Five Pomona College Staff and Faculty Members Retiring
At the end of the school year, five beloved members of the Pomona College community will enter their well-deserved retirement. Please join us in saying goodbye to these faculty and staff members.
Deanna Bos, Housing Director
Deanna Bos started at Pomona College in August of 1983 as secretary in the then newly formed Housekeeping and Maintenance department. In 1986, Bos transferred to what was then known as the Office of Residence Life and became the administrative assistant. Over the course of her tenure in the department, and with encouragement and support from some of the deans she worked for, the position of housing director was created and she was promoted into this role.
During her almost 28 years at the College, Bos has worked for 11
different deans. There have been many changes in residential living at
Pomona during that time, she recalls. Her first "computer" was a word
processor with a 10" floppy disk. Students went from hall phones to
landlines to cell phones. When she began, staff desk receptionists held
on to spare keys for students who lost theirs.
Room Draw procedures were particularly archaic. "Number assignment took all day as students came to a room and physically drew their own number out of a bucket marked Seniors, Juniors or Sophomores," says Bos, whose tenure has seen the building of Lyon Court and the new residence halls, as well as the renovation of every other residence hall at least once. "Room selections were written down and entered into a database after room draw was over.
In her retirement, Bos plans to spend time with her children and grandchildren and explore new volunteer opportunities.
Toni Clark, Associate Professor of English
Toni Clark came to Pomona in 1983 as dean of women, associate dean of students and associate professor of English. She developed the Women’s Union, established the Women’s Union Thursday Noon Discussion Series and, with Joe Jimenez ’99, established The Closet, which became the QRC. She served as one of the College’s three grievance officers, chaired the Women’s Commission, served two terms as coordinator of the Women’s Studies Program, and organized the Faculty Advisors’ Workshop. She provided academic and personal advising for students, and served as 504 coordinator.
In 2007, she left Alexander Hall and moved across the street to chair the English Department for a year before beginning phased retirement. She taught courses in Chaucer, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, and modern and postmodern English and American literature, including environmental literature. All of her classes except for ID1 were cross-listed with gender/women’s studies, and her environmental literature classes with environmental analysis. She chaired the EA track Race, Class, Gender and the Environment.
Clark received her A.B. from UC Berkeley and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from UCSB where, with Robert Potter, PO ’56, she developed The Innovative Project in English, a program offering classes open to EOP students that focused on writing about Black and Chicano literature. Prior to Pomona, she taught as a lecturer in English with adjunct status in Chicano Studies for four years at UCSB, then moved to Augsburg College where she was assistant and then associate professor of English and American literature. At Augsburg, she chaired the Women’s and Minority Studies Program and, as chair of the Faculty Senate, instituted a graduation requirement in Women’s, Minority, or Urban Studies. She directed the summer school program and The Interim, the intensive January term, for several years, and took several groups to London for a Theatre in London course during The Interim. She also chaired the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities Creative Writing Committee that presented the Midwestern Writers’ Festival, a week-long program that brought five major writers to the Twin Cities, including Margaret Atwood, Donald Justice, Audre Lorde, Tillie Olsen and James Welch, and produced a two-day bookfair.
She plans to volunteer at Rancho Santa Ana and read intensively in environmental criticism and theory before beginning a new research project.
"Although I’ll be even sadder than usual during Commencement, there is some consolation in knowing I will remain in contact with many of my students, like those whose photographs and portraits of their families line my bookcases at home," says Clark. "I will still miss them and the classroom, though. Working with students has brought me great joy over the past 28 years."
Neil Gerard, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Smith Campus Center and Student Programs, and Director of Bridges Auditorium
Neil Gerard has been with Pomona since 1993. He was an integral leader in the planning and construction of the Smith Campus Center in the 1990s and then led subsequent changes and renovation from 2005 to 2007. As director of the Campus Center, Gerard instituted the annual Open House event, the late-night Pancake Breakfast and the SafeRides program, among other programs. More recently, he has provided leadership and vision to the College in assuming the additional roles as director of Bridges Auditorium and as chair of the Distinguished Speakers Committee, which brought to campus David Plouffe, Sandra Day O'Connor, Van Jones and Bill Gates.
Throughout the years, Gerard has been an advisor and advocate for students and groups, including ASPC, the Metate yearbook, Mortar Board, International Student Mentoring Program, and the Jewish Student Union. Neil and his wife, Joan, have hosted many international students, and invited countless students into their home for dinners and holidays.
Prior to coming to Pomona College, Gerard worked as Cal Poly Pomona, Adelphi University in New York and the State University of New York Agricultural and Technical College at Alfred. He earned his M.B.A. from Adelphi University and his B.A. from CUNY Queens College. He served in several roles at the Association of American College Unions International, including international president, and the organization recognized him with an Honorary Membership award, which is conferred on those who have given exceptional service and usually reserved for college union and student activities professionals on their retirement.
"Pomona has been the perfect capstone to years of service as a college/university educator. It is an extraordinary place by all measures," wrote Gerard recently in a letter to The Student Life. "It attracts the best and the brightest as students, educators and staff. It nurtures and protects; nourishes and encourages; and supports people when they leave. It is truly a family affair."
Gerard's retirement will be only partial. After a few months off for visiting friends and family, he will return to campus for a quarter-time/10-month position working with Bridges Auditorium and on emergency preparation.
Jerry Irish, John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies
Professor Jerry Irish joined Pomona College in 1986 as vice president and dean of the college and professor of religious studies. In this position, which he held until 1993, Irish facilitated increased diversification of the faculty, instituted the Steele Leave for junior faculty and the rotating Associate Deanships in the Dean of the College office, facilitated increased attention to the Arts (e.g. planning and construction of Seaver Theatre; increased resources for the Dance program), and strengthened collaboration among the Claremont Colleges, including minority and women’s studies programs and centers; modern languages instruction; and Pomona-Pitzer athletic resources.
As a professor, he won three Wig Awards for Excellence in Teaching (1997, 2002 and 2007) and chaired the Arts Task Force, which laid the groundwork for current campaign with respect to the arts, and the Faculty Grievance Committee. He was also a member of the Animal Care Committee, which he says rounded out his experience as an ethicist.
Prior to Pomona College, Irish taught at Stanford University (where he won the Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1971), Wichita State University and Kenyon College, where he also served as provost as well as professor of religion. “A huge highlight that runs through all of my time at Pomona College has been working with talented and dedicated staff members, stimulating and supportive faculty colleagues, and extraordinary students,” says Irish.
Monique Saigal-Escudero, Professor of Romance Languages and Literature
Monique Saigal has been teaching at Pomona for 45 years. She began teaching both French and Spanish, but moved toward a focus on French. Courses she particularly enjoyed teaching included Paris: Myth and Reality, Contemporary French Film, and Literary Analysis. She was a popular presence at the French tables in Oldenborg and always participated in the annual French show.
Interested in the mother/daughter metaphor, she wrote Writing: a link between mother and daughter in the Works of Jeanne Hyvrard, Chantal Chawaf and Annie Ernaux in 2000.
In 2008, she wrote French Heroines 1940-1945: Courage, Strength and Ingenuity, which was published first in French and then in English in 2010. For the book, she traveled to interview and film women who took part in the French Resistance in World War II.
The topic is a personal passion for Saigal-Escudero. "With this book I was able to honor my grandmother gassed at Auschwitz and my Righteous ones, as well as extraordinary women," she explains. The book was well-reviewed and Saigal has given countless readings and talks on the subject. (For more on Saigal-Escudero's World War II research, please read "Reclaiming the Past" in the winter 2004 issue of Pomona College Magazine).
Saigal-Escudero won the Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1997 and the Sontag Fellowship from 2003 to 2008, which allowed her to hire students work on translating her book. She was also the recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities summer grants in 1993 and 1997.
In her retirement, she plans to volunteer at the House of Ruth and work on a documentary featuring the interviews from her book, as well as work in her vegetable garden, play more tennis and return to playing flamenco guitar. "I will miss the students because they are the ones who inspired me to innovate and they kept me young at heart," says Saigal-Escudero.