The Year Ahead for Pomona College

Dear Pomona College Community,

I hope the New Year is starting well for you.

At this time of beginnings, I’m writing to share more details on the future course of Pomona College and our unique role in promoting opportunity in American higher education. This work to advance our shared mission will require the expertise, intellectual engagement and support of Sagehens of all generations.

Opening the Doors Wider

We are committed to academic excellence – and to ensuring that finances are not a barrier to a Pomona education for talented students from all walks of life. At a moment when some are questioning the value of higher education, we believe Pomona’s intensive liberal arts curriculum is more essential than ever to equip young people to think critically, spark real change and take on the world’s grand challenges.

Providing exceptional financial aid is a bedrock Pomona commitment. In recent years, we’ve also been working to cover a wider range of student expenses to address more of the true costs of college. As one example, we now cover the full cost of health insurance for low-income (in the 20th percentile or lower for income) students and international students on aid, and we plan to provide assistance to middle-income students receiving financial aid once we’ve raised the funds to do so. Covering more of the costs of course materials is another element of our Strategic Vision.

Over the years, we’ve made big strides in enrolling more students from low-income backgrounds, leading the way among liberal arts institutions. We will stay on that course. At the same time, a key goal for the years ahead is to draw more students from the middle class, which currently encompasses only 15 percent of our student body compared to one-third of U.S. households.

The aim is to bring together a student body that truly reflects the United States, over time helping to reduce our nation’s polarization and find common ground. Last spring, we launched an ad hoc committee on access and enrollment to address this issue, and recommendations on how we will carry out this effort are coming in the semester ahead.

In the meantime, we’ve already increased our outreach to community college transfers and military veterans. Add to that the enduring work of our Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), which provides intensive college preparation for promising local high school students who typically come from low-income backgrounds and/or will be the first generation in their family to attend college.

A Global Community

We also are looking out to the world. For more than a year, a group of faculty and staff, drawing input from students, considered Pomona’s vast international curriculum, outreach and other ties as part of the Global Pomona Project. The charge was to coordinate, connect and clarify our global work to “reach beyond disciplinary and national borders and better equip our students to engage with people and organizations worldwide.”

Their work is helping to sharpen our plans for the new Center for Global Engagement, to be located where Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages has served the College for more than half a century. The new center will expand well beyond Oldenborg’s post-World War II vision for language and cultural immersion, with a growing focus on cross-disciplinary engagement, experiential learning and collaboration with partners around the globe. The center will be a complex project with residence halls, a dining hall, language study and flexible space for engagement across disciplines.

Our aim is for collaboration – the skills to partner with people and organizations around the world – to become a hallmark of a Pomona education in the years to come. It is through working with others that we will be able to tackle the globe’s grand challenges in the years ahead.

Of course, building a culture of collaboration does not preclude strong disagreements. Our community must continue to develop the skills to engage in dialogue on the most difficult topics. The profoundly divergent views nationwide and on our campus regarding the war in the Middle East are only one example.

Finally, we are reaching across generations to bring the expertise of alumni back to campus to enrich the learning experience of our students. The Return to Pomona initiative will launch this year and involve both senior and young alumni scholars who can share their real-world perspectives with students and faculty. We will share more details with the community in the weeks ahead.

The year ahead promises to be filled with opportunities to do what Pomona does best—foster an environment in which students engage deeply and develop the skills to make significant change in the world. Each person in this community plays an important role in making that happen. May 2024 be a stellar year as we work together to achieve our vital mission.


With best wishes,