Born in 1906 in Oklahoma Territory, the son of a Union soldier who had studied law with Abraham Lincoln's law partner—Orme Phelps was a link to America's history—and a guiding light in the creation of Claremont McKenna College's legacy of outstanding teaching, scholarship and philanthropy.
When Orme Phelps came to CMC in 1947, he arrived at "a place I'd never heard of"—bringing with him memories of covered wagon trains heading across the prairie, three degrees from the University of Chicago, a reputation as an up-and-coming economics professor, and a penchant for intellectual challenges. He fully expected to move on to "bigger and better" places in a year or two—but instead built his entire career at CMC, establishing a standard of excellence and creating an enduring legacy in the process.
Phelps is remembered for much more than his bow tie, his ever-present pipe and his crew cut. He's one of the reasons that CMC is renowned today for its intellectual rigor, its expectation that students challenge their own views and assumptions, and its skillful melding of the theoretical and the real. His classrooms were home to energetic discussions of ideas from varied perspectives, of issues with no simple resolution—what Phelps considered the fodder for success in both college and career.
And Orme Phelps left a legacy of another sort: an unrestricted gift annuity of $400,000—the largest lifetime gift ever given to CMC by a full-time faculty member. It is his generosity that is the hallmark of the Orme Phelps Society—the organization that recognizes the special friends of CMC who include the college in their estate plans.
Membership in the Orme Phelps Society
The Orme Phelps Society recognizes those generous individuals who include Claremont McKenna College in their will or trust, name the college as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, or establish a life income agreement with CMC, such as a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust.
If you have made such a commitment to CMC, you qualify as a member of the Orme Phelps Society. If you have not already done so, we would be most grateful if you would advise us of your plans in whatever detail you deem appropriate. If you wish to remain anonymous you have only to state that preference. Any information you provide to the College will be held in strict confidence.
Your membership in the Orme Phelps Society not only honors the legacy established by one of CMC's most beloved founding professors. It also strengthens our endowment, enables us to improve our facilities, build our faculty, upgrade our technology, and expand our efforts to recruit America's very best students.
It is your link to CMC's past. And your commitment to our future.
Orme Phelps' exuberant love of life and his freewheeling spirit—witnessed in his "look-Ma-no-hands!" bike-riding style and his love of tree climbing "for the pure satisfaction of the ascent"—endeared him to generations of CMC students. They live on today, in CMC's energetic, engaging approach to liberal arts education—and in the support promised to future generations by members of the Orme Phelps Society.
Orme Phelps Society
Claremont McKenna College
400 No. Claremont Blvd.
Claremont, California 91711-4015
909/621-8095 or 888/311-4717
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