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Smith Campus Center

The groundbreaking ceremony for the H. Russell and Jeanne Smith Campus Center in October 1997 fulfilled a 61-year-old dream and a campaign promise made by H. Russell Smith ‘36 when he was president of the Associated Students of Pomona College in his senior year. A longtime member of the Board of Trustees, which he chaired from 1969 to 1988, Smith never forgot his pledge. A true “center” for the campus had, indeed, been needed for many years, a fact noted by President Peter Stanley when he took office in 1991. Stanley was concerned about the tendency of students, faculty, and staff to isolate themselves in dormitories and offices, in part, he believed, because the campus lacked a focal point, a hub where they could congregate as part of their daily routines.

The Campus Center commission, which was awarded to prominent architect Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York, was challenging, to say the least. The new building was to replace the existing Edmunds Union, both physically (except for the original ballroom, which was to be preserved) and in its function as a student center, and, at the same time, to provide something Pomona had never possessed—a hub that would serve as a logistical and symbolic center of the campus. The structure’s prominent site east of Alexander Hall facing Marston Quadrangle further intensified the mandate that it be, as well, a distinguished work of architecture in its own right.

Designed to serve as the center of campus life at Pomona, it is built in three levels, one below ground and two above. It contains the Edmunds Ballroom, renovated from the original construction, meeting rooms, lounges, two food service facilities, recreation facilities,  the Coop Store, the 200-seat Rose Hills Theatre, and the student mail center. It also houses the ASPC/Campus Center Staff, the Asian American Resource Center, the Career Development Office, the Volunteer Center, and the Teaching Learning Center. The food services include a full-service restaurant, the Sagehen Café, and a student-run snack bar, the Coop Fountain.

In 2006, a major new construction project was undertaken to complete the original plans for the basement, which had been left unfinished in the original phase of construction, and to make the spaces more amenable to student needs while preserving the beauty of the original design. The lower level portion of the project included construction of a new social space called the Doms Lounge, a make-over to the Campus Center Social Room, offices for ASPC and Career Development staff and interview rooms. On the ground level, the Kinsmith Coop Fountain was remodeled and expanded to include recreation equipment; a campus living room was constructed from the first floor meeting rooms and the student mail center was relocated to the living room. The former mailroom was changed to an exhibit gallery for student, faculty, or traveling shows. On the second level, the Writing Center was added as were two new meeting rooms. In recognition of the construction of the Lincoln and Edmunds Halls, the north patio was opened, expanded and furnished, to accommodate the increased foot-traffic from the north. The South Lawn was opened to the Courtyard providing increased program space and a more welcoming entrance from the south.

Electronic Carillon

An electronic carillon was added to the clock in the 125-foot Smith Memorial Tower. However, when the bells began to chime in 2000, student protested and the carillon was disconnected. It wouldn’t chime again until 2010, when the Associate Students of Pomona College voted to resume the hourly chiming with a uniquely Pomona difference—the clock would only chime the hour between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and it would do so on the 47th minute of each hour.

Salmonella Outbreak

During the summer of 1999, four people on campus—two students in Pomona’s Upward Bound Program and two participants in the summer management school of the Credit Union National Association—tested positive for salmonella and many others complained of varying degrees of intestinal illness, launching a series of Health Department inspections of Frary Dining Hall and the food-preparation practices of the ARAMARK managers and employees who staffed it.


World Cup Comes to Pomona

In the summer of 1999, four women's soccer teams used Pomona College for practice prior to the World Cup held in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The U.S. and Chinese teams, who were vying for first place (the U.S. won), and teams from Brazil and Norway (vying for third), held practices at Pomona for three days prior to the big event. Germany and North Korea also used the fields in the opening round of the World Cup.


John Cleese

Noted British comedian, actor and screenwriter John Cleese received an honorary degree and was principal speaker at Pomona’s 106th commencement exercises.


  • President Bill Clinton was acquitted in impeachment proceedings in the U.S. Senate.
  • The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands, indicted Slobodan Milošević for war crimes in Kosovo.
  • Governments around the world set up task forces to deal with fears that the “Y2K bug” would cause catastrophic computer failures on New Year’s Day.