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Pomona College Receives $7.5 Million for Sustainable Residence Hall

A rendering of Pomona College's new sustainable residence halls
A rendering of Pomona College's new sustainable residence halls

Pomona College has received a gift of $7.5 million from Rick and Susan Sontag for a new residence hall being built to one of the highest levels of green building standards, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold. The gift was made in recognition of the Sontag family’s long ties with the college.

Susan Sontag is a 1964 graduate of Pomona College. Their daughter Cindy Sontag Hudgins is a member of the Class of 1995. Rick Sontag’s uncle, the late professor Frederick E. Sontag, taught in Pomona’s Philosophy Department for more than 50 years. Rick Sontag has a long association with Pomona’s sister college, Harvey Mudd College, both as a graduate and as a member of the HMC Board of Trustees since 1989. Rick and Susan Sontag previously donated $5 million for the construction of the Sontag Residence Hall located on the Harvey Mudd campus.

“The Sontag’s gift to name our new residence hall,” says David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College, ”is extremely generous and a wonderful testament to their understanding of the important role that informal learning and community play in residential liberal arts education. Living on campus is clearly valued as well by our students, 98% of whom live on campus.”

Sontag Hall, which is one of two new residence halls being built in tandem, will feature suite-style rooms, deep-set windows, terracotta overhangs and copper trim that will echo neighboring buildings. Together the pair of buildings will provide a home to almost 150 students and will help reinforce the connection between learning and living that is a defining aspect of Pomona College.

Designed by the award-winning firm of Ehrlich Architects, Sontag Hall will use solar power to heat water and to produce some of the energy needed to provide heat in winter. Sustainable aspects of the construction include using more than 20% recycled content, more than 30% regionally produced materials and low-emitting materials; as well as diverting 75% of construction waste. Sustainable features of the completed buildings will include: efficient light systems including occupancy sensors, efficient heating and air conditioning systems accompanied by operable windows and ceiling fans; use of non-HFC-refrigerants; efficient plumbing fixtures; “cool roof” and paving surfaces to reduce heat island effects; efficient irrigation technology; drought-resistant landscaping; storm water collection; and real-time monitoring of energy and water use and renewables generation.

Pomona College’s Green Building Standards have been in place since 2003. The new dorms will be the fourth and fifth Pomona College buildings built to LEED standards. The Richard C. Seaver Biology Building, completed in 2005, was awarded silver certification. The Lincoln and Edmunds Buildings, completed in 2006, received LEED gold.

Green building is one of many Pomona College programs and policies in place to help the college achieve its sustainability goals, which include becoming a leader in educating students for a sustainable world. Pomona College was recognized by the Sustainable Endowments Institute as one of 26 Campus Sustainability Leaders, from a pool of more than 300 colleges and universities, in its recently released 2010 Sustainability Report Card.

Rick Sontag currently manages his own investment business through the Spring Bay Companies in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. In 2000, he and Susan established the Sontag Foundation which contributes to a variety of medical and social causes.

Pomona College, founded in 1887, is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges. Located in Claremont, CA, the College is known for the close relationships between students and faculty, the range of opportunities for student research and meeting the full financial need of students with scholarships.