Viewpoint: An open letter to Claremont
by Guy S. Foresman, M.Div. M.A.
As a graduate of both Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, it is my responsibility to speak about the values of both institutions. Each celebrates the values of truth over cleverness, humanity over self-interest, and equity over opportunism, and when faced with these choices, each institution is wise to live up to them.
The values of truth, humanity, and equity have served us well as invitations and obligations to reach beyond ourselves, and to not leave others behind. We have all benefited from that.
I worked hard to earn a Master of Divinity from CST and a Master of Education from CGU, and I still remember biking beneath the eucalyptus trees each day between the two campuses. As an educator, I was able to give my best to others through the study and the training I received from both institutions. I believe that this speaks to the values of both Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University.
Unfortunately, I am now faced with witnessing the Claremont Colleges make choices of self-interest in place of humanity, and opportunism in place of the wiser choice, that of equity.
I know the words that make up the various Latin phrases, statements, and mottoes that grace the five undergraduate schools and two graduate schools. They speak of high ideals and values, and of the personal capacity we each possess to meet and uphold these ideals and values.
Many commencement addresses have also spoken of our personal and collective capacity to act and share in the ideals and value of truth, humanity, and equity. Yet where the Claremont system of colleges have chosen to stand, is on the throat of its neighbor. The opportunistic land-grab being perpetrated against CST has been born out of a desire to pay 1957 prices for present day land value. Blunt but true.
With the intent of the Claremont system of colleges to acquire land at an unfair discount, the solemn words carved into the stone at College Avenue and Sixth Street, “They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind,” are fully set aside. Instead, these words are being traded in for clever and opportunistic self-gain.
What value is there in these and the other genuine words that hold us to account when the actions of executives calculate so differently? What do the Claremont Colleges stand for when the words in support of its students and faculty are so completely set aside for its executives?
Words matter because actions matter. And when words and actions do not agree, it is not the insufficiency of the words, but the inconsistency of the actions that become apparent.
The governing body for the Claremont Colleges is acting far outside of its own words. The governing body would be wise to visit these words of truth, humanity, and equity, and act accordingly.
What the Claremont Colleges and Graduate Schools promote:
• Pomona College: “Let only the eager, thoughtful and reverent enter here” and “They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind” and at its founding, “Our Tribute to Christian Civilization”
• Claremont Graduate University: “Multa lumina lux una, Many lamps one light”
• Scripps College: “Incipit vita nova, Here begins new life”
• Claremont McKenna College: “Crescit cum commercio civitas, Civilization prospers with commerce”
• Harvey Mudd College: (Pictograph emphasizing the connection between humanity and technology)
• Pitzer College: “Provida Futuri, Mindful of the Future”
• Keck Graduate Institute: “Innovators Start Here”
• Claremont School of Theology: “Tell your children to tell their children’s children to dream this dream for God.”
And what I learned: Purse the truth, and be mindful when it’s right in front of you.
A call to Claremont, its colleges, and its seminary:
Our shared history and desired future are before us. I ask the Claremont community, near and far, to stand and support the words of our colleges, graduate schools, and seminary.
Please encourage the governing body of TCC to honor the words that have supported Claremont and its educational ideals all these years; and to accept this as an invitation and an opportunity for TCC and SCT to sit down and build upon the educational prosperity that has been our past, and is our future.