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From the Magazine: Faculty at Home

You’ve lapped up their lectures, gotten to know them over lunch and maybe even feel you’ve gotten a peek inside your favorite professors’ heads. Still, seeing how faculty members hunker down at home is another way of getting at their interests and personalities. We think you’ll find their dwellings are telling, even if the professors did frantically tidy up before we arrive.

Pomona College Magazine

  • Read "North and South," another feature from the Winter 2010 issue of Pomona College Magazine.
  • Download the full PDF [pdf] of the Winter 2010 issue of Pomona College Magazine.

Lisa Anne Auerbach
assistant professor of art

Bicycling between her then-home in South Pasadena and her future husband Louis’s place in Venice, Lisa Anne Auerbach happened upon a cool little neighborhood that eventually became her home. Jefferson Park is in the West Adams district, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Los Angeles. House-hunting there during L.A.’s heated 2003 market, the couple cruised past a 1906 Craftsman—not found in the Multiple Listing Service—with a yellow vinyl plastic “for sale” banner outside. Bingo.

1. These high-piled books range from No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting to Anarchist Modernism, but there’s more structure here than you might imagine: the tomes are held by bookcases with steel beams in back.

Assistant Professor of Art Lisa Anne Auerbach in her living room

2. Auerbach created her sweater for a Robin Hood-influenced exhibition of knitwear shown in Nottingham, England, last fall. “Strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest” is a quote from 18th-century French philosopher Denis Diderot (who, Auerbach says, took the words from an earlier source). Known for her knitwear bearing provocative political statements, Auerbach creates sweater patterns in her backyard studio and knits them together in her home.

3. The “DH” banners in the windows refer to the Dixie Highway, which Auerbach traveled in 2007 on a photography project. When the highway first opened in the 1920s, it was lined with white signs or painted areas of trees that were marked with the letters “DH” in red. Auerbach made the banners to wrap around trees when she was traveling, but never actually used them.

4. The living room featured white paint and flowered wallpaper when they bought the house. The couple had it painted orange and red after Louis read an article in The Craftsman about the vibrant colors originally used in the arts and craft movement.

Shahriar Shahriari
professor of mathematics

The family room is the center of action at Professor Shahriar Shahriari’s Claremont home, serving as a place to sit and read and also hold lively discussions, in more than one language. Shahriari often speaks to his sons Kiavash, 12, and Neema, 9, in Farsi to keep up their skills, but they typically reply in English, their first language. Then “I will lapse into English, just to make sure they know what I’m talking about.” The kids even prefer to do their homework here instead of in their rooms. “This is where we spend most of our time,” says Shahriari.

1. Over the fireplace hang replicas of carved scenes from Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Persian Empire

2. A traditional coffeehouse scene is depicted in this painting Shahriari and his wife, Nanaz Fathpour, bought in Iran.

3. Shahriari’s laptop awaits him near the fireplace. After the kids are in bed, he grades papers and prepares lectures here.

4. The TV remote sits unused on the table until weekend since TV and video games are forbidden on weekdays.

Ami Radunskaya
professor of mathematics

Professor Ami Radunskaya and her husband Dan Pulvers banished the TV and couch to another room of their Claremont house to encourage conversation in their living room. And if anyone runs out of things to say, they won’t get bored staring at these walls bedecked with items from around the world.

1. The wood, painted masks come from Bali, Guatemala, Java and Poland.

2. The colorful yarn-woven pictures were given by a friend. They come from Tepehuana, Mexico, and depict mythical stories.

3. Radunskaya’s musical tastes are eclectic as well, running from Beethoven’s cello sonatas to Bob Marley’s reggae.

Lynne Miyake
professor of Asian languages and literatures

Before Professor Lynne Miyake and her future husband, Dennis Eggleston, got married, she warned him they would be hosting their share of student events. “We bought this house,” she says of her 1929 Pasadena home in the Spanish colonial revival style, “because it was appropriate for student parties.” After two decades of hosting end-of-semester bashes for 30 to 40 students, Miyake has it “down to a science,” with written instructions at the ready for the small contingent of students who always come early to help prepare the food.

1. Emily Ujifusa ’13 (far left) enjoys spam musubi, the meat and rice wrapped up with seaweed, while Joshua Rodriguez ’13 digs into chirashi-zushi, a vinegar-flavored sushi mix of eggs, rice, bean, carrots and red ginger.

2. The colorful, Hawaiian-style print “tablecloth” is a sarong-like Samoan garment.

3. A traditional Japanese decorative plaque of horses hangs in the smaller wall nook. Out of sight is a collection of Japanese dolls.

4. With no attic, the home’s high, mission-like wood ceiling makes the living room feel spacious and always surprises visitors as they enter through the home’s low-profile exterior.

Pomona College Assistant Professor of Music Joti Rockwell at home

Joti Rockwell
assistant professor of music

On the weekend before Christmas, Professor Joti Rockwell and his wife Claire moved into a century-old Craftsman home––the first home they’ve owned––near the Claremont Village. Though Rockwell plays the guitar, mandolin and piano, he chose this home more for the location than the acoustics. Joti can walk to campus and Claire can bike or hike to the train station to get to work in Los Angeles.

1. The mini-drum set from the Folk Music Center in Claremont is a big hit with his 3-year-old son Simon.

2. Rockwell’s 11-year-old custom guitar was the 134th made by Huss & Dalton, a small outfit in Central Virginia. It’s loud for a steel-string, which makes it good for bluegrass. The guitar also has a slightly larger soundhole, another “bluegrassy” touch.

3. The 1914 Steinway piano is an heirloom from his grandmother. Today he mostly uses it for academic purposes such as trying out student compositions.

4. Though Rockwell still uses plenty of dead-tree sheet music, pulling up music on a laptop (like the one on the piano) is an increasingly handy alternative.

Pomona College Professor of Economics Jim Likens at home

Jim Likens
professor of economics

With the College for four decades, Economics Professor Jim Likens is on his fourth home in Claremont. But he has definitely settled in, particularly to this family room, where he starts the day browsing through three print newspapers—The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal—in no preordained order. “I spend more time in this room than any room in the house, outside of sleeping.” Actually, he has been known to nod off on the couch here as well.

1. Likens’ shelves are heavy with American history, arranged from the top down, starting with the Colonial period and descending into the Clinton years. Historian Gordon Woods’ books are favorites. The second set of shelves holds tomes on international topics.

2. The shelves also hold Likens’ stereo sub-woofers. His taste in music ranges from Miles Davis to Merle Haggard to Frank Sinatra, but classical is his favorite.

3. On the TV, which is hidden away, Likens is a fan of PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Charlie Rose, anything by Ken Burns and Dodgers baseball.

4. Inside the table is the latest issue of Pomona College Magazine (we didn’t plant it there—honest).

5. The print on the wall depicts the work of prominent painter and Pomona College Professor Emeritus Karl Benjamin.

This article appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Pomona College Magazine. To view a PDF of the magazine, please click here [pdf] .