Harvey Mudd College (HMC), the nation's top liberal arts college of engineering, science and mathematics was chartered in December 1955. Two years later, in 1957, when the space race made technical education a priority in the United States, it opened its doors. The founders' vision—to attract the nation's brightest students and offer them a rigorous scientific and technological education coupled with a strong curricular emphasis in the humanities and social sciences—has been successfully realized and expanded upon. In 1963, the college initiated the nationally recognized Clinic Program, which allows student teams to solve problems posed by sponsoring industry, government and nonprofit organizations. The emphasis on undergraduate research for all students has led to HMC graduates earning Ph.D. degrees in science and engineering at one of the highest rates in the nation.
Small by choice, with 700 students and 80 faculty, HMC enjoys an excellent reputation, which has made the college one of the most selective in the country. Our students' educational experience provides them with the capacity to master the tough interdisciplinary problems they will encounter in science and industry. Harvey Mudd College graduates are scientists, engineers, astronauts and ambassadors, as well as teachers, artists and entrepreneurs. The impact our graduates have on an increasingly technological world is what drives HMC to continue evolving and innovating. With continued support from people who care about the education of the nation's future leaders, Harvey Mudd College looks forward to many more years of providing top-notch undergraduate engineering, science and mathematics education.
Harvey Mudd's Dream
Harvey Seeley Mudd, for whom Harvey Mudd College was named, was born in Leadville, Colorado, in 1888 and died in Los Angeles in 1955. A friend has described him as "one of the most humble, most fortunate and most successful men of modern times...a thinker, a patient builder and a self-reliant scholar."
A mining engineer, he was a graduate of Stanford and Columbia universities. He served with distinction as president of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers. With his father, he founded and later became president of Cyprus Mines, Corp., whose Los Angeles-based international enterprises started with development of the copper mines on the island of Cyprus.
Harvey Mudd was a director of the Southern Pacific Company, of the Texas Gulf Sulphur Company and of the Founders Fire and Marine Insurance Company. He was a founding director of the RAND Corporation. He was a trustee of the California Institute of Technology, a director of the Hospital of The Good Samaritan and a trustee of the Southwest Museum. For 12 years, he was president of the Southern California Symphony Association. For nine of those years, he was chairman of its board.
He had a particular interest in The Claremont Colleges and served as chairman of the Board of Fellows of Claremont College, now The Claremont Graduate University, for a quarter of a century. While serving in that position, he helped to plan the undergraduate college of science and engineering that was chartered in 1955, shortly after his death.
With the backing of Harvey Mudd's friends and family, the new college was founded later that year and named in his memory and honor. This new college would award degrees in science and engineering, but require a breadth of understanding in the humanities and the social sciences. This was a daring move, one the founders felt was necessary so that graduates would "understand the impact of their work on society," an objective they incorporated directly into the college's mission statement.
Harvey Mudd College Opens
Harvey Mudd College opened in September of 1957, less than a month before Sputnik I launched the Space Age. Forty-eight students and a faculty of seven courageous professors who shared the dream of starting a technical college that would emphasize the humanistic aspects of technology were on hand when the school opened its doors. Nuclear physicist Joseph B. Platt served the fledgling institution as its first president, and new courses and a new curriculum were formulated under a grant from the Carnegie Corp.
The founding faculty of Harvey Mudd College were:
- Graydon Bell, assistant professor of physics
- J. Arthur Campbell, professor of chemistry
- William Davenport, professor of humanities
- Robert James, professor of mathematics
- Duane Roller, professor of physics
- Roy A. Whiteker, assistant professor of chemistry
- George Wickes, assistant professor of humanities
Why would a distinguished college professor leave the security of an established university to join the faculty of a new college? Professor Bell explains, "Harvey Mudd College was new and the president said that I would be making all the decisions about what would be taught and how it would be taught. That appealed to me."
The First Students
With forty-eight students and seven faculty, the first classes at Harvey Mudd College consisted of one (almost) completed dorm and borrowed classrooms and equipment.
During the early years, most faculty members readily took on administrative responsibilities in addition to their teaching jobs. Some classes were even held in the homes of faculty and staff.
In June 1959, HMC held its first commencement ceremony graduating Stuart Black and Peter Loeb, who both transferred to Harvey Mudd their junior year. Because of the diminutive size of the graduating class, the ceremony drew national attention, and the event was televised. Both graduates later became university professors.
Progress and Success
Slowly, classrooms and dorms were built and students began to fill them. By 1965, Harvey Mudd's tenth year, 284 students were enrolled in classes and faculty numbered 43. Harvey Mudd celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1975, with student enrollment at 497 and climbing.
In 1976, D. Kenneth Baker became the second president of Harvey Mudd College, followed by Henry E. Riggs in 1988, Jon C. Strauss in 1997, and Maria M. Klawe in 2006. Today, more than 700 extraordinary students are enrolled at Harvey Mudd College, learning through rigorous and challenging educational experiences from a highly committed faculty. Recently, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges reaffirmed the institutional accreditation of HMC. In their final report, the WASC team wrote, "Harvey Mudd is characterized by excellence and success, and is widely regarded as among the nation's best undergraduate science and engineering colleges."
Since its founding in 1955, Harvey Mudd College has been renowned for the excellence of its faculty and students, its independent spirit, the quality and innovation of its programs and the high caliber of its graduates. In just four decades, Harvey Mudd has evolved from one family's ambitious dream to one of the foremost undergraduate institutions of science and engineering in the country.
The Harvey Mudd College Seal
The Harvey Mudd College Seal represents the various ideals of the college. The sun represents energy; the elliptical Mobius strip represents structure; the dividers represent measurement; the inner and outer ellipses can be interpreted as orbital paths, suggesting concern with space; and the globe denotes the humanities and civilization. The dividers are placed in the design to bridge the gap between the sun and the globe, symbolizing the measure of energy and matter as well as the measure of humans and civilization.