Pomona is back.
As we go to press, students are once again attending classes in Crookshank and Carnegie, Pearsons and Pendleton, the many Seaver buildings and all the other places you remember.
Alexander Hall no longer feels eerie and silent as it did for so many months after the evacuation, when the admin building’s remaining population largely consisted of past presidents depicted in oil paintings on the upstairs walls.
The reality of the return to campus sank in for me in late August on the first day of move-in when I came across the once-ordinary scene of students sitting together in circles on sunny Marston Quad. After more than a year with campus closed, the presence of so many students struck me enough that I pulled out my iPhone and started snapping pictures.
Days later, Opening Convocation arrived not in Little Bridges but on that same outdoor quad as a safety measure, with everyone wearing masks for another layer of defense against the virus. The organ music still swelled, and the speakers offered their invocations and inspirations in the usual order. But the ceremony at once felt diffuse and more festive unfolding on the open lawn instead of in the stately music hall.
More notable differences from your Pomona days: weekly COVID-19 tests for students, quarantine protocols and signs everywhere reminding people to mask up inside. Outdoor classrooms dotting the campus are another distinctive sign of our adaptation. The return of students and greater normalcy come against the backdrop of daily reporting on nationwide deaths and hospitalizations with the Delta variant of COVID-19 still at high levels of transmission. Some colleges and universities in our region and beyond already have had to temporarily switch to online classes in the face of outbreaks, and we are all working to hold them off here.
Accounts of Pomona during World War II, with programs accelerated to year-round and so many aspects of ordinary life turned upside down, once felt distant and surreal all these decades later. Now we are in a different kind of historic struggle, making progress and gaining some ground with the return to campus, but still very much in the thick of it.
I know you are likely in the thick of it as well. Members of our extended global community have suffered the passing of loved ones and have put in endless work hours in hospitals and labs and public health agencies seeking to quell COVID-19. Our hope is that in the ongoing pandemic, this publication we all share connects you to something enduring in your Pomona experience. In that vein, we’d like to hear from you: Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.