Spring 2015 /Daring Minds II/

Daring Minds

This isn’t just about Pomona. It’s about the future. And it’s about all of us.


davids-letterThese are the words I used four years ago to explain why we were then launching a five-year campaign to raise $250 million in support of some very ambitious goals. My point is the same now as it was then: This isn’t just about Pomona. It’s about the future. And it’s about all of us.

Over the past four years, Daring Minds has become more than the name of a fundraising campaign. The words have been adopted by Pomona students, alumni and faculty in various ways as they strive to express what happens here and why it matters. It has caught on among members of the Pomona family, I think, because it captures something essential to the Pomona experience—something that simply feels true to those who have lived this place, directly or vicariously, and taken a piece of it away with them. Pomona is truly made up of men and women who are both highly talented and venturesome by choice, and a Pomona education provides the foundation necessary for such people to grow in confidence and ability and, ultimately, to make a difference in the world. The results, on display in every issue of PCM, speak for themselves.

Of course, when we talk about daring minds, we tend to emphasize the exceptional cases—daring minds, writ large, so to speak. The main features in this issue are no exception. In the field of science, the work of genetic researcher Jennifer Doudna ’85 is now acclaimed the world over, and its ripple effects are likely to touch all of our lives in profoundly positive ways in the years to come. On the artistic side, the creativity of Tony Award-winning playwright, director and producer George C. Wolfe ’76 at the new Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta is bringing the inspiring story of the American civil rights movement to new generations in extraordinarily powerful ways.

But in this issue, you’ll also find people you probably haven’t seen in the media. For instance, you’ll read about David Wang ’09, who is trying to start a conversation about Beijing’s congested transportation systems by teaching small groups of people to build their own bamboo bicycles, and like Celia Neustadt ’12, who is mobilizing teenagers in Baltimore to work with local government to resolve difficult problems in urban development. And as evidence that this isn’t just about recent generations, there’s the story of physicist Richard Post ’40, who at the age of 96 is still using his innovative genius to build something that will improve people’s lives.

My point is that this is about all of us who have been touched through the years by the ethos and the opportunities that are Pomona College. This is about every member of the Pomona family who heeds the famous charge on our gates—to bear their added riches in trust for humankind—and tries to live it day by day. It’s about people who care about our common future and are moved to do something about it, whatever their walk of life and whatever the reach of their actions. It’s about teachers preparing the next generation. It’s about doctors caring for those in distress. It’s about businesspeople seeking to build something beneficial and lasting. It’s about those who strengthen their local communities in any of a thousand ways.

The world needs the daring minds who walk through Pomona’s gates each year, and that makes this college worthy of all of our support. With one year to go to the end of Campaign Pomona: Daring Minds, there is still much to be done for the daring minds of the future. I hope you’ll join us as we work to make Pomona an even better place for them to thrive and grow.

—David W. Oxtoby, President of Pomona College