During 1921-1922, Pomona relocated its early administration building, Sumner Hall, from what is now Marston Quad to its current location east of Bridges Hall of Music. Today, Sumner houses the financial aid and admissions offices, drawing thousands of visitors every year from around the world as the starting place for campus tours. After more than a year with Sumner closed in the pandemic (and tours online only), visitors are now returning to campus and Sumner is sure to resume its role as one of the busiest spots at Pomona.
Jill Grigsby was a young woman in her late 20s when she began studying the aging process.
In June, she retired as the Richard Steele Professor of Social Sciences and professor of sociology after 38 years at Pomona. The researcher, in a way, has become her own subject, or at least the beneficiary of her own expertise.
For years, Grigsby has lent her knowledge to the City of Claremont as a member of its Committee on Aging. She helped create the Pomona College class auditing program that has spread across The Claremont Colleges, allowing senior citizens to sit in on many courses at no cost with the permission of the professor. She also has organized regular talks by professors for retired groups in the community. Now, she is among them, and turning her gaze inward.
“I have to realize now that the unexpected is really part of the aging process,” Grigsby says.
Whether that’s something like COVID-19 that affects everyone or something more personal, “there will be some other catastrophe and it’s realizing that life is not just going to go on smoothly,” she says, noting the many health issues that can arise as we grow older.
Even as she plans to travel for fun, Grigsby intends to continue pursuing her wide-ranging research interests, which include population trends, the high societal value of pets in Japan and suburban walking trails as gathering places for people of different races and ethnicities. With the privilege afforded her in retirement, she has taken a campus office in Baldwin House, built in 1890 and former home to the first College president.
“I know that it’s really important to construct a schedule,” she says. “So, I’m getting a new office and figuring out what my new schedule is going to be.”
Eric Myers ’80 was placing flags on graves for Memorial Day with his daughter’s church youth group when he encountered a solemn Pomona connection 3,000 miles from campus. Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery in New York is the resting place for members of the Smiley family, including Albert K. Smiley, the Pomona trustee of the late 1800s whose name is on one of Pomona’s oldest residence halls, where Myers lived his junior year. Today, Myers, who had come across the grave years ago but didn’t remember the exact spot, works at SUNY New Paltz, home to Smiley Art Building, named for the family whose philanthropy supported colleges and civic enterprises on both coasts.
“I came late to bicycle riding.
When I first learned or tried to learn, I rode myself straight into the back of a car and didn’t pick up a bike for maybe three years after that.”
—Ken McCloud ’07,
who today is policy director for the League of American Bicyclists, appearing on the Sagecast.
Sagehens have always been proudly bookish, so it is no surprise the admissions team’s decision to send a handpicked tome to each U.S. student admitted in spring went over well, winning raves on social media. “Pomona is amazing,” wrote one poster on Reddit. “They keep winning my heart.”
“Our goal was to send a personalized mailing that, in a way, assured students we had indeed read their applications, and, most importantly, really seen them and their interests,” says Paola Reyes Noriega, assistant dean of admissions.
The eight books were recommendations from College staff or were works by guest speakers the College has recently welcomed, such as There There author Tommy Orange. Admissions officers picked which one to send based on what they learned about the admitted students in applications, offering the perfect way for soon-to-be Sagehens to open a new chapter at Pomona.
Not Pictured: Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet, Real Life by Brandon Taylor and The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
lecturer in music
44 years at Pomona
Everett L. “Rett” Bull Jr.
Osler-Loucks Professor in Science and professor of computer science,
42 years at Pomona
McConnell Professor of Human Relations and professor of philosophy
22 years at Pomona
Stephen A. Erickson
Wilson Lyon Professor of the Humanities and professor of philosophy
56 years at Pomona
Lingurn H. Burkhead Professor of Mathematics
34 years at Pomona
resident designer and professor of theatre
45 years at Pomona
Lynne K. Miyake
professor of Japanese
32 years at Pomona
Warren Finney Day Professor of History
36 years at Pomona
adjunct professor of Asian languages and literatures
30 years at Pomona
Richard “Rick” Worthington
professor of politics
30 years at Pomona
A new Meals on Wheels program, operating since November 2020 out of Pomona’s previously idle dining facilities, was designed with more needs than one in mind. In the midst of the pandemic, furloughed dining and catering staff prepare meals for 180 homebound seniors in the area. The result is mutually beneficial. Senior citizens receive breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, and furloughed staff are able to use their skills on a limited basis and be paid their regular wages.
The program is a partnership between Pomona College, the Hospitality Training Academy and UNITE HERE Local 11, a labor union that represents Pomona’s dining workers.
Staff members cook and package food and prepare the meals for delivery by the Hospitality Training Academy. Jose Martinez Jimenez, general manager of dining services, says a total of 22 furloughed staff members are working the county meal program—16 dining staff and six dining managers.
To ensure their safety during the pandemic, returning dining staff work in tightly controlled “bubbles” of two teams, are regularly tested for COVID-19 and follow strict health and safety guidelines and protocols, according to Robert Robinson, assistant vice president for facilities and campus services.
As of mid-January, more than 20,000 meals had been served. And we’re not talking about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches here. The cyclical menu includes plant-based meals such as mushroom ropa vieja, al pastor tofu with grilled pineapple, miso-glazed buckwheat soba noodles and other Sagehen favorites.
Catering chef Benigno Avina treasures this opportunity to use his talent, and he calls it one of his greatest experiences. “I’m so happy to be working in this program, helping people that really need help in these extraordinary times.”
Pandemic or not, Evelyn and Summer Hasama ’24 just keep on coding. The first-year twin sisters have already won first place not once but twice this academic year for apps they’ve developed together.
In November they won first place in the virtual 5C Hackathon for their app Event Check, which allows users to go through health and safety checks to gain access to a campus event. Even so, the sisters didn’t expect to win a month later when they presented their new app, called DonateIt, to a panel of judges from Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and Visa for a competition at the conclusion of their CodePath IOS mobile development course. “We honestly thought we had no chance of winning,” says Summer. “We were a team of two, while all the other teams had three or four—we were outnumbered. And we are just freshmen, while some of other students were juniors and seniors.”
DonateIt allows users to donate unwanted items to neighbors who might want them. Explaining their inspiration, the sisters said, “Instead of throwing things in the trash, we wanted to create something that would make use of these things by donating them to individuals within our community.”
It takes two to tango, even if they’re a thousand miles apart.
Members of the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company have spent the last several months practicing their moves solo, but while physically apart because of the pandemic, the students have continued to practice and compete via a collaboration app called Discord.
“I knew I wanted the team to keep interacting and having some sort of plan, and after talking to the student officers from all 5Cs, they were the ones who said, ‘Discord is where it is at now,’” says Denise Machin, director of the ballroom dance company and assistant director of the Smith Campus Center. “That’s why we started Discord. They were the ones with the insight into what students need, and what they need is a platform to connect.”
To work around the company members’ being in multiple time zones, Zoom meetings are held on different days at various times so that more people have the opportunity to participate. Other colleges in the ballroom scene are hosting online group classes open to other collegiate dancers, and that’s giving “our students a chance to learn from people outside of our organization and build a community,” Machin says. “It’s really nice that the different campuses are supporting each other during this time.”
There were even opportunities to dance in virtual competitions, including the Zoom Ball on Halloween, where participants uploaded videos of their routines to be judged live—a way for them to safely receive feedback on their dancing. “It’s a difficult time, and I’m really impressed by the resilience of our students,” Machin says. “They are going through a lot and managing a lot, and I’m inspired by them. They are just good at this—they are so good at connecting online and coming up with creative ideas.”
Elena Kim ’21 has won a national undergraduate mathematics award after being selected as the recipient of the Alice T. Shafer Mathematics
Prize established by the Association for Women in Mathematics. The annual prize is presented to one undergraduate woman for excellence in the field. During her time at Pomona, Kim developed a strong research background and set of skills thanks to two summer research experiences for undergraduates (REU) programs. She did one REU at the University of Michigan-Dearborn the summer after her sophomore year and another, virtually, last summer through Williams College, working for Professor Steven J. Miller, who nominated her for the prize.