Valach Hall dedicated

Valach Hall dedication.

Photos by Bauman Photographers for Claremont McKenna College

The Claremont McKenna community celebrated the official dedication of Valach Hall with namesakes Janie and Ken Valach ’82, who serves as a member of the CMC Board of Trustees.

Surrounded by more than a dozen CMC classmates and a large family cheering section—including Ken Valach’s 93-year-old father, Ernie—the couple returned to campus to commemorate the place that first brought them together.

CMC has been forever interwoven into his life, Ken Valach said, creating many meaningful experiences and moments. “My roots are Claremont McKenna College. This is where I met my closest friends and the love of my life, Janie, who I have been married to for 41 years.”

The College also set him on an unexpected academic trajectory, exposing him to a variety of subjects taught through a liberal arts lens.

“As a student, CMC introduced me to a world I knew nothing about,” said Valach, a native of Salem, Oregon. “I got an incredible liberal arts education and was exposed to so many subjects, including philosophy and economics. CMC opened so many doors for me as I have gone through life.”

Valach Hall dedication.

Today, Valach is Chief Executive Officer of Crow Holdings Development, which includes Trammell Crow Residential, Crow Holdings Industrial, and Crow Holdings Office, in Texas. After earning his B.A. degree in Economics and Mathematics at CMC, he received an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Janie Valach ’82 earned a B.A. degree in Political Science.

The naming of Valach Hall (formerly Claremont Hall) is especially meaningful to the Valachs because it is home to Janie’s Kitchen, which the couple established in 2015. Hundreds of CMC students have used the kitchen as a gathering spot to create new recipes, bake cookies during finals, and even cook Thanksgiving dinner when many could not travel home for the holidays.

“I was so excited when I found out that I was going to be the Residential Advisor at Valach Hall because I love Janie’s Kitchen,” said Maryum Khwaja ’24. “I wanted to carry forward the same community that helped me when I first came to CMC. One of my favorite memories is decorating for the holidays, gathering around the Christmas tree, making cookies in Janie’s Kitchen, and hanging snowflakes.

“Valach Hall made us feel at home,” Khwaja added. “Janie's Kitchen is one of the most loved places on campus. And it's not because of the beautiful island or the great food in the fridge. It's because it’s a place we gather and create community.”

David Mgrublian ’82 P’11, chair of CMC’s Board of Trustees and Valach’s college roommate, said Valach is “the glue” in every aspect of life.

Valach Hall dedication.

“You see that with his friends from Claremont, his friends from high school, his business associates, his friends from church. He is the convener. He is the one who brings everybody together. When you look at Valach Hall, know that it, too, is the connector—whether it is this courtyard that brings the community together or whether it is Janie's Kitchen.”

Valach closed out the ceremony with a tribute to his parents and grandparents, who were immigrants serving in combat in World War I and II, and later working as bricklayers, janitors, and even an indentured servant.

“I look at that legacy and the reason I didn’t put ‘Ken Valach’ on this residence hall is this is a gift to all the Valachs now and before me. They are the ones I want to thank, especially my dad,” he said. “I am filled with gratitude for my education, for my parents, and for my family. The most important quality of life is gratitude—because if you have that, everything else flows from it.”

Gilien Silsby


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