver and the tradition he established in providing optimum facilities
for a superior science curriculum at Pomona College, she said.
Plans call for the complete rebuilding of Seaver South. Among other enhancements,
the renovation will add a new neuroscience laboratory and create space
for active learning that involves collaboration among students
and faculty. The science center will be also expanded through the construction
of a new 46,000-square-foot life sciences building that will house laboratories
and offices of the Biology Department and the Molecular Biology program.
The total cost of the science center project is expected to be about $40
Having so much of the money in hand a year before we break ground
for the new building and for the renovation of Seaver South is astounding,
said David Becker, the John P. and Magdalena R. Dexter Professor of Botany
and associate professor of biology at Pomona. There was some worry
that if the funding was not in hand, it would delay things, and with delay
comes cost increases, said Becker, chair of a steering committee
that is advising the architects and laboratory consultants. Not
having to worry about that is very significant.
The Seaver familys legacy in science at Pomona, Becker said, is
really remarkable. When the science center project is completed, I think
everybodys going to be delighted to use it, to study in it, to learn
in it, to do research in it. It will be an exciting place, and one that
we think will meet our needs for a long time.
Pomona has not been the only beneficiary of Seaver family philanthropy.
The University of Southern California, Pepperdine University and Rockford
College in Illinois are among the educational institutions that also have
received substantial gifts. Pepperdine opened Seaver College in 1972 in
honor of Frank R. and Blanche Ebert Seaver. Pepperdines description
of the college says that What Pomona College did for Frank Seaver
is what Seaver College hopes to accomplish in the lives of young people.
Augmenting his strong family training, Pomona College taught him integrity,
discipline, self-responsibility, hard work and thrift.
There are many ties between Pomona College and the Seaver family. Frank
Seavers five siblings all attended the College, as did other family
members. A gift from Richard Seaver 43, a nephew of Frank Seaver,
funded the Colleges Byron Dick Seaver Theatre, named for Richards
father, a member of the Class of 1908. A former Seaver family residence
houses the Colleges Alumni Relations Office.
The $23.3 million gift, the second largest in Pomonas history, followed
a vote of The Seaver Institute Board of Directors to release the principal
assets of Pomonas portion of a trust established by Frank Seaver.
According to the boards resolutions, it voted to distribute the
funds at this time because it believes that the renovation and expansion
of the Seaver Science Center at Pomona College is the very activity that
Frank R. Seaver intended his trust to support.
Seavers view, summed up in a plaque on display at the Seaver Laboratory
for Chemistry, was that If you want to do something for the future
of your country, do something for the youth, for they are the future of