Page 1

Simply the Best: Saluting 11 Retiring Professors

The Making of Lucille Gilman Fountain

SPRING 2021

Revisiting the ’90s


OXYFARE 

Day For Oxy: Behind the Numbers Total giving: $1,554,980 Total gifts: 2,864

Volume 43, Number 2 oxy.edu/magazine

2

OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE

Harry J. Elam, Jr. President Wendy F. Sternberg Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Charlie Cardillo Vice President for Institutional Advancement Vince Cuseo Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admission Rob Flot Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Amos Himmelstein Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Marty Sharkey Vice President for Communications and Institutional Initiatives Jim Tranquada Director of Communications

5 3 8

6

1 7

1. California 1,626 2. Washington 144 3. New York 106 4. Massachusetts 94 5. Oregon 86 6. Colorado 61 7. Arizona 52 8. Illinois 51 9. District of Columbia 46 10. Texas 42

10

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

Published quarterly by Occidental College Main number: 323-259-2500 To contact Occidental magazine By phone: 323-259-2679 By email: oxymag@oxy.edu By mail: Occidental College Office of Communications F-36 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles CA 90041-3314 Letters and class notes submissions may be edited for length, content, and style. Occidental College online Homepage: oxy.edu Facebook: facebook.com/occidental Twitter: @occidental Instagram: instagram.com/occidentalcollege

Sara Semal Senior Director, Student Wellness Special Adviser to the President on Health and Safety

Cover illustration by Sean McCabe Oxy Wear photo by Marc Campos

Women’s orange V-neck T-shirt Sizes S-XL. $19.95

Occidental College Bookstore oxybookstore.com To order by phone: 323-259-2951 All major credit cards accepted

See yourself on the cover? Give us a shoutout by email or on social media! #Oxy1990s

Giving by Class Top 25 Classes By Total Dollars

Top 25 Classes By Total Donors

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

1. 2. 3. 4. 4. 4. 7. 8. 9. 9. 11. 11. 11. 14. 14. 14. 17. 18. 19. 20. 20. 20. 23. 24. 25.

1971 1989 1965 1986 1968 1982 1987 2006 1981 1975 1976 1955 1958 1988 1962 1972 1967 2010 1970 1964 2007 1973 1963 1969 1984

$103,290 $68,045 $44,725 $27,120 $25,625 $25,350 $24,120 $19,365 $19,091 $18,895 $18,065 $17,250 $16,900 $16,388 $14,810 $14,660 $13,725 $13,530 $13,400 $12,299 $12,187 $11,951 $11,675 $10,870 $10,852

2010 1971 2013 2019 2015 2012 1986 2018 2007 2008 1987 2016 2014 1981 1976 1988 1968 2006 1989 1984 2001 1996 1973 1969 1997

9

Top 10 States in Total Gifts

editorial staff

Dick Anderson Editor Marc Campos College Photographer Gail (Schulman) Ginell ’79 Class Notes Editor SanSoucie Design Design DLS Group Printing

4

54 53 49 41* 41* 41* 40 39 38* 38* 36* 36* 36* 31* 31* 31* 30 29 28 27* 27* 27* 26 25 24

Day For Oxy Athletics: Giving by Designation

Join the Legacy Challenge To Support Occidental

One Tiger, Many Stripes: In a year with no sports and the loss of the football program, the Oxy Athletics community rallied behind our student-athletes, raising $305,000 from 1,060 gifts. (Rankings below are by total gifts to each sport.)

The Legacy Challenge for Occidental College has been created to encourage the documentation of estate commitments and build momentum for The Oxy Campaign For Good. For every new planned gift  documented between April 1 and June 30, 2021, a $10,000 gift to the Oxy Fund will be made by Gil Kemp P’04, Barbara Gibby ’68, and Dr. Michael G. Gibby ’68 in your honor. Whether it’s a gift in your will, trust, IRA/life insurance beneficiary, or a gift that provides you with lifetime income (such as a charitable remainder trust or charitable gift annuity), each estate gift you make that will mature in the future qualifies Occidental to receive $10,000 to the Oxy Fund in your honor. Your legacy gift will also count toward The Oxy Campaign For Good. For your gift to count at face value during the campaign you must be 70 years old by 2023. Please contact Shannon Yasman (syasman@oxy.edu) or Patrice Cablayan (pcablayan@oxy.edu) to learn more.

# 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 8. 8. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Sport Gifts Men’s Basketball 107 Baseball 97 Men’s Water Polo 64 Men’s Soccer 60 Volleyball 58 Lacrosse 55 Women’s Track and Field 54 Men’s Track and Field 51 Women’s Soccer 51 Women’s Swimming and Diving 51 Women’s Water Polo 50 Women’s Basketball 43 Men’s Cross Country 42 Softball 39 Men’s Swimming and Diving 33 Men’s Tennis 32 Women’s Cross Country 31 Men’s Golf 30 Women’s Golf 26 Women’s Tennis 19 Tiger Club Athletics 11

Total $22.255 $26,035 $23,835 $40,070 $9.559 $6,758 $9,327 $19,219 $13,968 $5,685 $10,255 $6,282 $6,278 $7,440 $9,470 $31,365 $4,950 $14,415 $7,165 $28,265 $1,515

Class counts include gifts from alumni, parents, and students. Donors who are associated with more than one year are only counted once toward one class. * Indicates a tie.

alumni.oxy.edu


SPRING 2021

22

Features 8 Baker’s Beauty The Lucille Y. Gilman Memorial Fountain—formally known as Water Forms II—occupies a prominent place on campus and in the hearts of generations of alumni. George Baker ’58’s former students recount the story of how it all came together.

14 Deconstructing the ’90s As its second century dawned, Oxy welcomed a bold new president, adopted a mission Of Excellence and Equity, and brought a diversity of voices to the classroom. How did the changes impact the College?

George Baker ’58 (pictured in 1973) began experimenting with kinetic sculpture in 1964, the same year he returned to Occidental as an art instructor.

22 8

Departments 34 OxyTalk

Words to the Wise As the College says goodbye to an unprecedented 11 retiring faculty, we called on some of their brightest students to share their memories, tributes, and an extra box of tissues.

Admission guru Vince Cuseo’s commitment to Oxy’s mission can’t be measured by test scores.

2

4

64

First Word President Elam on the Oxy Difference and its value to Los Angeles. Also: Alumni memories of honing writing skills, replacing a broken windshield, and hanging with Ming Cho Lee ’53.

From the Quad The College takes steps toward a fully vaccinated return to campus. Also: Oxy’s facilities reopen for practice, sparking hope among studentathletes such as Olivia Montgomery ’23, above.

Appreciation Tony Award-winning set designer and legendary Yale professor Ming Cho Lee, who died last fall, dedicated himself to theater and to teaching, Ann Sheffield ’83 recalls.

36 Tigerwire Class notes for all years.

PHOTO CREDITS: The George Baker Estate Baker’s Beauty | Don Milici Deconstructing the ’90s, Words to the Wise | Kia Mackey ’22 From the Quad | Marc Campos First Word, OxyTalk | C. Taylor Crothers Page 64

14


FIRST WORD » FROM PRESIDENT ELAM

Capturing the Oxy Difference On April 8, I delivered my first State of the College speech—what I hope will become an annual event. In reflecting on all that has transpired this current academic year, taking stock of where we are, and stating our intentions for who and what we aspire to be as a college, I feel a real sense of optimism about Oxy’s future. It is with such hopefulness that this summer we will begin a process of integrated strategic planning that hinges upon collaboration and input from the entire Occidental community—including alumni.

considering how we might rethink liberal arts education—not merely as a defensive response to social or political “problems” but in the service of a higher vision about who and how we educate. More important now than ever is reimagining the conventional scope of liberal arts to include practical learning and applied knowledge. Thus, rethinking liberal arts education may require fresh juxtapositions of ideas, remixing current thinking and initiatives. Such new harmonies, as I am calling this new interdisciplinarity, may call for a reinvention of relationships and interconnections across fields of inquiry, signaling not an end to disciplinary expertise but support of the cross-fertilization that both Oxy students and faculty seek. Second, how can we expand upon Occidental’s relationship with Los Angeles? One of the things that makes Oxy unique is its location. Since coming to Occidental, I have learned of the myriad academic, social, President Elam, and cultural engagements that photographed in his we have going on in the city, office on March 1. ranging from the arts and govPhoto by Marc Campos ernment to the environment and the sciences. There are such dynamic One of the overarching objectives is to possibilities for the future. But these Colincrease the visibility and reputation of lege interactions with the city need to be Occidental by vividly articulating and honestly reciprocal, not unidirectional. We showcasing what exactly makes Oxy so want to keep asking and ultimately addressuniquely special as a college and as a coming not only what the city of Los Angeles munity—capturing the Oxy Difference. can do for Oxy but what Occidental can To make the most of the Oxy Differoffer the city. How do we establish enduring ence, there are three critical questions that and mutually beneficial relationships bewe must answer—questions that will shape tween the College and the city? our vision and the strategic planning Finally, how do we support the health process as a whole. and well-being of students today? To be First, how do we rethink liberal educasure, buffeted by the social, cultural, techtion in ways that will serve Occidental nological, and racial strife of this moment, now and in the future? Given the changing students have encountered new levels of demographics and charged social contexts anxiety and stress. Mental health is a major in which higher education operates, our concern, accentuated by the pandemic and faculty and others elsewhere have begun 2

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

its isolation. Most certainly, we will need to think more holistically, with increasing focus on the integration of residential and curricular experiences, recognizing that so much learning happens outside of the classroom. We know that our students, regardless of what field they enter, want to make an impact in the world but we also want them to take care of themselves in order to do the work they want to do. We must continue to look for ways to support and encourage this worthwhile quest, which is really a yoking of both personal and professional aspirations. This third question is also key to the Equity and Justice Agenda that I announced in March. Under this agenda, we envision a College where equity and justice are intertwined with academic excellence and recognized as core institutional tenets that inform how we actualize Oxy’s mission. The College’s pursuit of equity and justice is not defined by a fixed outcome or destination but is a continuous process involving the whole community. This is no idle, abstract, or political aim: We will move expeditiously to enhance and reaffirm a campus community where every student, staff, and faculty member recognizes that they are seen, that their interests are valued, and that they know they belong. Knowing that our students will be coming back in the fall, we have good reason to celebrate. With the development of our integrated strategic plan, we have good reason to dream. And with your partnership and support, we have good reason to envision. Let us embrace this critical time and seize the opportunity contained in this profound moment in our history.

Harry J. Elam, Jr.


FIRST WORD

» FROM THE READERS

Illustration by Kevin Fales

Words With Friends “Get Me Rewrite!” (Winter) brought back so many wonderful—and incredibly frustrating—memories of honing my writing skills at Oxy. So many hours brainstorming, writing, editing, rewriting, diving deep into the text, researching related texts (even the tangential ones in the stacks in the library—I am dating myself in that reference!), receiving hours of guidance in the Writing Center, and finally producing a paper of which one could be proud. Or at least thankful it was done. I attended Oxy from 1997 to 2001 and was an English and comparative literary studies major. Prior to that, I attended Crescenta Valley High School, where Oxy writing professor Debbie Martinson also taught AP English Literature. She was my 12th-grade English teacher, which meant I received Oxy’s intense writing course in high school. In response to the first paper we wrote in her AP English Lit class about Oedipus Rex, she wrote, “See me” rather than provide a letter grade. Ouch. That was a rude awakening but an experience for which I will always be grateful! In one session with her later that year, we ended up shouting at each other as I developed my thesis for my paper on Hamlet. She kept challenging me, “So what?” as I struggled to come up with a thesis that mattered. I finally shouted back in a breakthrough moment, “Shakespeare uses images of flowers and nature during Ophelia’s mental break to call attention to the unnatural and damaging effects of repression!” She took a step back, beamed proudly, and exclaimed, “Aha! That is your thesis. Now go and write.” It’s not surprising that five of us (all women) from her class went on to Oxy for undergrad. It’s also not surprising that so many students who majored in English and comparative literary studies went on to be successful medical and law

school students; writing well is a powerful tool across all content fields, as you state in your article. I loved Debbie Martinson (man, I miss her and that wicked sense of humor) and the other professors in the Writing Center at Oxy, including Tom Burkdall. There were so many valuable hours of frustration and mental constipation followed by inspired moments of breakthrough and catharsis. Thank you for that trip down Memory Lane and for writing an article so universal, and arguably unique, to the Oxy experience. Sarah Wahrenbrock ’01 Los Angeles

Chairished Memories I read the piece on Loren Brodhead ’59’s efforts to restore the Gresham Dining Hall chairs with great interest (“More Endowed Chairs,” Summer/Fall 2020). I am sending a check for one chair immediately. The restoration is sponsored by the Committee to Buy Art Simon a New Windshield (Art Simon ’83, Brian Dushaw ’83, Bill Spieth ’83, Tom Schneidermann ’83, and myself). The group was organized in 1982 to raise money for a new windshield for Art’s ridiculous Fiat X-19. A replacement windshield seemed very expensive to impoverished college students, so we initiated a campuswide fundraiser—complete with donors, fundraising table in the Quad, donation thermometer on the side of the

Union, and updates in the Weekly. For a dollar, one was recognized as “A Friend of Art Simon.” (Higher giving levels included “A Good Friend” and “A Special Friend.”) Other more earnest fundraising groups were annoyed by our success and assumed that we were a parody of their much more serious efforts. The committee declined comment but ultimately raised enough money to buy Art a new windshield. Many thanks for this opportunity. I’ll be exploring additional sponsorship possibilities for more chairs, and I hope this will encourage others to follow suit. Cheers! Michael A. “Bert” Bedeau ’84 Virginia City, Nev.

For more information about the Gresham Dining Hall chair project, contact Amy Muñoz, associate vice president of hospitality services (munoz@oxy.edu).

In Good Company I really enjoyed the extensive writeup about classmate Ming Cho Lee ’53 (“The Play’s the Thing,” From the Archive, Winter). Ming lived in Wylie, where my husband, Allen Gresham ’53, also lived. I remember the girls he hung around with: Ruth Jordan ’51, Marilyn Burn ’53, and Dee Sharpe ’54. Who could have imagined how he would develop this career? (I think those Oxy professors and his pals played a big part!) Clara Gresham ’53 San Bernardino

From the Editor: ICYMI

It’s been six months between print editions—but in case you missed our digital-only Winter issue (and a dozen web-exclusive stories), I encourage you to visit our recently redesigned homepage (oxy.edu/magazine). In addition to the contents of every issue dating back to 2012, you’ll find bonus content for this issue, selected stories from the Occidental magazine archives, and more. We will be digital-only for the Summer issue and back in your mailbox for Fall—but for now, enjoy this issue, visit us online anytime, and send me your feedback if the Oxy spirit moves you.—DICK ANDERSON

Illustration by Traci Daberko

SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

3


FROM THE QUAD Photos by Marc Campos

One and done: Emmons staffer Claudia Ramos, left, administers Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to Diego Lucich ’21, a history major from Claremont, at Emmons Wellness Center on March 15. below: Signage on the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center.

A Shot in the Arm As California takes major strides in the fight against the pandemic, the College makes plans to bring students, faculty, and staff back to campus this fall A dramatic improvement in conditions made possible by the availability of vaccines and the decline in COVID-19 cases in California this spring has optimism breaking out all over the place, reflected in a series of increasingly positive campus messages sent by President Harry J. Elam, Jr. The most recent, sent on May 3, announced that the College is planning on bringing students back to campus this fall, reopening classrooms and residence halls, and returning to something resembling normal. “Throughout the pandemic, the flexibility and creativity of faculty, students, and staff have kept Oxy’s intellectual life buzzing and campus clubs and organizations active and engaged,” Elam wrote to the Oxy community. “But … we are a residential school, and the ultimate goal is to be back on cam4

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

pus, back in the classroom, back on the playing fields, and back in the Quad.” One of the most immediate—and welcome—results of the improved conditions was the College’s ability to hold an in-person Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 on May 16. Moving the event from Remsen Bird Hillside Theater to Jack Kemp Stadium made possible a socially distanced event where graduating seniors were able to bring two guests each to see them walk across the stage to receive their diplomas (visit oxy.edu/commencement for full coverage). A similar in-person ceremony for the Class of 2020—which graduated virtually last year—will be held on June 12, fulfilling a pledge made to the class last spring. Having parents at graduation was just part of the joy for seniors who, with a small

number of exceptions, spent the entire academic year learning remotely. Reuniting with friends “will be the most exciting part,” Ryu Frank ’21, an economics and Japanese studies double major from Menlo Park, told The Occidental. “Just being able to have this big moment and share it with a lot of these people who I haven’t really been able to hang out with during the pandemic.” The College wanted to provide families with an in-person Commencement—it’s just been a question of whether it would be possible under constantly evolving county, state, and federal guidelines, notes Marty Sharkey, vice president for communications and institutional initiatives and co-chair of Oxy’s COVID-19 Operational Group, which is coordinating the College’s pandemic response. “Throughout the course of the pandemic, the health and safety of the Oxy community has been our top priority,” Sharkey says. “Commencement planning was guided by the same considerations, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer the kind of in-person event we know students and families have always wanted.” Oxy’s emphasis on health and safety is reflected in the results of the mandatory testing program that applies to the roughly 200 students living in residence halls and hundreds more living off campus, essential


FROM THE QUAD

employees working on campus, and all staff and faculty who regularly come to campus. As of May 15, Emmons Wellness Center has conducted more than 18,000 tests since January with just 18 positives, a 0.10 percent positivity rate well below county and state rates. Emmons began offering vaccinations to community members in mid-March. Some parts of the Oxy campus have been slowly reopening as conditions have improved, starting with athletic facilities such as the McKinnon Family Tennis Center, Kemp Stadium, and the De Mandel Aquatic Center, which opened on March 29 for the first time ever since its completion last year. The Marketplace is now open for distanced indoor dining and the Library offered reservation-based access for individual quiet study for the last six weeks of the semester. That gradual approach will continue over the summer, as Oxy’s Summer Research Program, Multicultural Summer Institute, and Upward Bound return to in-person sessions. “Campus Closed” signs are expected to come down soon, allowing dog walkers and other neighbors to return to campus. (Building access will continue to be strictly limited to students, faculty, and staff.) This fall Oxy expects to bring all students back to campus, which will require providing an Orientation not only for the new first-year class but for sophomores— who have never set foot on campus—as well. (Sophomores also will be getting help in pairing up with roommates.) Consistent with the College’s current policy for other infectious diseases, Occidental will require all students to show proof of vaccination for COVID-19. A similar requirement has been instituted for faculty and staff. Testing will continue this summer and possibly in some form this fall, says Sara Semal, senior director of student wellness. Many of the details as to exactly what life on campus will look like this fall must still be worked out in collaboration with students, faculty, and staff. “It’s a very complex process,” Sharkey says. “It’s not a matter of simply picking up where we left off.” Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, the College’s plans have to remain flexible. “Yet there is good reason to feel a real sense of optimism as we look ahead to the fall,” Elam says. ”We’re confident in our community’s ability to successfully navigate any remaining challenges.”

» COMING TOGETHER: SNAPSHOTS FROM SPRING

Remembering Ilah and Jaden: A group of 17 students created a pair of collage paintings to commemorate Ilah Richardson ’23 and Jaden Burris ’22, both of whom passed away in early 2020. Working from photos of Ilah and Jaden, Dylan Wensley ’21, an economics major and art minor from Alta Loma, separated the portraits into individual sections and traced the major outlines on each panel, which she and her fellow students completed. The portraits—which are composed of 12 to 16 panels—were exhibited this spring in Weingart Gallery and will be shipped to Ilah’s sister and Jaden’s mother this summer. “It’s been a labor of love for everyone involved,” says Linda Besemer, the James Irvine Distinguished Professor of Art and Art History.

One virtual sensation: A year after COVID-19 upended plans for 2020, Oxy’s 73rd Dance Production went online for two shows on April 16 and 17. This year’s show consisted of 10 dance performances created by 12 choreographers, from hip-hop and contemporary to K-pop and Broadway. While recruiting new members was a challenge, the e-board brought in more than 20 first-years to join the tradition, according to Dance Pro co-president Molly McCorkle ’21, a sociology major from Burbank.

Belonging at Oxy: When artist Jocelyn Pedersen, who teaches a class in Book Arts, learned that students would not be returning to campus in the spring, she wanted to give members of the Oxy community a chance to reflect on their pandemic experiences creatively. “I hoped that by watching their individual contributions be literally bound together into a collective finished artifact, they might feel a sense of connection to each other,” says the adjunct assistant professor. Page-making kits were mailed out, and Pedersen demonstrated a range of creative mark-making techniques on a live Zoom

workshop. More than 115 pages were returned by the end of April (they can be viewed online at tinyurl.com/4an9mxh4). The resulting book, Belonging at Oxy, is now part of the College’s Special Collections.

SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

5


Taso Warsa ’21, an economics major from Santa Fe, N.M., jumps into the new pool.

m

Photo by Marc Campos

The Excitement Is Back Oxy’s facilities reopen for practice, sparking hope and connection among the student-athlete community On March 12, 2020, in conjunction with the move to remote learning for the rest of the semester, Occidental suspended the remainder of the spring sports season. For graduating seniors, it meant their last time in an Oxy uniform. As the suspension continued into the fall, then winter, and again into spring, student-athletes have struggled being without not only the competition of their sports but also the connections of their teammates and coaches. After a year without sports—the College’s longest interruption of play since World War II—Oxy began to reopen its athletic facilities for practice in March. As the L.A. County Department of Public Health began to relax its restrictions due to lower COVID-19 case numbers, Oxy’s student-athletes began to step back onto the field, court, course, or track—and, in the case of the new De Mandel Aquatics Center, into the pool for the first time. (All have been wearing masks and/or practicing social distancing in doing so.) 6

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

For Karis Palomino ’24 of Torrance, who intended to try out for Oxy’s women’s soccer team last fall and compete for Oxy’s women’s track team this spring, the reopening of Jack Kemp Stadium in March meant that she was able to practice with her soccer teammates for the first time. Having started her college experience virtually last semester, “Most of the people in my classes, I’ve only seen their pixels, or heard their voice,” she says. Seeing her teammates in person was “refreshing, because I could see that they are real people.” Matthew Teplitz ’21, a diplomacy and world affairs major from Chevy Chase, Md., would have played his fourth and final season on Oxy’s men’s soccer team last fall had the season not been canceled. Devastated by the news, Teplitz ultimately decided to extend his studies by a semester so that he could finish his career on the field this fall. “I love the guys and the coaches and Oxy is amazing,” he says. “I am really excited to get to compete and do what I love to do.”

Getting back into Oxy’s facilities gave women’s water polo player Olivia Montgomery ’23, a psychology major from Eugene, Ore., a first taste of what her new competition home. Montgomery’s first season of intercollegiate competition was cut short last spring right before she and her teammates were scheduled to have their first home game in the long-anticipated De Mandel Aquatics Center. When the College finally unlocked the gates to the new pool in mid-March, opening day was reserved for Oxy’s aquatics studentathletes and coaches to enjoy and celebrate the new facility. Montgomery is also a lifeguard at the pool this semester and has noticed that the pool “brings everyone together,” as she has seen other students enjoying the facility. Men’s and women’s water polo head coach Jack Stabenfeldt ’14 shares Montgomery’s excitement at the introduction of the new aquatics center to his student-athletes and the community in general. The reopening of the College’s athletic facilities has sparked “hope for everyone in the Oxy community,” he says. For her part, Palomino is optimistic about starting her college soccer career in the fall. Before practicing with her new teammates this spring, “Aside from my dad, I haven’t passed the ball with anybody in over a year,” she says. “I love my dad, but he’s not a soccer player.”—kia mackey ’22


FROM THE QUAD

» MIXED MEDIA Breaking Protocol: America’s First Female Ambassadors, 1933-1964, by Philip Nash ’85 (University Press of Kentucky). American diplomacy was an almost exclusively male domain until the early 1930s, when the first female ambassadors changed the face of U.S. foreign relations. Nash delves into the history of the “Big Six”—Ruth Bryan Owen, Daisy Harriman, Perle Mesta, Eugenie Anderson, Clare Boothe Luce, and Frances Willis— exploring their backgrounds and appointments, the issues they faced on the job, how they were received by host countries, the complications of protocol, and their paradoxically favorable yet deeply sexist press coverage. A diplomacy and world affairs major at Oxy, Nash is associate professor of history at Penn State Shenango. Bird Show, written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale ’76 (Peachtree Publishing Company). In rhythmic rhyme, the book (written for ages 2-6) showcases 18 spectacular birds from around the world, imagining

their plumage as clothes—from a fanciful headdress to a swirly scarf to a spotted vest. A picture glossary provides information about each bird and features a pattern matching game. Bird Show is the ninth book by Stockdale, who lives in Chevy Chase, Md. Bicycle Odyssey: An Around-the-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery, by Carla Fountain ’78 (Balboa Press). In 1991, when Fountain set off on a yearlong cycling journey, she expected new discoveries about the world. But she hadn’t anticipated a shocking rediscovery of herself. Relying solely on themselves, and a few helpful angels along the way, Carla and husband Dermot experienced the lush beauty of Uganda, the welcoming people of Vietnam, the isolated mountains and hill tribes of Thailand, the terror of traffic in India, and the magic of Bali. Told with vivid observation about the world and the people in it, Bicycle Odyssey shares the story of a rich and enlightening pilgrimage. Fountain has worked in film production and editing, taught elementary school, and has been a massage therapist and yoga and meditation

teacher for the last 20 years. She has traveled the world extensively and divides her time between France and her home in Brea. Lost Songs, by Terry Kitchen ’81 (Urban Campfire Records). Contemporary folk singer Kitchen (Max Pokrivchak) has always written songs that didn’t quite fit. Lost Songs weaves together new recordings of unreleased songs from all phases of his career. With musicians largely recorded on his backyard patio, Lost Songs has an intimate, informal vibe that nonetheless showcases Kitchen’s keen eye for detail and ear for concise storytelling. Paul and Image: Reading First Corinthians in Visual Terms, by Philip Erwin (Rowman & Littlefield). By situating Paul’s letter in the context of the critical discourse on visual representation from Plato to Philo to the Second Sophistic, Erwin redefines Paul’s critique of human wisdom, treatment of idols, and resurrection discourse in visual terms. Erwin has a Ph.D. in biblical studies from Graduate Theological Union and is sales reconciliation and customer service coordinator in the Oxy Bookstore.

NEW BOOKS BY OXY FACULTY The Pleasures of Death: Kurt Cobain’s Masochistic and Melancholic Persona, by Arthur Flannigan Saint-Aubin (Louisiana State University Press). As the first book-length literary and cultural study of Cobain’s creative writings, Saint-Aubin approaches the journals and songs crafted by Nirvana’s iconic front man from the perspective of cultural theory and psychoanalytic aesthetics. It’s a real departure for the longtime Oxy professor of Spanish, French and Black studies, whose previous work has focused on Haitian culture and 19th-century French writers and whose musical tastes trend more toward classical and jazz. A Multidisciplinary Approach to Embodiment, edited by Nancy K. Dess (Routledge). Dess, a professor of psychology who has taught at Oxy since 1986, pulls together an innovative collection of pithy and accessible essays by international experts in fields ranging from biology and political science to philosophy and geology to question the centuries-old idea of what it means to be human.

As If She Were Free: A Collective Biography of Women and Emancipation in the Americas, coedited by Erica Ball (Cambridge University Press). Covering a span of 300 years in five languages on two continents, Ball (professor of history and Black studies) and co-editors Tatiana Seijas and Terri L. Snyder present a groundbreaking compilation of biographies of two dozen Black women moving across the boundaries of slavery and freedom from Bermuda to Brazil, New York to Argentina, and California to Cuba. Disruptive Archives: Feminist Memories of Resistance in Latin America’s Dirty Wars, by Viviana Beatriz MacManus ’03 (University of Illinois Press). MacManus, assistant professor of Spanish and French studies, tells the stories of women who lived through the Dirty Wars (Guerras Sucias) in Mexico and Argentina, in which national governments “disappeared” thousands of left-wing activists at the height of the Cold War.

SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

7


Beauty BAKER’S

The Lucille Y. Gilman Memorial Fountain— formally known as Water Forms II—occupies a prominent place on campus and in the hearts of generations of alumni. George Baker ’58’s former students recount the story of how it all came together By Paul Robert Walker ’75

uring the fall quarter of 1977, psychology major Sheldon Marks ’78 enrolled in a sculpture class taught by George Baker ’58, a rising star in the world of abstract metal sculpture. “Deep down inside I always wanted to be a sculptor,” Marks explains, “and when I met Mr. Baker, I did all I could to get into his class to see if I had any skill.” As it turned out, Marks showed some skill as a sculptor, and Baker was very complimentary of one of his creations. But the premed student ultimately used his manual dexterity as a surgeon, and his most lasting contribution to the class—and the College—was to Photo courtesy Occidental College Special Collections

8

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

promote Baker’s artistic vision for a kinetic fountain in the pool adjacent to what is now Herrick Interfaith Center. Baker had designed a kinetic fountain for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan, and a kinetic wind sculpture in a lake near Kearney, Neb., for the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976. He also had created a major installation of hanging disks for the Love Library of San Diego State University. But the artist had no sculptures at his alma mater. Sometime after the Osaka fountain, he had proposed a fountain for the Herrick pool, but nothing came of it. With Baker’s blessing, Marks resurrected his professor’s proposal, placing it in a threering binder with photos of completed largescale sculptures. The first person he shared it with was Lucille Gilman, wife of President Richard C. Gilman. Marks knew her from the Gourmet Cooking class she taught through the Oxy Free University program and considered her “a friend I could confide in.” Lucille encouraged him to discuss it with her husband, who suggested he take it to other senior administrators. (Both the president and Baker felt the idea might gain more traction coming from a student.) Dean of the Faculty Otis Shao found the proposal interesting enough to bring it to the Central Administrative Committee (CAC), composed of Shao, Gilman, Executive Vice President

Professor and sculptor George Baker ’58 envisioned Water Forms II as his Occidental legacy. left: Lucille Gilman (in the kitchen of the President’s House in fall 1975) taught Gourmet Cooking to a select number of Oxy students. Fountain photo by George Baker ’58

Robert Bovinette, and Vice President for Planning and Development Lee Case. Recognizing that funding the sculpture would be a challenge, Baker wrote to Shao on December 18, 1977, shortly after the end of the quarter, with a new idea. An Art Department support group called the Art Affiliates had collapsed with $5,000 left in its budget. What if he replaced his regular sculpture class with a special class in which students worked on the kinetic fountain? Baker felt that the class would be a much-


needed boost to the profile of the Art Department and that additional services “beyond the capacity of the College” could be covered by the $5,000 in hand: “It seems likely that the College could acquire an asset without cost.” Like many artists, George Baker was better with ideas than budgets, and the final cost of the fountain was around $40,000. But considering its value to the College as a work of art, a teaching experience, and an iconic Oxy landmark, it seems a bargain today.

Growing up in San Marino, Baker’s path to Oxy was circuitous. His undergraduate studies began at Wooster College in Ohio in 1948. “He was very interested in music and composition, being an accomplished pianist,” Eric Peltzer ’85 wrote in a memorial retrospective of his mentor’s work in 1997. “However, after two years there he became restless, and when the opportunity to visit a classmate’s parents in Afghanistan arose, the two decided to make a year of traveling through India and southwest Asia.”

Baker enrolled at Occidental soon after, then spent four years in the Navy before returning to the College in 1957, where his interest in sculpture took root. “Apparently, he was visiting a museum in Pasadena on a class trip when he discovered some abstract wire constructions on display (not the object of the class visit),” Peltzer writes. “He was immediately intrigued by the compositions, and within a short time outfitted himself with a rudimentary welding torch. He began brazing steel and brass rods together in numerous SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

9


Images courtesy Occidental College Special Collections | Center and right images scanned from Friezer Photography Negative Archive

small configurations. He turned his small apartment on Eagle Rock Boulevard into a welding studio, at one point inadvertently blackening the walls with acetylene soot during the learning process.” After graduating from Oxy, Baker earned an MFA in sculpture at USC in 1960 and taught there until he joined the Occidental faculty in the fall of 1964. Throughout his 33year Oxy career, Baker taught part-time and used the Art Barn (now Samuelson Pavilion) as his personal studio, an arrangement that benefitted both the artist and the College. Oxy students worked on more than 150 of Baker’s sculptures. “If I had not been a practicing sculptor, an active sculptor working on large-scale pieces, I would have had less to offer the students,” he observed in 1995. In January 1978, soon after writing to Shao with his creative funding proposal, Baker traveled to Berlin to complete a massive kinetic sculpture titled Alunos-Discus for a wall of the German Opera House. This was another idea that had been waiting for funding; it was commissioned by the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Three of Baker’s former students accompanied him to Berlin: Richard Andrews ’71, Peter Greenleaf ’75 (who would play a major role in creating Gilman Fountain), and Kent Margulis ’76. Michael Casey ’68 and Steve Bourg ’79 helped with the project in Los Angeles. The Berlin sculpture was a high-water mark of Baker’s career on the international stage. Every step of its creation and installation was documented by a dedicated photographer and filmmaker, and the artist was feted at a black-tie reception hosted by the mayor of Berlin. Baker returned to Oxy in mid-May with a new sense of his position as an artist and expectations that were not completely realistic for a small liberal arts college. He and Shao put together a rough budget, including a substantial commission for Baker, 10

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

which Shao shared with the CAC on June 5. No immediate action was taken. Three weeks later, on June 26, 1978, Lucille Gilman died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Warm and generous of spirit, she was much beloved by students like Mark Rountree ’79, who had become close to her through the cooking class. “Cooking was perhaps the least of the skills Mrs. Gilman taught us,” he later wrote. “In short, we learned about living a good life, living it fully and responsibly, and being a good citizen.” Almost 100 Oxy faculty, administrators, and friends of the Gilman family contributed to a fund in Lucille’s memory, and President Gilman decided that the perfect use of the donations would be to fund the fountain in her name. The Board of Trustees approved the use of the funds for that purpose in October, and the project shifted into gear. Baker provided a small model, called a maquette, in December, and Ty Cunningham ’79 worked with him over the holidays to create mechanical drawings to be approved by an outside structural engineer. Erik Williams ’79 worked on hydraulic engineering, and Greenleaf was put on salary for the winter and spring quarters as Baker’s chief assistant. The sculpture would be called Water Forms II. One of the biggest concerns for Baker and the College was the modifications and repairs that would be required to the 14-year-old pool outside Herrick and its electrical and water systems. The original plans had been lost, so no one knew what they would find when they started digging. Beyond practical concerns, Baker had artistic visions that included moving the entire pool to better align the sculpture with the Coons-Herrick axis, the central architectural lines of the entrance to the Occidental campus. In a classic conflict of art and practicality, Baker butted heads with Bob Farley, a former naval officer turned Oxy’s director of facilities. “Nothing we are planning is like going to the Moon,” Baker wrote in exasperation.

far left: Original plans for the pool adjacent to Herrick Chapel called for a circular design. middle left: When the pool was constructed in 1965, it took on an octagonal shape echoing the design of the chapel. left: The finished Herrick pool had a fountain that sprayed water straight into the air from a circular ring of jets.

Steve Rountree ’71, who currently chairs the Occidental Board of Trustees, was at the time Farley’s boss as associate vice president in charge of human resources, facilities, food services, and other operational matters. “There were budget, engineering, and construction issues from the outset,” Rountree says. “My role was, on the one hand, to help convince the construction and facilities people to bend to meet George’s aesthetic goals and, on the other hand, to explain realities to George when something just wasn’t possible.” Rountree would later become an arts administrator with the Center Theatre Group, the Music Center of Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Opera, and the Getty Trust—“a long career in which my principal job and expertise has been handling and supporting and wrestling with artists, musicians, dancers, actors, singers, architects, curators, and intellectuals,” he says. “That is what I did, and it began with George Baker.” In mid-February 1979, Baker made a presentation to the Board of Trustees, which approved additional funds to assure completion of the project. A few days earlier, an article appeared in The Occidental explaining the special class, which would be split into two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Baker and Greenleaf interviewed 27 applicants and chose 12 students, a mix of men and women from a variety of majors. There were also a few students who worked on the sculpture without being officially enrolled in the class. Students joined the project for various reasons. “The Water Forms project looked like fun and appealed to the ‘fabricator’ in me,” writes chemistry major Victor Macko ’79. Kirk Lord ’81, a biology major with a studio art minor, had done a lot of drawing, painting, and small-scale sculpture and was excited about the chance to build a full-scale, functional piece. “George’s stature in the


sculpture world made it even better,” he says. “The idea of being a part of something that would become a permanent fixture on Oxy’s campus was pretty motivating.” Lord enlisted his roommate John Castner ’81—who was not interested in art but liked the idea of a memorial to Mrs. Gilman. “George was a practical man,” Castner recalls. “I think he took one look at Kirk and me, our size and condition, and knew immediately that we could handle the grunt labor.” Studio art major Lorraine Fiamenco ’80 had failed a previous sculpture class due to a bout with mono and needed a 3-D art class to graduate. “George took pity on me,” she says. “Being part of a team was great, and it was refreshing to interact with folks who had other interests. Helping Baker realize his vision was inspiring.” Mark Rountree applied because of his affection for Mrs. Gilman and a desire to understand the “mystery” behind Baker’s art. He enlisted Ben Bauermeister ’82, who was in the freshman Collegium and could not sign up for the class. “Mark was my head resident,” Bauermeister explains, “and he knew that I was interested in art. He told me, ‘You need to get involved in this program, just go down there and start helping out.’” Baker put the freshman in charge of ordering bearings, and Bauermeister recalls that “it kind of blew my mind” when he opened the bearing book and saw that it belonged to renowned kinetic sculptor George Rickey. “This guy was friends with George Rickey. That’s when I knew I wasn’t dealing with just any artist.” He was so inspired by Baker and the experience that he became a sculpture major. The class began with training during the last week of March, and 12 large sheets of thick stainless steel arrived in the Art Barn the following week. Although Baker was detail-oriented in his artistic vision, Greenleaf acted as foreman on a daily basis, working with the outside contractors and performing tasks that could not be done by the students. “Baker and Greenleaf provided a good balance of leadership for the group,” Mark Rountree wrote at the end of the project. “The usually quiet and concerned Baker tends to lean back in reflection on each step of work, while Greenleaf, who has an energy level of nuclear proportions, charged around the Art Barn with the sort of determination needed to build a two-ton fountain.”

right: Led by Peter Greenleaf ’75, students set one of the large disks into position before being carried to the pool for installation. below: John Castner ’81 and Patty Crews ’82, bottom, grind stainless steel mounting tubes for the fountain.

Photos by John Kruissink

“They would cut, grind, sand, drill, and tap holes,” Greenleaf recalls of the students. “They would tote, carry, and haul. They were great.” The sculpture is composed of 13 large pieces of heavy stainless steel, eight circular shapes and five elongated “surfboard” shapes. The students’ primary responsibility was to cut and polish the pieces—a process that Macko describes with impressive clarity after 42 years: “The patterns were laid out on the sheets of steel and then the students cut them out using a nibbler, which chopped little chunks of steel about the size of a grain of rice. It was slow, noisy work that we would certainly not be allowed to do in this age of safety. Following the nibbling, the rough edges were smoothed with belt sanders and grinders. In order to create the curved shapes, we hauled the pieces to a business where they had special roller presses that produced the desired contours. The shaped pieces were then welded as needed [by an expert welder

brought onto the project by Greenleaf]. We installed the bearings. Finishing involved lots of sanding and polishing.” Lots meant hundreds of student hours. And noisy was a sound level that Rountree described as louder than “a 727 without mufflers.” Fiamenco remembers that women did the same hard work as the men but also had some specialties. “We women liked running the power tools, and tended to excel at more precise tasks like nibbling the shapes from the formed stainless steel or crawling under to reach fittings in small spaces. It was demanding work physically, but we were all in great shape at the time.” Castner was tasked with dropping off and picking up shapes at the rolled steel forming company in the City of Commerce. “They flipped me the keys to the plant department truck, gave me the address to the vendor, and told me to drop off the shapes. George trusted us to get the job done.” As the project neared completion, Baker considered the question of how to haul the SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

11


Photos by George Baker (fountain) and Craig Dietz (dedication)

Two Views of Water Forms II Following the construction of Water Forms II, George Baker taught at Occidental

for 18 more years, until his death in July 1997 at the age of 66. He left almost 600 sculptures ranging from large public installations to smaller pieces in private collections. His work was displayed in galleries and museums around the world and is still in prestigious collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art. “In a category of sculptural kinetic art— where too many artists have fallen victim to the very technologies they seek to employ—Baker must be regarded as a purist whose use of such technologies never stands in the way of his ultimate search for beauty,” Los Angeles Times art critic Henry J. Seldis wrote in 1975. As with any abstract art, the meaning of Water Forms II depends on the eye of the beholder. Sometimes it helps to have a guide. Oxy Professor of Art History Constance Perkins wrote eloquently about the sculpture when it was first installed: “In the presence of Water Forms II, one is engulfed with questions. Is it a challenge to the ancient gods of rivers and mountains? What is the hidden meaning in its rhythms that rise and fall as do the velocities of a passing storm? What secrets of nature are held in the reflected violets and oranges that tinge the grey steel of its forms at sunset? What is the message of the symphony of sounds of the waters? “Matching the patience with which it was conceived, we can comprehend something of the dualities of sight and sound, of time and space, of inorganic and organic, of rationality and mystery. Water Forms II can be for each of us, an experience that obliterates the trivialities of everyday, becoming a renewal of our innate drive to achieve the exuberance of a life lived fully, a moment of release from painful stress reassured of a spiritual presence, a oneness with nature and mankind, a memorial to Lucille Gilman.”

12

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

above: President Richard C. Gilman, left, poses with Baker at the dedication of the Lucille Y. Gilman Memorial Fountain on November 10, 1979. top: “The forms, their physical presence intermittently changed by water and wind, compose a being with its own life—to be met and engaged with time,” Baker wrote in 1979.

More recently, Eric Peltzer ’85, an acclaimed metal sculptor who was Baker’s assistant for many years and remains executor of his estate, spoke of the sculpture while watching it in its new surroundings (opposite page): “George always thought Nature was the greatest sculptor. He would look at rocks, or look out the window and say, ‘God, the way that window is being framed against that cloud ...’ He saw beauty in places other people wouldn’t even think to look. He was very abstract, so it’s hard to describe what he was trying to do. But I think anyone can see lily pads and moving tree branches, and he loved stainless steel because it reflected the light of whatever was around it. “When the water comes up, the droplets are also reflecting the water, the leaves, the grass, the color of the sky, the buildings— reflecting the dynamic world. George’s work adds not just the third dimension of sculptural space, but also the fourth dimension of time with motion and water choreography. The fountain is an experience. You have to walk around it. You can’t understand it from one position or one point in time. You can’t understand it from one day.”

heavy steel pieces to the pool site for installation. “At the end of an afternoon session, on a hot day, George asked me if I would like a beer,” Castner recalls. “Are you kidding me? Of course! I was sipping my beer, reflecting on the day's work, and listening to George and Erik Williams talking about having the facilities department remove a portion of the Art Barn roof, rent a construction crane, place it in the Quad, lift the heavier pieces out of the Art Barn, move them and place them in the fountain for installation.” Castner apologized for eavesdropping but suggested that manpower was “cheap, reliable, and readily available” in the form of his ATO fraternity brothers. “I told George that if he could design and build a contraption that would hold and balance the shape in place, I could deliver eight ATOs to do the heavy lifting, and it would be far cheaper than a new roof and crane rental. He asked me on the spot for a labor estimate. The ATOs were always up for a weekend party, so I suggested two kegs of Heineken and two fifths of Jack Daniel’s. He grinned and said, ‘Done.’ I think we actually shook hands on it.” Macko, the natural fabricator, came up with the design for the contraption: “We purchased four long wooden 4x4s and laid two of them on either side of the disk. Double 2x4 blocks were bolted to the 4x4s to enclose the disk below the apex of the curve, trapping the piece securely. The burly ATO fraternity members easily lifted this ‘sedan chair’ and marched the two biggest disks down to the fountain, where we added two more 4x4s as crosspieces, to make it easier to maneuver. They lifted each disk again and set it into the prepared mount. The whole process took about an hour.” After moving the disks, Castner and his fraternity brothers walked back to the ATO house and found two ice-cold kegs and two fifths sitting on the front porch. “Nobody saw the delivery,” he recalls, “and nothing further was said about it. Everybody was happy.” Water Forms II—26 feet long, 15 feet wide, and 12 feet high—was fully installed by the end of the school year. Baker and Williams spent the early summer working on the timing sequences of the pump and making adjustments to the balance and water flow. There were 13 nozzles controlled by three individually programmed motor valves. (With electronics still rudimentary, program-


Photo by Marc Campos

ming involved cutting notches into cams for the timers.) The full program of water patterns, intuitively developed by Baker, would repeat every 15 minutes, with the direction and velocity of wind further influencing the water to create theoretically infinite subtle variations of movement. The formal dedication was held during Homecoming Weekend on November 10, 1979. More than 300 students, alumni, faculty, administrators, and visitors gathered around the fountain on a sunny afternoon. Baker, always vague in discussing his art, called the forms of the sculpture “the concrete product of my own evolution, dreams, environment, and perhaps most important my intuitive judgment.” He thanked the administrative and plant personnel who “could not have foreseen my artistic whims and the hours that they would spend in resolving them” and his student assistants “who persisted and made my concept a reality. ... There would be no water without Erik Williams and perhaps nothing in the pool without the sharing and concern of Peter Greenleaf.” He thanked the Gilman family for “the privilege to create this memorial.” “It is only fitting that today this impressive sculpture by Mr. Baker be dedicated to Mrs. Gilman,” noted Marks, then a secondyear medical student. “Both have left a lasting impression on Oxy.” The main speaker was Franklin D. Murphy, a friend of the Gilman family, former chancellor of UCLA, and chair of the Times Mirror Company. He spoke of how four forces came together that afternoon: the spirit of Lucille Y. Gilman, the creative genius of man, the commitment of higher education to the arts, and “the opportunity of generations of Occidental College students to be touched either directly or indirectly by the movement of this fountain.” Finally, President Gilman noted that many prospective students had visited campus that morning, while droves of alumni were back on campus that day as well. “It’s a very special privilege for me to have this dedication as an integral part of an important day in the life of Occidental College,” he said. “Now, I have at my hands a button, and I’m told that when I press that button this beautiful creature will come into reality.” Pointing the crowd toward the Herrick pool, Gilman pushed the button, and the fountain came to life in an eruption of water and movement.

The newly repaired and repositioned fountain boasts multicolored LED lighting.

As Murphy predicted at the dedication ceremony, Water Forms II—the Lucille Y. Gilman Memorial Fountain—has touched generations of Oxy students with its graceful movements, its rainlike spray, and its glistening silver-gray reflections of the world around them. The fountain has graced countless College publications as well as TV shows and films (most notably Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). In recent years, however, the fountain and surrounding pool were showing their age. According to Tom Polansky, former associate vice president of facilities, the idea of repairing the fountain turned into a complete restoration project, which—with the encouragement of then-President Jonathan Veitch —quickly turned into a transformational project for that section of the campus. The area was regraded for easy access to the fountain space, and the old octagonal, scalloped-cornered pool was replaced with a more elongated elliptical shape, with black basalt walls that give the illusion of an infinity edge as water ripples over the basalt and is recycled into the pool. (In a nod to environmental concerns, permeable concrete pavers in the plaza keep rainwater from flowing into the street.) Baker’s sculpture was taken apart, cleaned, and reassembled with new joints between the steel panels. The original three valves were replaced with 16 valves, allowing more individualized control. And the old white pool spotlights were replaced with LEDs with “every color in the spectrum,” Polansky says.

For the Oxy community, the fountain is a poignant reminder of Lucille Gilman’s contributions to the College. Son Tucker Gilman writes, “The fountain and plaza area gracefully and warmly welcome people at the front entrance of the Oxy campus, just as Lucille Gilman graciously and warmly welcomed everyone to the College and to the President’s House, whether for her famous cooking class, a holiday open house, or for a faculty or trustee reception.” And for the alumni who worked on the fountain 42 years ago, the project remains a highlight of their Oxy experience. “Gilman Fountain is very dear to my heart,” says Cunningham, who saw his structural drawings become reality. Lord concurs. “Being a part of leaving this legacy behind truly has been and will always be a source of pride. Beauty is timeless, and I hope this piece will always remain a part of the Oxy environment.” Although Gilman Fountain looks much as it did when it was first installed, one key dynamic has changed. The sculpture is not centered in the new, elongated pool, but moved toward the front of the ellipse—exactly where the artist wanted it. “Now it’s in line with the chapel doors,” Polansky says. “We moved it, truth be told, to get the orientation more in line with the central axis to the campus. It just makes a lot more sense now.” Somewhere, abstractly, George Baker is smiling. Paul Robert Walker ’75 spent hours studying or socializing by the Herrick pool with the preBaker fountain spouting straight into the air. SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

13


Deconstructing the By DICK ANDERSON with PETER GILSTRAP

As its second century dawned, Occidental welcomed a bold new president, adopted a mission Of Excellence and Equity, and brought a diversity of voices to the classroom. How did the changes impact the College?


right: Oxy President John Brooks Slaughter, center, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp ’57, far right, address the Class of 1990 at Commencement. opposite page, top: In November 1990, students staged a sit-in inside the administrative building to protest the cancellation of a hip-hop festival. bottom: Three years later, Terence Smith and a CBS Sunday Morning crew interviewed students on the steps outside the building.

L

Photos by Don Milici unless noted | 1990 sit-in photo by John Emmons

ong before he arrived at Occidental, Leo Olebe ’97 was asking questions about identity. “I’m a Black man with a white mother and a Black father,” the native Kenyan explains. “My entire life has been questions about cultural identity, racial identity, and ethnicity.” In looking at colleges, he adds, “It was really important to find a place where I could learn more about myself but then also just fit in and be accepted.” After an overnight stay at Oxy, Olebe says, “It felt like an environment where people like me were welcome. We were encouraged to be our authentic selves. We were able to ask tough questions. We were able to explore worlds and societies together. That’s exactly what I found.” (He majored in politics and public policy and met his wife, Andrea Katrina Garcia ’98, while performing in a Black History Month play—she played Angela Davis and he played Thurgood Marshall.) Just before Thanksgiving during his first semester at Oxy, Olebe was among a group of 11 students who sat down for an interview with CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Terence Smith on the steps outside Johnson Hall. The topic was multiculturalism. “That overall conversation was all about trying to understand how different groups of people could come together and interact with each other and be respectful of their backgrounds and their ideas and work together to create a new version of society, if you will,” Olebe recalls. Put another way, that was Oxy’s commitment to Of Excellence and Equity—the mission

adopted by the College in 1990 that continues to this day. Talking to Smith, President John Brooks Slaughter—near the midpoint of his 11-year tenure—called Los Angeles “a city of a tremendous amount of rich diversity. For an institution to be in the middle of it, as Occidental College is, and not be more representative of that seemed incongruous.” Addressing changes to the curriculum that alienated scores of Oxy alumni who endured two years of History of Civilization (a mainstay of the College curriculum from 1947 to 1970), Slaughter insisted, “We’re not going to replace one history with another one.” Western civilization, he continued, “didn’t come out of some big bang that occurred west of London. It came about from the infusion of ideas that came from Asia and from Africa and from Latin America and from a variety of sources. It was not something that came only from the Romans and the Greeks.” Even before U.S. News & World Report began to measure campus diversity in its rankings—a category that Oxy topped from 1998 to 2001—the College’s commitment to multiculturalism garnered national attention not only from CBS Sunday Morning but The Wall Street Journal as well. “They were talking about this great experiment of multiculturalism of bringing in minority students onto campuses that were traditionally homogeneous,” Angel Cervantes ’94, who was interviewed for both stories, observed in a 2014 interview for a critical theory and social justice class project. “That was the great experiment, and Oxy was leading the way.”

Although their time at Oxy only intersected by one year, Cervantes and Olebe share a number of other distinctions: Both served as ASOC president their senior year (Cervantes being the first Latino to do so), and both would occupy the administrative building for multiple days to address Oxy’s commitment to issues surrounding multiculturalism. “It’s interesting imagining where the world is today, filled with challenges and problems and opportunities for change,” Olebe says. “But we were at the forefront of present-day thinking, in terms of trying to create an environment where diversity and inclusion were paramount, where we had conversations and pursued equity and inclusion. That’s the conversation that we started having back in the ’90s at Oxy.” For much of the 1990s, the news stories coming out of Los Angeles were less than optimal: the L.A. uprising of 1992, the Northridge earthquake of 1994, and gang violence in East L.A. made many parents wary of sending their children out west. “I think we can conclude that while we had an edge and sense of momentum in the 1990s, it was not L.A.’s golden era,” Zócalo Public Square publisher Gregory Rodriguez observed in a 2016 forum. Reflecting the impact of current events and natural disasters, the College was facing an admission shortfall that began in 1993 and bottomed out in 1996, resulting in an overall enrollment dip of nearly 10 percent in just three years, as well as a budget deficit that surfaced in 1989 and snowballed over the next few years. The latter necessitated SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

15


Signs of the times: Banners in the Quad advertise a student forum on the “Oxy power structure” in 1990, left; and ASOC elections, pledge parties, and a concert in 1995, right.

Photos by Frances Hill (above) and Don Milici (right)

cuts to staffing and programming as well as a change to the College’s need-blind financial aid program in 1994—which had been instrumental in diversifying the student body in those nascent years Of Excellence and Equity. It’s a lot to digest, even with the benefit of hindsight. To make sense of the ’90s, we spoke recently to more than a dozen alumni and key administrators who experienced firsthand Oxy’s most transformative decade of the last 50 years. (To supplement these interviews, we drew on a number of oral histories conducted for an Oxy Corps project in 2012 and the CTSJ class in 2014. Those conversations are designated with an asterisk.) “The 1990s were a period of continuity and change at Occidental,” says Eric Newhall ’67, professor of English emeritus (who also served as interim dean of students from 1993 to 1994). “We retained the best aspects of the pre-1990s Occidental and made changes that positioned us to educate undergraduates in the 21st century. In short, we tried to respect the past without living in the past.”

Living and Learning When Cervantes arrived at Oxy in the fall of 1990, multiculturalism was front and center in the campus conversation. Oxy’s Multicultural Summer Institute had been founded three years earlier; Oxy’s Multicultural Center (since renamed the Intercultural Community Center) was dedicated in 1989, and the Multicultural Hall (Bell-Young), where Cervantes lived, was two years old. “I was coming from a very homogeneous neighborhood that was 100 percent Latino,” he says. “I had never really talked to white people at all. Coming into the MC Hall forced me to face my own biases. In those days, Oxy had a lot of violence. It wasn’t all minorities against white students. It was Latinos versus Blacks. Campus parties turned into brawls.” There was room for civil discourse as well. Yvette Cabrera ’94, a history major from Santa Barbara, recalls a “South of the Border” party thrown by a fraternity where “they were having students crawl underneath a

fence to get into the party.” MEChA/ALAS— short for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán/Association of Latin American Students—found out about it, which led to discussions with fraternity members and Latino students through MEChA/ALAS. “Eventually the fraternity apologized,” Cabrera says. “As students of color, we had to learn from each other, too—from students who came from different socioeconomic backgrounds,” she adds. “We were a campus that was not just trying to diversify but trying to change how and what we learned.” Despite its new mission, Oxy administration wasn’t immune to criticism from the student body. On November 14, 1990, Alza la Raza, a hybrid rap concert, art show, and community festival in Hillside Theater hosted by the Black Student Alliance and ATO fraternity for community youth, was canceled by Dean of Students Brigida Knauer three days before the event, citing concerns over crowd size, security, and the prospect of gang fights. “The implication was, ‘People coming on campus is dangerous—I don’t know that we want that,’ ” recalls Ana Ramos-Sanavio ’93,* a history and art major from East L.A., who also lived in the Multicultural Hall. That night a group of students, including Ramos-Sanavio, created fliers with a call to action and put them under the door of every

MOMENTS AND MILESTONES THAT SHAPED THE DECADE September 1990: Of Excellence and Equity strategic plan and mission endorsed by faculty. Occidental’s Board of Trustees follows suit in October.

16

1990: U.S. News & World Report ranks Oxy 24th in its list of the top 25 national liberal arts colleges —marking the first time the College has made the rankings since their introduction in 1983.

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

November 1990: About 150 students stage a five-day sitin inside the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center to protest the cancellation of a studentplanned rap concert and multicultural fair at Hillside Theater.

May 6, 1992: Oxy students organize a teach-in to understand the factors— racial, economic, sociopolitical, and psychological—that led to the uprising that followed the Rodney King verdict on April 29.

December 2, 1992: Oxy makes the front page of The Wall Street Journal: “Occidental has been structured deliberately as Los Angeles was structured only accidentally: as an experiment in diversity.”

January 17, 1994: The Northridge earthquake rattles the campus at 4:30 a.m. “It felt like I was in a movie,” says Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard ’98. “Doesn’t really sound too inviting, but it was wild.”

December 20, 1994 -January 6, 1995: Alicia Silverstone and company film Clueless on the Oxy campus. “It looked stupid,” Pam Bellew, director of conference services and campus filming, recalls with a laugh.


dorm room. The next morning, about 150 people (including Cervantes) showed up outside the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center (AGC). Soon after they gathered outside the dean’s office on the first floor, where they waited all day to voice their concerns. “Pretty soon we had people sitting on the ground outside of her office, wrapping around toward the admission office, toward the stairs,” Ramos-Sanavio says. At 5 p.m., Knauer reportedly told them, “If you do not leave, you’re all going to have consequences.” “And we decided, ‘Well, we’re not leaving,’ ” RamosSanavio says. “Before Campus Safety could lock the doors, some of us ran and got computers and blankets and whatever we needed to start deciding what we were going to do in there.” On the steps outside the building, there were maybe 200 students sleeping that first night in solidarity. By the next day, with Knauer still refusing to meet them, the students had come up with a list of demands. “It was not just about that party that had been canceled, it became about a lot of other things,” Ramos-Sanavio says. “There was a Mortar Board at the time—I didn’t even know what they were about—but it was a very closed group, and it was mostly white males. We felt that wasn’t fair, so we demanded that it be more inclusive.” They also felt that the Occidental newspaper needed more representation of women, minorities, and the LGBT community. The sit-in went on through the weekend and ended on Monday afternoon, November 19, when President Slaughter agreed to a discussion on student participation in policy making. “At the time we felt like, ‘We can do the 1960s all over again,’ so it was our chance to be a part of something,” Ramos-Sanavio says. “In the end [the administration] was willing to accept that there was all this energy going on, and they were willing to listen.”

1995: 1925 alumnus Ranier De Mandel pledges $2 million for the construction of a modern aquatics center to replace Taylor Pool. (It took 26 years and another $15 million, but the De Mandel Aquatics Center is now open.)

April 17-19, 1996: Students stage another sit-in in the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center in support of the “permanent institutionalization of multiculturalism at Occidental.”

above: Herrick Interfaith Center hosts a service following the L.A. uprising in 1992. left: Loredana Soceneantu, a biochemistry major, was named the College’s ninth Rhodes Scholar in December 1993.

Burning Questions The 1991-92 academic year ended on a high note, with poet, activist, and national treasure Maya Angelou addressing the 424 graduating seniors and seven master’s degree recipients on June 14 in Hillside Theater. “How did you get here today?” she asked. “I’ll tell you how you got here. Lots of folks paid for you to get here. Lots of folks, way before you were born and way before you came of age, paid for you to get here.” It was a welcome reprieve in the aftermath of the L.A. uprising, barely six weeks earlier, which had resulted in 63 deaths, more than 12,000 arrests, and property damage of more than $1 billion. “The L.A. riots were the backdrop to our freshman year,” says Billy Vela ’95*, a psychology major who grew up in Highland Park. “I still remember very clearly looking out from on top of Stearns or Haines or somewhere, and just seeing all of L.A. literally burning.”

August 1997: U.S. News ranks Oxy No. 1 in campus diversity and No. 33 (up from No. 38 the previous year) in its ranking of 159 liberal arts colleges nationwide.

November 1997: Oxy celebrates the completion of its largest capital campaign to date, Compass for a New Century, raising $72 million over five years.

In the wake of the uprising, Adam Portnoy ’93, a public policy major from Marblehead, Mass., and some of his classmates drove around the city, witnessing the looting firsthand (“You know, you’re in your early 20s, so you think you’re invincible—today I would not do something like this”). “People were just running into stores, grabbing everything they could, and lighting stores on fire,” he says. “Store clerks and owners were barricading their stores, guarding their own property, basically trying to keep the looters away. It was just so impactful.” Esther Teodoro ’95, a music and psychology double major from Seattle, remembers watching the fires burn “all night long” from a balcony on Stearns, and then walking down to the Quad the next day. “It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, but it was totally dark because of all the smoke and everything,” she says. “I’m Korean American, and seeing all the looting in Koreatown was so scary.”

December 1997: Cullen Taniguchi ’98 is selected as Oxy’s third Rhodes Scholar in 10 years and the only one selected from a California college in 1997.

April 14, 1999: The J. Stanley and Mary W. Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union is dedicated, blending the Myron Hunt’s traditional with modern architectural motifs.

June 1999: John Brooks Slaughter retires after 11 years as Oxy’s president. His successor, Ted Mitchell, ushers Oxy into a new decade and new century.

SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

17


Making Change Happen

clockwise from top left: Aileen Cho ’93, Chris Coker ’95, Sheli Henderson ’95, Yuri White ’95, Angel Cervantes ’94, Luz Torres ’93, and Angelica Salas ’93 were interviewed, photographed, and turned into illustrated “hedcuts” for a Wall Street Journal article published on December 2, 1992.

The riots played out at Oxy “against the multicultural movement that was in full swing,” Vela says. “We weren’t all on the same page but people were able to express themselves. There were open forums.” Speaking at a student-organized teach-in on May 6 in Thorne Hall, Slaughter said, “I am convinced that those of us on this small campus, this uncommon educational institution, are at the forefront of a dynamic movement in America, a movement that requires a commitment of people of good will to success; one that may fail, and if it does it will be a failure that will have dire consequences for generations.” In the midst of all this, Peter Dreier— who at the time was a senior policy adviser to Boston Mayor Ray Flynn—interviewed with Oxy to be the newly endowed E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics. “A lot of my friends in Boston said, ‘Why would you want to go to L.A.? It’s burning 18

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

down, it’s falling apart,’ ” Dreier recalls. “And I said, ‘This is going to be the most interesting city in America for the next 20 years,’ because of what the uprising basically suggested was going on. It was the most global of the American cities. It was the most diverse and it had elected a Black mayor [Tom Bradley] in a city with very few Black people. Clearly not everything was working but there was a lot of potential.” When Dreier came out for an interview, “The smoke was still rising as I drove around L.A.—the National Guard were still in their Jeeps and they still had their guns and bayonets. It was both scary and hopeful at the same time, you know? Even though I turned down a possible job in L.A. six months earlier, the uprising changed my mind—that, plus Oxy’s commitment to addressing issues of economic and racial injustice. John Slaughter persuaded me that the College was changing with the times.”

From women to people of color, faculty diversity was in short supply when Slaughter arrived in 1988. (When he was hired, in fact, Oxy had only two African-Americans on the faculty—one of whom was a member of the presidential search committee.) Changing that became a top priority. “We had a cohort of faculty members who were committed to the idea of making the curriculum more inclusive, and bringing in points of view that a year before had not been emphasized,” Slaughter told then-President Jonathan Veitch in a 2012 interview for Occidental magazine. David Axeen—who served as dean of the faculty during Richard C. Gilman’s final year as president, and continued in the role at his successor’s request—“was the foot soldier who made these things happen,” Slaughter added. “We were able to change the face of the faculty in some rather significant ways.” Axeen looks back on that period proudly. Most of Oxy’s faculty hires in the ’90s “really added something new to the College and they came from the best institutions in their fields. We had a five- or six-year string through the ’90s where we got our first choice in every faculty search. We had a sense that we were on the edge of something—that we were gathering forces to move forward in a positive way. “When you’re learning as you’re doing, as we all were, it gave a special energy to what was going on,” he adds. “When I quit being dean, the faculty we had recruited was something like 20 to 25 percent people of color—but the tenured faculty was 50 percent women by the end of the decade.” Emerita professor Lynn Dumenil, who left Claremont McKenna College in 1991 to become the Robert Glass Cleland Professor of American History at Oxy, recalls, “There were so many interesting meetings, believe it or not, about teaching. The College was trying to help faculty address issues of race, racism, sexism, and the like, and I found the conversations really exhilarating. “I certainly thought the students were wonderful,” she adds. (Dumenil retired in 2014.) “It was kind of amazing that the College was ahead of the curve—in part, by recognizing that the nature of the age group was going to change over time. I still think that Occidental’s commitment to social justice persists but that heritage is from the ’90s.”


Photo courtesy David Semel ’85

Beverly Hills 90210 actors Ian Ziering and Jason Priestley confer with producer-director David Semel ’85 before shooting a scene in the Quad. below: At the entrance to Cal U.

ZIP Recruiters

above: Oxy students march in protest of Proposition 187, the 1994 California ballot initiative designed to prohibit undocumented immigrants from obtaining healthcare, public education, and other state services. below: Rhodes Scholar Cullen Taniguchi ’98 addresses his classmates at Commencement.

Commitment Issues Bolstered by a $1 million grant from the James Irvine Foundation in 1989, Oxy expanded its outreach program to potential applicants from a host of economic, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds. By 1993, more than half the entering class at Occidental was non-white. But that benchmark was hard to hold for a host of reasons, not the least of which was the competition. When Axeen would go to nationwide deans’ meetings, his peers often asked him questions as to how Oxy achieved diversity. “About halfway through the ’90s, they stopped asking and started doing it themselves,” he says. “In some ways, we were the victims of our own success—which is great. We won’t make the world better if we’re the only ones doing it.” Anh Truong ’95, a public policy major from West Hills, says he immediately felt at home in a multicultural setting “because here was an opportunity to really mingle with folks from different backgrounds. And it wasn’t just culture. I certainly felt socioeconomic diversity as well. From my first year, I had friends who clearly led a very protected life [economically]. I’m the kid who had to work different jobs in between classes to keep things going.”

Truong saw multiculturalism as a leveling presence: “that chance to be in the same residence hall, to pick the same classes, to sit down at Clancy’s together. That was the preciousness of that opportunity.” Those opportunities didn’t come without a cost, and as ASOC president her senior year, Olga (Garcia) Rodriguez ’95 recalls, “There were going to be significant cuts to the College’s budget. In trying to figure out what areas to cut, everything was assessed. I was the voice of the student body, and students were very angry about the cuts. I definitely felt that more things were brewing, like how committed is Oxy to multiculturalism, and to bringing in students from different backgrounds?” Those concerns came to a boil in the 1995-96 academic year, when nearly 150 students staged a sit-in in the AGC in support of the “permanent institutionalization of multiculturalism at Occidental.” “My memory is that we were protesting a decrease in the racial diversity of the newly admitted class,” says sit-in participant Sam Sharp ’96, a biology and politics double major from Denver. “That brought into question Oxy’s commitment to diversity.” On April 17, 1996, just as the sit-in was beginning, Olebe was being installed by trustee Don Cornwell ’69 as ASOC president.

From 1993 to 1997, the cast and crew of the Fox TV series Beverly Hills 90210 were fixtures on the Oxy campus, which stood in as the fictional California University. (The show is now streaming on Paramount+.) 90210 might have never set foot in 90041 were it not for an Oxy connection: associate producer and director David Semel ’85. “There were discussions about now that the series was moving from high school to college, where we would shoot the exteriors and in some cases the interiors,” he recalls. After the location scout came back with photos of all the usual locations—UCLA and USC among them—Semel sensed that executive producer Chuck Rosen wanted something a little bit more unique. “I quietly said, ‘I went to this really beautiful campus in Eagle Rock called Occidental’—and a couple of people had not even heard of it.” Although the show generated muchneeded revenue for Oxy at the time, many students didn’t warm to the image of a group of privileged white students co-opting their multicultural environment. To quell student criticism early on, cast member Ian Ziering spoke at a forum in Thorne Hall, recalls Pam Bellew, Oxy’s former director of conference services and campus filming. “They got ideas from students’ concerns and issues of the day and incorporated them into the backgrounds,” she says. “They copied quite a bit of the signage that they would see along the Quad that students were putting up on posters in paint.” As a alumnus and director, shooting at Oxy was “really fun and rewarding,” Semel says. “Aside from knowing all the hidden places, I kept trying to find a reason to shoot in the tunnels—but that never happened.”

SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

19


left: Rosario Gutierrez ’94 M’95 was awarded a $30,000 Truman Scholarship as a junior. above: Quad life in an undated 1990s photo.

He exited the ceremony to join his girlfriend inside the administration building. “I wasn’t the organizer of the sit-in, but the role that I played was the negotiator,” he recalls. “There was a list of 12 demands—I don’t remember what they all were. But at its core, it was about multiculturalism and believing that multiculturalism was so important to the history and the vibe of the College that we were willing to stand up and fight for it.” “Students come to Oxy with very high expectations that this is going to be diversity heaven—or as close to a utopian, diverse college as you can get,” says Dreier, who taught classes outside the building during the sit-in. “They’re confronted with the reality that Oxy lives in the real world, and that racism and economic injustice do not disappear when you walk onto campus.” “I looked at those sit-ins—and I think John did too—as challenges from people with whom maybe we weren’t communicating well enough,” Axeen says. “We didn’t take it personally. We wanted the students to be energetic and engaged and involved.” “We were just a bunch of students waking up to the world and trying to make a difference,” Olebe says. “That’s what was so cool about Occidental—that you could follow your hearts and try to change the world.” 20 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

End of the Road On June 3, 1998, Slaughter announced his decision to retire as Oxy president effective June 30, 1999. “It is with an unwavering sense of pride that I can say that these 10 years have been well spent—it has been a time when the Occidental community has proven time after time that quality and equality are the hallmark of Occidental,” he wrote in the magazine. Many students were wary of what it meant for the College’s commitment to its mission; a front-page headline in The Occidental in September 1998 asked, “Has Multiculturalism Been Slaughtered by Trustee Agenda?” The president’s answer: No. “Many people are under the mistaken notion that multiculturalism began when I arrived,” Slaughter told writer Amber Engelson ’02. “One of the reasons I chose Oxy was because of its strong background in multiculturalism. … Multiculturalism will continue as it always has.” Even now, rumors persist in some circles that Slaughter didn’t leave on his own terms, but there’s no evidence to suggest that was the case. “There was a sense that some people had that 11 years was a long tenure for a president, and it is above the median,” Axeen says. “John didn’t talk to me about his decision [in advance]—and if he had, I would have urged him to stay.” What is certain is that Slaughter left the College a very different place than it was when he arrived. The new J. Stanley and Mary W.

Johnson Student Center, a cornerstone of Oxy’s capital campaign, opened months before his departure. Although down from its mid-’90s peak, student diversity remained strong—and with the hiring of Bill Tingley in 1997, the College’s admission numbers rebounded quickly without compromise. “Oxy could have chosen a less difficult path, at least in the short term,” Newhall says. “We could have gotten smaller and just recruited the top SAT scores and been that kind of institution. But I like the fact that we opted to look more like the city of Los Angeles.” Today, Portnoy says, “Multiculturalism almost sounds like an antiquated term, but back then it was really forward thinking. And I think President Slaughter was a decade or two ahead of where everybody else eventually ended up getting.” “John Brooks Slaughter was such a hero of mine,” says Eddie Jauregui ’98, a public policy major from Carson. “He had a lot of challenges that were laid at his feet but I think a lot of students of color in particular really admired that man. I certainly did.” “I wasn’t actually aware of Oxy’s focus on multiculturalism until I was there,” says Shannon Brueckner ’95, a psychology major from Bakerfield, who is now a marriage and family therapist in Walnut Creek. “That was one of the most impactful aspects of my education—everything from core curriculum classes to heated debates in the Quad. It really opened my eyes and provided a foundation for future work for me to build on.”


More Than Words When Oxy surveyed alumni in 2019 about their attitudes, a sizable cohort from the 1990s agreed that “a diverse and inclusive environment has a significant impact on their overall opinion of Oxy.” The work they are doing in the world reinforces that belief. As associate vice president and chief of staff of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, Rodriguez has overseen a host of major changes in healthcare policy in the Lone Star State. “We were one of the first states to bring up managed care to the foster care population to provide better care for them,” she says. “We were the first to look at how we could refinance healthcare to produce a more efficient and quality-based healthcare system. We were the first to bring in additional support services for long-term healthcare delivery. “That’s a significant contribution to society in government that has really changed the dynamics of healthcare policy,” she adds proudly. “I attribute it to my Oxy years, to how I was trained, and to John Slaughter’s Of Excellence and Equity. I didn’t have to make an excuse for not having the highest SAT score in my class. I was just moving on and trying to improve the world.” For Olebe, who leads the global video game business at Facebook, “Being able to think critically about how people can come together and how you have to respect other cultures, other ideas, different ways of solving problems—I literally use that every day,” he says. “I also spend a lot of my time giving back. We launched a Black gaming creator program where we’re trying to give them the opportunity to let their voice shine. “I do a lot of things around Pride Month, Women’s History Month, and Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as raising

above left: David Axeen, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College, and President Slaughter prior to Slaughter’s retirement in 1999. above right: Oxy’s 12th president, Ted Mitchell, gets a boost from students inside Morrison Lounge following Opening Convocation in August 1999.

money for veterans, mental health, and World Down Syndrome Day,” he continues. “It’s all about: How do you use your privilege and your position in the world to make a difference and drive positive change?” As a writer and editor on the student newspaper, Cabrera says, “I was able to speak my mind and have a voice at a time when I was still finding my way as a journalist at Occidental. It taught me that you can change the system when you’re part of the system.” She is currently a senior staff writer for Grist, focusing on issues of environmental justice. After starting her career in public relations in the entertainment industry, Teodoro is a principal at Seattle-based BigGigs, which creates high-impact events for corporations, public agencies, and nonprofits. “I truly recognize and appreciate the significance of having that multicultural experience in college, what it did for me as a person, how that has affected my worldview and the actions that I take as a result of it,” she says. “It’s uncomfortable and it’s painful but I don’t shy away from having difficult conversations. Unfortunately, I have a lot of personal experience of what it’s like to be faced with racism, but I’m not afraid of it anymore.” Sharp leads the special district group at Piper Sandler, a leading investment bank, with a focus on infrastructure projects in Colorado. “I definitely feel like I have a framework of analytical thought and an ethical

belief system that were framed in my time at Oxy,” says Sharp, who is also a member of the College’s equity and justice committee and on the chief diversity officer search committee. “President Slaughter’s vision of multiculturalism really permeated the school,” he adds. “Having a clear, defined framework for teaching and fostering values of diversity and inclusion was instilled from Orientation through graduation. It was ubiquitous on campus in a way that we’re trying to replicate now with a deeper focus on equity and justice.” “Most of us loved Oxy—the classes, the professors,” says Cervantes, a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, professor at Glendale Community College, and cofounder of the Latino/a Scholarship Fund following his graduation 27 years ago. (He’s also the 2021 recipient of the Alumni Seal Award for service to the College.) “There’s a lot of good sentiment from my era. It was a good time to be here.” Among the faculty changemakers of that era, emeriti professors Axeen, Newhall, Mike McAleenan (sociology), and Norman Cohen (history) remain close friends. During the pandemic, they formed a remote book group. “We agree on an academic book,” McAleenan says, “and every two weeks we get on Zoom for a two-hour session and debate the book.” Many of their discussions center on issues of race, class, gender, and inclusion, he adds, “So we’re still at it in our own minds.” SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

21


Girton photo by Geri-Ann Galanti and Marc Campos | Photos (pages 23-26, 28-33) by Marc Campos

Irene Girton PROFESSOR OF MUSIC

Years at Oxy: 21 FAVORITE COURSE: “Bach’s Cycles: Bach, Musical

Systems, and the Enlightenment. Bach’s music has always driven me to go deep: to explore the scientific, intellectual, and artistic revolutions roiling through Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, and to connect social and cultural events to the art they generate. Together with my students, we experience both the genius and the joy of Bach’s endlessly intricate contrapuntal thinking, and we learn to hear his music as communication, as clear as any other written or spoken language.”

WISE WORDS TO THE

As the College says goodbye to an unprecedented 11 retiring faculty, we called on some of their brightest students to share their memories, tributes, and an extra box of tissues E D I T E D BY D I C K A N D E R S O N

22 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

Carrie Wade ’10: I only took one class with Irene Girton during my time at Oxy: an upper-level music theory course I was not especially looking forward to. Theory had never been my strong suit (still isn’t!) and the sequence of required courses for the major felt like more of a stress test than a learning opportunity. I arrived in Dr. Girton’s classroom prepared to grin and bear it (she was my academic adviser, so I had to at least pretend) while having a terrible time. Instead, I learned from a brilliant woman just how clever music theory could be, and how thinking critically would set me up for success long into the future. Dr. Girton’s high standards for me—and all of her students—ensured that I didn’t just come away from that class with better musicianship, but also gained the confidence to pursue an unconventional path within and beyond Oxy. In fact, what stands out to me now about Dr. Girton goes far beyond her abilities in the classroom (though I’ll never forget the day she stood in front of us and correctly called out the chord progressions, in real time, of every piece we threw at her through the loudspeakers). It’s her mentorship—and specifically, how she taught me to never settle. When I moved back to L.A. after leaving an unfulfilling job on the East Coast, Dr. Girton was one of the first people I wanted to see, precisely because I knew she would understand and applaud my decision to bet on myself. Through her example, I learned to expect more—and to pursue it with conviction. Her candor, intelligence, and wit make her incredibly fun to spend time with; she’s Bonus magazine content: For extended faculty Q&As, visit oxy.edu/retiring-faculty


who I want to sit next to at any dinner party. And while I’ll always be grateful to her as an educator, I treasure her as a friend even more. I count myself lucky to know and learn from her always. Wade is a member of the Inclusion Strategy team at Netflix. Reba Buhr ’10: During my time at Oxy, Dr. Girton was teaching classes, was the head of the music department, and was an associate dean of the College. To me, she seemed like Superwoman; a fierce example of strong, independent womanhood. As a vocal musician, I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to music theory class. I wanted to sing. I did not want to study chord inversions and dissect sonata form. Despite my reticence, I responded so well to Dr. Girton’s clear, no-nonsense approach to teaching and her disarming sense of humor. Because she expected her students to not only manage the concepts she was teaching but master them, we rose to the occasion. Even though she has an intuitive relationship with music that I will never be able to claim, she’s also a genuinely talented teacher, and I felt successful in her class. After that first course, I asked Dr. Girton to be my academic adviser. Great decision! During our adviser meetings, she assisted me in preparing for my junior and senior recitals, but I was even more appreciative of our conversations about life and growing up. I felt I could talk to her about anything because she treated me like the adult I was becoming rather than the teenager I had been … and over the years we developed a real friendship. I still call Irene my dear friend to this day (thanks in part to the fact that we lived just a few blocks from each other my first 10 years after school)! I’m wishing her a rich retirement full of travel, fabulous cocktail parties, and unlimited sass. Let the fun begin! Buhr began her career in musical theater before moving to voiceover work in film and TV. Sherwin Zhang ’21: I had no music theory background when I entered Oxy. I was an experienced clarinetist but a musical late bloomer. When I started the music theory track from the beginning course, then named Materials of Music, Professor Girton’s rigorous expectations yet understandable nature were exactly what I needed to catch up to my self-image of my own musical ability. What

struck me was that even though she had been teaching for almost an eternity, she was still learning to adapt to new technology and changing her lesson plans to be in sync with modern culture. As students, it is clear to us that she values our learning of musical concepts over just academic ability. Sometimes as part of our assignments, she asked us to find video links of a helpful explanation or visualization of musical concepts and explain how they helped you understand it. I also recall how she shared a relevant musical meme on our class page before each lecture. She clearly has the soul of a young person, just like us. She was strict and honest with her expectations of us, but she clearly remembers what it was like to be a college student. When I was going through emotional turmoil and heartbreak as a sophomore, I was tempted to shut down academically. During that time, I found it extremely difficult to go to classes and perform normal daily functions. But when I summoned the courage to be real with her about my struggles, I will never forget how she connected my naive struggles to music, especially of my favorite composer, Johannes Brahms. I had spent a semester researching his clarinet revival toward the end of his life with her in independent study, so she gave me Brahms: His Life and Work, a biography from her personal library, which I read. Her faith in me as a student greatly accelerated my recovery both academically and emotionally, and set me back onto a path I was happy with. She helped me see this as an opportunity for growth instead of failure. Zhang is a senior music and computer science double major from Cupertino.

Saul Traiger PROFESSOR OF COGNITIVE SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY

Years at Oxy: 36 PLANS FOR RETIREMENT: “In addition to carrying

out my research agenda in philosophy and cognitive science, I will continue as a volunteer ski patroller at Mount Waterman, a small ski area in the Angeles Crest National Forest, in operation since 1939, just an hour from campus. I also hope to spend more time underwater, as a scuba diver, and at the surface, as a road cyclist. At home, within earshot of Hillside Theater, I’ll spend more time practicing jazz guitar.”

John Eisenberg ’88: I walked into Saul’s classroom the first day of my sophomore

year. To that point, I had been a terrible student. I signed up for a philosophy course as part of starting over, reasoning that I stood a better chance of academic success if my courses actually interested me. But I had also won the academic lottery, as Saul would turn out to be one of the two best and most important teachers I have ever had. (The other won the Fields Medal, often described as the Nobel Prize in mathematics.) Philosophy fascinated me, especially as taught by Saul. I began to work hard, not willing to waste a class by not being prepared or to risk potentially letting Saul down. I eagerly spent enormous amounts of time thinking through the issues we discussed and reducing my thoughts to writing for various assignments. I imagine that Saul spent similar amounts of time preparing for class, as his lectures wove in elements of prior classroom discussions and his feedback on writing assignments was both detailed and incredibly instructive. I often worked through the night and then intercepted Saul as he arrived at his office in the morning. He patiently listened to the fruits of my labors and warmly but incisively analyzed my work. I’d repeat the process that night, improving my thoughts each time. Saul was (nearly literally) always available and always discussed philosophy with the perfect mix of encouragement and searching review. I took as many courses from Saul as I was allowed. My mind had fully awakened, my GPA just about doubled (again, nearly literally), and I never looked back. If I hadn’t run into Saul, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I do know that he was a large part of what turned things SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 23


Photos (pages 24, 27, 29, 33) courtesy Occidental College Special Collections

seminar on my Ph.D. research. He is someone with a huge variety of interests who challenges students to synthesize their knowledge and go further. When I think of Oxy, I see Dr. Traiger striding across campus, the platonic ideal of a professor in his element. Benway designs software for Silicon Valley startups.

around for me. I’m happy for Saul, who will be able to do so many things he long neglected to the benefit of his students. Saul and his family deserve it. But I am sad for any future me who walks into a classroom and doesn’t find Saul at the podium. Eisenberg studied philosophy under Traiger for two years. Jan Benway ’94: I didn’t meet Saul Traiger until my junior year, but he had a huge impact on my life. On a sophomore whim, I took Philosophy of Psychology: Minds and Machines, a class Dr. Traiger had developed, and I found my calling in cognitive science. As head of the cognitive science program, Dr. Traiger became my adviser when he returned from a sabbatical in Japan. His curriculum helped me develop a fascination with how people interact with computers, and how the design of computer software influences how people are able to use it. We worked together over the following summer to develop a “gopher” site—a way to look up information over the internet just before the World Wide Web came into being. Dr. Traiger was a beta tester for Mosaic, a new piece of software that let you interact with the internet as multimedia. That was my introduction to the web, in 1993. It was a relaxing and productive summer—we developed the new gopher site, wrote up help documentation that was published in a paperbased newsletter, and gave a presentation at an academic conference to publicize it. Dr. Traiger taught the senior seminar in cognitive science and helped us all think about our beliefs about the world, and whether we believed the logical consequences of our beliefs. He helped me figure out what I wanted to study in graduate school and challenged me to look for more and better opportunities. He helped me keep in touch with the Occidental community after I graduated and invited me back to give a 24 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

Daisy Zhang ’16: Professor Traiger was my faculty adviser upon matriculation. Born and raised in Beijing, I was excited but also anxious about my new life in Los Angeles. During our first meeting, hearing that I was worried that my limited English would get in the way of exploring my interests in philosophy, Professor Traiger encouraged me to take his Historical Introduction to Philosophy class. I was skeptical but registered in the course; reading Descartes’ Meditations, I was hooked from the first week. From there, Professor Traiger went out of his way to support my learning. He would go over my papers with me word by word and answer all my questions not only after lectures and during office hours but also over IMs at odd hours of the day. By the end of my sophomore year, I had taken four philosophy courses; eventually, I graduated with a double major in physics and philosophy. Academics aside, Professor Traiger also made sure to connect with international students beyond academics: We were invited to his house to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family; after class and during office hours, we talked about philosophy but also everything else. It is a bit difficult to describe the impact of this aspect of our interactions, so I will just say that I learned about piggy banks and Craigslist and used a whipped cream dispenser for the first time because of Professor Traiger and his family. Now that I feel most at home in Vancouver instead of my hometown, Beijing, reflecting on my time at Oxy and in North America, there is no doubt that Professor Traiger’s encouragement, nudges, and kindness set the tone for my adult life. “Be a philosopher, but amidst your philosophy, be still a mensch.” This quote has been on Professor Traiger’s website for as long as I can remember. It also captures how I see him—as a philosopher and an educator, but most important, a mensch. Zhang is a computer science student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Eric Frank PROFESSOR OF ART AND ART HISTORY

Years at Oxy: 35 MOST MEMORABLE STUDENT TRIP: “I taught my

course Michelangelo: Art and Biography four times after I left the office of the Dean of the College in 2010. This included an almost three-week study trip to Italy in January. These were wonderful learning and living experiences for everybody. Turns out that you can study almost 80 percent of everything Michelangelo made or designed if you go to Florence, Siena, and Rome. Which we did. And the private visit to the Sistine Chapel was an unforgettable experience for all.”

Liz Carroll ’90: I set foot on the Oxy campus as a music major. I was devoted to the study of voice and performances with the Glee Club yet there were times when I wasn’t entirely sure of my direction as a student. When I enrolled in Professor Eric Frank’s Fifteenth-Century Italian Art, the cloud of doubt vanished. My uncertainty was overcome with a love for the visual arts. My life was forever changed. I still remember the distinct sound of the classroom door shutting followed by a rush of air from the porticoed walkway at Weingart. Class was imminent as Professor Frank entered the darkened room with notes and stacked slide carousels, ready to click them into the projectors. Long before the digital age, he re-created the in situ visual experience, revealing a deep knowledge of Italy having lived, taught and researched in Florence. His mesmerizing lexicon and apt


descriptions would vivify Donatello’s rilievo schiacciato of St. George, or illuminate the momentousness of Masaccio’s Trinity fresco for his epoch-making one-point perspective. Beyond the formal aspects of art, Professor Frank’s methodology also took into account the socioeconomic conditions of art production to provide a more holistic view of material culture. Those lectures influenced how I believe art history should be experienced and, in my mind, still inspire me as an academic today. I know that I have company in saying Professor Frank inspired future curators and academics with his methodology, mentoring, and authenticity as a human being. After I graduated, he continued as a mentor, supporting me with letters of recommendation that led to my acceptance to the Ph.D. program at Indiana University Bloomington. After living and working in Italy for many years, I returned to the United States to teach art history, and on occasion delighted at the opportunity to meet up with my mentor at conferences. I am indebted to Eric Frank for having captivated my interest in art history, but even more so for instilling the value of the on-site learning experience. Carroll teaches art history at San Jose State University and directs a Faculty-Led Program in Venice, Italy. Bennett Harrison ’19: After reading Dante for a literature class in the first semester of my sophomore year, I emailed Eric Frank and asked if I could enroll in his Early Italian Renaissance Art course. I had never taken an art history class before, but he welcomed me. It was only a few weeks into the semester that Eric had us write a paper about the frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Saint Francis in the Upper Church of San Francesco in Assisi. The prompt was to make an attribution, a decision based on visual evidence: Were the Assisi frescoes painted by Giotto, or not? Even to a college sophomore who knew very little about art history, Eric Frank made the most monumental of art historical mysteries approachable—he allowed his students to be art historians. Since I was thinking like an art historian before I really knew what one was, it seemed natural to seize the opportunity to enroll in Eric’s Michelangelo seminar the next semester and travel with him to Italy in January. It only took about 48 hours in Florence for me

to realize that I was in love with the city, a love that despite much heartache has remained at the center of my life ever since. While we were in Florence, there happened to be a particularly good exhibition of 16th-century art at the Palazzo Strozzi. The exhibition brought together a number of art works that likely will never be in the same room again. Some months later, I was in Eric’s office reflecting on the show, and he remarked, wistfully, “We were just in the right place at the right time.” Becoming Eric’s student in the final years of his long career at Oxy was another “in the right place at the right time” kind of thing, though of an even rarer kind, I suspect, than a painting from Volterra hanging in the same room as a painting from Besançon. I recently reread an old article about sculpted pedestals in Florence, and I noticed for the first time, in a footnote, that the author thanks Eric Frank for typing the manuscript and praises his prontezza, a word that in Italian means both “quickness” and something more like “readiness” or “willingness.” Nearly 40 years later, this remains the quality for which Eric deserves praise. It is only by a prontezza like Eric’s that one can fit centuries of thought, history, and art into the hours of a lecture or sweet questionings of the minutes in between. Harrison is a Florence Fellow and master’s candidate in the Syracuse University Florence Graduate Program in Italian Renaissance art.

Nalsey Tinberg PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS

Years at Oxy: 41 FAVORITE COURSE: “I enjoyed teaching courses in my specialty (abstract algebra), so Math 320 comes to mind, but I truly enjoyed teaching math majors and non-math majors Linear Algebra. Math 214 is a beautiful self-contained course on matrices and vector spaces—just enough applications to keep the students interested, all while they are exposed to and can appreciate the beauty of the pure mathematics they are learning.”

Steve Millman ’84: Nalsey Tinberg and I both started at Oxy in the fall of 1980. I met her briefly that first semester when she stepped in to cover my calculus class while Joan Moschovakis was away. It wasn’t until my sophomore year, when I took her secondyear calculus class, that I got to know Nalsey well. As a physics major with a math minor, and then an EE student in grad school, I took

a lot of math classes with many excellent professors. Nalsey’s class was special—she managed to engage her students and make mathematics fun. I’ll never forget the discussion we had the last day of class: Would all conversation in the future be in some computer language? (Some smart aleck leaned over and asked another student if they wanted to come over later and do some for loops!) Outside the classroom, Nalsey showed that mathematicians weren’t all geek all the time. She kept juggling pins in her office— and she even let me borrow them! I practiced quite a bit and got to the point where I could successfully juggle one at a time. (OK, maybe that’s not really juggling, but it’s the journey, not the destination.) Due to the strict schedule required of physics majors, I was unable to take any more courses from Nalsey. But she remained my unofficial adviser my last two years; whenever things got tough, she was always there to get me centered. We’ve kept in touch over the years and have managed to visit a few times when I’ve gotten back to Los Angeles. After 30 years as an engineer, I decided on a career change and unexpectedly landed a gig as a professor of practice at Arizona State University. In this role, I try to emulate Nalsey. I ask my students to call me by my first name, just as Nalsey asked us to do. It was an important lesson I learned from her— having students call you by your name, rather than Dr., breaks down the barrier between SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 25


being surprised that an adult trusted “kids” to explore such topics together, surprised to find that our perspectives and experiences actually mattered. That sense of valuing the agency and intelligence of young people is a central part of my teaching today, as are some of the questions Professor Ellis helped us explore in those discussions of literature and film, especially questions related to the relationships among social justice, power, language, and art. And even after 15 years, his egalitarian pedagogy and his absolutely contagious enthusiasm for whatever we were reading or watching or discussing have stayed with me, helping me listen more deeply to the ideas and feelings all around me and within me. I’m very grateful to Professor Ellis for the creativity, passion, and love he helped me—and undoubtedly many other students—tune into, and I wish him a retirement full of the same kind of energy and engagement he shared with us. Corella is an assistant professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia.

student and professor. It’s a way to show the students that we are here for them, not the other way around, and makes for a better learning experience. Students come to understand that professors aren’t tyrannical dictators but are people, too. And Nalsey is definitely good people. Millman holds more than two dozen engineering patents and has taught at ASU since January 2019. Emily Heath ’15: When I met Nalsey during my first year at Oxy, I never imagined that I would be finishing a Ph.D. in mathematics this spring. I had entered college uncertain about my interests and contemplating majors in chemistry or history or Spanish; essentially, most subjects other than math. I decided to take Nalsey’s Discrete Math course to learn more about math beyond calculus, and what I found was intimidating. Learning how to explain your reasoning clearly is hard, especially when the ideas you are trying to explain feel so natural! Thankfully, I persevered, motivated by Nalsey’s clear lectures and encouraging office hours, which slowly chipped away at my confusion and insecurities. Her articulate and enthusiastic lessons inspired me to take every possible class with her over the next three years. For three semesters in a row, Nalsey introduced me to new and increasingly exciting areas of math and helped me to imagine that I might become a mathematician. Nalsey has been an invaluable mentor and role model whose advice I have held onto throughout the many challenges of graduate school. Along the way, I have returned to Oxy to visit the place where my mathematical journey started, leaving each time with a renewed resolve built on the reassuring advice I received from Nalsey. I have often repeated this advice to friends in my program dealing with slow research progress or lack of motivation: “You don’t need to be the best; you just need to finish.” As I recently wrote in the acknowledgments of my dissertation, having finally finished as she has always said I would: Thank you for 10 years of advice, encouragement, and faith in me that has always pushed me to have more faith in myself. Your words of wisdom have comforted me when my confidence faltered, and I am truly grateful. Heath is a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 26 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

Robert Ellis

NORMAN BRIDGE DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF SPANISH & SPANISH AND FRENCH STUDIES

Years at Oxy: 37 PLANS FOR RETIREMENT: “I want to continue with

my scholarly work. I also want to continue to study Italian (my third language after Spanish and French) and perhaps one of the other languages I studied earlier in my career, which included Latin, Portuguese, German, and Japanese. I also hope to spend extended periods of time in countries where the languages I have studied and taught are spoken (primarily, Spain, France, and Italy).” LIFE DURING THE PANDEMIC: “Throughout the pandemic I have been on an extended sabbatical. I had hoped to spend part of that time in Spain. Although I was disappointed not to do so, I had virtually no distractions, and I was able to finish the bulk of the work for my current book [Bibliophiles, Murderous Bookmen, and Mad Librarians: The Story of Books in Modern Spain].”

Meghan (Goldstein) Corella ’07: Robert Ellis’ classes were one of the very best parts of my time at Oxy because they made me feel like a better world was not just possible but already real and tangible. His classroom was the first one (and remains one of the few) where I learned that not only could gender and sexuality be overtly talked about in an academic setting but that doing so was fun, meaningful, and even transformative--and therefore necessary. When I first participated in those discussions, I remember

Chloe Wheeler ’19: In my first year, I tumbled into Oxy’s Spanish 101—out of the Oxy foreign-language requirement—and by my senior year, I’d become firmly fixed in a love for the literature and scholarship in Hispanic studies and comparative literature thanks in large part to a wonderful scholar, mentor, friend: Robert Ellis. I first took a class with Professor Ellis my junior year—Spanish 304 (Introduction to Modern Spanish Literature and Civilization). I was still trying to wrap my head around subjunctives and the idea of reading whole novels in the language I’d been working on for only four semesters. Those worries dissipated immediately as, for a few hours each week, I found myself in an idyllic seminar. His classes gave students the space to try out ideas and their growing grasp (at all levels) of the language and literature at the same time that his lectures modeled how to write and think critically about these authors and their contexts. Whether it was mapping the confusing timeline of the Spanish Civil War onto a clear sense of its repercussions in cinema, introducing us to theorists like Laura Mulvey as applied to El beso de la mujer araña, or helping us understand the metaphorical textures of Emilia Pardo Bazán's short stories, Professor Ellis encouraged us all to be


critical, curious thinkers of the words and world around us. But his extraordinary classes were only one part of how Professor Ellis helped me become the person I am today. Kind, humble, and encouraging even as he challenged me to think more deeply and write more clearly, he helped shape me as a writer by giving of his time in office hours and an independent study. He believed in my capabilities as an academic—to read and respond to current scholarship in individual meetings every week; to do rigorous, graduate-level work in Spanish; to untangle the tricky undercurrents of myth and existentialism running through Miguel de Unamuno’s Niebla. I will always be grateful for Professor Ellis’ faith in me and his generosity in engaging with and honing my ideas. It was truly an honor to work under such a great mind and person at Oxy. Wheeler is an alumna of Fulbright Spain (2019-20) and an incoming comparative literature Ph.D. student at Princeton University.

Gary Martin PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY

Years at Oxy: 41 EVOLUTION OF THE VW LECTURE: “Halfway

through the intro Zoology class, the students needed a break—yet I wanted to introduce evolution in a descriptive manner. With the Volkswagen lecture, I tried to present how there were years where there was barely any change in models; then changes that became selected for reasons such as enlarging the rear window for a safer lane change; then diversification into the Karmen Ghia, transporter, camper, dune buggy, etc. The lecture was fun and let me introduce concepts such as convergent evolution, the value of the fossil record (junkyards), which models are ‘better,’ and competition. There were two glaring problems. First, car design is a human decision where careers are made on predicting what the public will buy—not a random scrambling of genes. Second, I loved the old VWs, and when the company got sophisticated with the Jetta, Tiguan, Passat, etc., I lost interest. Thankfully, the students knew about the old models.”

Julia (White) Willsie ’91: I fell in love with both Gary’s teaching style and marine invertebrates in the freshman biology sequence all majors had to take. His board drawings were beautiful and multicolored, and his arm gestures and gesticulations were dramatic and effective. I can recall his lecture on the mechanics of mucociliary locomotion in nudi-

branchs vividly, and this is why: He asked us to imagine a belly dancer coated with Vaseline set horizontally on a table top. The waves of contraction flowing through the foot muscles (augmented by undulating cilia) provided the locomotive force and the Vaseline (mucous) reduced the friction such that the sea slug could glide across the substrate. I have forgotten many things over the years, but not that! One of the highlights of his smaller upperdivision classes was the end-of-term dinner he held for the students in his home. He and his wife, Noni, incorporated as many of our study organisms into the menu as possible, and I still remember eating things that until then I had only seen served in restaurants— scallops, oysters, crab, shrimp, mussels, and even some lobster! His generosity extended beyond simply hosting dinners for his students—I was stuck for a week with no housing between the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer Oceanology program, and he and Noni offered me their spare room until the dorms reopened. My greatest thank you to Gary, however, is for giving me my first teaching jobs as a TA for his classes, as an instructor on the Vantuna, and as head resident for the summer Oceanology program. My time working with him at Oxy made it clear to me that teaching was my path. His letters of recommendation helped me get into a master’s and then a Ph.D. program, his advice over email and lunches when I was in Los Angeles helped me navigate job searches and work-life balance, and the patience and respect with which he treated students is something I still try to put into practice every day. Willsie is a professor of biological sciences and oceanography program coordinator at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. Kasey Rose ’13: With Dr. Martin’s reputation for being extremely demanding, I approached the first day of Zoology 101 with caution. In my youthful, stubborn mind, my performance in this class would determine my future as a biology major. Yet, instead of overwhelming me, Gary’s energy and passion for the material—as illustrated by his beautiful, intricate drawings of singlecelled dinoflagellates and of the multiple stages of developing embryos —captured my imagination. When Gary approached me at the end of the semester to join his lab, I immediately accepted.

The lab was a safe haven away from loud dorm rooms and the bustling nature of the volleyball court. The music of The Beatles and Bob Dylan filled the air as I sectioned and stained slides, mastered the finicky cryostat, and learned how to capture images using the scanning electron microscope. Gary encouraged me to think critically, to be curious, and to not be discouraged when my experiments failed. He was always around to offer a helping hand, patiently teaching me painstaking biological techniques. Gary’s support extended even outside the lab—he would show up to cheer me on at our home volleyball games. In typical Gary fashion, I learned of his retirement in an email whose subject line simply read “I’m done.” Nearing the completion of a doctoral journey whose first steps go back to Gary’s Zoology 101, I can’t imagine how anyone could fill the void left behind by his much-deserved, indefinite sabbatical. Should someone find themself in this position, remember this: If a student walks

through your door with a long list of questions, take a deep breath and dive in. They may seem lost at the time, but with your guidance (and a bit of superhuman Gary patience), you may end up changing the course of their life—the way Gary did for me. Rose is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in USC’s Neuroscience Graduate Program. Jacob Valk ’13: My most distinct memories of Gary Martin involve the spaces in which SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 27


he worked within the Bioscience Building. His research lab was awash in photos of previous generations of students, several wall-mounted crustaceans, and nods to his favorite means of transportation, the VW Bus. Upon joining, he quickly stated the two most important rules: 1) If you are cutting tissue sections, you must play music and 2) Call him Gary. With these in mind, I was privileged to conduct basic science research focusing on the beloved giant keyhole limpet to the entire discography of Dylan on repeat. That laboratory housed nearly every type of microscope. All were available to us with Gary’s guidance. Learning how to examine the microscopic world with Gary would ultimately set me on the path to my career as a pathologist. More importantly, the lab was a second home as our research group quickly became a family under Gary’s tutelage. At the end of each semester, Gary would invite his entire upper-level class and research group to come celebrate at his home near La Cañada Flintridge. Hosting us with his wife Noni, we would send off the semester with an evening of music, food, and good company. This breakdown of the traditional student-faculty relationship is what I cherish most from my liberal arts experience at Oxy. Both from his work over the last 40 years and his physical height, he has undoubtedly set the bar high for colleagues. Valk is a resident physician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City. Yeraldi Loera ’16: My Oxy journey began with Gary Martin’s famous zoology class. Nervous about my first collegiate course, I felt comforted by the sound of flip flops coming down the aisle. These were very large strides, and I soon saw a glimmer of silver hair racing past me. Gary reached the blackboard, prepared his yellow legal pad of notes, grabbed a piece of chalk, and got to drawing. His lectures were extremely creative and jam-packed with information. By the end of the semester, I filled two entire notebooks with notes, including a two-page explanation 28 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

of childbirth from an unforgettable lecture by Gary’s equally enthusiastic wife. Gary’s class taught me both fundamentals and interesting details that were integral to my understanding of biology. I learned more than I knew I could in the realm of one class and I felt there was much more for me to learn from him. I joined his lab the next semester. Despite being new to research, I felt at ease in knowing I could ask Gary the often obvious questions I had without hesitation. Gary took the time to sit, in his wonderfully comfortable chairs, and educate me on what we were doing and why before demonstrating the research methods. Most importantly, he encouraged curiosity and allowed me to follow my research interests. Gary had a wonderful environment of students of all ages in his lab, teaching and learning from one another. Sea life was always coming and going in the lab and music was constantly playing. I spent many hours listening to Bob Dylan on his pink iPod Mini until I found a dusty old Tina Turner CD. Tina was playing in the background when Gary told me: “Well, with this result you can be sure you got your name on the paper.” He introduced me to the world of research publishing, which is something I didn’t imagine was possible for me. However, what I remember best and think about most days are the hard times Gary helped get me through. During an unexpected medical leave of absence, I lost myself in fear of inadequacy and never returning. These feelings I had were embarrassing and scary, but I felt safe going into Gary’s office, sitting in those comfortable chairs, and talking them through with him. Gary supported and advocated for me every step of the way and helped me get back to where I was. From inviting us to his home and making peanut butter pies, to constantly writing letters of recommendation, his support has never faltered. His individuality, hair, flip flops, and laugh will be missed on campus, but he will always be remembered as an Oxy legend. To paraphrase Tina Turner, he is “Shrimply the best!” Loera is a Ph.D. student and teaching assistant at UCLA.

Jaclyn Rodríguez ’74 PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY AND LATINO/A STUDIES

Years at Oxy: 37 INTERACTIVE PSYCHOLOGY: “I believe I became both a better educator and truer to my educational goals when I became a more interactive instructor. Introducing the Intergroup Dialogue Program and developing the Chicanx Identities & Social Institutions/Latinx Dialogue course really decentered my role as an instructor and helped students embrace diversity, work across differences, and engage conflict in more informed and nuanced ways—in ways that really helped prepare them to name their truth, take democratic risks, and recognize cultural humility. Even Social Psychology became more interactive, reflective, and group-focused. This mode of teaching gave more meaning to education at a residential college —students were actually listening to one another, working together to problem-solve, sharing how their own narratives aligned with or challenged what they were reading.” A COLLECTIVE VISION: With Rodríguez’s input, we arranged three Zoom calls with 15 former students from her Dialogue, Latinx, and Psychology classes. (Their recollections are edited for space.) “I’m forever grateful to my Oxy students,” she says.

Terence Kitada ’08: When I was applying to colleges, one of the things that drew me to Oxy was that almost half of the students at that time were students of color. And that was something that appealed to me, but I also wondered what kind of safety I would have as a student of color at a university. Professor Rodríguez was literally the first professor I met on campus and so welcoming, and I remember feeling, “This is a place where I can be OK.” Professor Rodríguez provided that feeling for many students of color. She was an advocate for us. Lilia Jiménez ’18: I met Professor Rodriguez in MSI [Multicultural Summer Institute]. So, before even starting at Oxy, she became a mentor to me, and I remember being really taken aback by her way of being. I feel like she’s such a powerful presence in any room. But she also is so incredibly kind and compassionate, and she has a way of speaking with people where she’s really welcoming and warm. Never having had a teacher or mentor who was a woman of color, but specifically never having had one who was of my same background, was just mind-blowing to me. It was just amazing for me to witness all of her power and just her presence. Gladdys Uribe ’02: Professor Rodriguez was always either the formal or informal adviser to MeCHA/ALAS. When I first saw her,


she was like a vision, and I remember seeing her and thinking that she was someone that I could aspire to being. Here was this glamorous Chicana who walked around wearing black clothes and cool jewelry—very confident. And it was incredibly empowering because I had never had a Brown teacher, I had never had a Latina professor. We all fought to get in her class. Javier Silva ’17: I majored in Spanish studies with a minor in cognitive science. I met Professor Rodríguez my very last semester of Oxy. It was a Latinx Dialogue course. To my understanding, it’s the only time she ever taught that specific course where it was, like, 18 Latinos who were all in there and being brutally honest about whatever issue we were talking about. Each week there was a different topic. One would be gender, one would be skin color, one would be immigration status. And everybody gave it their all in that course, because she provided us an atmosphere to give her all. On the first day of class, three people cried. [Laughs.] Teresa Mojarro ’15: Going to her classes, it felt like a safe space to talk—to be vulnerable—like there was no such thing as a stupid question. Everything that was brought up in class was validated and contextualized. At a time when I was struggling a lot for the first time in my life, it was a place where I could just be me and that was enough. I didn’t need to say anything impressive. Liliana Vasquez ’20: There was a time during my junior year where I was struggling. We were working on a research project together, and she made me feel like I was competent that entire semester—even though she didn’t know what was going on. But when I stepped into her office, I felt like I could let my guard down. She helped get me through that tough time and realize that my academic self was enough, that I personally was enough. Megan (Mewhinney) Smale ’00: She was always ready to frame a discussion or a lesson by exposing parts of her own personal life and history, which was very effective in terms of teaching but also in terms of being attracted to her as a teacher and professor. I found Jacki to be a fascinating lecturer. I was hanging on to every word that she said. Andrea Cova ’08: My first job on campus was working in the Psychology Depart-

ment. I was the student assistant at the front desk and most professors would just walk by me or assign me simple tasks, but I will never forget that Professor Rodríguez was always the one who asked me how my day was, who asked me about my background and what brought me to Oxy, and genuinely wanted to know how I was doing as a first-year student. Before Occidental, I never had a meaningful dialogue about culture and race or how my identity aligned with social psychology, until I stepped into her class. Jacki helped bring out the Latino voice on campus, and she was a link for all of us to feel strong with conviction in owning that voice.

Marina Rosenthal ’12: When I took Jacki’s Social Psychology class, we had a reading by a woman of color that the majority of the class clearly hadn’t done. And Jacki told us, “You’ve disrespected me. You’ve disrespected the author. I’m not teaching you.” And she ended class five minutes after it started. It’s so out of the typical professor’s repertoire but it was really impactful. That speaks to her teaching style in that she was striving to make her class really immersive and not just an intellectual exercise. Qiu Fogarty ’14: More than other professors, she expected more from us. She held us to high standards. I remember coming in as a first-year having a conversation about wanting to go to an event related to race. And she asked me if my friends were going and I said, “I don’t know. I’m not sure if they’d be interested.” And she said, “Well, then why

are they your friends?” No one else would challenge me in that way. Ricah Rejano ’14: When I was facilitating a White Women/Women of Color Psych 110 Dialogue section, we would meet with Dr. Rodríguez every week to plan that week’s activities. One thing that really sticks with me is the way she taught us LARA: Listen, Affirm, Respond, Ask Questions/Add Information. It’s a really great skill that I’m still using. Ms.Queenie Johnson ’04: What we’re seeing in our nation is that people don’t know how to have conversations. They don’t know how to dialogue across identity. The Interdisciplinary Dialogue Program was doing that, and it speaks to Dr. Jacki’s pioneering spirit and her ability to see the value of dialogue in a space like Oxy. And all of us are saying that it helps us in our work. I was on campus nearly 20 years ago. That’s a long time to have that type of impact from an undergrad class. Ariel Kirkland ’04: The journey to becoming a full professor is long and arduous. I don’t think people have a full appreciation of what it takes to accomplish what Dr. Jacki has. Black and Brown faculty often feel a cultural responsibility to care for students of color which adds a tax on top of their professorial duties, making her work even more impressive. She not only showed up as a teacher and academic guide but as a maternal figure. Anne Shrum ’20: There are many things that I loved about Occidental, but the things I learned from Professor Rodríguez have profoundly shaped who I am as a person and will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am a more compassionate, loving, thoughtful, and strong individual because of Professor Rodríguez; she is among the best this world has to offer. Alex Josephs ’11: J.Rod—as I called her affectionately—was always very hard on me because she wanted me to realize my full potential. I told her before that I hold her in the same high esteem as my own mother—the highest compliment that I can give anyone. When I graduated from Oxy, my mother got to meet Professor Rodríguez, which was one of the day’s most special moments. Here were two strong Latinas who—through their hard work, determination, and grit—professionally and personally kicked ass in a world where society had low expectations for them. I am forever grateful for the four years I spent with J.Rod. I wish her nothing but the best in this next chapter in her life. SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 29


Motoko Ezaki NTT PROFESSOR, COMPARATIVE STUDIES IN LITERATURE AND CULTURE

Years at Oxy: 32 MY OXY EXPERIENCE: “I began teaching at Oxy in

the year I moved to the United States, and would go home to Japan during most summer and winter vacations. A large part of my American experience has been defined through my Oxy experience: intellectual stimulation, great camaraderie with students and colleagues, and the beautiful campus. I feel fortunate.”

Kevin Furlanetto ’13: I set foot on the Oxy campus for the first time on a sunny April day in 2009 as part of the Multicultural Visit Program. The warmth and excitement that Motoko Ezaki exuded as she dissected the Japanese literary classic The Tale of Genji was as impressive to me as the response from her students—every one of whom seemed entranced by the depth of her knowledge and the clarity of her explanations. I was sold on Oxy for one reason only: I wanted to feel what they felt. Professor Ezaki had a gift for making even the most convoluted subject matter palatable to students—whether it was the deep inner conflict of a tortured character or the idiosyncratic use of a Japanese grammatical form. She was a linguist, through and 30 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

through, but with the analytical acumen of a scientist and, at times, the timing and delivery of a favorite comedian. She united classes of students with wholly disparate backgrounds, experiences, and ability levels. She stood tall as an accomplished academic, but as a mentor she stood beside you, ready to answer any call for “Ezaki-sensei” with her most honest advice. I was part of the inaugural cohort of Japanese studies majors, three-quarters of whom started their careers off in Japan immediately after graduation. I fulfilled my dream of living, teaching, and translating in Japan knowing that the reason I could do so was because Professor Ezaki had enabled and empowered me. The providence in her teaching may not have been apparent to me during my junior year as I struggled reading and translating advertisements and news articles, but it came to a grand fruition years later when I found myself tasked with the same challenge as a professional translator. Professor Ezaki’s legacy will live on in all those who have learned from her. I am proud to call her my sensei and to count her as my mentor and friend. I know she will continue to leave a mark in the world, and I’m eager to catch up with her to hear how. Furlanetto is a graduate student in speechlanguage pathology at Cal State LA. Alicia McCarthy ’02: As a liberal arts chemistry major, I was excited to enroll in a beginner’s foreign-language class. I envisioned a brief introduction to Japanese, both beginning and ending in the classroom, and including obligatory lessons like counting to 10 and how to say, “Where is the bathroom?” I pictured a temporary change of pace from my science focus. Elementary Japanese 1 with Dr. Motoko Ezaki completely changed my vision and captured my imagination. Lectures extended beyond the classroom setting, including real-time quizzes in Little Tokyo over crunchy tonkatsu and bowls of steaming ramen. And discussions extended beyond Japanese language itself to topics such as integrating language and cultural awareness into daily life, and how to harness a continual love for learning. Ezaki-sensei’s method of gentle high expectations, combined with ebullient energy, inspired her students to fly. Ezaki-sensei became not only my professor but also my mentor. After my first semester of Japanese language, I knew

I had to stay on this pathway of learning. With Ezaki-sensei’s encouragement, I studied abroad in Tokyo during my junior year. I returned and dove into Ezaki-sensei’s Japanese literature courses. For me, Japanese study became a powerful addition to my chemistry focus. Having a deeper cultural understanding provided richer meaning in studying the physical world. Ezaki-sensei opened my eyes to this connection, and I have since carried this vision forward into my medical career. Thank you, Ezaki-sensei, for your unwavering support. Your teaching and mentorship have forever enriched my life. McCarthy is a perinatologist with the Permanente Medical Group. Preston Harry ’17: Professor Ezaki’s classroom was more than just another language textbook where students practice some basic greeting and pretend to buy a drink from a convenience store. Well—we did that too— but she built on that. Class extended past the convenience store to literature, to movies, to current events. We had the opportunity to see natural Japanese in so many contexts. I also spent a lot of time in her office hours just trying to have normal conversation in Japanese (with emphasis on “try”). Not every professor goes to such deliberate effort, but Professor Ezaki was kind enough to spend so much time helping me and many other students. She taught me that it was not only OK to make mistakes but necessary, a lesson that served me well in learning Japanese, when teaching my own students, and just within all walks of life. After graduating, I lived in Japan teaching English. Professor Ezaki’s teaching prepared me for not just getting by in Japan but actually going far beyond any of my expectations. I would not have been nearly as successful if it weren’t for her guidance, care, and patience. When it came to traversing Japan and all the crazy unexpected situations it had to offer, they were just a bit less crazy and a bit less unexpected thanks to her creative lessons and the time we spent talking away. Professor Ezaki genuinely cared about her students and their success. Japanese at the College will not be the same without her immeasurable support, and I feel fortunate that my path through Oxy had her in it. Harry is a graduate student at New York University.


Scott Bogue PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY

Years at Oxy: 35 SHOUTOUTS FROM SCOTT: “To my geology and

physics colleagues, to the many faculty I served with on Advisory Council, to the broader group of Oxy folks that I interacted with as associate dean, and (last but not least) to the ragtag band of faculty and friends who were along for our magical run to the 2017 Oxy Summer Softball championship!”

Jeff Amato ’90: In the fall of my sophomore year, I was living in the first co-ed Norris suite: third floor Orange (we had an environmental theme—which we pursued through diligent recycling of beer cans). I had several roommates who had already taken the introductory geology class, and they spoke highly of the instructors and of the all-day field trip around Los Angeles. So, I signed up for the course, as an English major, to take care of my lab science requirement. The class was interesting from the start: Plate tectonics! Volcanoes! Earthquakes! A few weeks after the quarter started, on October 1, 1987, I was awoken suddenly and rudely by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake. It felt like the epicenter was beneath the Freeman Union, but instead it was in Whittier, about 25 miles away. I grew up in Walnut Creek in the Bay Area, and I had felt small earthquakes before, but never one as large as this. Scott devoted a fair amount of time in the next geology class discussing the fault systems of Southern California and the earthquake’s likely causes. I remember asking him if geologists got excited about earthquakes despite their destructive power. He replied something to the effect of, “We are happy with getting more data but, of course, we don’t like when people are injured or killed.” I did well in Scott’s class, which made me consider at first minoring in geology, then double-majoring, and then after having my mind blown in Jim Woodhead’s courses and Scott’s Plate Tectonics class, I dropped English to go full bore into geology. I never looked back. Scott had incredible enthusiasm and energy. I still remember him bounding up the steps of Fowler Hall, two at a time, without spilling a drop of his coffee. I learned that he and I shared an interest in the Grateful Dead, and I gave him a tape or two and even saw him at a Dead show at the Forum once (worlds

colliding!). He and his wife, Margi Rusmore, hosted a senior seminar at their faculty house on Campus Road that was remarkably similar to graduate classes I took after Oxy. I went on to receive my Ph.D. from Stanford and have enjoyed an incredibly rewarding career since—and I owe many thanks to Scott for starting me on the path of appreciating Earth science. Amato has been a professor of geology at New Mexico State University for 21 years. Daniel Minguez ’09: Cormac McCarthy once wrote, “No creature can learn that which

his heart has no shape to hold.” Well, I think Scott Bogue proved him wrong. Here I am, 10 years a professional geologist, and I don’t really like rocks—not for their own sake, anyway. But Scott’s unique mentorship helped me appreciate the bigger picture that emerges from studying those little pieces of Earth. Want to understand climate change in the context of geologic history? We will need to examine millimeter-scale layers of ice. To understand the planetary-scale movement of plates that forged our mountains, we must listen to distant tremors and study the ancient magnetization of rock samples that could fit in your hand. Why hasn’t our atmosphere been blown away by the solar winds? Aha! It’s that faint force that orients your compass whose origins we must understand. Scott showed us geology students, eager and reticent alike, the big picture of Earth science. And he demonstrated how diligence

and attention to detail could reveal a greater understanding of geology while having a positive impact on those around us. By the time I was ready to take ownership of the lessons Scott and other geology faculty had been teaching me, I was near the end of my career at Oxy as an English major. I had no regrets about that, but I did have a new direction. I wanted to keep learning about the Earth, particularly through geophysics. Scott mentored me for two years after graduation, bringing me onto a collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey that gave me a foothold in the geosciences. The experience taught me lessons in experimental design that I use to this day. And it taught me a lesson in generosity that I am still striving to live up to. Scott’s attention to his scientific work and his students has amounted to a big impact in both, and his students at Oxy have been so lucky to have him. Minguez is an exploration geologist at Chevron in Houston. Yiming Zhang ’19: SQUID is an acronym for Superconducting Quantum Interference Device—and I was surprised to find out that Occidental is the only college in the United States with its own 2G SQUID rock magnetometer. Only later into my senior-year research project did I realize that Scott Bogue ran one of the nation’s foremost laboratories for paleomagnetism research—and how lucky I was to conduct research under his mentorship. Four years ago, as a newly declared geology major, I had little knowledge in geology, not to mention about research. My academic adviser, Margi Rusmore, recommended me to her husband and colleague for a senioryear research project. Having entered into phased retirement, Scott was something of a mystery for me and many of my classmates, because few of us had taken a class with him. Using the past as the key to today and the future, Scott gave me some rocks that he had collected when he was in graduate school and guided me through a series of questions related to the history of Earth’s magnetic field: What would happen to us when the Earth’s magnetic field polarity switch directions today? During a polarity reversal, how exactly would the magnetic field behave? How would the intensity of the magnetic field change? SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

31


Scott’s guidance and mentorship inspired me to continue my research. He introduced me to the paleomagnetism community at an American Geophysical Union conference and recommended me to my current adviser. Today I am a second-year Ph.D. student, teaching an introductory geology class and mentoring undergraduates through their research projects. (Scott has given several lectures for my Structural Geology class.) I now realize that being a teacher and mentor involves devoting much time and effort to teaching, overcoming the challenges of explaining new concepts, and building up patience. When I graduated from Oxy, Scott gave me this haiku: An ancient time, when compass needles lost their way, finding north from south. What will Scott’s next direction be— biking, building and flying fighter kites, or perhaps something new? I can’t wait to see what’s next! Zhang is a Ph.D. student at the Earth and Planetary Science Department at UC Berkeley.

Felisa Guillén PROFESSOR OF SPANISH AND FRENCH STUDIES

Years at Oxy: 31 MOST MEMORABLE PROJECT: “In celebration of

Cervantes’ 400th death anniversary in April 2016, the Spanish seniors wrote their comps papers on Cervantes. We published those papers digitally and also created a special edition of 30 copies printed on a special paper under the curation of Jocelyn Pedersen imitating the style of books at Cervantes’ time. The book binding was done all by hand and all the pages were sewn. Illustrations were requested from students via a campuswide contest and the chosen ones were included in the book. Everything was bound together and tied with a red tape. That book symbolizes everything that I have loved about my time at Oxy: engaging students in creative projects, collaborating with people across campus, and feeling the joy of being part of a vibrant and supportive community.”

Tania Flores ’13: When I enrolled in Spanish Literature and Film of the Golden Age as a sophomore, I could not imagine the possibility that my intellectual life would come to take the transtemporal and interdisciplinary shape of that course. I found in Professor Guillén an academic role model whose interests in the intersection of literature, performance, and film and in the afterlives of artistic and historic events still reverberate 32 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

in my work today. She was to become a mentor who would fundamentally shift the course of my career and my life. Before all of that, however, there was a nondescript classroom in Johnson Hall, a syllabus grounded in 20th- and 21st-century artistic production, and the eternally sunny, high-energy, and good-natured whirlwind that is Professor Guillén. I was struck by her dedication to learning the names of her students as quickly as she could, and by her admission that she had been studying our names on our class Moodle site. I should have known then that I had stumbled into that ideal and yet rare learning environment in which the professor manages, by some extraordinary feat, to center every student’s intellectual trajectory, curiosities, and areas of growth. During the years that followed, Professor Guillén made clear her belief in the strength of my academic project, connecting me to other faculty, advising me in the process of securing a Fulbright research grant, and supporting me in applying to graduate school. In retrospect, I realize that Professor Guillén helped me imagine how I might clear a path through the tangled thicket of my intellectual interests, and that in many ways she saw that path more clearly than I did. As my own teaching career begins, I feel overwhelming gratitude to have experienced that kind of mentorship, and I am deeply indebted to her academic work, pedagogical approach, and classroom manner. Professor Guillén will be deeply missed at Oxy. I can only hope that her retirement brings quality time with loved ones, restorative trips home to Spain, and, of course, the pleasures of literature, film, and performance. Flores is a Ph.D. student, writer, and organizer in Oakland. Dana Weinstein ’16: “Todo hombre debe ser capaz de todas las ideas y entiendo que en el porvenir lo será”—“Every man [sic] should be capable of all ideas, and I believe in the future he shall be.” This is one of my favorite literary quotes from Jorge Luis Borges in his anachronistically mind-bending short story “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”—a piece I was introduced to in Professor Guillén’s sensational senior seminar on all things Don Quixote. In class, Professor Guillén opened our minds up to infinite possibility, explo-

ration, and ideation through literature and art—bringing a 17th-century novel to life through the sheer force of her passion, brilliance, and ability to distill complex literary analysis into energizing lectures. I had never been particularly fond of classics, yet Guillén’s dynamic teaching style made me devour the passages of Don Quixote with a savor that I usually reserved for late-night snacks at the Tiger Cooler. I fondly remember exploring the text through the lens of Derridean deconstructionism, which proposed the breakdown of traditional notions of authorship and meaning-making, while validating the idea that anyone could create art through the act of interpretation. The ways in which Guillén adeptly explained literary theory, always infused with her signature quick-witted humor, left such an impression on me that I continue to draw from these concepts years later. Her commitment to affirming the intellectual power in all her students—their ability to interpret and fundamentally create art and literature—felt empowering and liberating. She made me feel as if I was capable of all ideas, as Borges says, and inspired my intellectual curiosity, belief in the power of interpretation, and my willingness to question binary modes of thinking. I cherish these lessons and carry them in my everyday work studying the science and impact of pop culture narratives. On behalf of everyone who has had the privilege of taking one of her classes, I want to thank Professor Guillén for her enthusiasm, mentorship, and dedication—Oxy will surely miss you, but I know you will continue to inspire in whichever path you take next! Weinstein works at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which is dedicated to studying the impact of narratives in entertainment, popular culture, and mass media.


HER WRITING ROUTINE: “I write in the morning, from about 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. And I write every day, inspiration or not, because you have to be there at the keyboard if an idea comes, you want to be there to catch it. I generally get my ideas as I write, and as I reread the novel, I get more and more ideas about the novel.”

and reminds me of the work I’ve put into my own writing. We spoke last week, catching up by phone about what we’ve been reading, how we’ve been feeling. We plan to meet up at our favorite brunch spot after we both get vaccinated. We’ve already picked our next book: Peaces, by Helen Oyeyemi. Fader is a staff writer for The Ringer, writing long-form features on all sports. Her book, Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP, will be published in August by Hachette Books.

Mirin Fader ’13: Jean Wyatt was my English and comparative literary studies professor, but she was, and still is, so much more than that. I consider her to be one of my closest confidants and friends. She is my literary best friend. I worked for her as her research assistant during my time at Oxy, helping her research her Toni Morrison book, because we both share a love for Toni Morrison. That work continued after I graduated. But what I treasured most about our relationship was so much beyond the classroom. Professor Wyatt and I still read books together for fun. Before the pandemic, we’d meet up at our favorite cafe in Santa Monica for brunch and books. She is one of the most lovely, most intelligent, most hard-working people I know. And nobody loves literature more than she. Nobody appreciates the work of a writer more than she. I’ll never forget sitting in her class, Women Writers (by far the best class I ever took at Oxy) when we were discussing Virginia Woolf. When Wyatt was explaining to us Woolf ’s suicide, she started to tear up. She had to take a pause. I knew she loved Woolf ’s work, but I realized in that moment that Woolf ’s work meant so much more to her than I thought. That moment changed the way I saw literature, the way I looked at my education. Books are not just pieces of paper strewn together; they are deeply impactful to all of us who have the privilege of reading. The fact that Woolf moved Wyatt to tears made me feel so lucky to have her as a professor. As a role model, as someone who loved literature, who was as moved by the text as I was. Professor Wyatt continues to inspire me and motivate me. She tells me that I’m capable,

Cristina Escobar ’06: I met Dr. Jean Wyatt when I was an 18-year-old college kid. Her classes were always so rich, filled with passion for ideas, literature, and a truly intersectional approach to identity. I quickly decided I needed more—so Jean (as she instructed me to call her some 15 years ago after I graduated) became my adviser, the professor I took the most classes from, and my boss—as I worked for her as a research assistant (better than spending Friday nights as a cashier at the Cooler). I even did an independent study with her, driving out to the Palisades in my ’93 Miata to meet her at a cafe and discuss my senior thesis. Looking back on my time as her student, it’s clear she influenced my path in so many powerful ways. That senior thesis? I wrote on Soledad by Angie Cruz, a tale of domestic violence from the Latina perspective. I now serve as director of communications for the leading organization mobilizing Latinxs

Jean Wyatt PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH

Years at Oxy: 51

against gender-based violence. All those rich discussions on novels and their narratives? I now freelance as a TV and movie critic, using media to discuss issues ranging from immigration to miscarriage. That was the greatest formal lesson Jean taught me—that art is a window into our society, the way we debate our values, and the place where we make meaning out of this human experience. There were lots of informal lessons, too. I still remember her instructing me on email etiquette, when to respond and what was worthy of a quick note, something I take for granted now but had to be told back then! And of course, there was her example as someone living “the life of the mind,” as we both jokingly and earnestly called it. Formal education—the institution of it—may have connected us but it never contained us. After graduation, I roomed with one of her other favorite students, Forrest Havens ’06 (no rivalry between us, I swear!), and the three of us had a “book club.” I put it in quotes because we weren’t reading the latest best-selling novels. We were dissecting dense theory, putting the ideas together in Jean’s mostly empty and all-white office offcampus. I don’t know anyone else who read literary theory for fun but it was a joy for Forrest and me, getting to know Jean more, engaging with big ideas with her, and building our own little intellectual community. Forrest and I eventually left Los Angeles. I stopped my part-time research assistant gig. But I never lost track of Jean. We get together when we can—I got to see her when she came to San Francisco to accept the Toni Morrison Society Book Prize, and before the coronavirus, I’d get down to L.A. about once a year. She gets my (very exclusive) Christmas card and usually drops me a note after. I’m even thanked (along with Forrest!) in the acknowledgments of her most recent book, Love and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison’s Later Novels. I know Oxy will miss Jean’s scholarship, warmth, and curiosity. But after 51 years, she’s more than done her service. I wish her joy and fulfillment in this next phase and am sure the life of the mind will continue for Jean and so many of her former students. A writer and activist, Escobar is the cofounder of latinamedia.co, director of communications and marketing for Casa de Esperanza, and a member of the Latino Entertainment Journalist Association. SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 33


OXYTALK Photos by Marc Campos | 1999 photo by Don Milici

Cuseo stands outside Collins House, the first stop on campus for prospective students and their families each year. (The patio area was recently reopened for limited visits for admitted members of the Class of ’25.)

Charting a Different Path

Cuseo in 1999.

Vince Cuseo has been instrumental to the success of Oxy’s admission efforts for the last 22 years— and his commitment to Oxy’s mission can’t be measured by test scores

34 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

In 1999, Vince Cuseo was director of admission at Grinnell College, the highly ranked liberal arts college in Iowa—a job he loved. Yet when the associate dean position at Occidental opened up, he applied for the job, even though it represented a step down on the organizational chart. “I’ve never been one to be so wedded to a position title,” Cuseo explains, and Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid Bill Tingley, with whom he had worked previously at Stanford, “was someone I respected and admired.” Like so many others, Cuseo found the prospect of working in Los Angeles attractive. And there was one more contributing factor: “Frankly, as a single person who was getting older, the options were limited in smalltown Iowa.” Approximately 110,000 student applications later, Cuseo—now a married father of teenage twins—is credited with more than doubling Oxy’s applicant pool while


adhering firmly to the College’s mission. “Simply put, Vince’s contributions to the College have been enormous,” President Harry J. Elam, Jr. wrote in his February 1 announcement of Cuseo’s retirement at the end of June. Cuseo has been at the heart of Oxy’s admission success for the past 22 years, says Charlie Leizear, senior associate dean of admission since 2015. “There are countless Oxy students, staff, and faculty whose lives have been changed for the better by Vince. He also has had an incredible impact on hundreds of professional colleagues who work at other colleges, high schools, and community-based college organizations around the country.” Cuseo was hired by Tingley two years into the latter’s tenure as Oxy’s fifth head of admission in as many years—a period that saw applications to the College drop by almost one-third, in part due to the lingering impact of the 1992 Rodney King uprising and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Tingley and Cuseo were charged with reestablishing Oxy’s reputation with high school counselors and increasing the quantity and quality of the College’s application pool. Cuseo—named dean of admission in 2001 and vice president in 2010 after Tingley’s retirement—is proud of his role in growing the number of talented and diverse applicants while, with a few exceptions, meeting annual tuition revenue targets. Over the last 20 years, as total enrollment rose from roughly 1,800 to 2,000 students, the number of students of color climbed from 38 percent to 45.5 percent. Applications grew from 3,635 in 2001 to 6,939 last year (having reached a record-high 7,500 for the Class of 2023). Even so, Cuseo tends to shy away from numbers when discussing his work. “I’ve been lucky,” he says. “I have been able to represent a place aligned with my own values, which is so important when working in the world of admissions. If I didn’t feel that alignment, it would just be a job, not a labor of love—and it’s certainly been a labor of love.” Oxy’s mission cornerstones of excellence, equity, community, and service have always been at the heart of everything Cuseo does, says Sally Stone Richmond, who was Oxy’s dean of admission for eight years before becoming vice president for admissions and financial aid at Washington and Lee University in 2015. “When I interviewed with Vince, he felt very strongly that to be a great member of that team, you have to be very vested in the mission of the institution,” Richmond says. “All his decisions stem from that.” It was Cuseo’s confidence that the College would back him up that made it easy to say “no” when Rick Singer, the now-infamous admission consultant at the heart of the 2019 college admission scandal, asked him to reconsider Oxy’s rejection of one of his clients, the daughter of a wealthy family. That integrity landed Oxy on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. The scandal “highlighted the role of money in admissions and the often wide gulf between high ideals of meritocracy and

mercenary business practices,” the Journal reported. “Occidental has charted a different path.” Cuseo credits the commitment of the Oxy administration—he had served under six presidents—for making his job simple. “During my time at Oxy, I never had a president or a board member tell me, ‘Your job here is to increase test scores,’” he says. The different path Cuseo charted is based on a variety of factors, Richmond says—the “wonderful alchemy” of being mission-driven while keeping an eye on the long game; his ability to identify and then champion promising admission officers; his leadership by example, whether by continuing to make school visits or reading his share of applications as vice president; and his constant focus on how and to whom Oxy was being marketed. For Oxy’s spring yield “road shows,” a member of the College’s financial aid team accompanies each admission officer so that they can talk to families in detail about financial aid, Richmond says: “I don’t know of any other schools who do that.” Cuseo’s territory includes Iowa, Utah, San Francisco (home to his beloved Giants), and New York City. “Vince has never just been a representative or promoter of his institutions; he has embodied their very best ideals in human form,” says Ali Bhanji, director of college guidance at the Collegiate School in Manhattan. “His unassailable integrity formed his authentic vision, always searching for lasting, durable access and equity and never joining the bandwagon for an easy fix.” “I love interacting with people,” says Cuseo, whose annual class profiles (prepared for trustees and the campus community) are rich with details about hobbies and quirks of Oxy’s incoming first-years (from juggling to taxidermy). “I still love to interview students one-on-one and find out who they are, what makes them tick, and what they’re passionate about. You lose touch if you sit in your office and crunch numbers all day long.” While he’ll miss that personal interaction, he won’t miss the long work hours, including nights and weekends, that have kept him away from his family. While he claims his wife of 19 years, Sharon, is “a little nervous” that he doesn’t have any specific plans for retirement, one thing is clear: “I want to remain connected to Oxy no matter what.”—jim tranquada

Admitted students and their families “Experience Oxy” at an April 2019 event.

“I still love to interview students one-on-one and find out who they are, what makes them tick, and what they’re passionate about. You lose touch if you sit in your office and crunch numbers all day long.”

SPRING 2021  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 35


PAGE 64

Ming Cho Lee ’53 at his New York City home/studio in 2003. in the classroom, Sheffield says, “I appreciated Ming’s forthrightness—his ability to just cut to the chase and say, ‘Think about it this way.’ ” Photo by C. Taylor Crothers

My Mentor, Ming Cho Lee The Tony-winning set designer and legendary Yale professor, who died last fall, dedicated himself to theater and to teaching, Ann Sheffield ’83 recalls

Soon after she moved back to California, theater designer Ann Sheffield ’83 went to a play at the Mark Taper Forum at the invitation of a friend. “I didn’t know the play and I didn’t look it up,” she says—it was Enigma Variations, by playwright Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt— but when she walked into the theater, she practically gasped as she looked at the stage. “I wish I had done that,” she recalls. “The play hadn’t started—I hadn’t even gotten to my seat—and I was salivating about the space.” When she finally sat down, she opened the program and just laughed. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Ming’s. Of course.’ ” Sheffield was more than familiar with the work of Ming Cho Lee ’53, the Tony Awardwinning set designer (for K2 in 1983), 2002 National Medal of Arts Recipient, and 2013 Lifetime Achievement Tony honoree, who 64 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE  SPRING 2021

died Oct. 23, 2020, at his home in Manhattan. A studio art and theater double major at Oxy, she studied with Lee at the Yale School of Drama and is now a professor and scenic designer at UC Santa Barbara. Sheffield got involved in theater design at the encouragement of Tom Bloom, “who was singlehandedly holding down design in the department at the time,” she says. Soon after, then-Professor of Theater Arts Omar Paxson ’48 got Sheffield involved in Oxy’s Summer Theater program, and she felt “lucky” to have landed in a community of artists. Unbeknownst to Sheffield, Bloom entered her work into the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Her scenic design for Paxson’s play Laughing in the Sea Wind won the district competition in Flagstaff, Ariz., and took top honors at the national

level in Washington, D.C., where Lee was the adjudicator. Meeting Lee, she admits, “I did not realize the significance of his place in the history of American theater design.” He encouraged Sheffield to apply to his “little program in the East”—which she did, after a year of working in small L.A. theaters and doing props for some low-budget films. In addition to studying with Lee at Yale for three years, she worked as his assistant for two of those summers between school. “Ming was not very commercial theater oriented, but he was such a busy freelance artist,” she says, working in regional theater and the Metropolitan Opera. “He allowed me to be his assistant in his studio in New York, which is also his family apartment.” Ming’s wife, Betsy, became like a surrogate mom to Sheffield, especially when it came to lunchtime. The work day rarely started before 10, she says—“They had their breakfast and their whole thing—but you weren’t going to leave that building until after 7. Betsy made the most incredible lunch spreads, a combination of Jewish and Chinese food like you would not believe. I lived on that food those two summers because I couldn’t afford anything else.” Prior to branching out into teaching, first at the University of Oklahoma and later at Cal State Fullerton, Sheffield enjoyed a long association with Tony Walton, an Oscar-, Emmy-, and Tony Award-winning production designer. “I probably learned more about moving scenery and scene changes from Tony,” she says. “But Ming taught me more in terms of the aesthetics of a place and a sense of balance within asymmetry—the empty space versus the detailed space.” Last fall, with Lee’s health rapidly declining and his 90th birthday approaching, son Richard Lee ’81 reached out to Sheffield, asking her to record a short video greeting. “So I went off somewhere in nature and I just said, ‘I love you, Ming. I miss you, Ming. And I thank you for everything.’ Within a few weeks, he was gone. “I wish I could assess a student’s work as instinctively as he was able to do,” she says. “When I’m designing, it’s often an emotional response to the work and sometimes I don’t know where it comes from. That’s a really hard thing to teach, to tell a student, ‘It will come,’ you know? I’m humbled by being able to have been in Ming’s orbit for a little bit.” —dick anderson


OXYFARE 

Day For Oxy: Behind the Numbers Total giving: $1,554,980 Total gifts: 2,864

Volume 43, Number 2 oxy.edu/magazine

2

OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE

Harry J. Elam, Jr. President Wendy F. Sternberg Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Charlie Cardillo Vice President for Institutional Advancement Vince Cuseo Vice President of Enrollment and Dean of Admission Rob Flot Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Amos Himmelstein Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Marty Sharkey Vice President for Communications and Institutional Initiatives Jim Tranquada Director of Communications

5 3 8

6

1 7

1. California 1,626 2. Washington 144 3. New York 106 4. Massachusetts 94 5. Oregon 86 6. Colorado 61 7. Arizona 52 8. Illinois 51 9. District of Columbia 46 10. Texas 42

10

OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

Published quarterly by Occidental College Main number: 323-259-2500 To contact Occidental magazine By phone: 323-259-2679 By email: oxymag@oxy.edu By mail: Occidental College Office of Communications F-36 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles CA 90041-3314 Letters and class notes submissions may be edited for length, content, and style. Occidental College online Homepage: oxy.edu Facebook: facebook.com/occidental Twitter: @occidental Instagram: instagram.com/occidentalcollege

Sara Semal Senior Director, Student Wellness Special Adviser to the President on Health and Safety

Cover illustration by Sean McCabe Oxy Wear photo by Marc Campos

Women’s orange V-neck T-shirt Sizes S-XL. $19.95

Occidental College Bookstore oxybookstore.com To order by phone: 323-259-2951 All major credit cards accepted

See yourself on the cover? Give us a shoutout by email or on social media! #Oxy1990s

Giving by Class Top 25 Classes By Total Dollars

Top 25 Classes By Total Donors

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

1. 2. 3. 4. 4. 4. 7. 8. 9. 9. 11. 11. 11. 14. 14. 14. 17. 18. 19. 20. 20. 20. 23. 24. 25.

1971 1989 1965 1986 1968 1982 1987 2006 1981 1975 1976 1955 1958 1988 1962 1972 1967 2010 1970 1964 2007 1973 1963 1969 1984

$103,290 $68,045 $44,725 $27,120 $25,625 $25,350 $24,120 $19,365 $19,091 $18,895 $18,065 $17,250 $16,900 $16,388 $14,810 $14,660 $13,725 $13,530 $13,400 $12,299 $12,187 $11,951 $11,675 $10,870 $10,852

2010 1971 2013 2019 2015 2012 1986 2018 2007 2008 1987 2016 2014 1981 1976 1988 1968 2006 1989 1984 2001 1996 1973 1969 1997

9

Top 10 States in Total Gifts

editorial staff

Dick Anderson Editor Marc Campos College Photographer Gail (Schulman) Ginell ’79 Class Notes Editor SanSoucie Design Design DLS Group Printing

4

54 53 49 41* 41* 41* 40 39 38* 38* 36* 36* 36* 31* 31* 31* 30 29 28 27* 27* 27* 26 25 24

Day For Oxy Athletics: Giving by Designation

Join the Legacy Challenge To Support Occidental

One Tiger, Many Stripes: In a year with no sports and the loss of the football program, the Oxy Athletics community rallied behind our student-athletes, raising $305,000 from 1,060 gifts. (Rankings below are by total gifts to each sport.)

The Legacy Challenge for Occidental College has been created to encourage the documentation of estate commitments and build momentum for The Oxy Campaign For Good. For every new planned gift  documented between April 1 and June 30, 2021, a $10,000 gift to the Oxy Fund will be made by Gil Kemp P’04, Barbara Gibby ’68, and Dr. Michael G. Gibby ’68 in your honor. Whether it’s a gift in your will, trust, IRA/life insurance beneficiary, or a gift that provides you with lifetime income (such as a charitable remainder trust or charitable gift annuity), each estate gift you make that will mature in the future qualifies Occidental to receive $10,000 to the Oxy Fund in your honor. Your legacy gift will also count toward The Oxy Campaign For Good. For your gift to count at face value during the campaign you must be 70 years old by 2023. Please contact Shannon Yasman (syasman@oxy.edu) or Patrice Cablayan (pcablayan@oxy.edu) to learn more.

# 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 8. 8. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Sport Gifts Men’s Basketball 107 Baseball 97 Men’s Water Polo 64 Men’s Soccer 60 Volleyball 58 Lacrosse 55 Women’s Track and Field 54 Men’s Track and Field 51 Women’s Soccer 51 Women’s Swimming and Diving 51 Women’s Water Polo 50 Women’s Basketball 43 Men’s Cross Country 42 Softball 39 Men’s Swimming and Diving 33 Men’s Tennis 32 Women’s Cross Country 31 Men’s Golf 30 Women’s Golf 26 Women’s Tennis 19 Tiger Club Athletics 11

Total $22.255 $26,035 $23,835 $40,070 $9.559 $6,758 $9,327 $19,219 $13,968 $5,685 $10,255 $6,282 $6,278 $7,440 $9,470 $31,365 $4,950 $14,415 $7,165 $28,265 $1,515

Class counts include gifts from alumni, parents, and students. Donors who are associated with more than one year are only counted once toward one class. * Indicates a tie.

alumni.oxy.edu


Nonprofit U.S. Postage Paid Occidental College

Office of Communications F-36 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles CA 90041-3314 Address Service Requested

Day For Oxy: Bigger, Better & Tattooed Thanks to the generosity of our community of alumni, parents, students, friends, faculty, and staff, our second annual Day For Oxy was a tremendous success. Together, our community raised 2,864 gifts and $1,554,980 for Occidental in just 36 hours! Here are just a few of the highlights: ▪ Gifts came from 45 states and 10 countries, with almost every class from 1950 to 2025 supporting our efforts. ▪ The Oxy community supported scholarships, the College’s greatest area of need, with 590 gifts totaling more than $232,000. ▪ The Oxy athletics community rallied behind our student-athletes, raising 1,060 gifts for a total of more than $305,000. ▪ Nearly $680,000 was given to The Oxy Fund to support all areas of the College. ▪ Hundreds of donors gave to specific academic departments, student clubs, and equity and justice efforts. The Employee Relief Fund alone added $26,676. ▪ Fifty peer-to-peer advocates helped spread the word and generate support. 1

2

3

1. Barbara Valiente, AVP of finance and controller, rolls up her sleeves with her daughter, Alexandra, a Child Development Center alum, with a temporary Oswald tattoo. 2. Coach Luke Wetmore, second from right, and his players took to Instagram to promote the baseball program’s stretch goal, raising $26,035 from 110 donors. 3. Biology received 12 gifts totaling $2,510 to fund field and lab experiences.

“We cannot overstate how appreciative we are,” says Charlie Cardillo, vice president of institutional advancement. “We could not have persevered through the challenges of this year without the overwhelming support of the Oxy community. These commitments to Day For Oxy provide the College with the needed foundational support to restart campus life with renewed energy and spirit.” Special thanks to the dozens of challenge and match donors who guided us to our final goal, as well as the reunion classes who celebrated their milestones with Day For Oxy. We look forward to next year’s Founders Day. Io Triumphe!

oxy.edu/giving

Profile for Occidental College

Occidental Magazine - Spring 2021  

Occidental Magazine - Spring 2021  

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded