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Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna College
Former names
Claremont Men's College
Motto Crescit cum commercio civitas[1] (Latin)
Motto in English
Civilization prospers with commerce[1]
Established 1946
Type Private liberal arts college
Endowment $699.5 million (2014)[2]
President Hiram Chodosh
Academic staff
Students 1,349 (Fall 2015)
Undergraduates 1,328 (Fall 2015)[3]
Postgraduates 21 (Fall 2015)[3]
Location Claremont, California, USA
Campus Suburban, 69 acres (28 ha)[4]
Athletics NCAA Division IIISCIAC
Nickname Stags (men), Athenas (women)

Claremont McKenna College (abbreviated CMC) is an independent, co-educational, and private liberal arts college with a curricular emphasis on economics, government, and public affairs.[4] CMC is also a member of the Claremont Colleges located in Claremont, California, United States.

Founded as a men's college in 1946, CMC became co-educational in 1976. Its 69-acre campus is located 35 miles (56 km) east of Downtown Los Angeles.[4] The college focuses primarily on undergraduate education, but in 2007 it established the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance, which offers a masters program in finance. As of 2015, there are 1,293 undergraduate students and 20 postgraduate students.

Forbes ranks Claremont McKenna as the 18th best college in the nation, the 6th best liberal arts college, and the 3rd best college in the West in the 2015 rankings.[6] Claremont McKenna is ranked tied for 8th with Carleton and Haverford for liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report. The Princeton Review rated Claremont McKenna 2nd in the nation for happiest students; The Daily Beast placed Claremont McKenna as one of the top 25 most rigorous colleges in the nation; and College Factual has Claremont McKenna as the 14th most selective college in the nation. With an acceptance rate of 9.76% for the Class of 2019, the college has the lowest acceptance rate of any liberal arts college in the nation. [7]

Claremont McKenna campus


  • History 1
  • Organization and administration 2
  • Academics 3
    • Rankings 3.1
    • Admissions 3.2
    • Financial aid 3.3
    • Curriculum 3.4
  • Campus life 4
    • Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum 4.1
    • Housing 4.2
      • Senior Apartments 4.2.1
    • Student journalism 4.3
  • Traditions 5
  • The Consortium 6
  • Research institutes 7
  • Athletics 8
  • Fundraising 9
  • Controversies 10
  • Presidents 11
  • Notable alumni and faculty 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


Claremont McKenna College was founded as Claremont Men's College after the end of World War II.[8] Many of its first students were war veterans attending college on the G.I. Bill. CMC was founded with the mission to foster leadership in its students in the fields of government, economics, and international affairs.

The school became coeducational in 1976 and was renamed after Donald McKenna, a founding trustee, in 1981.[9] The name change allowed the college to keep its popular acronym, "CMC". The college's motto is "Crescit cum commercio civitas", or "Civilization prospers with commerce".

Organization and administration

CMC is chartered as a private, non-profit organization and is a member of the seven-institution Claremont Colleges consortium. Students can take classes at any of the member colleges, and the colleges share libraries, a bookstore, athletic facilities, and various student services.[10] The privately appointed, 40-voting-member board of trustees elects a president to serve as chief executive officer of the college.[1][11] Hiram Chodosh is CMC's fifth president and began serving on July 1, 2013, succeeding President Pamela B. Gann who served since July 1999. The president has a senior staff of 13 vice presidents including a Dean of Students and Dean of the Faculty.[12]



University rankings
Forbes[13] 18
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[14] 8
Washington Monthly[15] 83

U.S. News & World Report‍ '​s 2015 rankings rated Claremont McKenna as tied with Haverford and Carleton for 8th best liberal arts college in the nation.[16] Forbes 2013 America's Best Colleges Rankings removed Claremont McKenna from its list as the college found that the admission dean had provided falsified data that artificially boosted rankings from 2004 to 2012.[17] In 2015, Forbes ranked Claremont McKenna as the 18th best college in the nation, the 6th best liberal arts college, and the 3rd best college in the West.[6] Washington Monthly ranked the school 68th in its 2014 liberal arts college rankings.[18]

Money Magazine ranked Claremont McKenna 19th in the country out of the nearly 1500 schools it evaluated for its 2015 Best Colleges ranking.[19] The Daily Beast ranked Claremont McKenna 47th in the country for its 2014 Best Colleges ranking.[20]

The Princeton Review‍ '​s 2015 rankings placed Claremont McKenna 2nd in the nation for "Happiest Students."[21] The Daily Beast ranked Claremont McKenna in 2014 as one of the top 25 most rigorous colleges in the nation."[22] College Factual's 2014 report rated Claremont McKenna as the 14th most selective college in the nation.[23] Kiplinger's Personal Finance places Claremont McKenna 25th in its 2015 ranking of best value liberal arts colleges in the United States.[24]

Newsweek ranked it among the top 25 schools in America in several top 25 categories in 2011. It was ranked the 20th "Most Desirable School," 8th "Most Desirable Suburban School," 7th "Most Desirable Small Schools," 24th "Brainiac Schools", 17th "Stocked With Jocks," and 7th "Great Education, Great Tan."[25] Claremont McKenna was ranked the 460th top college in the United States by Payscale and CollegeNet's Social Mobility Index college rankings.[26]


Admission Statistics
  2015[27] 2014[28] 2013[29] 2012[30]
Admit rate
SAT range
ACT range

For the Class of 2019, CMC accepted 698 students from an applicant pool of 7,152. With an acceptance rate of 9.76%, the school has the lowest acceptance rate of any liberal arts college, tied with Pomona.[7] For the Class of 2018 the middle 50% range of SAT scores for enrolled freshmen was 660-750 for critical reading, 690-770 for math, and 680-760 for writing, while the ACT Composite range was 30–33.[28]

Financial aid

Tuition for the 2015-2016 school year is $48,800 ($24,400 per semester) for a full-time student and room and board is on average $15,165 ($7,582.50 per semester), for a total annual cost of attendance of $63,965.[31] CMC admits students on a need-blind basis and guarantees to meet the financial need of all its students as determined by the FAFSA and the College Board's CSS Profile.[32] As of 2014, 53% of students received some form of financial aid with an average total grant aid package of $35,693 per student. For the 2013-2014 school year, CMC awarded a total of $25,860,792 in financial aid.[33] In 2008, the college eliminated loans from its financial aid packages, meeting every student's demonstrated need with grants.[34] The packaging of loans under $4,000 was reinstated in 2013 for the incoming 2014 freshman application class.[35]

The college, which operates on a semester system, has 12 academic departments, 11 research institutes and 33 on-campus majors, the most popular of which are economics, government, psychology, economics-accounting, and international relations.[4] However, as a member of the Claremont Colleges, students at CMC also have the option to study any major that is not offered at CMC given that one of the other colleges has such a major. A popular example is computer science, which is offered by both Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College. The student to faculty ratio is 8:1 with an average class size of 18. 81% of the classes have fewer than 20 students.[4] The six-year graduation rate is 90%, and the freshman retention rate is 96%.[4]


As a liberal arts college, about one third of the classes students complete are general education requirements. These include a humanities seminar and a writing seminar their first year, three semesters of a foreign language or demonstrated proficiency, a mathematics or computer science course, one laboratory science course, and three semesters of a P.E. course or two seasons on a sports team. In addition, students must complete at least two humanities courses and three social science courses, all in areas outside the student's major. All students must complete a senior thesis, which can be either one-semester in length or, to receive departmental honors, two semesters.
Bauer Center, with the San Gabriel mountains in the background.
Claremont McKenna's curricular emphasis is on its social sciences, particularly economics, government, international relations, and psychology. About forty percent of students major in either government or economics. CMC also offers an Oxford-style Philosophy, Politics, and Economics major with two separate tracks of 14 students each. Other multi-disciplinary majors include management engineering, philosophy and public affairs, science and management, econ-accounting, biology-chemistry, and environment, economics, and politics (EEP). CMC also offers the Robert A. Day 4+1 BA/MBA, in which students receive both their BA from Claremont McKenna and their MBA from the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University in 5 years.

CMC's science program is offered through the Joint Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges. The Joint Science Department offers a double year-long introductory science class [1] to allow more flexibility than the former 3 year-long introductory biology, chemistry, and physics courses that most science majors must complete.

Nearly half of CMC students study abroad. Another popular option for off-campus study is participating in one of two domestic programs, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in the Silicon Valley. In both of these programs, students complete a full-time internship with a business or government department, remaining full-time students taught at night by CMC professors stationed in the two locations."[36]

More than 75% percent of students attend graduate school within five years of graduation, and those who choose to go straight to the workforce average a starting salary of $57,156 for the class of 2014, with average signing bonuses averaging $7,905.[37] Of those CMC graduates applying to medical school, 80% get into their first or second choice institutions.[38] According to a 2009 PayScale report, CMC ranked first among all liberal arts colleges in the nation for highest starting salary.[39]

Campus life

View of the Kravis Center, completed in 2011, from Columbia Avenue.

Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

The Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum hosts more than one hundred dinner and lecture events with speakers each year, serving as the college's central intellectual and social hub. Students enjoy getting to know their professors at wine and cheese receptions and formal dinners preceding lectures. The Athenaeum hosts speakers four nights a week, and also serves daily afternoon tea in its library, featuring chocolate-covered strawberries and pastries. Afternoon tea is free to students, faculty, and staff. The Athenaeum has hosted such speakers as former President Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, authors Gore Vidal and Salman Rushdie, cybernetics expert Kevin Warwick, former Attorney General Janet Reno, filmmaker Spike Lee, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, U2 frontman and activist Bono, CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, retired US Army General Stanley A. McChrystal, and former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.


As a residential community, student life is centered on campus and four years of housing is guaranteed. Claremont's dorms are divided into three regions: North Quad, Mid Quad, and South Quad. In addition, the student apartments sit on the East edge of campus, and are occupied primarily by seniors. All dorm rooms are attended to by housekeeping staff every week. North Quad is made up of Appleby, Boswell, Green, and Wohlford Halls, which were the campus's first dorms. In north quad, every room opens to the outdoors instead of opening to an interior hallway. North quad rooms are all doubles grouped into suites of four rooms that share a bathroom. CMC's Mid Quad is home to Beckett, Berger and Phillips Halls, which feature long interior corridors, double and single rooms, large shared-bathroom facilities, and all-dorm lounge areas. Crown Hall, completed in 2008, is the newest dormitory with space for 109 students. The three story modern building is the first LEED Silver-rated building on campus.

The tallest buildings in Claremont are "The Towers," Auen, Fawcett, and Stark Halls, which make up South Quad, along with Marks and Benson Halls. Each tower has seven floors with approximately twelve students per floor. Each floor has a common area and a large shared bathroom, and there is an all-dorm lounge area on the ground floor. Stark Hall, the newest of the South Quad dorms, is substance-free. Auen and Fawcett underwent complete interior renovations in the summer of 2008.
Crown Hall

Senior Apartments

The Senior Apartments lie to the east of the college's athletic facilities and to the west of Claremont Boulevard, and are divided into four buildings numbered 651, 661, 671 and 681. Each apartment is divided into four bedrooms and two bathrooms, and an apartment application must have four names on it. Until recently, half the apartments were reserved for men and half for women, and apartments were allotted based on credits. However, in 2005 the college abolished the 50/50 male/female ratio and began to assign apartments strictly on credits, which has had the effect of skewing the ratio slightly toward the female side. In any given year, most of CMC's 260–300 seniors can live in the apartments, though due to limited space some must live in the dorms.

Living in the apartments is considered highly desirable amongst CMC's senior class. Seniors get the chance to live with three friends of their choice, and they also have the option to stay on a meal plan and eat at one of the 5-C dining halls, or cook for themselves. Apartment dwellers do not get the maid service of the dorms, but they do get a cable hookup, which the dorms don't have. Noise levels are more manageable, and tend to be quiet during much of the week and in the days leading up to thesis, and loud from Thursday to Saturday. Most parties and social events at the apartments take place between buildings 661 and 671 or on the "dunk hoops" (a small basketball court with hoops that are 7 feet (2.1 m) high).

Student journalism

Towers at South Quad

CMC attracts many students with an interest in journalism, many of whom go on to careers in professional journalism. Its student publications include the following:

  • The CMC Forum: The Forum is the official publication of Claremont McKenna College and the oldest publication on campus. It features campus news, opinion and lifestyle articles. Although originally a newspapers, The Forum is now solely an online news source funded in part by the Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College.[40]
  • The Claremont Independent: Founded in 1996, this magazine of conservative and libertarian writers does investigative reporting and publishes political and social commentary on campus news. It has broken several notable stories, and its writers have won awards for student journalism. It is funded entirely through private donations and refuses money from any of the Claremont Colleges.
  • Claremont Port Side: Founded in 2003, this progressive 5C{The five Claremont Colleges (Pomona, Scripps, Pitzer, Harvey Mudd, and Claremont McKenna))} magazine offers reporting and analysis on everything from global to campus issues. The online and print publication receives funding from all 5C student governments and Campus Progress, an affiliate of the Center for American Progress.[41]


  • Many incoming freshmen participate in W.O.A!, or "Wilderness Orientation Adventure" W.O.A! is a student-run pre-orientation program. Options have included backpacking, camping, and rock-climbing at Yosemite, canoeing down the Colorado River, and beach camping at Catalina Island. Each trip is led by current students and a member of the faculty or alumni. W.O.A.! allows incoming students to develop friendships and get a sense for the college community before the formal beginning of their college careers.
  • The "Madrigal Feast" was an annual dinner held in the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum. Both current students as well as alumni typically attended. Guests were treated to a medieval-themed feast, complete with wassail, and a spirited musical performance put on by other students in medieval dress. This 26 year tradition was suspended in 2009.[42]

Several of Claremont McKenna College's traditions are water-related:

  • It is a tradition for students to get ponded (thrown into one of the two fountains located on campus) by their peers on their birthday.
  • At noon on the due dates of senior theses, the students turn in their theses to the registrar, after which they are given a bottle of champagne by the registrar. In recent years, the class president has provided the champagne. The students spend the remainder of the afternoon in the fountains at the school, drinking, singing, celebrating and enjoying the warm California sun.[43]

The Consortium

All seven colleges are part of the Claremont University Consortium, also known as "the 7-Cs." Together the campuses cover over 300 acres (120 ha) and enroll over 6,000 students. In addition there are over 3,500 faculty and staff and more than 2,500 courses available.
Garrison Theater

Student life revolves around the colleges as they interact socially and also share seven dining halls, four main libraries, and other facilities spread throughout the campuses. Notable facilities include:

  • Honnold/Mudd Library and the Libraries of the Claremont Colleges, the largest collection of any liberal arts college[44]
  • Bridges Auditorium and Concert Hall
  • Scripps Performing Arts Center and Seaver Theater Complex
  • W.M. Keck Science Center
  • Monsour Counseling Center
  • Huntley Bookstore

Students attending Claremont McKenna can enroll in up to 2/3 of their classes at the other undergraduate colleges, and can also major at any of the other colleges if the major is not offered at CMC. This is the general academic policy at the schools, and is meant to give students the resources of a larger university while still maintaining the qualities of a small, liberal-arts college.

Research institutes

CMC sponsors eleven different on-campus research institutes and centers. They seek to produce new research and publications while involving undergraduate students in rigorous academic work. The Rose Institute is the most published and prestigious CMC research institute. The Kravis Leadership Institute has the highest funding to value added ratio.

  • The Berger Institute for Work, Family and Children
  • The Financial Economics Institute
  • The Center for Human Rights Leadership
  • The Family of Benjamin Z. Gould Center for Humanistic Studies
  • The Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies
  • The Kravis Leadership Institute
  • The Lowe Institute of Political Economy
  • The Roberts Environmental Center
  • The Rose Institute of State and Local Government
  • The Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World [45]
  • The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Athletes from CMC, Harvey Mudd College, and Scripps College compete under one program – Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) Athletics. The mascot for the men's team is Stag, and that of the women's teams is Athena. The 19 teams (including Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball) participate in the NCAA's Division III and in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Ducey Gymnasium has been slated for a complete overhaul beginning in 2009, with new fitness facilities including a weight and cardio room overlooking Zinda Field.[46]
Axelrood Pool
The Biszantz Family Tennis Center opened in 2009 and hosted the NCAA Division III Championships. The facility offers locker-rooms, offices, restrooms, an adjacent parking lot and a "championship court". It is located south of Sixth Street at Brooks Avenue.[47]

Over the years, a rivalry has formed between the opposing sports teams CMS (Claremont-Mudd-Scripps) and PP (Pomona-Pitzer).

The Claremont McKenna golf team ranked first among NCAA Division III teams according to Golf Digest, and 17th overall (including Division 1 schools). The rankings are based on the "Balanced" category which is "for students who place equal emphasis on school and sports."[48]


Claremont McKenna is currently undertaking the largest fundraising campaign ever initiated by a liberal arts college. The Campaign, officially announced in March 2008, aims to raise $600 million by 2012. The campaign for Claremont McKenna calls for commitments in five priorities:

  • $110 million for students: need-based financial aid and merit scholarships, internships, research, speaker series, and other experiences
  • $110 million for faculty: chairs, research, and new curricula
  • $100 million for facilities: new buildings, renovations, and master planning projects
  • $200 million for the Robert Day Scholars Program[49]
  • $80 million for The Fund for CMC: operating costs[50]

As part of the campaign, the college built the Kravis Center, an academic building that includes classrooms, faculty offices and research areas. The building, designed by Rafael Viñoly, was completed in 2011. It is named after alumnus Henry Kravis '67 of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts who donated $75 million for the building.[51]


  • On January 30, 2012, President Gann announced that a senior admissions officer had been inflating SAT scores reported to the US News and World Report by 10-20 points over the previous six years.[52] However, in 2013 Time Magazine reported that "such a small differential could not have significantly affected U.S. News and World Report rankings."[53]
  • On September 27, 2007, the College announced a $200 million gift from alumnus and trustee Robert Addison Day '65 to create the Robert Day Scholars Program and a masters program in finance.[54] CMC literature professor Robert Faggen sent a letter signed by several other literature professors to President Gann, saying they are concerned that the gift will "distort the college into a single focus trade school."[55]
  • On the evening of March 9, 2004, after attending and speaking at a campus forum concerning a recent spate of racially insensitive incidents, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Kerri Dunn reported that her car had been vandalized and painted with racist, sexist and anti-semitic slurs. In response the Claremont Colleges and a series of demonstrations, candlelight vigils and community meetings were called to address the threat posed by an alleged and previously unknown group of violently intolerant students. Subsequent investigation by the City of Claremont's police department and the FBI revealed that Dunn had, in fact, slashed her own tires and applied the insulting phrases to her own vehicle. She was subsequently found guilty of filing a false police report and attempted insurance fraud. She was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay a fine of approximately $19,000 in restitution.[56]


  • George C.S. Benson, founding president (1946–1969)
  • Howard R. Neville (1969–1970)
  • Jack L. Stark (1970–1999)
  • Pamela Gann (1999–2013)
  • Hiram Chodosh (2013–present)

Notable alumni and faculty

Notable alumni include:

Notable faculty include:

Comedian/actor Robin Williams attended CMC to study political science, but did not graduate from the college.


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ As of June 30, 2014.
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  5. ^ NAICU – Member Directory
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  46. ^ Claremont McKenna College Ducey Gym on YouTube
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  50. ^ The Campaign For Claremont McKenna, Claremont McKenna College
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External links

  • Official website
  • Official athletics website
  • Claremont McKenna College at National Center for Education Statistics: College Navigator

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