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A History of CMC's Institutes

December 6, 2016

A History of CMC's Institutes
by Riya Kumar and Jessica Kim

One of CMC’s defining features is the opportunity for students to engage in undergraduate research through many of the on-campus institutes and centers. Each institute has its own unique mission and focus, allowing students from any major to find their area of interest. While many members of the student body are familiar with the institutes' specializations, the history of these institutes has remained a largely unexplored subject. Interestingly, a number of institutes were founded by CMC students who were inspired by their professors or fields that they wished to work in. This article explores these institutes' origin stories, programs, changes in their missions, and future plans.

Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children

Psychology Professor Diane Halpern founded the Berger Institute in 2001. Halpern aimed for the institute to become a leading source of research on significant issues regarding work, family, and children. Like all the institutes, the Berger Institute began as a way to give undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct graduate-level research while working closely with faculty.

The mission has not changed over the years. The Berger Institute continues to provide the same opportunities for students, who are actively involved in all aspects of research and work closely with talented CMC professors.

In regards to the future of the institute, Ms. Gabriela Grannis, the program coordinator of the institute, remarks that the Berger Institute will continue to be a resource for students, alumni, and the wider CMC community to interact with and access.

Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) fosters and supports the entrepreneurial initiatives of the students at the Claremont Colleges. CIE launched in the fall of 2012 and is currently in its fifth year. The planning process took well over a year and involved a number of alumni, administrators, and faculty, but was largely motivated by grassroots interest among a group of students who were freshmen at the time.

The core principles of the institute are creativity, initiative, collaboration, and impact. The Center provides resources for faculty and student research on topics related to innovation and entrepreneurship. It provides curricular and co-curricular programming, including workshops, networking events, speakers, mentoring and summer internship programs with startups.

Professor Janet Smith, Von Tobel Professor of Economics, mentions that no major changes have been made to the CIE, but there has been effort put into fine-tuning programming to meet student and alumni interests.

With respect to memorable moments for the institute, Professor Smith states that the launch event in 2012 was exciting as they were able to take an innovative idea and launch a new institute with a very different focus and management style than other centers at CMC. It fills a natural niche at CMC, which is known for producing leaders and entrepreneurs.

In terms of future plans, the CIE will launch the CIE Startup Fund program to provide milestone-based funding for student ventures. The funds will help students reach a position in which they can network with mentors, test and validate their ideas, and pitch them to potential investors. The program will be launched this year.

Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies

The Keck Center was founded with a gift from Robert Day ’65 to show his appreciation for Professor Harold Rood, who taught international relations at CMC. Day approached the Keck family with a gift, and further contributions from Arthur Adams and Rood’s former students helped bring the Center into fruition.

Keck’s mission is very different than that of other research universities. It revolves around students, encouraging them to pursue international relations by providing them with various opportunities and practical exposure to the field.

Professor Minxin Pei has been the director of the Center for seven years and states that the core mission has not changed. However, additional programs such as the International Journalism Lab, funded by Robert Yho ’81, were introduced where student fellows are recruited to interview leading researchers in Asia. The lab also hired a professor who teaches students about how international journalism functions.

A memorable moment that Professor Pei recounts was a talk given by David Barboza, a Pulitzer Prize winner, on his investigation of the huge fortune amassed by China's prime minister. His detective work and investigative methods were detailed and impressive.

With respect to future plans, Professor Pei states that the objective is to “continue what we’re doing.” He also commented that he would like to maintain the quality of Keck’s online publication, Asia Experts Forum, and continue hosting conferences and seminars.

Financial Economics Institute

The Financial Economics Institute (FEI) was founded by Janet Smith in 2005. She was responsible for assembling the board and providing a solid foundation for the Institute. FEI is currently in its 12th year and is headed by Professor Joshua Rosett.

The Institute's primary mission is to provide opportunities for students to do research with professors in areas related to finance. FEI also hosts a variety of other activities such as sponsoring the NYC networking trip and facilitating the BMGI fellowships. BMGI is the consulting firm responsible for handling the finances of Bill and Melinda Gates. It is currently headed by a CMC graduate, thus allowing other CMC students to build strong connections for internship opportunities.

As the current director, Professor Rosett has focused on extending outreach. FEI is working more closely with SIF, resulting in the creation of a new governing board of FEI associates that supports initiatives undertaken by both organizations. FEI is also focusing on sponsoring local activities, such as financial literacy events, which have been well attended. The Institute is also looking to host more activities that give students exposure to the ins and outs of the financial industry.

One of the most memorable moments that Professor Rosett mentioned was the hard work that CMC students put in during the NYC networking trip. He stated that the group was terrific, motivated, and did a “wonderful job representing the College on a professional platform.”

In the future, Professor Rosett said that the Institute will continue to engage in programming that adds new value to the CMC community


Kravis Leadership Institute

The Kravis Leadership institute (KLI) was founded to facilitate the development of leadership capabilities and serve as a source of research in leadership. The earliest goal was to create a curriculum for leadership, which is now known as the leadership sequence. In 1990, the first annual Kravis-de Roulet Conference was held. Beginning in the late 90s, the Sophomore Leadership Experience became the first co-curricular programming on campus. This program continues to be a large success because it showcases the demand for leadership outside the classroom. It essentially paved the way for the creation of many new programs. Later on, the Innovative Start-Up Award was launched. 

Then, CMC was designated by Ashoka University in India as a change-maker campus. Since then, CMC has continued with programming in social entrepreneurship—the big initiative right now. Overall, multiple internships have been created and longitudinal studies that began in the 90s are tracking young people over their careers.

In the future, KLI plans to grow the Kravis Prize in a significant way. KLI wishes to explores ways in which we can take the next four years to create a set of learning experiences that can build upon those experiences each year. KLI has a life-cycle approach for students, the roots of which began with the Sophomore Leadership Experience, and wants to continue with thoughtful programming.

Lowe Institute of Political Economy

The Lowe Institute was founded in 1986 with a focus on promoting public affairs. The mission of the Institute is to “promote undergraduate education in economics and enhance the public visibility of the College and its sister institutions.”

The Lowe Institute provides students with learning opportunities such as a faculty-student research program and a public lecture series that is centered on public policy in the Inland Empire. The Institute also awards Baker-Lowe Scholarships where selected students conduct independent research on topics related to political economy and present their findings to the Institute’s Board of Governors.

In the future, the Institute will strive to expand their internship program and further community outreach through conferences and special projects.

Mgrublian Center for Human Rights

Professor John Roth began to support research about the Holocaust in the early 1970s. He trained CMC students to lead in global campaigns to protect human rights and prevent genocide through in-depth study of the Holocaust. In March 2003, Professor Roth, with the help of Leigh Crawford ’96, launched the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, placing the College among the frontrunners in the field of Holocaust studies and human rights activism. In May 2009, the name of the Center was changed to the Center for Human Rights Leadership. In 2014, it was renamed again to the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights in honor of Margaret Mgrublian P’11 and David Mgrublian ’82, P’11, both of whom generously donated to the Center.

The Center's mission is to instill in students an understanding of human rights as central to moral conduct and ethical decisions in their personal lives and careers as well as in the public arena.

In regards to proud moments, the current director, Wendy Lower, recognizes the many travel programs and conferences that the Center has sponsored and organized. She mentioned that “CMC students have toured Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, even experiencing an in-depth tour and stay at the Auschwitz Birkenau camp.” Furthermore, the Center has programs with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Enough Project and the Polin Museum in Warsaw where many CMC students have interned.

In the future, the Center will pursue an ambitious five-year plan that aims to develop a leadership model of student-activist scholars. Expanding the course offerings will increase the number of students who enroll in the human rights sequence. This will results in a higher number of students learning about human rights, genocide, and Holocaust studies, and will involve more faculty in the teaching of these subject areas that are fundamental to the Center's mission.

At the same time, the Center is offering more opportunities to engage students by encouraging them to take up humanitarian causes and lead task forces that will train them to be advocates and humanitarians. The scholarly program is being developed with an expanded fellowship program to support research and train the next generation of human rights defenders. To this end, the Center plans to expand its fellowship offerings to postgraduate students and senior scholars who are pursuing careers in human rights.

Roberts Environmental Center

Named after George R. Roberts '66 the Roberts Environmental Center aims to “involve students in real-world environmental issues and to train them to analyze issues from as broad a perspective as possible, taking science, economics, and policy into consideration.” It gives both current students and graduates the necessary skills to combat complex environmental issues.

Each year there are various student projects run by the Environmental Outreach, Environmental Governance, Environmental NGO & Corporation, Energy, Natural Sciences, and Environmental Consulting teams. In addition, the Green Careers Conference held in 2015 and 2016 will be held again in 2017.

In the future, the Center wishes to expand the variety of projects based on student interests. The Center will continue to work with various corporations, NGOs, research institutes, and government agencies for the benefit of the students and larger community.

Rose Institute of State and Local Government

Shortly after the Rose Institute's founding in 1973, it primarily focused on congressional and state redistricting. The Institute provided advice to different groups and served as a “public watchdog” for California. Since then, its scope has broadened considerably to incorporate topics such as criminal justice and federalism in the 2016 presidential election.

The mission of the Rose Institute is to provide opportunities for students to conduct research related to state and local government with a focus in California. Typically around 35 research assistants will undertake a variety of research projects.

A memorable moment of the Institute was when the redistricting website was completed. It was recognized by the Washington Post, ABC, Politico, and other news sites.

In terms of internal goals for the future, the Rose Institute wants to continue to provide the best possible research experience for students so they can engage in projects that will be constructive and create change. As an undergraduate institute, its priority is to benefit the students. Externally, it will work to provide as much high quality research on issues of state and local government as possible. The Rose Institute wishes to see a beneficial effect on public policy and awareness.

Henry Salvatori Center

The Henry Salvatori Center originated from Henry Salvatori’s concerns about freedom in the modern world. Its main purpose is to study the foundations of America and its civic principles. Though different people have run the Center, its basic principles and operations have not changed over the years. Throughout the Center's history, many excellent conferences have been held with influential speakers such as William Kristol, the founder and editor of The Weekly Standard. In January, there will be a conference on Leo Strauss.

In the future, the Salvatori Center will continue down its successful path. The Center wishes to provide more research opportunities for students about constitutional issues, public policy, and political philosophy. It also aims to promote summer internships for public policy institutions.

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