Letter to the Editor: Reflecting on Pomona’s campus from a distance

To the Editor:

I write in appreciation of Frances Sutton’s recent article “Framed: A love letter to Pomona’s campus” (October 1, 2020) and with a request. 

Beautifully and insightfully written, the article is particularly welcome now, when most of us who live, work and study at Pomona College are obliged to do so from a distance. This applies to me as well, as colleagues and I are currently preparing a second edition of Pomona CollegeReflections on a Campus, published by the college in 2007.  That volume was conceived as a book about the physical campus, and to a lesser degree as a history of the college. Underlying these goals was the elusive but critical awareness that the campus is a “place” that has particular significance to those who inhabit it in various guises, especially as students. My introduction to the first edition explored that notion, and an essay by Verlyn Klinkenborg eloquently developed the theme, addressing the way the campus and its inhabitants interact and affect each other, how the campus frames our experiences and becomes part of our memories of what is, for so many, a critically formative time of life. 

For the first edition, alumni were asked to share reminiscences about the campus, for instance, a particular place that resonated and remains in memory. The responses were thoughtful, often moving, and reinforced the book’s premise.  For the second edition, I am again seeking responses, this time including students. Sutton’s article reinforces my belief that distance can lead to fresh perspectives about the campus, what it means to us personally, what it offers that isn’t translatable via Zoom. In short, what we miss.  As emeritus faculty I continue to have access to the grounds, and it has been a strange experience. The campus is as beautiful as ever but feels strangely sterile, as though holding its breath. As a permanent resident of Claremont for nearly 40 years, I’m used to the relative peace and quiet of summers, but the feeling now is very different, a familiar environment, usually full of activity at this time of year, now resembling an empty stage. 

I will be grateful to hear from any Pomona students willing to send thoughts about the campus, particularly as they see it now, from a distance. Comments can be anonymous if preferred, and will be considered for inclusion, in whole or in part, in the forthcoming edition of the book.

With many thanks and wishing you all well,

Marjorie L. Harth

Emerita Professor and Director

Pomona College Museum of Art


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