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An Introduction to Pomona Faculty

Professor Robert Gaines teaching course in Climate Change

Professor of Geology Robert Gaines teaches a course in Climate Change

Among the most important relationships you’ll make at Pomona are the ones you’ll form with your professors. These extraordinary teachers and scholars have chosen Pomona—and Pomona has chosen them—because they have a talent and a passion for teaching bright undergraduate students, combined with a sophisticated command of their disciplines. Their involvement in research, writing and creative expression translates into fresh, lively instruction in the classroom and laboratory.

Like their students, Pomona faculty are diverse in background and scholarly interests. All are committed teachers of undergraduates. They frequently experiment with new approaches and materials, tailoring instruction to the changing world beyond their classrooms or laboratories. Astronomy instructors and students may stargaze from the College’s one-meter telescope on nearby Table Mountain, for example, while those in archaeology may investigate prehistoric sites on the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

A ratio of seven students to each faculty member allows for small classes, including many seminars in which the professor serves not as the source of all knowledge, but as a participant in a common search for understanding. In the lively discussions that are the heart of these classes, you will be free to draw your own conclusions and express and defend your own ideas. Those interactions will begin during your very first semester at Pomona with the Critical Inquiry seminar. As a first-year student, you’ll choose from a list of 25 to 30 interdisciplinary courses on such varied topics as "The Heart of a Doctor," "Nanotechnology in Science and Fiction," "Race, Confidence: Men and the Eye of Providence" and "Flashpoints in Rock & Roll History." Enrollment is limited to 15, giving you a chance to work closely with faculty and peers.

With such small classes, Pomona students get to know their teachers very well. About 85 percent of our faculty members live within five miles of the College, so their time on campus isn’t limited to office hours. You’ll find professors and students in every discipline working together on research projects in the classroom and the lab. Unlike large universities, where faculty work primarily with graduate students, Pomona encourages instructors to collaborate with undergraduates on research in the library, archives, laboratory or field. External and internal grants support this hands-on experience as a complement to classroom instruction and as preparation for graduate or professional work.

Because Pomona is an entirely undergraduate institution, there are no graduate students competing for faculty attention. Even in your first year at the College, you may be part of a class taught by senior faculty members. Professor Gary Smith, whose seven economics textbooks have been adopted at such institutions as Harvard and MIT, frequently teaches introductory classes. Professor Tom Moore, whose physics texts are used by more than 50 colleges nationwide, regularly teaches General Physics. Every year, some of the College’s most distinguished faculty teach freshman seminars, and many of our senior science faculty teach introductory lab sessions.

You’ll also find faculty interacting in many other settings. Physics Professor Alma Zook ’72 plays in a woodwind quintet with three students and a recent alumnus. It’s common to see professors cheering on students at football games or applauding their performance with the Glee Club or in a play. Most professors regularly invite individual students or whole classes to their homes to share a meal or a holiday or--in the case of Biology Professor Andre Cavalcanti--to watch Brazil compete in the World Cup.


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