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From "Canvass for Funds" to "Daring Minds": A Brief History of Pomona College Campaigns

Holmes Hall, finished in 1883, was funded by Pomona's first campaign, the "Canvass for Funds."

Holmes Hall, finished in 1883, was funded by Pomona's first campaign, the "Canvass for Funds."

Bridges Hall of Music, completed in 1915, was funded by the "Million Dollar Campaign" of 1913.

Bridges Hall of Music, completed in 1915, was funded by the "Million Dollar Campaign" of 1913.

Smith Campus Center, completed in 1999, was funded by the "Campaign for Pomona College" of 1997.

Smith Campus Center, completed in 1999, was funded by the "Campaign for Pomona College" of 1997.

In October, the College will formally launch a five-year effort to raise funds to carry out some of the most important parts of its strategic plan for the coming decade. Campaign Pomona: Daring Minds will be only the 10th fundraising campaign to be launched in the 123-year history of the College.

Early Pomona College campaigns were primarily focused on meeting financial emergencies and increasing the endowment. Over time, campaign goals grew beyond mere survival, with funds earmarked for new buildings, campus improvements, professorships and financial aid.

1890 Canvass for Funds

During his first year as president, Cyrus Baldwin announces the “Canvass for Funds” and makes every donor a “stockholder.” The Holmes family donates $25,000 for a new hall, igniting a
discussion about whether it should be built on Scanlon Mesa in the city of Pomona, the original College site, or in Claremont. Baldwin supports the Claremont location, and the Board of Trustees agrees, by a vote of 7 to 4. The campaign raises $50,000 for the endowment.

1896 Matching Campaign

To secure a $25,000 gift to the endowment from the estate of Nancy Field, the College must initiate a campaign to raise $75,000 in less than a year. The campaign meets its goal, with the largest gift coming from President Baldwin’s father, C.H. Baldwin, who gives $25,000.

1901 Church Campaign

President George Gates sets the stage for the “Campaign among the Southern California Congregational Churches” with an address to the General Congregational Association, where he emphasizes the role of the Christian college. A $50,000 pledge to the endowment from Daniel Kimball Pearsons stipulates that the College raise funds to liquidate its $67,000 debt. In late 1902, the campaign meets its goal.

1907/1910 Forward Movement/Campaign of the Crisis

Another financial emergency prompts “The Forward Movement” campaign. Andrew Carnegie promises a gift of $50,000, contingent on Pomona raising $200,000. But, before the campaign reaches that amount, President Gates resigns, citing poor health brought on by the stress of fundraising. James Blaisdell is selected as his replacement and launches “The Campaign of the Crisis.” Two-thirds of the alumni contribute, and women students earn money by blacking shoes, cleaning houses and selling peanuts and popcorn. In only three months, the College raises more than $135,000, enough to secure the Carnegie grant, retire the debt and establish two professorships.

1913 Million Dollar Campaign

The “Million Dollar Campaign,” the second campaign under Blaisdell’s tenure, is intended to support the goals of “Greater Pomona,” which include funds for the endowment, buildings and grounds, and to retire debt. Four new buildings are financed by campaign donations: Rembrandt Hall, Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music, Harwood Hall for Botany and a marine laboratory at Laguna Beach, where Professor William Atwood Hilton holds summer sessions for students for the next 30 years.

1919 Three Million Dollar Campaign

A record enrollment of 685 students prompts President Blaisdell and the trustees to push a new campaign to raise money for the endowment and library, new buildings and campus improvements. The success of the “Three Million Dollar Campaign” leads to the construction of Harwood Court, Mason Hall of Chemistry, Crookshank Hall of Zoology and the reconstruction and relocation of Sumner Hall. In 1923, the editor of Metate writes, “men have dreamed of a greater Pomona. That dream is about to become a reality.”

1923–1963 Alumni Fund and Pomona Plan

No formal campaigns. The College establishes the Alumni Fund in 1929 to encourage annual contributions and the Pomona Plan in 1944 as a basis for long-range financing and continues to receive individual major gifts toward new buildings and endowment support, as well as financial help from the government and grants from private organizations.

1963 Advancement Program

“The Advancement Program,” a campaign launched by President E. Wilson Lyon, sets a fundraising objective of almost $13 million. Frank Seaver 1905 makes an early gift of gift of $1 million for a new chemistry building and, when building costs double, increases his gift to $1.6 million. In 1965, a Ford Challenge Grant prompts the trustees to expand the campaign, which eventually totals $21 million and leads to the redesign of Mason and Crookshank halls and the construction of Oldenborg Center, Pendleton Center and Thatcher Music Building.

1982 Centennial Campaign

On Founder’s Day, President David Alexander announces “The Centennial Campaign” will seek $80 million for faculty support, scholarships and financial aid, capital improvements and operating expenses. In 1986, the College receives a surprise bequest of more than $40 million—the largest gift in the College’s history—from the estate of Liliore Green Rains. It helps propel the campaign to a record $135 million and leads to the construction of the Rains Center. Frank Dining Hall and the Seeley Mudd Science Library are built before the end of the campaign, with legal battles delaying the Hahn Building until 1997.

1997 Campaign for Pomona College

“The Campaign for Pomona College,” conducted during President Peter Stanley’s tenure, sets a goal of $150 million to create professorships, expand international studies and Study Abroad, and increase endowed scholarships for students. Two of the top objectives include $35 million for the sciences and $22 million to enrich campus life. The campaign tops the $100 million mark in 1999 and, three years later, exceeds its goal, raising $206 million, including funds to build the Smith Campus Center, Andrew Science Building and Richard C. Seaver Biology Building.

2010 Campaign Pomona: Daring Minds

In October, the College, led by President David Oxtoby, will publicly launch Campaign Pomona: Daring Minds. Look to receive a case statement in the mail this fall, highlighting the campaign’s goals of providing endowed scholarship aid, enhancing teaching and learning, renewing Pomona’s investment in creativity and the arts, improving critical facilities, and expanding opportunities for students to engage with real-world problems both within and beyond the academic setting.

This article appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Pomona College Magazine.