Arrival of CMC's Inaugural Graduate Class Kicks-off School Year

August 17 marked the arrival of the first CMC students of the 2009-2010 academic year, as well as a new chapter in the College's storied history. Why? Because these weren't returning students or first-time freshmen -- these students, 20 of them to be exact, are CMC's first-ever graduate students, enrolled in the new Master's Program in Finance at CMC's Robert Day School of Economics and Finance (RDS). They include three international students, a combined nine alumni of Claremont McKenna and Harvey Mudd colleges (two of them former undergraduate Robert Day Scholars), as well as graduates of Carleton, Duke, Gettysburg, Stanford, U.C. Davis, UCLA, Whitman, and Vanderbilt.

Days before the majority of CMCers unpacked their bags for the fall semester, the graduate students plunged into a two-week, full-time intensive math and computing seminar led by CMC Assistant Professor of Mathematics David German. The orientation included a variety of workshops offered by faculty and staff of The Robert Day School of Economics and Finance in: STATA (Brock Blomberg, the Robin and Peter K. Barker Chair of Philosophy and Economics and George R. Roberts Fellow); WRDS (Assistant Professor George Batta); accounting (Joshua Rosett, the Curb Family Associate Professor of Business and Law); business writing (CMC Writing Center Director Justin Young); and career management skills (RDS Director of External Relations Michelle Chamberlain).

"CMC and the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance accomplished several goals in the successful recruitment of the graduate class: a good representation of graduates from The Claremont Colleges; a high level of previous academic accomplishment, work experience, and leadership skills; and a broad diversity of backgrounds from around the globe," says CMC President Pamela Gann. "With the arrival of this inaugural class, the CMC community must now begin to think of itself as more than an undergraduate college. We will work together to enable the newest members of the College community feel welcomed and involved in our endeavors."

Although they won't live on campus, the graduate students will spend the next two semesters earning their Master's degree in CMC classrooms. Their coursework this fall will cover financial economics, financial econometrics, corporate financial management and investments and portfolio theory. The graduate program curricular effort also is accompanied by a host of co-curricular workshops, speakers and networking events.

"As the academic year begins, we wish to thank all of those who have assisted in making the introduction of these exceptional students to campus as smooth as possible," says Janet Kilholm Smith, CMC's Von Tobel Professor of Economics and Dean of The Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.

Admission to the inaugural class was offered to just 29 of the 82 students who completed an application. Requirements for the graduate program demand significant academic accomplishment and successful completion of an in-person interview with a CMC alumnus.

"Each of these students possesses tremendous potential," says Kevin Arnold, Director of Admission for the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance. "They also share an enthusiasm for being part of something new and special. These are men and women who had choices, and they chose to come to a program with no history. That says a great deal about their self-confidence, as well as their trust in CMC's reputation, the faculty, and the many merits of this new program."

By the numbers, this year's class exhibits an impressive academic profile that includes a median GMAT score of 700 and a median GRE quantitative score of 790. And even though they've just arrived, the students are already looking beyond their new degrees to career opportunities.

"Since this is a one-year program, the graduate students have already begun their fulltime employment searches," RDS staff member Michelle Chamberlain notes. "Their focused studies will put them in high demand and we anticipate they will secure jobs in the financial services industry quickly."

During the two-week intensive, time was also reserved for team-building and leadership exercises at Huntington Beach, conducted by SandCorp and members of the RDS staff. Designed as a hands-on business simulation (Keck Graduate Institute students have participated in years past), the graduate students divided into teams and were tasked with the planning and building of sandcastles to specifications outlined in a letter handed to them at the beach. Not only were they timed, the castles were judged by quality of execution, and teams could be penalized for allowing their members to perform functions of castle-building that fell outside their assigned roles.

"We knew that this activity would be a fun way for the students to work together. It was also an opportunity to see what kind of leadership would emerge during the day," Chamberlain says.

The new graduate students—17 men and three women—also had time to connect over an Angels baseball game, and on Aug. 31, teamed with undergraduate Robert Day Scholars for a "Training the Street" workshop on corporate valuation.

"I selected the Master's Program at the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance because of the obvious enthusiasm of the world-class faculty and the opportunity to delve into applied practice instead of just studying theory," revealed Michael McCulloch, a graduate of Vanderbilt University.

The Robert Day School of Economics and Finance offers a broad array of coursework and embodies the academic rigor and practical understanding of economics that has made CMC a leader in liberal arts education.

The School is home to the prestigious Robert Day Scholars Program, which sponsors generous fellowships for both undergraduate and graduate students who pursue coursework combining economics, accounting, finance, and leadership studies. The Scholars also benefit from a rich Co-Curricular Program that includes leadership development workshops and visits with distinguished speakers.