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Slideshow: Pomona Community Gathers to Celebrate Opening of New Residence Halls

Visit out Flickr set to see photos from the dedication of Sontag and Pomona Hall.

On October 1, 2011, the Pomona College community gathered to dedicate the opening of the College’s two newest residential buildings, Sontag Hall and Pomona Hall. Located north of Sixth Street, the two L-shaped buildings house approximately 150 students, as well as the Outdoor Education Center, a large community lounge, a rooftop educational classroom, and a rooftop garden. Built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum standards, the highest level of sustainable building, the new residence halls are among the greenest in the country. (Read more about the buildings here.)

Sontag Hall, adjacent to Athearn Field, was made possible by a lead gift of $7.5 million from Rick Sontag (Harvey Mudd ’64) and Susan Sontag (Pomona ’64), who were on hand for the celebration, along with Rick’s aunt Carol Sontag, the widow of beloved Professor Frederick Sontag. Pomona Hall received an anonymous $7.5 million lead gift.

Matt Gold ‘91, Kevin Hickey ‘99, Jared Mathis ‘94, Bob O’Leary ‘93 and David Pfaff ‘92 joined together to honor Fred and Carol Sontag with the naming of the Kappa Delta lounge on the third floor of Sontag Hall; Prof. Sontag was the Kappa Delta fraternity’s advisor for nearly 50 years.

Other donors were also on hand, including Lucila Arango ‘88, who, with the Aramont Foundation, established an endowment of $800,000 for the Outdoor Education Center; and Peter Sasaki ‘91, whose naming gift made possible the lounge in Sontag Hall. John Popp ‘78 and his wife Evelyn, who fundded a lounge in Pomona Hall, were unable to attend.

Paul Efron ‘76, chair of the Board of Trustees, opened the program, which also included speeches by President David Oxtoby, Lauri Valerio ‘12, Professor and Director of Environmental Analysis Char Miller and Rick Sontag, who commented on the meaningfulness of the residence halls to his own family:

“It is wonderful to sponsor a project like this. But more importantly it is hopefully a reminder to others that giving back to institutions and causes that affected your life and career is not only an honor and a privilege. In my view, it is an obligation.

Our family was deeply influenced by Pomona College. My wife Susan and daughter Cindy grew into adulthood while they were students here. My cousins Grant and Anne were immersed in the Claremont culture and formed their personalities while they were raised here. My Aunt Carol built most of her adult life around the college community. And, of course, my Uncle Fred had an important influence on the College just as Pomona had a strong influence on him. Institutions like Pomona can be a major factor in determining the course of people’s lives. That’s why I think it is important to leave more than memories behind whenever you get a chance.

It’s exciting to think that over the course of the next several decades there may be thousands of students who will have the opportunity to live in this dorm and develop into mature adults. And maybe some of these students will pass by that bronze memorial plaque on the wall bearing the names of Sontag family members and wonder--who is this Sontag family and why did they feel compelled to sponsor the construction of this building? If by asking this question, it triggers a thought that eventually leads to their giving back in some comparable way, our family will have made an even more significant gift to Pomona.”