Fall 2016 /The Oxtoby Years/

36 Hours in the Life of a President

Photos by John Lucas

As David Oxtoby enters his final months before stepping down as president of Pomona College on June 30, 2017, he agreed to allow photographer John Lucas to follow him around over a period of two days in early October to give us a visual record of what the life of a college president is like today. Of course, missing from this 36-hour span, save for a brief roadtrip to Pasadena, is his frequent travel schedule, since we couldn’t very well ask our photographer to take a red-eye to Washington or New York, as Oxtoby has done on so many occasions over the past 13 years. But other than that, Oct. 4 and 5, a Tuesday and a Wednesday, were fairly ordinary days in the life of Pomona’s ninth president.

Day One


10:34 a.m.

Oxtoby begins his day at a meeting of the Council of Presidents of The Claremont Colleges on the campus of Claremont McKenna College. With plenty of issues that cross the seven campuses to discuss, the group convenes at 8 a.m. and meets throughout the morning.


12:17 p.m.

During a working lunch, Oxtoby meets with Vice President for Advancement Pamela Besnard to discuss the intinerary for an upcoming trip to South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.


2:26 p.m.

After another meeting, this time with Vice President and Treasurer Karen Sisson, Oxtoby returns to his office to prepare for the next.


2:43 p.m.

Having already taken part in more than five hours of meetings, Oxtoby takes a short break to join his wife, Claire (background, far left), at Bridges Auditorium and to speak with a group of students as they examine a display about the College’s history of activism, part of the celebration of Founders Day 2016.


3:01 p.m.

Back at his inner office, Oxtoby makes a scheduled phone call to Chair of the Board of Trustees Sam Glick ’04 to discuss details of the upcoming board meeting.


4:23 p.m.

Oxtoby returns to Alexander Hall for the next thing on his schedule, a two-hour meeting of the Faculty Personnel Committee.


5:21 p.m.

His day over, he packs his briefcase and walks two blocks down Indian Hill Boulevard to number 345, otherwise known as the President’s House.


5:32 p.m.

After exchanging suit and tie for plaid shirt and jeans, Oxtoby checks out the New York Times and discusses the day with his wife, Claire.


5:45 p.m.

A baseball buff, he turns on the TV to catch part of a playoff game before he and Claire leave to attend a play.


7:44 p.m.

Claire and David Oxtoby watch a dress rehearsal of a student production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” at Seaver Theatre.

Day Two


7:24 a.m.

The Oxtobys have breakfast together at the President’s House.


8:08 a.m.

Oxtoby starts his work day at his computer.


9:23 a.m.

He engages with his vice presidents in key policy discussions at a meeting of Executive Staff.


12:06 p.m.

Oxtoby convenes a monthly meeting of the faculty and shares his goals for the academic year.


2:12 p.m.

Oxtoby discusses future plans for the 7-college library (top left) with Vice President and Dean of the Faculty Audrey Bilger and Kevin Mulroy, dean of The Claremont Colleges Library.


3:10 p.m.

Kathleen Howe, director of the Pomona College Museum of Art, gives the Oxtobys a tour of the museum’s exhibit by Native American artist Rose B. Simpson, titled “Ground.”


4:14 p.m.

During his regular student office hours, arguably one of his favorite parts of the job, Oxtoby speaks with Maggie Lemons ’17.


5:22 p.m.

Claire Oxtoby joins her husband to attend a women’s soccer game against the University of La Verne which ends in a 3–0 victory for the Sagehens.


6:21 p.m.

Evening finds the Oxtobys on Highway 210 to Pasadena.


7:07 p.m.

In Pasadena, they join trustee Louise Bryson for dinner.