September 6, 2017

Welcome Message: Adams Reflects on ‘Our Centennial University’

Photo of Harper Hall East and McManus Hall with Tower clock peeking through.

With the start of the 2017-2018 academic year, Interim President Jacob Adams welcomed students, faculty, staff, and alumni with a message that asked them to look ahead to the university’s centennial year in 2025.

CGU’s doors opened in 1925 as the third member of The Claremont Colleges.  The university’s founding president was James Blaisdell, who previously served as president of Pomona College.

Adams’ message below (which was emailed to the campus and alumni communities during the week of orientation) frames the university’s past and future in terms of its priorities during the next eight years as it approaches its 100th year.


Dear Colleagues:

As we begin the new academic year, I want to extend an invitation: Let us join together in creating our Centennial University.

Eight years from now we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Claremont Graduate University’s founding. We will pay heed to a hundred years of vibrant intellectual activity and social engagement. We will recognize outstanding accomplishments and alumni. We will commemorate our membership in The Claremont Colleges and our place in the fast-shifting world of higher education. But even more importantly, we will be looking ahead, affirming anew the role our mission plays in shaping a society that makes us proud.

At base, our mission is to understand better how the world works and to use that knowledge to make the world a better place. Each one of us participates in that mission, no matter what our role. We pursue this work through teaching and learning, through research and service. We pursue it by creating conditions that support the university’s success. For alumni—myself included—we pursue this mission through practice in various fields. It’s a privilege to be part of this enterprise, even as we constantly adapt to the demands of a changing world.

What does this changing world signal for CGU as we build our centennial university? How does your evolving work contribute to our vital future? How will our shared values of personal-scale education, customizable curriculum, working across disciplinary boundaries, and applying knowledge to problems that matter shape our choices? What ways of doing business will support our ambitions? What types of public engagement will amplify our work and make it meaningful? In short, what kind of university do we want to celebrate in 2025? It is not too soon to ask.

This summer, my wife, Leslie, and I began hosting a series of small, informal faculty and staff dinners at our home. Fueled by good food and good fellowship, the conversations around the table took up these centennial questions. The responses have been fresh, thought-provoking, and forward-looking. In them I have seen the best of CGU: creative and mutually supportive; anchored in our collective work, hopes, and ambitions. Throughout the year, we will expand these conversations across the university.

As we look ahead to our centennial work, we also will continue to address the enrollment challenges, changing student demography, evolving accreditation standards, increased competition for research dollars, and shifting philanthropic expectations that define higher education today. We are addressing these challenges in six important ways:

  1. Creating new sources of revenue (online, undergraduate, extended education)
  2. Raising the visibility of our contributions (website, social media, revived alumni association, new center on global engagement)
  3. Providing relief on tuition pricing (capping tuition and/or raising new monies for fellowship support)
  4. Improving climate and culture (keeping faith with our commitments to students, fostering effective work together, acknowledging that “my choices” affect “our character and direction,” getting together in more casual settings)
  5. Determining a portfolio of sustainable academic programs and supports (provost’s strategic planning process)
  6. Reaping the benefits of our rebuilt advancement operations (new development activities, new trustee activities)

We are pursuing these things now so that, over time, they can sustain our work and allow us to invest in people and programs.

In this context, too, let us never allow challenges of the moment to overshadow the reason we are here: to understand better how the world works and to use that knowledge to make the world a better place. That is our calling and commitment, the touchstone for our engagement together. So, contrary to the day’s headlines, let us make this the most exciting time in CGU’s history. Let us make our mission meaningful for our centennial celebration and beyond. Let us build that together. Let us start now.

Wishing you a productive and engaging year,


Jacob Adams

Interim President,
Claremont Graduate University

Visit here for more about Jacob Adams