The newest component of University of La Verne pride is in the form of a $2.5 million Claremont mansion, which was previously owned by L. Frank Baum, the author of “The Wizard of Oz,” and was occupied by his second son, Robert Baum.
This grand estate, which is adjacent to the Claremont Colleges, will be used for entertaining, meeting space, fundraising and anything and anybody associated with the University.
The house is also a place of residence for President Devorah Lieberman and her family.
The University is gaining popularity and national status, and the Board thought buying a University president’s house was a good decision to have a home base for fundraising events and receptions.
With rapid student growth and the accompanying growing pains, the house is arguably a welcome addition to University facilities.
It is great that the University appears to be taking action and beginning to accommodate this growth. However, how can a mansion in Claremont fully and effectively do this?
The Trustees originally bought the Kuns House at the corner of Fifth Street and Magnolia Avenue in La Verne, which they soon discovered needed millions of dollars in renovations. That option was discarded since the Claremont house was available immediately for use.
“The Claremont property will better suit the University’s needs in terms of cost and availability,” Luis Faura, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said in a letter addressed to the La Verne community.
Why was a University house such a priority for the Board? La Verne students will not be parking in and around Claremont, and no students will be living in this house.
Students who live in Vista are dealing with ant infestations, some students are living in the Sheraton Hotel off-campus and there is a whole list of people who are still on the housing waiting list three weeks into the school year.
And, of course, there is the undeniable parking problem.
Why was the Board so intent on raising $2.6 million for a house? And if the house was such a priority, it is a shame that it wasted $400,000 on the forgotten Kuns property.
A University house is great for La Verne. It can emphasize pride and significance. There is nothing wrong with being proud of La Verne, and there is nothing wrong with President Lieberman for wanting to stress that. However, we are the University of La Verne, not the University of Claremont. So our University house should be here, no?
A first step in increasing University pride is to look at problems within the main campus. Fundraising and receptions for donors are extremely important activities, too. But shouldn’t these events happen in our own home town?