Claremont McKenna College (CM), Pitzer College, and Scripps College announced the renaming of their jointly-managed science department to the W. M. Keck Science Department on Sept. 2. The name was changed from the Joint Sciences Department as part of an attempt to raise funding.
According to Keck Science Department Dean and Chemistry Professor Dean Hansen, the department was renamed after the Keck family so that the building formerly known as the W. M. Keck Science Building—which houses the Keck Science Department—could be open for renaming and used to solicit donations from other sources.
“The name of the building has now become a fundraising opportunity,” he said. “A new donor is currently being sought to rename the building.”
Hansen added that the motivation to rename the department also stemmed from some dissatisfaction among faculty and staff with the name ‘Joint Sciences Department.'”
“I think it wasn’t clear what that meant in terms of our structure,” he said. “It raised more questions than it answered.”
The W. M. Keck Foundation provided the initial funds in the early 1990s for a building to house the joint science departments of CM, Pitzer, and Scripps. Through the W. M. Keck Science Department, students from all three colleges may pursue degrees and conduct extensive research in biology, chemistry, and physics.
The W. M. Keck Foundation has donated money to numerous academic projects around the country, including the expansion of the Keck School of Medicine at USC, the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences in Claremont, and the Keck Building at Caltech. The foundation also gave over 325 grants between 1992 and 2008 to support science research and “provide far-reaching benefits to humanity.” The current chairman of the Foundation is William M. Keck’s grandson, CMC alumnus Robert A. Day.
According to Hansen, the new name honors the Foundation’s decades-long support of the Claremont Colleges.
“It’s more succinct in representing science because the W. M. Keck Foundation is nationally known as a leading name in science,” he said.