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Claremont McKenna College
"Crescit cum commercio civitas"
Civilization Prospers with Commerce
Claremont McKenna College seeks to "educate its students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions, and to support faculty and student scholarship that contribute to intellectual vitality and the understanding of public policy issues." — Mission Statement
In 1946, Founding President George Benson, with land and a charter from the Associated Colleges of Claremont, launched Claremont Men's College, now Claremont McKenna College (CMC). He was of the place. He graduated from Pomona College in 1928, a college his grandfather helped found in 1887. He had 86 students in the first year, most, like himself, returning GIs. The President with his charges cleared the sagebrush in frontier fashion for what is now the main, North Mall. They built a simple and open campus, with straight utilitarian lines, featuring windows and doors that opened onto the Mall and remained open year-round in the Southern California sunshine. They followed shortly after with the dining hall. It served the entire student body and remains today a single, central, daily gathering place for every member of the campus.
President Benson held office for just over two decades until 1969 and was ultimately succeeded by his chief assistant, Jack Stark, who himself held the office for 29 years. They were frugal, dedicated, and aspirational builders. When President Stark retired in 1999, the College was 53 years old and the endowment was $387 million.
President Benson and President Stark were public and civic leaders with a formidable ethic of service. They sought an enthusiastic and optimistic student body. In the early years, most were returning veterans, older, experienced, serious, and eager to be responsible. From the beginning, CMC's mission focused on business, government, and the professions. It suited a student body eager to get on with life. The College had a practical cast. This mission infused the whole student experience. In student and academic life, the College emphasized leadership. The administration attracted a dedicated faculty. They invested in their teaching, taught small classes, demanded much and were rewarded with a strong response. The disciplines of economics and government and the field of political economy were the heart of the curriculum. The mission took and became the College's greatest strategic asset. Claremont McKenna developed as a committed liberal arts college, with an accent on practical success. It taught doers and thinkers, steeped in the reflective tradition of the liberal arts, and sharpened by a concentration on how to apply ideas in the world. It became an institution whose graduates were both empowered and driven to make an impact. In the liberal arts tradition of the American academy, CMC evolved uniquely.
As society has evolved to include a more robust social sector and many areas of the private and public sectors have come to require greater expertise in science, technology, ethics, languages, and foreign affairs, CMC has developed its student body, faculty, curriculum, and research institutes to remain true to its mission. This process of evolution has accelerated during the presidency of Pamela Gann, who joined the College in 1999. While maintaining and indeed adding to the strength of both economics and government, during President Gann's tenure the College deliberately added strength to the eight other academic departments that it supports, giving all the critical mass they require to provide the liberal arts education that is fundamental to the College's mission. Science has been a major area of growth, both for CMC and for The Claremont Colleges as a whole Since 1992, the number of CMC students majoring in science has nearly doubled to 18 percent. During President Gann's tenure the faculty and the administration, supported by major donors, added social entrepreneurship to the traditional focus on the professions and public affairs. In 2006, CMC presented the first of its annual Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership, which identifies and celebrates extraordinary leaders in the global nonprofit sector.
CMC has advanced the teacher/scholar model it has long embraced, moving it in step with the nation's leading liberal arts colleges by instituting a 2/2 teaching load now prevalent in R-1 universities. Scholarship became an even more vital requirement for tenure, though teaching remained the preeminent value. CMC has hired roughly 60 percent of the faculty in the last 14 years. The College competed vigorously, recruiting laterally for some faculty leaders and effectively for young scholars. The administration increased support for faculty research, built new offices and classrooms, and worked hard to retain prominent scholars. The result has been a remarkably productive and distinguished faculty, who are pleased with their constantly improved conditions and their growing prominence in the academy. Currently the College's academic departments are: the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance; government; history; Keck Science; literature; philosophy; psychology; mathematics & computer science; modern languages & literatures; and religious studies, with two ancillary departments in military science and physical education. The College offers 35 majors to its students, including cross registration at the other Claremont colleges.
In student recruitment, the administration affirmed a "need-blind/meet-full-need" admissions policy and added a "no packaged loan" policy. The College receives about 5,000 applications for some 300 places in the freshman class. It had a 13.6 percent rate of acceptance for fall 2012, one of the most selective profiles in the country. In fall 2011, more than 70 percent of those accepted graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. The fall 2011 median SAT scores of new students were 690 in critical reading, and 710 in mathematics. CMC is among the most diverse of the highly selective liberal arts colleges, having welcomed 102 students of color (33 percent) in its 2011 freshmen class. In addition, 18 percent of CMC's freshmen were drawn from twelve counties abroad with the greatest numbers arriving from India, China, Korea, and Canada.
This last spring, CMC discovered that a senior administrator had systematically exaggerated CMC's SAT scores and the percentage of students in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. The Board of Trustees ordered a careful investigation by outside counsel who found that the misreporting was the work of one person. This incident represented a deviation from the College's firmly held values. The administration and the Board acted immediately when the distortions were discovered, establishing changes to internal processes that would prevent such actions from happening again. The scandal shook the College and its associated communities. Even with the corrected numbers, CMC's ranking in U.S. News & World Report would not have changed.
The College recruits students for academic strength and for early signs of leadership. It recruits students engaged in the life of their school, including class officers, debaters, and athletes. Seventy one percent of last year's freshman class members were varsity athletes in high school and 49 percent were team captains. Of the 1240 students today, 550 are varsity athletes and the College fields 21 teams. The tradition at CMC encouraged a variety of forms of entrepreneurial and leadership activity. From the beginning, the campus had an enthusiastic, welcoming and challenging quality that it retains to this day.
Students have always loved CMC. They join up. The community welcomes all its members. Friendships are easy. Competition is encouraged, but teams and teamwork are ubiquitous. Students push each other to excel and improve and celebrate their collective successes. They also expect each other to live balanced lives, attending to the academic and intellectual demands of their education, while also building and nurturing the social relationships that help define the CMC experience. For years, the facilities were limited and today, despite impressive investment, the College still has an aspirational master plan and a long list of projects that it intends to build. These physical limitations have never affected the mood. The institution invested heavily in programming and in people from the beginning. The student-faculty ratio was always impressive and is 9:1. There are ten research institutes, designed to foster faculty-student research: the Berger Institute for Work, Family and Children; Financial Economics Institute; Gould Center for Humanistic Studies; Center for Human Rights Leadership; Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies; Kravis Leadership Institute; Lowe Institute of Political Economy; Roberts Environmental Center; Rose Institute of State and Local Government; and the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom. The CIRP Senior Survey found that CMC students were twice as likely as their peers to collaborate on a faculty research project. There are funds for paid summer internships and students are encouraged to invent opportunities that link experience to the classroom. Students sign up to study abroad or for CMC's semester in Washington or the new semester in the Silicon Valley. The dense network of successful and committed alumni sustains the internships and greatly aids subsequent career placement. Approximately 60 percent of each graduating class seeks full-time employment directly after college. Of those recent graduates, over 70 percent have found full-time employment in the weeks before or after graduation. Fourteen percent of graduating seniors have been admitted to enroll in graduate school, and five percent have won an award or fellowship. The most recent campus student life survey reported that 90 percent of CMC students had a "positive experience" with the College and 99 percent of young alumni, surveyed by the American Council of Education, reported a favorable impression after graduation.
Historically, the CMC value proposition got young people's attention. They understood that CMC was preparing them for a reflective, but effective life. If anything, the CMC mission has become clearer and more intense with the passage of time and more attractive in the marketplace. Investment has built the faculty, the campus, and the program. The dual identity, the balance between preparation for professional life and a classical liberal arts education has taken full hold. The faculty and the students understand the inherent tensions and the administration works constantly to improve the strength of both commitments, a combination that succeeds with both graduates and prospective students.
The Claremont Colleges
The Claremont Colleges Consortium benefits both students and faculty and has always been one of the keys to CMC's success. CMC has a close association with its sister institutions, Pomona, Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Keck Graduate Institute, and Claremont Graduate University. The Colleges live on a single, lovely, contiguous geography and students and faculty move freely between them for classes and project. They jointly operate a number of centralized services including the Honnold Library, student health and counseling services, and campus safety. The Consortium enrolls more than 6,300 undergraduate and graduate students, and provides more than 2,000 courses offered by nearly 700 faculty. The ability to provide students with extra breadth by virtue of their ability to cross-register has allowed CMC to focus its resources on a narrower set of priorities. It has also been crucial for faculty in smaller departments to be able to network with peer faculty at the other colleges. Within the Consortium, CMC, Pitzer College, and Scripps College share the W.M. Keck Science Department, which is the largest department among all of The Claremont Colleges. CMC is a small, intimate college in an impressive and appealing seven-College campus. The Consortium enhances everything about the College, but also poses challenges for the schools' leadership and requires effort to fulfill its potential.
The Consortium enhances CMC's ability to recruit and retain faculty, providing a critical mass of faculty collaborators equivalent to a first-rank research university. The teaching load and pay are competitive with a strong peer group of liberal arts colleges. Its proximity to Los Angeles attracts two-career couples. The abundance of outstanding academic institutions nearby provides opportunities for academic couples, and the Claremont area is an especially fine location for families, with reasonable housing costs compared to other metropolitan areas and excellent public schools.
Development and Finance
The CMC alumni body has been remarkably successful and loyal. When they first arrived, they felt like pioneers on campus and they went on to become entrepreneurs in politics, in business, and especially in finance. They eagerly helped young alumni and they contributed to their college. There are 10,083 graduates today, a tiny alumni body, but an especially successful one. Almost 50 percent of alumni contribute each year. They have strong loyalties and a deep capacity to support the College, more substantial than most large colleges. As the College has built its development program, and as the alumni body grows and matures, both participation and contributions have steadily improved. Cash contributions to the College average in the range of $30-$35 million a year and have remained stable.
To support its new ambitions, the Board and President Gann launched CMC's largest fundraising campaign, which is the single largest campaign conducted by any liberal arts college; a six-year, $600 million effort which will close, at target, in June 2013. It has had exceptionally strong support from a prominent group of alumni, including a $200 million gift from Robert Day '65 that established the Robert Day Scholars Program and an associated Master's Program in Finance. In recognition for his generous gift, the College renamed the economics department the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance. It cemented CMC's remarkable leadership in economics and finance. It is the largest single gift ever made to a liberal arts college. It was joined in the campaign by a few other exceptionally generous gifts. The College named its recently completed Kravis Center in recognition of a $75 million, unrestricted gift from Henry Kravis '67. A defining building at the entrance to the campus, the Kravis Center houses five research institutes, creates new, technologically enabled classrooms, provides marvelous faculty offices, is the home of the office of admission and is a convening space for campus intellectual and social activity. The George Roberts '66 Faculty Leadership Initiative, a gift matched by other contributions to a total of more than $60 million established endowed chairs and enabled the endowment of 26 professorships, including nine new positions. Today, 60 of the 140 CMC faculty have endowed chairs. The three major gifts were accompanied by a wide array of CMC alumni donations in a campaign that has permanently transformed and enhanced the profile of CMC.
Claremont McKenna remains in a financially strong position despite the economic vicissitudes of recent years. The endowment as of June 30, 2011, stands at $543.3 million. The CMC endowment per student is roughly $430,000, which ranks 10th among liberal arts colleges. Great untapped potential exists within the financially successful alumni population, but attention will be required to nurture and extract greater mid-tier giving. The annual operating budget for 2011-2012 is $92 million. The College has historically set aside funds each year in excess of scheduled depreciation so that it has a fully funded reserve to cover maintenance, repairs and renovation of its physical plant. The College has added significantly to its faculty, improved its programs and invested heavily in student financial aid. It has prospered, but it maximizes its budget and relies on a lean administrative staff.
The Current Context
CMC has a very particular value proposition, obvious to trustees, administrators, faculty, students, alumni, parents, and — excitingly — to prospective students. A young person knows that by coming to CMC she or he will join a vibrant community, ambitious but cooperative, intellectually engaged but practical, offering both a superb liberal arts curriculum and outstanding preparation for careers in the public, private, and social sectors.
The formula appeals domestically and internationally to a highly diverse constituency. What was once a strong regional college, drawing mostly from California and the West Coast, is now a decidedly national and international institution, with an increasingly powerful brand. It has risen to prominence. It is a contender in a formidable league. Claremont McKenna ranks as the 9th liberal arts college in the 2012 edition of U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges, 4th in graduation and retention, 6th in admissions selectivity, and 8th in faculty resources.
Significant challenges remain. It is still young and still developing. Like all colleges and universities, it can no longer rely on tuition increases. In a volatile investment climate, returns from the endowment cannot be relied upon to drive institutional growth. Additions to the endowment for financial aid are essential. The campus has made great strides, but there are pressing requirements, especially in science and technology, and an ambitious campus master plan. There are significant revenue opportunities and new cooperative endeavors within The Claremont Colleges that can enhance offerings and save money.
The next President will have a sophisticated challenge: to more effectively broadcast Claremont McKenna's historic value proposition in the competitive world of the academy and the emerging world of global and technological change. CMC has always produced young leaders, in commerce, in politics, in civic life. CMC has a special contribution to make when entrepreneurship counts more than ever. The College's commitment to intellectual rigor, character formation, ethics, and high purpose has never been more relevant. It is the next President's task to make the College a national and global leader for a very distinctive style of education.
Key Opportunities and Challenges for the President
Crystallize the CMC message and inspire the CMC audience
Claremont McKenna College has a unique and distinctive interpretation of a liberal arts education; it is a place where ideas are explored and then applied to make a positive impact. Parents, applicants, students, and alumni have come to appreciate its special power to launch young people into successful, creative lives and careers. The next President will need to demonstrate appreciation for the College's unique composition and traditions, while also advancing its core mission. The President must establish strong relationships with all stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff members, alumni, and the Board of Trustees. S/he must not only listen and communicate well, but carefully understand and embrace Claremont McKenna's distinctions.
The President will work to articulate a vision and plan for how Claremont McKenna can attain greater prominence and visibility in the future; it has emerged both nationally and internationally, but it is still easily misunderstood and is much better-known regionally than nationally. The President should build upon the College's core academic strengths, its distinctions, and its high-quality faculty and student body to promote Claremont McKenna's brand nationally and globally.
Build an even broader culture of philanthropy backed by an excellent development program
By this Spring, Claremont McKenna will complete the largest fundraising campaign in liberal arts college history, a testament to the commitment of its major donors and the Board of Trustees. To continue on its impressive trajectory in the coming years, the President's charge will not only include prudent financial stewardship and strategic spending, but also substantial fundraising. CMC intends to grow its endowment and raise funds for financial aid, a core mission of the college and a key factor in student recruitment. The College has a broad group of new, potential major donors who are interested and can be cultivated. With the support of a dedicated Board and a small, emerging, but gifted development team, Claremont McKenna must build upon its recent success and further strengthen its financial position. As the key external face of the institution, the President will be expected to lead the fundraising activity of the College.
Extend CMC's appeal to prospective students
Claremont McKenna attracts an excellent student body. Its reputation for a practically oriented liberal arts education and a superb student experience attracts an increasingly strong applicant group. It has developed an especially attractive mission and culture that is not always widely understood. While it does compete with other liberal arts colleges for its students, it competes most vigorously with the campuses of the University of California and research universities like the University of Southern California (USC), Georgetown University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, and Dartmouth College. By sharpening Claremont McKenna's message, by accentuating responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions, by emphasizing the advantages of its liberal arts tradition, its own location and its emerging global presence and impact, the College should attract an ever more talented and imaginative student body.
Expand the boundaries of the financial model for liberal arts colleges
Like most liberal arts colleges, CMC has felt the stress of the recession. Students have greater economic need. There are new limits on tuition increases and investment returns are more volatile. At the same time, the College has built new buildings, hired new faculty and significantly improved financial aid. Over the next several years, CMC should explore the possibilities for new revenue, the core cost choices, the uses of technology in pedagogy and the possibilities for increased collaboration on cost and revenue that are available in the Claremont Consortium. With consistent attention and great care, CMC must rethink the contours of its economic model.
Manage the essential balances and tensions at CMC
CMC evolved by managing a few fundamental tensions: the tension between the liberal arts and pre-professional components of its curriculum, the tension between the need for strength in every department and its particular emphasis upon economics and government, the tension between maintaining CMC's distinctiveness within the Consortium and enhancing its profile as part of the Consortium, and the tensions inherent in a commitment to introducing a wide range of often controversial viewpoints on public affairs and public policy. CMC's Presidents have paid close attention to issues of balance. They occupy the ethical high ground, draw the community together and allocate resources carefully. CMC prospers by maintaining productive tension. The balance is crucial to the success of CMC's mission.
Attract and retain a highly distinguished faculty
CMC competes for faculty with all the best liberal arts colleges and all the finest research universities in the country. Over the past decade, the strength of the departments at the core of its mission — economics and government — has been improved and is now well matched by programs ranging from philosophy and history to literature and psychology. CMC competed aggressively, using competitive salaries, a 2/2 course load, small classes, research support and an excellent location. In the next decade, CMC will have a retention challenge. Both research universities and liberal arts colleges are interested in a very productive faculty.
The College has had great success in building a faculty of highly diverse opinions and has recruited increasing numbers of women. Like most colleges, the faculty is less diverse than the student body. It has made significant progress, especially on gender, but it will need to continue attending to issues of gender, ethnic, and intellectual diversity over time.
The next President and the Board will make the broad strategic choices around faculty recruitment, development, and retention, and will find and allocate the resources necessary. The core academic reputation of the College will depend on this next generation of presidential leadership.
Explore the possibilities within the CMC mission for science and technology and social entrepreneurship
CMC has prospered by attracting an aspirational student body who want "to make a difference." Traditionally, they moved to politics and business, especially to finance. Those remain the strongest CMC choices, with extraordinary programs and attract the largest group of majors. Increasingly, however, CMC students are interested in careers, often management careers, grounded in science and technology and in public/civic careers in the emerging field of social entrepreneurship, also often grounded in science and technology. Keck Science provides an academic home for an ever-increasing number of students and offers majors that provide an interdisciplinary reach across the campus. The College has worked with its consortial partners to enhance its offerings and has built special pathways to the Silicon Valley.
The issues are important. CMC science facilities are strained. It does not have the lab or office space to hire the faculty it needs. Major developments will require a substantial investment. The next President will lead a careful strategic review, done in collaboration with its many partners among The Claremont Colleges.
Keep the intellectual climate lively, open, and politically diverse
CMC students and faculty have a good time with their politics. They invite a highly diverse array of speakers to the campus, especially to its exceptional speaking program at the Athenaeum, a space conceived as a place where students and faculty can gather for intellectual discourse in an intimate and relaxed setting and integrate their academic and social lives. Political diversity amongst the faculty is encouraged. The faculty would like to see even more emphasis on exciting intellectual discussion beyond the confines of the classroom and beyond politics and public policy. CMC has the essential elements. Virtually all students live on campus. The College regularly upgrades the residence halls, with social spaces, creating the possibility for small groups to gather. The research institutes develop themes and attract people. CMC students have broad interests. There is an opportunity to inspire student enthusiasm and enhance student learning by adding even more intellectual zest to the culture.
Join the leadership of The Claremont Colleges in their essential common work
The Claremont Colleges are a source of fundamental strength for all of its associated campuses, CMC included. The adroit use of Consortium resources has always been a key to CMC's success. As the effects of the recession sink in, The Colleges will have even greater incentive to explore common platforms that will reduce cost and to create common programs that will enhance appeal. Each campus has a distinct culture and priorities. Over the Consortium's history, this inherent tension required more global thinking by the leadership on each campus. The process of knitting the campuses more closely together is painstaking, parliamentary work, but the new President will be expected to follow in the footsteps of prior Presidents by providing strong leadership to the Consortium.
Qualities and Characteristics
Claremont McKenna College seeks an energetic new President whose intellectual vigor and proven experience will inspire confidence in the CMC community. The Search Committee understands that no single candidate will have all the ideal qualifications, but it seeks candidates with the following qualities and characteristics:
- A deep understanding of and commitment to the liberal arts and the undergraduate liberal arts college coupled with an appreciation of and enthusiasm for CMC's unique mission of harnessing this model to educate its students more broadly and effectively for responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions.
- A demonstrated ability to develop a strategic vision and the management savvy to execute that vision in a practical and inspiring way.
- A record of building and maintaining external relations and advancing an organization's profile and reputation regionally, nationally, and internationally; the desire and ability to speak to the challenges facing higher education, especially the liberal arts, on a national, and global platform.
- Proven efficacy in working with a governing board, as a group and as individuals; experience in building and maintaining an engaged and supportive Board.
- A history of recruiting, developing, and retaining a world-class faculty; a strong appreciation of the academic world, its scholarly values, and professional culture.
- A demonstrated respect for academic freedom and diversity of opinion on key social and political questions of the day.
- A talent to lead productive fundraising in an academic environment. An established background of fundraising success and campaign experience is highly desired.
- A record of successful administrative leadership, including oversight of senior leaders; a record of effectively recruiting and retaining strong executives.
- Recognized skill as a gifted communicator in diverse settings, ranging from large groups to one-on-one conversations.
- A capacity to connect with and relate to members of the CMC community on a personal level; an excellent listener who can build strong relationships and maintain open, accessible lines of communication with students, faculty, staff members, alumni, and parents.
- An ability and desire to help lead the College in a discussion about the role of the liberal arts and undergraduate education in an evolving national context and an increasingly globalized society.
Applications, Inquiries, and Nominations
Claremont McKenna College has retained Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this search. Confidential inquiries, nominations, referrals, and resumes with cover letters should be sent in confidence to:
John Isaacson, President
David Bellshaw, Vice President
Bernard Jones, Senior Associate
649 Mission Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94105-4128
Email submission of application materials is strongly encouraged.