Jean B. Walton (March 6, 1914 –July 5, 2006) was an American academic administrator and women's studies scholar. She spent the bulk of her career at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
Born to a Pennsylvania Quaker family, Walton grew up at George School and studied mathematics at Swarthmore College, Brown University, and the University of Pennsylvania. She joined Pomona College in 1949 as Dean of Women, and was promoted to Dean of Students in 1969 and Vice President for Student Affairs in 1976, three years before her formal retirement. During her tenure, she advocated for women's education, engaged with student protests against the Vietnam War, oversaw reform of residential life policies to eliminate parietal rules, and co-founded the Claremont Colleges' Intercollegiate Women's Studies Program. She earned widespread recognition for her work and was praised by colleagues for her independent and dignified personality.
Jean B. Walton was born on March 6, 1914, the fourth of five daughters, in Middletown Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. : 54 She grew up on the campus of George School, where her father George was the principal. Her mother Emily was a homemaker. : 54 For high school, she attended George School and enjoyed mathematics classes in which she was often the only female student. : 80 Subsequently, she enrolled at Swarthmore College, where she majored in math. She was socially active and played several sports but found dating difficult. : 105 After graduating in 1935 with highest honors, she taught high school math at Moorestown Friends School in New Jersey for three years. : 124 She then earned a math master's degree from Brown University in 1940.
In 1945, she enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania to pursue a Ph.D. Her relationship with her advisor, German number theorist Hans Rademacher, was at first difficult because she did not fit his idea of a typical mathematician. However, she ultimately won his confidence after completing a difficult assignment that required her to translate French and German papers in an unfamiliar field, topology. She graduated in 1948 and published her dissertation, "Theta series in the Gaussian field", : 124–126in the Duke Mathematical Journal . She later described the experience as isolating but confidence-boosting.
College education stimulates the individual student, man or woman, to continued growth. The woman should be encouraged to explore, identify, and develop fully her intellectual interests and abilities, and to seek ways which fit the circumstances of her life to use these abilities fully.
Walton began her career teaching math as an instructor at Swarthmore in 1940, : 417 She also taught math at the University of Pennsylvania beginning in 1947.serving as an assistant to the dean and then the acting dean of women in 1945.
Walton was hired by Pomona College in 1949 as the dean of women : 198 In her early years, she sought to expand her role beyond its disciplinary aspects and to help women navigate the marriage vs. career conflict by providing them with a broad liberal arts education. Over time, she became increasingly concerned by the sexism she witnessed and the low expectations for female students.on the recommendation of Swarthmore president John W. Mason.
In addition to her administrative duties, Walton taught calculus. : 42, 126, 198 Together with classics professor Harry J. Carroll, Walton helped found an early iteration of Pomona's study abroad program. During the 1955–1956 academic year, she taught at Japan Women's University in Tokyo as a Fulbright Lecturer and filled a student services role similar to her one at Pomona. During the 1962–1963 academic year, she did a consultancy with the Danforth Foundation.However, she became increasingly disconnected from mathematics, which she felt was "too remote from life", and quit teaching after ten years.
Walton was the president of the California Association of Women Administrators and Counselors from 1957 to 1959,and was chair of the college section of the National Association of Women Deans, Administrators and Counselors from 1963 to 1965.
In the 1960s, Walton was a key figure in Pomona's handling of the countercultural revolution and student protests against the Vietnam War. During the 1967–1968 academic year, she chaired a student-faculty commission that worked on the college's demonstration policy. : 559–560 Walton also played an instrumental role in the liberalization of Pomona's residential life policies and the elimination of parietal rules that had restricted student freedom and segregated housing by gender. This put her on the forward edge of a nationwide trend toward the elimination of such rules; a colleague later recalled that she "changed with the times to an amazing degree".
In 1969, Walton became Dean of Students.During the fall 1971 semester, she travelled around the U.S. on sabbatical studying the American women's movement. The experience was transformative and inspired her to pursue feminist initiatives at Pomona. When she returned to campus for the spring semester, she chaired the college's Commission on the Education of Women, which recommended increasing the number of women on Pomona's faculty and changing the college's curriculum to better cater to female students. Walton was involved in ending the Pomona weigh-in, an annual practice in which the college's football team would forcibly weigh and measure the proportions of incoming first-year women during orientation. She assisted sponsors who objected to the tradition in 1972, and threatened to report the team for theft when she spotted them attempting to use college-owned scales the next year.
In 1976, Walton was promoted to Vice President for Student Affairs.She co-founded the Claremont Colleges' Intercollegiate Women's Studies Program and was its first coordinator from 1978 to 1983. Historian Gerda Lerner, invited for a two-week residency in February 1978, encouraged her to make the program a joint venture between the colleges. Scripps College president John H. Chandler volunteered the college to take the lead role in the initiative, resolving funding disputes.
Walton was a devout Quaker.She lived in Claremont at 562 Baughman Ave. Her hobbies included gardening, mountain hiking, traveling, birding, and opera. A baseball fan, she supported the Dodgers.
Walton formally retired in 1979, although she remained active in the women's studies programs at the Claremont Colleges.In her elderly years, she moved to Mt. San Antonio Gardens in Claremont and regularly attended lectures and performances at the Claremont Colleges. She served on the city's Committee on Aging and in other civic roles. She died on July 5, 2006, at age 92.
Walton was awarded the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators' top honor, the Scott Goodnight Award, in 1974.The next year, she won Pomona's Wig Distinguished Professor Award, the college's highest faculty honor, in recognition of her teaching and her contributions to an interdisciplinary course on changing sex roles.
When she retired, her former students established the Jean B. Walton Scholarship Fund in her honor.A residential building at Pomona, Walton Commons, was named after her in 1981, and in 1994 the college awarded her an honorary doctor of science degree.
In remarks after her death, Pomona president David Alexander described her as "fiercely independent, sturdy and courageous" and credited her as "among the most important contributors" to the college's success.An obituary in the Claremont Courier noted that she "evokes the word 'dignity' from almost all who knew her."
Swarthmore College is a private liberal arts college in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1864, with its first classes held in 1869, Swarthmore is one of the earliest coeducational colleges in the United States. It was established as a college "under the care of Friends, [and] at which an education may be obtained equal to that of the best institutions of learning in our country." By 1906, Swarthmore had dropped its religious affiliation and officially became non-sectarian.
The Claremont Colleges are a consortium of seven private institutions of higher education located in Claremont, California, United States. They comprise five undergraduate colleges —Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College (CMC), Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College—and two graduate schools—Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and Keck Graduate Institute (KGI). All of the members except KGI have adjoining campuses that together cover roughly 1 square mile (2.6 km2).
Pomona College is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California. It was established in 1887 by a group of Congregationalists who wanted to recreate a "college of the New England type" in Southern California, and in 1925 it became the founding member of the Claremont Colleges consortium of adjacent, affiliated institutions.
Scripps College is a private liberal arts women's college in Claremont, California. It was founded as a member of the Claremont Colleges in 1926, a year after the consortium's formation. Journalist and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps provided its initial endowment.
Pitzer College is a private residential liberal arts college in Claremont, California. One of the Claremont Colleges, the college has a curricular emphasis on the social sciences, behavioral sciences, international programs, and media studies. Pitzer is known for its social justice culture, nonconformist student body, and experimental pedagogical approach.
Claremont McKenna College (CMC) is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California. It has a curricular emphasis on government, economics, public affairs, finance, and international relations. CMC is a member of the Claremont Colleges consortium.
The Student Life is a student newspaper covering the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of liberal arts colleges in Claremont, California. It is published weekly each Friday during the academic year, typically spans roughly ten pages per issue, and is primarily funded by the student governments of the colleges.
KSPC is a non-commercial college and community radio station based in Claremont, California, broadcasting at 88.7 MHz on the FM band and streaming online. It was founded in 1956 as a Pomona College student organization and later expanded to the other Claremont Colleges (7Cs). KSPC is funded by the Associated Students of Pomona College and other 7C student associations.
Joan Sylvia Lyttle Birman is an American mathematician, specializing in low-dimensional topology. She has made contributions to the study of knots, 3-manifolds, mapping class groups of surfaces, geometric group theory, contact structures and dynamical systems. Birman is currently research professor emerita at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she has been since 1973.
Ninetta May "Nettie" Runnals was an American academic and college administrator. She served as Dean of Women at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, her alma mater, for 27 years, advocating for gender equality for women students and faculty members. She also helped raise significant funding for a Women's Union on the Mayflower Hill campus, which was renamed Runnals Union in her honor in 1959. She was inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame in 1992.
Ami Elizabeth Radunskaya is an American mathematician and musician. She is a professor of mathematics at Pomona College, where she specializes in dynamical systems and the applications of mathematics to medicine, such as the use of cellular automata to model drug delivery. In 2016 she was elected as the president of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM).
G. Gabrielle Starr is an American literary scholar, neuroscientist, and academic administrator who is the 10th president of Pomona College, a liberal arts college in Claremont, California. She is known for her work on 18th-century British literature and the neuroscience of aesthetics. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NSF ADVANCE award, and a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation. From 2000 to 2017, she was on the faculty at New York University. In 2017, she became the first woman and first African-American president of Pomona College. Starr was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020.
Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens is the joint athletics program for Pomona College and Pitzer College, two of the Claremont Colleges. It competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) of the NCAA Division III. Its mascot is Cecil the Sagehen. Its primary rival is the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags and Athenas, the joint team of the three other undergraduate Claremont Colleges.
Edith Philips was an American writer and academic of French literature. Her research focused on eighteenth-century French literature and French emigration to the United States. She was a Guggenheim Fellow (1928) and a professor of French at Goucher College and Swarthmore College. In 1932, she published The Good Quaker in French Legend. She served as the acting dean of women at Swarthmore and was later appointed the Susan W. Lippincott Professor of French in 1941. Philips was the founding chair of the Department of Modern Languages at Swarthmore, serving in this position from 1949 to 1960.
Jennifer Switkes is a Canadian-American applied mathematician interested in mathematical modeling and operations research, and also known for her volunteer work teaching mathematics in prisons. She is an associate professor of mathematics at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where she is associate chair of the mathematics department.
Omayra Ortega is an American mathematician, specializing in mathematical epidemiology. Ortega is an assistant professor of mathematics & statistics at Sonoma State University in Sonoma County, California, and the president of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM).
Numerous traditions have been established at Pomona College, a highly selective liberal arts college in Claremont, California, since its founding in 1887. They have varying levels of popularity, longevity, and institutional recognition. Taken together, they are a significant component of the school's culture and identity, promoting social cohesion among students and other community members.
Gary R. Kates is an American historian who specializes in the European Enlightenment and the French Revolution. He is the H. Russell Smith Foundation Professor of History at Pomona College. He previously served as the dean of the college from 2001 to 2009.
Jill Spencer Grigsby is an American sociologist whose areas of expertise include demography and sociology of the family. She is an emerita professor of sociology at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
Janice A. Hudgings is an American physicist and educator whose research interests include optics and semiconductor devices. She is the Seeley W. Mudd Professor of Physics at Pomona College in Claremont, California.