Harvey Mudd College purchases new house for president

A brown house has a large front window and has lots of bushes in its front yard.
When outgoing Harvey Mudd president Maria Klawe leaves Claremont, her successor will reside in a new house. (Florence Pun • The Student Life)

When Harvey Mudd College sees a change in its president at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year, the location of the president’s house will change along with it. 

The new president will reside at Rankin House, which is located a brief walk from campus on the corner of 12th Street and College Avenue. The new president, who is yet to be selected, will be the first to live at the new location. 

The historic Rankin House was built in 1923. At 5,000 square feet, it has multiple sustainable and eco-friendly features such as a 9kv solar photovoltaic array, two Tesla powerwalls and a hot water solar heater. 

We are thrilled that the Rankin House is a smart house that incorporates advanced technology, solar power, water use reduction and many other sustainability features that align with Harvey Mudd’s commitment to becoming a more sustainable campus,” Harvey Mudd spokesperson Judy Augsburger said via email.

The current president’s house — known as Garrett House — is on the southeast edge of Mudd’s campus at Mills Avenue and Platt Boulevard and has been home to all five HMC presidents since the college was founded in 1955. 

Some Mudd students were impressed by the innovative nature of the Rankin House. Dimitri Avila HM ’25 said that the features of the Rankin House made it “Mudd-y.” 

On the flipside, some questioned the purchase of the Rankin House, wondering if the funds could be used better elsewhere on campus.

“Was it necessary? I’m not sure about that,” Avila said.

Ava Sherry HM ’22 called the purchase an “interesting use of funds.” 

“Honestly, half the time I don’t realize the president’s house is on campus,” Sherry said. “It doesn’t really affect my day to day. I remember freshman year we TP[’d] the house, and that was the last time I interacted with it.”

The relocation of the president’s residency may provide the college with an opportunity to use the current space for other purposes. While Harvey Mudd has not expressed any formal plans on what will happen to the Garrett House property, Augsburger acknowledged that the land could be used in future projects such as “student housing, faculty housing, academic or facilities space.”

A recent article in Mudd Magazine suggests that the school’s master plan calls for the construction of an “approximately 20,000-square-foot building” on the house’s footprint, according to Andrew Dorantes, Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer.

“I think the space is prime real estate. I think a new dorm should be built, especially with the housing crisis,” said Sherry.

In 2020, Harvey Mudd said it would need to rent off-campus apartments for approximately 70 students to reduce density on-campus and limit dorms to housing no more than two people per room. 

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