The Great Depression and Second Attempt at Founding

Draft of Intercollegiate Council Report, 1936

Organized in 1936, the Intercollegiate Council consisted of three members of the Claremont Colleges Board of Fellows, the presidents of Pomona College, Scripps College, and the Claremont University Center, and a faculty representative from each college. The Council acted as a guardian of the Group Plan and again took up the question of a third college.

Planning Through the Great Depression

Despite the setbacks and challenges faced by the Colleges, planning for a third college did not cease through the Great Depression. In 1935, ten years after the incorporation of Claremont Colleges, James Blaisdell announced his retirement. The Board of Fellows accepted his resignation and Blaisdell spent his final year preparing a report on the third college. Succeeding Blaisdell as president of Claremont Colleges was Scripps College Professor of English William Ament. During Ament’s tenure, the Intercollegiate Council was established in June 1936 and revisited the question of a third college, which had laid dormant since 1930. A report from the Intercollegiate Council endorsed a three-year programjunior, senior, and graduate year, while also locating the site of the third college east of Pomona College centered on the former home and estate of Sarah Bixby Smith. Despite the report, funds were not forthcoming as the Depression had another three or four years to go. 


Sarah Bixby Smith House

The Bixby Smith estate, east of Amherst Avenue and north of Sixth Street, was identified as the center for a new college. Built in the early 1900s, the house was the home to Wellesley graduate, author, and member of the pioneer ranching Bixby-Flint family Sarah Bixby Smith and her husband, Paul Jordan-Smith, literary editor of the Los Angeles Times. (Wheeler Scrapbook Collection, Claremont Colleges Digital Library)


Russell Story

Fortunately, planning for the third college continued with the arrival of James Blaisdell and William Ament’s successor, Russell Story in 1937. Russell Story, a professor of political science at Pomona College, initially began a two-year term as president of Claremont Colleges, which was later made permanent in January 1939. Throughout his five-year tenure, before his premature death in 1942, Story was a champion for the Group Plan and establishment of a third college. Story believed a third college was necessary to stabilize the Colleges and worked throughout his presidency with faculty, trustees, and outside consultants to keep the viability of a men’s college alive.

A College for Men in Claremont

By 1938, the third college had been thoroughly conceptualized and planned, seemingly on the brink of actualization. The publication of a series of nine pamphlets drafted by Russell Story and William Ament, provided necessary evidence and organized plans towards the success of a future men’s college.

“Well Begun” discusses the history of the Group Plan and provides an overview of the campus. “How Soon” states that a third college could commence operations as shortly as six months from the reception of enabling gifts. “Why a College for Men?” attempts to make the case for a men’s institution geared toward public affairs. “Dedication,” “The Proper Study,” “What Industry Asks of the College,” and “Why Not Be Your Own Executor?” all solicited the establishment of living trusts. “Management, Enterprise, and Government” concludes the pamphlet series, by restating the entire argument for a men’s college.

(Click on each pamphlet to explore further)

"Green Lights Ahead"

Issued by President Story in 1939, “Green Lights Ahead” specifically solicited a founding gift for the founding of a men’s college.

"Revised Statement of Objectives and Curriculum"

In 1939, Arthur Coons drafted and released a curriculum planning document returning the college to a proposed four-year curriculum. Rigidly structured in the freshman and sophomore years, classes were organized around clusters of electives in the upper division. The curriculum report also specified tutorial and laboratory courses, internships between the junior and senior years, summer sessions, and the mastery of a foreign language, accounting, and statistics.

Men's College Plans Studied.jpg

Arthur Morgan and T.V. Smith Visit Claremont

In 1941, Russell Story received a $1,500 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation allowing him to bring two well-known educators to ClaremontDr. T.V. Smith, professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago and congressman-at-large from Illinois; and Dr. Arthur Morgan, former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and president emeritus of Antioch College. Following their visits, Smith and Morgan were scheduled to make independent reports to the Rockefeller Foundation regarding a third college project. Morgan came to Claremont in late March and early April 1941, and Smith in late May and early June. Both men liked what they heard and saw regarding the project and reported favorably to the Rockefeller Foundation on the third college proposal. The visits inspired Story, who urged the Board of Fellows to take action. Initial proposals called for a class of twenty-five students in the fall of 1942 with a move toward incorporation as an independent college in 1947. Fundraising efforts by Russell Story and Arthur Coons began on both coasts, but the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the United States’ imminent involvement in World War II would delay the men’s college again.

A College for Men at Claremont

Arthur Morgan and T.V. Smith allowed their reports to be published in a brochure with a prefatory statement by President Story. Their reports included the finest possible testimony for the proposed college: third-party endorsements of the business and public affairs program planned for the third college, freely given by educators with national reputations and connections who were willing to write on behalf of the venture.