Founded in 1963, Pitzer College is the fifth member of the Claremont Consortium. Russell Pitzer, who had a large stake in the California citrus industry, was the school’s visionary and early funder. The fall of 1964 saw the college’s first term, with ten professors and 153 students. Originally a women’s teaching college, the school went co-ed in 1970. Since the beginning, Pitzer has offered an alternative liberal arts education where students have the freedom to design their own curricula.
The 35 acres of campus house 16 academic and administrative buildings and five residence halls on the northeast corner of the Claremont Colleges property. The college is looking to revamp many of these buildings in the near future. Most of Pitzer’s facilities are characterized by contemporary architecture, with the exception of Grove House, which looks more like it belongs on the islands of Fiji than on a college campus. Students often hang out at this little bungalow, especially on Fridays when the college hosts “Groove at the Grove” with live bands and free-flowing beer. The centrally-located Mounds are the biggest campus hangout, providing grassy hills for students to kick back or just sit and think.
The campus is small, so getting anywhere on school grounds requires just a short jaunt. Pitzer is adjacent to Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Scripps, so students often opt to take classes at these other institutions as well. Because of the seamless integration between the Claremont campuses, venturing beyond one’s home college to buildings at another is easy.
Pitzer is located in the quaint town of Claremont, a sleepy suburb of Los Angeles. The downtown area known as “the Village” is a short walk from campus and provides some cozy eateries and boutique shopping. Katelyn ’11 says, “‘the Village,’ just past Pomona and a short walk away, is where you can get delicious pastries and bagels, Starbucks coffee, small-town diner food, fancy romantic restaurant atmosphere, cute boutiques stocked with trinkets and dresses, or used vinyls, CDs, and DVDs down at Rhino Records. But everything definitely shuts down around 9pm, when the college parties start. Go off campus for fun during the day... but stay on campus for fun at night.”
Claremont students also take advantage of nearby Los Angeles for outings that require a little more effort. Endless shopping, eating, entertainment, and nightlife are at your disposal in this West Coast metropolis if you can bear the traffic. During long weekends (every weekend for Pitzerites—no Friday classes!) students can drive to nearby destinations like San Fran and Vegas.
Kohoutek is an annual music and arts festival held during a weekend in the spring on the Mounds. The event hosts live bands, a farmers’ market, and student vendors.
The college has outdoor wall and ground spaces where artistic-minded students are allowed to leave a little of themselves behind by creating a pre-approved mural.
David Bloom (1985) was an anchor for NBC News.
Max Brooks (1994) is a writer for Saturday Night Live.
John Darnielle (1995) is the frontman of the indie band the Mountain Goats.
John Landgraf (1984) is the president of FX Networks.
Hunter Lovins (1972) was awarded “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine and founded Natural Capitalism, Inc.
Matt Nathanson (1995) is a singer and songwriter.
Pitzer shares an athletic program with Pomona College. The Sagehens are NCAA Division III and a member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Participation in athletics isn’t overwhelming at the Claremont schools, so if you enjoy playing a sport, chances are you’ll get to be on the varsity team.
Read more: "Our Rugger Team"
In 2004, Pitzer made submitting SAT scores optional for all applicants.
Pitzer was the first US college to host a course about YouTube.
Pitzer students have the option of designing their own major.
The Pitzer-Pomona sports team’s biggest rivals are none other than their sister schools, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Pitzer’s five residence halls are set up around a campus pool. Most dorms have double rooms that share adjoining bathrooms. Mead Hall is the exception, with suites of eight people who share a common area with a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Three of the five have been recently renovated and are now uber-green, featuring recycled insulation, carpeting, and structural steel (they’re even cleaned with green cleaning products). The dorms that have yet to be renewed are a tad shoddier, but not to worry, there are plans to snazz them up soon.