Jonathan Veitch

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Jonathan Veitch

Jonathan Veitch (born 1959) is the president of Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. He became president in July 2009, succeeding interim president Robert Skotheim.[1] Vietch previously served as a professor at the University of Wisconsin and dean of The New School's Eugene Lang College.[2] He has authored American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s.[3]


Veitch attended Loyola High School in southern California before he received his bachelors degree from Stanford University. He later received his doctoral degree in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University.[4]

At Occidental College[edit]

Veitch succeeded Robert Skotheim as president of the College on June 30, 2009.[5] He has worked to improve relations between the College and the surrounding community, limiting expansion of the campus into the community in response to neighborhood concerns.[6] In April, 2013 Veitch unveiled a 1 megawatt solar array on the Occidental campus, to generate a portion of the campus's energy supply.[7]

Veitch is the first president of Occidental College to be a native Angeleno, having been born in Los Angeles. He currently lives in the Wallis Annenberg President's House on the Occidental campus with his wife, Sarah, and their three children.[8]

Sexual Assault Controversy[edit]

In April 2013, Occidental College was one of the first in a series of US higher education institutions to be accused of failing to take campus sex crimes seriously by improperly reporting and adjudicating sexual assaults and covering up rapes. Occidental students and faculty filed two federal complaints against the College, alleging violations of Title IX of the US Education Amendments of 1972 and the Clery Act.[9] Veitch in particular came under fire for claiming in a campus-wide email that activists "actively sought to embarrass the College" by speaking against Occidental's sexual assault policy with local media. [10] The email prompted severe outcry from students and faculty.

In response, Veitch took the following actions:

  • Adopted a new interim sexual misconduct policy
  • Hired a former Assistant District Attorney, Ruth Jones, as a full-time, independent Title IX coordinator
  • Added a new 24-hour, seven-days-week telephone hotline
  • Hired a full-time survivor advocate
  • Conducted a comprehensive internal audit of its Clery Act reporting practices
  • Doubled staff for Project SAFE, a campus advocacy and education program dedicated to addressing sexual misconduct*
  • Expanded preventative education for all students through online programs, the office of Residence Education, Project SAFE, and a speakers’ series,
  • Created a permanent Sexual Misconduct Advisory Board made up of students, faculty and staff.[11][12][13][14]

However, many have labeled these changes cosmetic and called their effectiveness into question. Students have alleged, for example, that the College failed to maintain the integrity of a new confidential reporting system and has tracked down and identified students who choose to report anonymously.[15] Critics also point out that these changes fail to address the college's excessively lenient punishments for rapists and the vague language embedded in the school's official sexual misconduct policy--issues which were at the heart of the initial controversy. Veitch's retention of Dean of Students Barbara Avery, in whom Occidental faculty cast a 65-9 vote of no confidence due to her handling of sexual assault cases in 2013, has also come under harsh criticism.[16][17]

Additional allegations against Veitch's administration and their handling of sexual assault have surfaced since implementing the above listed changes. In September 2013, administrators seized laptops and personal property from faculty who have challenged the college's sexual assault policies, claiming that they were necessary for the Department of Education's investigation (the DOE denied these claims). [18] Similar allegations of phone hackings and office break-ins have been reported.[19] In March 2014, The Los Angeles Times fired journalist Jason Felch, who had reported numerous stories on the sexual assault controversy at Occidental, after learning from Occidental administrators that he had a personal relationship with a source. The Times reported that the source, an Occidental faculty member, provided him with exaggerated information about the College's Clery Act violations. [20][21] Critics, however, have challenged Felch's firing, arguing that his information is in fact accurate, that multiple sources corroborate Felch's initial findings, and that administrators learned about the faculty member's relationship with Felch by breaking into her office and stealing pages out of her personal journal.[22] Sustained criticism against Veitch has led a number of students, faculty, and alumni to call for his resignation.


  1. ^ "President's Bio". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Gordon, Larry (31 January 2009). "Jonathan Veitch named president of Occidental College". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ Veitch, Jonathan (20 February 2000). "Married With Children". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ "President's Bio". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Kraege, Lisa (February 5, 2009). "Jonathan Veitch Named 15th President of Occidental". The Occidental Weekly. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Tokita, Mary. "An Interview With Occidental College President Jonathan Veitch". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "President's Bio". Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (19 April 2013). "Occidental College Sexual Assault Response Subject Of Federal Complaints". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  10. ^ 5 5.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  19. ^ "Inside The Sexual Assault Civil War At Occidental College". BuzzFeed. 
  20. ^ "Editor's note: The Times acknowledges errors in three articles about Occidental College's reporting of sexual assault allegations". Los Angeles Times. 14 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "Inside The Sexual Assault Civil War At Occidental College". BuzzFeed. 
  22. ^ "Inside The Sexual Assault Civil War At Occidental College". BuzzFeed.