Civitas events extend CMC’s founding and future mission across the country

Claremont McKenna College alumni, parents, students, and staff gathered on both coasts this fall for the debut of Civitas, a series of invigorating conversations about the future of the College and its role in today’s civilization.

The first two October events, in New York City and San Francisco, were anchored by commitments to elevating student opportunity and reaffirming CMC’s founding mission. A third event—with President Hiram E. Chodosh, students, and faculty in San Diego—followed in early November. During the past several years, CMC has implemented a series of important initiatives and programs to ensure that all students benefit from the CMC experience. The Civitas series—a CMC road show, of sorts—aims to make those campus connections and priorities “come alive” across the country while offering strategic education about the College’s pillars of success and ambition.

“Since its founding, CMC has had a distinctive focus and approach to education,” said Evan Rutter ’06, assistant vice president for alumni and parent engagement. “Through the Civitas series, we want CMC alumni and parents to gather around the table with faculty and students to share their insights on the College’s commitment to educating its students for thoughtful and productive lives. Everyone’s voice is vital to CMC’s future.”

In New York, the dialogue about student opportunity—and CMC’s commitment to recruit, admit, and support the top scholar-leaders, regardless of financial need—was led by Michelle Chamberlain, vice president for advancement and student opportunities, and dean of the Robert Day Scholars program, Jennifer Sandoval-Dancs, associate vice president for admission and financial aid, and Dianna Turner-Graves ’98, assistant vice president of student services and dean of students.

In San Francisco, Associate Professor of Government Jon Shields led a panel discussion about the core values guiding CMC’s original and future mission—chief among them, intellectual vitality, viewpoint diversity, and responsible leadership. San Diego also focused on strengthening CMC's founding vision while highlighting student achievement through Model United Nations, CMC research institutes, and dynamic social programming.

Conversation was further activated through multimedia presentations, small group Q&As, and student ambassadors who shared their personal stories and perspectives.

From day one, Santiago David ’20 has been concerned about tight finances. However, thanks to CMC’s dedication to fund student opportunities, he has made important, resume-building research and conference trips to New Orleans and Portland. The New York trip was particularly valuable because it put him in a room with alumni who could advise on next steps, including graduate school—an up-close look at how generations of CMCers help each other.

“Before attending the Civitas event, I was talking with my mom on the phone. She kept trying to stress that, despite coming from a lower-income bracket, I was no different from anyone else there,” said David, a psychology major with a leadership sequence. “I was able to respond that, because of CMC, it’s not something I am concerned with or even think about. And that’s really because I’ve been able to access so many opportunities here. CMC has allowed me to pursue what my passions are and explore the best ways to help my future.”

Supporting an institution she “deeply cares about” was the reason Emily Meinhardt ’10 attended the San Francisco event. An alumni trustee of the College, Meinhardt said she also wanted to help facilitate and reinforce a sense of connection between off-campus and on-campus experiences.

“San Francisco Civitas was truly a collaborative effort across different constituencies of the College. Students, alumni, parents, professors, and staff all came together to produce a high impact, focused event that speaks to the vision and momentum of CMC and its educational mission,” Meinhardt said. “I hope that alumni came away knowing that the College is working hard to preserve and strengthen its core values for future students.”

Civitas events are also scheduled for March 16 in Washington, D.C., March 18 in Chicago, and March 19 in Seattle. To register and learn more, visit

Thomas Rozwadowski