Claremont Colleges and Proposal of a Men's College


The Pomona Colleges Group Plan

This full-color “Pomona Colleges Group Plan” rendering by the Jamieson and Spearl architectural firm, shows the proposed cluster of colleges extending three hundred acres from Pomona College at the south to Indian Hill mesa and its surrounding property north of Foothill Boulevard. This concept thoroughly captures the Oxford/Cambridge plan with linked college buildings, a shared library, men’s and women’s athletics fields, gymnasium, university church, and other central facilities all beautifully landscaped.

The Group Plan

By 1920, Pomona College trustees decided to limit enrollment to 750 men and women in an effort to sustain the quality and intimacy of the college. However, Pomona College found itself turning down two out of every three students who applied for admission. After a trip to England, President Blaisdell argued that Claremont should support the growth of an Oxford/Cambridge-style academic culture in which a group of autonomous colleges share central programs and facilities, while maintaining distinctive governance and identities. As Blaisdell explained, “My own very deep hope is that instead of one great, undifferentiated university, we might have a group of institutions divided into small colleges around a library and other utilities which they would use in common.” In 1924, the Board of Trustees appointed a committee made up of Colonel Seeley Mudd, Llewellyn Bixby, Ernest Jaqua, and George Burgess to investigate “future expansion of Pomona College in the relation to developing other coordinated institutions.” The “Committee on Future Organization,” as they came to be known, laid down the fundamental vision behind the Group Plan, with Blaisdell calling for the eventual establishment of multiple colleges enrolling between 150 and 300 students. On September 17, 1925, the Pomona College Board of Trustees named President Blaisdell, Colonel Mudd, and Jacob Harper (attorney for Ellen Browning Scripps) as nucleus for the board of trustees of a new corporation, Claremont Colleges. 

Articles of Incorporation, Claremont Colleges

Nine trustees signed the articles of incorporation for the newly established Claremont Colleges, and they were officially filed with the secretary of state on October 14, 1925 by Robert Bernard, assistant to President Blaisdell. On December 9, 1925 the Board of Fellows of Claremont Colleges adopted by-laws and elected President Blaisdell as “head fellow.” The Board of Fellows were also responsible for the new entity, Claremont University Center, which would coordinate graduate education and centralized administrative functions. 


Ellen Browning Scripps

Newspaper magnate Ellen Browning Scripps was a proponent and supporter of education who had previously donated to her alma matter, Knox College, and helped to establish the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla with her brother. A self-made woman with no direct heirs, Scripps was contacted by James Blaisdell for support in establishing Claremont Colleges, which aimed to become a great suburban institution of higher education. In early 1924, Scripps made a gift to the trustees of Pomona College of funds sufficient for the purchase of 250 acres of property around the Indian Hill Mesa in Claremont. This property, she decreed, together with other purchases and exchanges should be retained for future growth along the Group Plan model. (Ellen Browning Scripps Collection, Claremont Colleges Digital Library)


Toll Hall construction, Scripps College

(Claremont Colleges Photo Archive, Claremont Colleges Digital Library)

Founding of Scripps College

The first achievement of the Board of Fellows of Claremont Colleges was the founding of Scripps College for Women. Dr. Ernest Jaqua helped prepare and plan for this new venture, which had been energized with gifts of land and money from Ellen Browning Scripps. On June 15, 1926, Jaqua reported to the Board of Fellows that ten men and ten women had accepted appointment to the Scripps College Board of Trustees and its Articles of Incorporation had been filed in Sacramento three days earlier. The newly established Scripps College spared no expense in its distinguishing architecture. Architect Gordon Kaufmann designed the new institution as a Spanish Renaissance cloister, with courtyards and connecting arcades, concrete surfaces, red tile roofs, decorated windows, doors, columns, tile porticos, and iron grills. Landscape architect Edward Huntsman Trout complemented Kaufmann’s Spanish cloisters with a central mall and attendant walks, lawns, trees, and shrubs. On October 14, 1927, Ernest Jaqua was inaugurated as president of Scripps College.

Plan for a Third College and the Munro Report

After the founding of Scripps College, the plan to found a third (men’s) college, balancing Scripps was underway. Further impetus for immediate expansion came from a million-dollar unrestricted bequest to Claremont Colleges from the estate of Colonel Seeley Mudd, chairman of the Board of Fellows of Claremont Colleges, following his death on May 24, 1926. Encouraged by the gift and the successful opening of Scripps, the Board of Fellows of Claremont Colleges named a committee to look into the matter of a third college in early 1927.

William Munro, a Scripps trustee and professor of government and history at Cal Tech, chaired the new committee which filed a seven-page report on the men’s college on April 8, 1927. The “Report of the Special Committee on Aims and Purposes,” also referred to as the Munro Report, represented the first formal call for a men’s college in Claremont. While subsequent documents and reports would expand upon and refine the findings laid out in the Munro Report, the identity of the men’s college was outlined. The college would serve as an institution for men oriented toward a business and public affairs program within a liberal arts framework and serve as a residential college of two hundred students preparing young men for careers in business, public affairs, and law.