Occidental College

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Occidental College
Seal-OccidentalCollege.png
Motto Occidens Proximus Orienti (Latin)
Motto in English The West is nearest the East
Established April 20, 1887
Type Private
Endowment $330.7 million[1]
President Jonathan Veitch
Dean Jorge Gonzalez
Chairman of the Board of Trustees Chris Calkins '67
Academic staff 183
Students 2,123
Location Los Angeles, California, United States
Campus Urban, Pastoral
120 acres (49 ha)
Colors Orange and Black         
Athletics NCAA Division III
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Sports 21 Varsity Teams
Nickname Tigers
Mascot Oswald the Tiger
Affiliations Annapolis Group
Website www.oxy.edu
OccidentalWordmark.png

Occidental College is a private, co-educational liberal arts college located in the historic Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1887 by clergy and members of the Presbyterian Church, Occidental College is called Oxy by some students and alumni.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching selected Occidental as a "community engagement institution".[2][3]

History[edit]

Highland Park campus, 1904.

Origin[edit]

Occidental College was founded on April 20, 1887, by a group of Presbyterian clergy, missionaries, and laymen, including James George Bell. The college's first term began a year later with 27 men and 13 women students, and tuition of $50 a year. Initially located in Boyle Heights, it moved to a new campus in Los Angeles' Highland Park neighborhood in 1898.

Despite a strong Presbyterian presence on its campus, Occidental began to lessen its ties to the church in 1900. In 1912, the school began construction of a new campus located in Los Angeles' Eagle Rock neighborhood. The Eagle Rock campus was to be designed by noted California architect Myron Hunt. That same year, Occidental President John Willis Baer announced the trustees' decision to convert Occidental College into an all-men's institution. However, students protested, and the idea was abandoned.

Occidental College in the 1920s

Move to Eagle Rock[edit]

Two weeks after Booker T. Washington came to visit Occidental, on March 27, 1914, Swan, Fowler, and Johnson Halls were dedicated at its new Eagle Rock campus. The Eagle Rock campus covers over 120 acres (49 ha), much of which is undeveloped land on a hill known as "Mt. Fiji".

In April 1917, the college formed an Army Corps to aid the war effort. The college opened its Hillside Theatre in 1925, and a student union in 1928. During World War II, many students left Occidental to fight in the war. In July 1943, 53 students established a Navy V-12[4] unit on campus and left for active duty.

1960-present[edit]

In 1962, Time described Occidental as a little giant in a story about the college's rise to national prominence.[5] In 1969, the school opened its first two co-ed dormitories, and two more followed a year later. On May 6, 1970, the faculty voted to suspend classes in the wake of the Kent State shootings and America's invasion of Cambodia. Subsequently, Oxy students wrote 7,000 letters to Washington D.C., protesting U.S. involvement in the war in Southeast Asia.[citation needed]

The era also inspired positive changes in administration in regards to ethnic minority rights. The college received grants designed to help equal the playing field for students traditionally neglected in higher education. This laid the foundation for a series of actions aiming to continue closing the access gap for minorities of virtually all categories in the decades to come, the most important of which was President John Brooks Slaughter's institution of the college's mission statement, around which the entire college would function and aspire to both academic excellence and equity. The mission statement was written just 18 months after Slaughter was appointed President in 1988.[6][7] Recently, the 2007 U.S. News and World Report ranked Occidental College the 36th best liberal arts college in the country, tied with Bard College in New York and Whitman College in Washington, citing both ethnic and economic diversity as key achievements.[8]

In 1979, Occidental installed Water Forms II (see image below), a kinetic fountain designed by professor George Baker. The fountain is a campus landmark and was featured prominently in the 1984 film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. During the 1984 Olympic Games, some track events were held at Occidental's Patterson Field. By 1986, for the first time since World War II, women students outnumbered men. Today, the college is approximately 60 percent female and 40 percent male; roughly equivalent to the national average. On July 1, 2006, Susan Prager became Occidental's first female president. She then left her position in 2007 during the fall term.[9] On July 1, 2009, Jonathan Veitch, formerly dean of The New School's Eugene Lang College, became Occidental's 15th president and the first to be a native Angeleno.

Sexual assault controversy[edit]

A Federal civil rights complaint was filed in April 2013 by 37 students stating that the school "deliberately discouraged victims from reporting sexual assaults, misled students about their rights during campus investigations, retaliated against whistle-blowers, and handed down minor punishment to known assailants who in some cases allegedly struck again". This complaint was later joined by 13 others, including members of the college staff supportive of their concerns. This complaint is currently under active investigation by the Federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. On September 18, 2013, the college also settled a lawsuit brought by 10 students also alleging improper treatment of their sexual assault cases, on undisclosed terms.[10][11]

In response to student and faculty outcry, as well as the pending federal lawsuits, the College has taken the following actions to combat sexual assault: 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, 7-days-a-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; expanded preventative education for all students; and created a permanent Sexual Misconduct Advisory Board made up of students, faculty and staff.[12][13][14][15] 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.[16] 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. The College'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.[17][18] Students have continued to report improper treatment of sexual assault cases, as well as multiple instances of harassment of victims and retaliation against their advocates, despite the changes.[19]

On May 1, 2014, Occidental was named one of fifty-five higher education institutions under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights “for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints” by Barack Obama's White House Task Force To Protect Students from Sexual Assault.[20]

Campus[edit]

Thorne Hall

Architect Myron Hunt, who also designed the Rose Bowl Stadium, designed Oxy's original buildings in a Mediterranean style, with covered walkways and tile roofs. Currently, there are 12 on-campus residence halls. The three original buildings of the 1914 campus still stand today, although seismic concerns have limited them to classrooms and academic offices. Some buildings, such as the Hameetman Science Center (designed by Anshen + Allen, 2003), deviates from the original architecture with its large glass windows and metal balconies (its lobby houses a large Foucault pendulum). Occidental's newest building, the 278-bed Rangeview Residence Hall, opened in January 2008 at a reported cost of $38.8 million. Renamed Berkus Hall in 2013, it is the first residence hall built in 25 years.[21]

Thorne Hall at Occidental College, used for assemblies/lectures
Samuelson, at Occidental College is more commonly known as "the cooler" where students and faculty may go enjoy a meal or a quick snack
This is the Occidental College balcony that leads to the Market Place dining hall and the on campus cafe called "The Green Bean"

Master Plan[edit]

The most recent Occidental College Master Plan was released in 2006 and filed with the City of Los Angeles. The plan's main focuses were to restore and adaptively reuse existing buildings, build new projects that contribute to a coherent campus form, pedestrianize the academic campus, create green buildings and green landscapes, and encourage and/or participate in neighborhood compatible development. In 2009 the College withdrew the plan from the City. In a campus email, President Veitch explained that the motivation was to start a new planning process that would be more inclusive to all parties affected by the college. According to an Occidental Weekly article, the move caught many off guard and was a bad start to the process if the school wanted it be more inclusive.[22]

Since 2009, there has been no movement around campus to start up a new Master Plan. However, the college has released a new Strategic Plan that will guide the college from 2012 - 2017.[23]

Academics and resources[edit]

There are 31 majors offered on campus and there is a 10:1 student-faculty ratio. The average class size is 19 students and most students take four classes per semester.[24]

Core program[edit]

Divided in three parts, the Core Program was designed by the faculty of Occidental to unify and enhance the liberal arts education offered by the school. The Core Program requires students to achieve the following:

  1. complete two first-year writing seminars; one course in the fall, another in the spring (called CSPs);
  2. complete a set number of courses in 3 of 6 available geographical areas worth at least 12 units: Africa and the Middle East, South, Central and East Asia, Europe, Latin America, the United States, Intercultural
  3. complete a 102-level language course or be exempt through four ways
  4. complete a course concerning the pre-1800s era and one focused on the fine arts
  5. complete three math and science courses; one has to be a lab science
  6. pass a senior-year comprehensive examination within the student's chosen major.[25]

First-year seminars (eight course hours in total) are the centerpiece of the Core Program. Students are given a variety of class choices to fulfill the seminar requirement and to satisfy the first-year writing requirement. While the classes range in topic, each is based on a curriculum of cultural studies. The classes are designed to expose students to the rigor of college academics and to the four principles of the college mission—Excellence, Equity, Community, and Service.

The Core Program's emphasis on global literacy requires students to take a minimum of three courses that touch on at least three of the following geographical areas: Africa and the Middle East; Asia and the Pacific; Europe; Latin America; the United States; and Intercultural. Students are also required to demonstrate proficiency in writing and in a foreign language and take courses in the fine arts and in the sciences, mathematics, or other courses that address formal methods of reasoning.

The final portion of the Core Program requires students to pass a senior comprehensive examination in their chosen field. Comprehensive examinations may include seminars, creative projects, fieldwork, oral exams, theses, or field research projects.

Exchange and cooperative joint degree programs[edit]

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Columbia University[edit]

Students at Occidental can take courses at the California Institute of Technology in nearby Pasadena free of charge. In addition, a 3-2 engineering program allows qualified students the opportunity to study at Occidental for three years, completing their undergraduate experience with an additional two years either at Caltech or Columbia University. At the end of the five years, the student receives two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in the Combined Plan from Occidental and a Bachelor of Science in the selected field of engineering from the engineering school.

Art Center College of Design[edit]

Art majors at Occidental College can take courses at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, one of the country's top-ranked art schools. The program is not open to first-year students, but as with the Caltech exchange program, students receive full course credit. No additional tuition payments are required.

Columbia University School of Law[edit]

With a competitive GPA and LSAT scores, Columbia Law School admits students upon completion of their junior year at Occidental into its Accelerated Interdisciplinary Program in Legal Education. Admittance to the program enables students to earn a bachelor's degree from Occidental and a law degree from Columbia in six years.

Keck Graduate Institute[edit]

Students who are interested in biotechnology and who become a biochemistry major maintaining a 3.2 GPA in the necessary courses will be guaranteed admission to the Keck master's in bioscience program. The Keck Graduate Institute is part of the Claremont Colleges consortium.

Reputation and rankings[edit]

In Forbes 2013 rankings of America's Top Colleges, Occidental ranks 109th.[26] In U.S. News and World Report's 2013 rankings of American liberal arts colleges, Occidental is tied for 39th.[27] Since 1908, Occidental has graduated 10 Rhodes Scholars.[28] The 2007 Princeton Review describes Occidental as having a "rising star quality" and notes that Occidental's professors have been called "top quality."[29] The 2006 edition of America's Best Value Colleges by the Princeton Review noted that the college "is committed to recruiting top students regardless of their financial background."[30] The College Prowler says that people "look at Occidental degrees very highly," but that Occidental often does not receive the attention it deserves.[31]

Admissions[edit]

For the Class of 2015 (enrolled fall 2011), Occidental received 6,120 applications and accepted 2,369 (38.7%).[32] Of the 537 enrolling, 56.1% were female; 43.9% male.[32] In terms of class rank, 60% of enrolled freshmen were in the top 10% of their high school classes; 91% ranked in the top quarter.[32] The middle 50% range of SAT scores of enrolled freshmen was 600-700 for critical reading, 610-690 for math, and 600-700 for writing;[32] the middle 50% range of the ACT Composite score was 27-31.[32]

Athletics[edit]

Main article: Occidental Tigers
Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union

Occidental is one of the five schools that founded the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) in 1915 and is currently a member of the SCIAC and NCAA Division III. Occidental features 21 varsity sports teams and a program of club sports and intramural competition. Approximately 25 percent of the student body participates in a varsity sports program.[33]

During the 2006–2007 athletic season, the Tigers cross country, American football and basketball teams were Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions. The school's Blackshirts Rugby union team was also league champion for the first time in five years. In 2011, Jeremy Castro ('99) and Patrick Guthrie ('86) steered the squad to a NSCRO final falling to Longwood University 36-27 in Virginia Beach, VA. In addition the college boasts a competitive and growing elite dance team that also performs at every home football and basketball game.[33]

In 1982, the Occidental College football team had the rare opportunity for national prominence when, due to the NFL football strike, their game with San Diego was broadcast on national television.[34]

In 2011, Occidental College lost a Basketball game to Caltech with a score of 46 to 45 giving the Caltech Beavers their first conference win in 26 years and putting an end to their 310 game losing streak.[35]

Famous Occidental College Tigers include NFL coach Jim E. Mora, former American Football League Most Valuable Player Jack Kemp, former NFL player Vance Mueller, 2011 U.S. Senior Open Champion Olin Browne, CFL player Justin Goltz (Winnipeg Blue Bombers), and professional golfer Andrew Larkin.

Herrick Interfaith Center, built 1964, with Water Forms II in the foreground.

Dorm life[edit]

For the first three years at Occidental, all students are required to live on campus; as a senior, it is an option. Freshmen do not get to choose where they live; res-ed life arranges housing by pairing students based on a short form students fill in the summer before they arrive on campus. The Occidental College dorm life consists of 13 co-ed residential housing facilities. As a first year, students have the option of living in Newcomb Hall, Chilcott Hall, Braun Hall, and Stewart-Cleland Hall (commonly known as Stewie). After a student's first year, he or she can choose to live in a number of dorms that house sophomores, juniors, and seniors; one-third of all these halls are reserved for each grade. These dorms include Bell-Young Hall, Wylie Hall, Erdman Hall, Haines Hall, Rangeview Hall and Stearns Hall. All residence halls are smoke-free, have a computer lab for use, laundry facilities, meeting/gathering space (common room), and are equipped with DIREC TV in that lounge. There are also themed-living communities which consist of the Multicultural Hall known as Pauley (open to all years), the Women's Center (Berkus House, named after alumnus Dave Berkus), the E. Norris Hall, the Pet House (where currently students get to live with a dog), and the Food Justice house. The items supplied in each dorm room are a bed frame/mattress, a desk, a desk chair, a dresser, a microfridge, and a microwave.[36]

Campus dining[edit]

Occidental's main dining facility is The Marketplace, which is located in the Johnson Student Center. The Tiger Cooler, an espresso bar and cafe is also popular among students. Faculty, students, staff, and visitors can also grab drinks and pastries at The Green Bean Coffee Lounge and Coffee Cart. Vending machines are also available.[37]

The Marketplace[edit]

Students can dine in the facility (in the cafeteria or outside in the patio) or grab food to go. Eco-friendly containers called Eco-Clamshells are offered to Occidental students, faculty and staff to reduce plastic waste. Furthermore, all food scraps and paper waste are recycled by a company. There are different food stations including the grill, homestyle, and the pasta station. Organic and local fruit is offered. On Mondays a "Meatless Monday" meal is offered.

The Tiger Cooler[edit]

This espresso bar and cafe is located in Samuelson Pavilion. Many students work there, either at the counter or at the grill taking one or multiple shifts. Pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, sushi, assorted pastries, Fosselman's ice cream, frozen yogurt, smoothies, espresso coffee drinks and other beverages are offered. Packaged snacks are also available. It is open until 11: 45 P.M. Monday-Thursday and until 2 A.M. Fridays and Saturdays. Pizza delivery can be requested as well.

The Coffee Cart[edit]

It is located in Berkus. Coffee, tea, and snacks are available along with organic options that are not sold elsewhere on campus.

The Green Bean Coffee Lounge[edit]

Also located in the Johnson Student Center, this facility is student-run and was recently added by student request.

Student activities[edit]

Media[edit]

The campus newspaper is the Occidental Weekly, an independent, student-run publication. It has been published continuously since 1893.[38]

KOXY is a student-run campus radio station, in operation in the 1960s and 1970s, and again since 2000.[39] It originally operated on the frequency 104.7 in and around campus from 1968 to 2009, but switched to only being available by webstream in 2009. KOXY sponsors several on-campus events.

In 2010, Occidental College launched a TV station called CatAList, launched by then-students Daniel Watson and Raffy Cortina;[40] Cortina was also the first Occidental student to be awarded with a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his short Bottled Up.[41] The station produces 20–30 minutes of student-run content weekly on a variety of topics.

Greek Life[edit]

Occidental College's Greek Council consists of 8 members: sororities Alpha Lambda Phi Alpha, Delta Omicron Tau, Kappa Alpha Theta and Sigma Lambda Gamma, and fraternities Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Zeta Tau Zeta (co-ed).

Traditions[edit]

At the beginning of every school year, freshmen participate in Convocation, a formal ceremony welcoming new students to the College in which the faculty wear their full academic regalia and students don robes. Students process from the Academic Quad to Thorne Hall as faculty line their path, cheering for them.[42]

Founders Day is celebrated April 20, the day in 1887 when Occidental's incorporation papers were officially signed by the California Secretary of State.[43]

Local involvement[edit]

There are various entities at Occidental College that promote local community involvement opportunities in Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Los Angeles. These include the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI), the Office of Community Engagement (OCE), the Center for Community Based Learning (CCBL), the Neighborhood Partnership Program (NPP), and Upward Bound.

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]

Notable graduates of Occidental College include filmmaker Terry Gilliam, football player and politician Jack Kemp, former New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim E. Mora, and Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper. Notable attendees include current US President Barack Obama, Academy Award-winning actor and filmmaker Ben Affleck, actor Luke Wilson and actress Emily Osment.

Film and television at Occidental[edit]

President William Howard Taft at Occidental in October 1911

Occidental's campus, architecture, and proximity to Hollywood have made it a desired location for a number of film and television productions.[44]

Film credits include:

TV credits include:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As of June 30, 2012. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2012 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2011 to FY 2012" (PDF). 2012 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. 
  2. ^ "Community Engagement Elective Classification", http://classifications.carnegiefoundation.org, retrieved 6-15-12
  3. ^ "Carnegie Foundation Classifications - Occidental College", http://classifications.carnegiefoundation.org, retrieved 6-15-12
  4. ^ "Oxy Trivia". http://alumni.oxy.edu. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Little Giant" Time, retrieved 6-13-2012
  6. ^ "Welcome to Multicultural U.", pp.1-2, Los Angeles Times, Mithers, Caroline L. (1999), retrieved 6-11-2012
  7. ^ "Mission", www.oxy.edu, retrieved 01-08-2013
  8. ^ "Oxy Ranks High in Guides", www.oxy.edu, retrieved 01-08-2013
  9. ^ "A Brief History of Occidental College". Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  10. ^ [1] LA Times, 'Occidental College Settles in Sexual Assault Cases', 18 September 2013
  11. ^ [2] Occidental College chief asks for reconciliation after accusations, 20 September 2013
  12. ^ "Ruth Jones named new Title IX coordinator". The Occidental Weekly. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  13. ^ [3][dead link]
  14. ^ "Sexual Assault Resources & Support | Occidental College | The Liberal Arts College in Los Angeles". Oxy.edu. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  15. ^ "Changing the Culture | Occidental College | The Liberal Arts College in Los Angeles". Oxy.edu. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  16. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/13/occidental-sexual-assault-reporting_n_4427844.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/06/local/la-me-ln-occidental-sex-20130506.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ http://occidentalweekly.com/news/2013/05/07/faculty-votes-no-confidence-in-dean-avery-botterud/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Inside The Sexual Assault Civil War At Occidental College". BuzzFeed. 
  20. ^ "U.S. Department of Education Releases List of Higher Education Institutions with Open Title IX Sexual Violence Investigations". U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  21. ^ "Upper Division Housing", www.oxy.edu, retrieved 6-15-2012
  22. ^ Dalgetty, Ben. "Veitch Announces New Plans for Oxy's Future Growth". Occidental Weekly. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  23. ^ "Strategic Plan 2012-2017". Occidental College. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  24. ^ a b c "By the Numbers". Occidental College. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Core Program". Retrieved 2 November 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  26. ^ "America's Top Colleges". Forbes magazine. 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Best Colleges – National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2012. 
  28. ^ "List of National Award Winners". oxy.edu. Archived from the original on April 15, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Reviews of Occidental College". The Princeton Review. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  30. ^ "Reviews of Occidental College". America's Best Value Colleges. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  31. ^ "Reviews of Occidental College". The College Prowler. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  32. ^ a b c d e "Occidental College Common Data Set 2011-2012". Occidental College. 
  33. ^ a b "Occidental College Athletics". Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  34. ^ [4][dead link]
  35. ^ Caltech finally has winning equation
  36. ^ "Residence Halls".  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  37. ^ "Campus Dining". Retrieved 2 November 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  38. ^ "About". Occidental Weekly. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  39. ^ "About". KOXY website. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  40. ^ Anderson, Dick (Summer 2013). "Taking Home Oscar". Occidental Magazine (Occidental College). 
  41. ^ "Winners Announced for 2013 Student Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 
  42. ^ Convocation 2012
  43. ^ "Oxy Traditions | Occidental College | The Liberal Arts College in Los Angeles". Oxy.edu. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  44. ^ "Occidental College as a Movie Location". Retrieved 2007-08-02. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]