President James Blaisdell
In 1910, Pomona’s fourth president, James. A. Blaisdell, was welcomed to campus by 30 male students who met his 6:48 a.m. Santa Fe train at the station and played the part of the horses in pulling him to campus in a carriage.
Blaisdell began his 18-year tenure with an inherited financial crisis. His predecessor, George Gates, had resigned earlier that year, overwhelmed by the seemingly endless task of securing funds. He went on to become one of the one of most influential and best remembered presidents in Pomona’s history. Among his notable accomplishments was the successful “Million Dollar Campaign,” which left the College, for the first time, in fairly stable financial condition. By 1921, the College’s resources had quadrupled, from $650,000 in 1910 to $2,885,000; in the same period, the endowment grew from $301,000 to $1,371,000, a truly remarkable record. Under Blaisdell, the College developed in other ways as well: the faculty increased from 40 to 70 in the first year of his administration alone; art and music programs, which had held separate status as “schools,” both entered the core curriculum as departments (with the understanding that their emphasis was not to be “professional”) and were soon served by splendid new facilities; and the Preparatory Department, necessitated in the early years by the lack of adequate high school preparation for students, was terminated. The result was a single, cohesive instructional program.
An equally remarkable outcome of Blaisdell’s tenure was the expansion of the College’s land holdings that, in turn, enabled the growth of its physical plant. The dual process of pushing back and protecting the relative wilderness that was Claremont in the 1880s, initiated by the acquisition of Blanchard Park (The Wash) in 1905, progressed significantly with the appointment of Ralph Cornell ‘14, landscape architect, whose first assignment in 1919 was to begin the transformation of the College’s central green space into what would be known as Marston Quadrangle.
Of Blaisdell’s many accomplishments at Pomona, arguably the most significant—his key leadership role in founding the consortium known as The Claremont Colleges—was also, ironically, the one that ultimately led him to leave the presidency of the College, as he ended his tenure in 1927 to take on the presidency of the fledgling consortium.
Blaisdell is perhaps best remembered on campus today as the author of the well-known quotes on the two sides of Pomona’s gates, which greet newcomers with the words, “Let only the eager, thoughtful and reverent enter here,” and charge departing graduates with the words, “They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind.”
The list of departments in the college curriculum includes Art for the first time.
Hail, Pomona, Hail
“Hail, Pomona, Hail,” Pomona’s alma mater, was written by freshman Richard N. Loucks ’13. According to Loucks, it was composed in a few hours’ time as the ensemble finale for a minstrel show organized to raise funds for baseball uniforms. The association of what many alumni considered the College’s most beloved song with a blackface show would, many years later, lead to controversy, with some challenging Loucks’ memory of the song’s provenance and others arguing that the historical association made the song uncomfortable for students of color. As a result, though the song remains officially the alma mater of Pomona College, its inclusion as part the College’s main ceremonial events has been discontinued.
Pomona College Band Formed
The first appearance of the Pomona College Band is in the 1911 Metate, which was published in 1910. The all-male group sports matching white pants, dark blazers and floppy white hats.
Campaign of the Crisis
President Blaisdell launched “The Campaign of the Crisis,” to complete the unfinished work of the Forward Movement Campaign of 1907. Two-thirds of the alumni contributed, and women students earned money by blacking shoes, cleaning houses and selling peanuts and popcorn. In only three months, the College raised more than $135,000, enough to secure the Carnegie grant, retire the debt and establish two professorships.
- George V became King of the United Kingdom upon the death of his father, Edward VII.
- Earth passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet.
- The Union of South Africa was created.
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