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President David W. Oxtoby

President David W. Oxtoby

Pomona College President David Oxtoby is a powerful advocate for liberal arts education, often speaking across the world on this distinct educational model’s benefits. He is a highly respected leader in U.S. higher education and has served as dean of the division of physical sciences at the University of Chicago, and as the chair of the Harvard University Board of Overseers, the Claremont University Consortium Board of Overseers and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. He was appointed as Pomona’s ninth president in 2003.

An internationally-known physical chemist, Oxtoby was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012.

Under his leadership Pomona College has strengthened its academic offerings, including the addition of new departments such as computer science, media studies and neuroscience, and has expanded the faculty with particular emphasis on interdisciplinary programs such as environmental analysis.

He has guided Pomona to significant improvements in college access and the College is now known for its need-blind admissions policies and for meeting full financial aid need with packages that do not include loans. As part of his vision for building community engagement and a commitment to public service, Pomona established the Draper Center for Community Partnerships in 2009, which includes the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), an intensive, multi-year college readiness program for high school students from historically underrepresented groups.

The College also has become a leader in sustainability in higher education and has been recognized on the Princeton Review Green Honor Roll.
President Oxtoby has been particularly supportive of the arts and their role across the curriculum in helping to spur creativity, leading efforts to increase resources, visibility and capacity. His leadership has resulted in a revitalization of the Pomona College Museum of Art, a new Studio Art Hall opening in fall 2014, a new faculty position in creative writing, the inclusion of arts programming and facilities in the College's Strategic Plan, and a commitment to public art exemplified by the installation of Pomona College alumnus James Turrell's Skyspace, Dividing the Light, in 2007.

As a distinguished scientist and research chemist, he continues to team-teach an annual course in environmental chemistry. He is author or co-author of numerous scientific articles on such subjects as light scattering, chemical reaction dynamics and phase transitions. He has been invited as a guest lecturer to conferences and institutions around the globe, and is the co-author of two first-year chemistry textbooks. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Paris, the University of Bristol and the University of Sydney. His work has been recognized through fellowships from the Guggenheim, Sloan, Dreyfus, von Humboldt, Danforth and National Science foundations. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as a member of the American Chemical Society.

He currently serves on the Presidential Advisory Committee of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, the Science Education Board for Howard Hughes Medical Center, and the boards of the Toyota Technological Institute-Chicago, the Claremont University Consortium Board of Overseers, and the Institute for International Education of Students.

Formerly, he was a member of the National Science Foundation's Mathematics and Physical Science Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, the Board of Argonne National Laboratory, the Board of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE), and the boards of trustees of the Webb Schools and Bryn Mawr College. He has received honorary degrees from Lingnan University in Hong Kong and from Occidental College in Los Angeles. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Born in Bryn Mawr, Penn., President Oxtoby received his bachelor's degree in chemistry and physics summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1972, and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975. He joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1977, and became a full professor in 1986 and then dean of the Division of Physical Sciences.

David Oxtoby and his wife Claire have three children: Mary Christina (Vassar '04), John (Harvard '07) and Laura (Carleton '08).