Occidental College’s current president, Los Angeles native, Jonathan Veitch, became the 15th president of the small liberal arts college on July 1, 2009. Mr. Veitch is a graduate of Stanford University and also received a doctoral degree from Harvard. His accomplishments include teaching as a Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison before spending five years as Dean at the New School in New York City where he increased the size of the student body and hired more faculty, while expanding its liberal arts college. Veitch’s resume also includes work as an author of the book American Surrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930’s.
Mr. Veitch has initiated an integrated planning process, simply called a Planning Steering Committee, which is comprised of faculty, staff, administrators and students. That committee’s creation of task forces has resulted in helping to track and improve the college’s long range future as well as helping to bring better community relations with the surrounding Los Angeles community of Eagle Rock.
Veitch is credited with building the new Samuelson Alumni Center and renovating the existing 98 year old Swan Hall, which houses the new McKinnon Family Center for politics and global affairs. The Johnson Student Center has also seen some expansion. Occidental has also contributed to the health of the environment with President Veitch’s vision of installing a ground mounted solar array of 1 megawatt which generates approximately 11 percent of the school’s electrical usage. This project featured a collaboration of art faculty with a local design team.
Occidental has enjoyed an increase in student enrollment partially due to the knowledge that President Obama did spend two years there. There has been a diversity of students internationally as well as nationally.
For President Veitch, interaction with community that includes alumni and parents is very important. Equally important, if not more, is the increase in endowments. His tenure has brought in over $65 million dollars which he credits to the work of students and faculty. Though a success, the work will always continue to do more not only to continually increase the endowment but increasing the vision for Occidental.