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

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President Veitch on the Commotion of Democracy

Oxy and Obama: Eight Years Later

Address Service Requested

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When Christine Ray ’59 enrolled at Oxy, she was on very familiar ground. Her grandparents, John and Gertrud Addison, moved to California from Michigan and built their home at the corner of Escarpa Drive and Campus Road in the early 1920s. As children, she and her older brother loved to explore the campus. Russ Ray ’57 was the first to matriculate, and she followed two years later. Chris has vivid memories of Clancy’s Sunday morning breakfasts of sausage and sautéed apple slices made with butter and cinnamon. She enjoyed living in Erdman and Newcomb halls as well as the Gamma House, and fondly recalls language department chair and professor James G. Bickley, who taught Spanish with a Southern accent. An education major, Chris taught elementary school in Carmel after college along with some of her friends from Oxy. She was playing bridge on Cannery Row when she met Emlen “Bill” Holmes in September 1962. Bill was taking a year of Russian in the Army Language School at the historic Presidio of Monterey after completing two years in the service. The couple was married in Johnson Hall on June 22, 1963, with professor of religious studies Franklyn Josselyn, the College chaplain at the time, officiating. “It was elegant and beautiful,” Chris says.

Chris hailed from a family of teachers—her mom, aunts, uncles, and so on. She taught for a total of 28 years, including 20 years of kindergarten at Mayfield Junior School in Pasadena. And her family inspired Bill, a graduate of Williams College, to go into education as well: He taught at South Pasadena High School for 30 years before retiring in 1995. Chris and Bill enjoyed their experience as Oxy parents. Their son, Bill ’88, majored in Spanish studies, with a minor in art history and visual arts, and worked for two College legends: food director Clancy Morrison and professor of art George Baker ’58. The younger Bill married a classmate, Marybeth Maury ’88—and Photo by Marc Campos their son, Sam Maury-Holmes, enrolled at Oxy last fall, much to his grandparents’ delight. Chris and Bill Holmes continue to give to Oxy because, “oddly enough, our backgrounds at small liberal arts residential schools are similar,” Bill says. “We are pretty well committed to that model.” Chris appreciates the personal attention she received as a student and treasures the lifetime friendships that began at Occidental. Having created four charitable gift annuities to the College, Chris and Bill agree that supporting Oxy is beneficial for everyone. Bill calls it a “win-win-win all the way around. It is so important to sustain institutions like Occidental, because education is a worthwhile cause.”

oxy.edu/magazine

Occidental College Office of Gift Planning M-36 | 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles CA 90041-3314 | Phone: 323-259-2644 Email: giftplanning@oxy.edu | oxy.edu/giftplanning | facebook.com/BenCulleySociety

OXY’S GREATEST OLYMPIAN: SAMMY LEE ’43 REMEMBERED /// WHAT’S NEXT FOR SARA EL-AMINE ’07?

A Benchmark for Success

BEING JOHN BRANCA Legendary music lawyer John Branca ’72 discusses his Hall of Fame clientele, his baseball card collection, and his crowning work on the Michael Jackson estate


OXYFARE  FROM THE BOG PRESIDENT

Volume 39, Number 1 oxy.edu/magazine OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE

Jonathan Veitch President Kerry Thompson Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Vince Cuseo Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid Rhonda L. Brown Vice President for Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer Amos Himmelstein Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Charlie Cardillo Vice President for Institutional Advancement Erica O’Neal Howard Acting Dean of Students Marty Sharkey Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jim Tranquada Director of Communications editorial staff

Dick Anderson Editor Samantha B. Bonar ’90 Contributing Writer Marc Campos Contributing Photographer Gail (Schulman) Ginell ’79 Class Notes Editor SanSoucie Design Design DLS Group Printing OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

Olivia Sabins Athletics Department Services Coordinator

Black marble cardigan with orange Oxy paw Made in USA by U-Trau Sizes S-XL, $49.95

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

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

Letters may be edited for length, content, and style. Occidental College online Homepage: oxy.edu Facebook: facebook.com/occidental Twitter: @occidental Instagram: instagram.com/occidentalcollege Cover photo: Max S. Gerber Oxy Wear photo: Marc Campos

Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends, I am pleased to report that Occidental College alumni engagement is on the rise. As a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors since 2013 (and current BOG president), I see firsthand the many ways in which Oxy graduates are contributing to the life of the College. Whether through increased activity at regional events, participation in affinity groups, support for admission and career development efforts, the loyal reporting of nearly 70 class secretaries in these pages, or the success of Oxy’s Annual Fund and planned giving programs, alumni are getting involved in record numbers. The Alumni Association, through its Board of Governors, helps to facilitate communication between the College and its former students. Working closely with Oxy administrators, the Alumni Association keeps alumni informed, interested, and active in the affairs of the College through publications and a broad program of alumni activities; represents the views of alumni to the administrative leadership and Oxy Board of Trustees; acts as a coordinating agent for the many diverse alumni groups interested in maintaining ties to the College; assists in student-recruitment efforts across the country and internationally; and aids in the development of unrestricted financial support to meet the College’s highest priorities. Oxy has recently updated its alumni website (alumni.oxy.edu), making it easier than ever for you to connect with old friends, special events, and campus developments. Also, be sure to check out the Oxy Switchboard (oxy.switchboardhq.com), where you can offer your services to students and alumni as well as ask for help with your needs. Each of us shows our dedication to the wellbeing of Occidental through the time, treasure, and talent that we contribute with our volunteer efforts. On behalf of the board, I encourage you to communicate with us through the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement so that we can collectively and effectively contribute to Oxy’s continued prosperity. Io Triumphe!

O CC I D E N TA L CO L L EG E

Save the Dates: June 23-25

Alumni Reunion Weekend 1967

1972

1977

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1992

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Welcome the Class of 1967 into the Fifty Year Club! (And, hey, Class of 1992— it’s your 25th anniversary!) All Tigers are welcome back to Occidental! Join your fellow alumni returning to campus to reconnect with friends, relive your youth (or at least try to), and rediscover the magic of Oxy.

Get involved! If you have any questions about Alumni Reunion Weekend or would like to serve on your reunion planning committee, please contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement at 323-259-2601 or alumni@oxy.edu.

Snapshots From San Francisco January 30

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Charles McClintock ’68 President, Board of Governors

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Nearly 100 alumni, parents, and friends of the College gathered at the Battery for a fireside chat with President Jonathan Veitch. 1. Lucia Choi-Dalton ’89, Rod Diridon, trustee John Farmer P’98, and trustee Gloria Duffy ’75, who conducted the Q&A. 2. Bob Williams ’47 and Betsy (Helter) WIlliams ’46. 3. CJ Cruz ’14 and David Sohm ’70. 4. Becky Siegel ’09, Kathleen Jo Luevano ’09, and Kevin Adler ’07. 5. Ray Yen ’92 and Gloria (Clark) Short ’56. 6. John Willsie ’92 and Nicholas Lee ’10.

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Photos by Colson Griffith

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Features 10 Gold Standard In chasing his Olympic dreams, Sammy Lee ’43 (1920-2016) dreamed big and lived even larger.

12 Good Vibrations With a Hall of Fame clientele from the Beach Boys and Bee Gees to the Sex Pistols and Santana, John Branca ’72 has taken the art of the deal to new heights—not bad for a kid from New York who opened for the Doors on the Strip at 16.

17 Sara El-Amine ’07 walks President Barack Obama ’83 to his official car (aka “the Beast”) after an Organizing for America grassroots event.

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Departments

School of Barack Prior to 2008, Occidental was best known in many circles as an academic “hidden gem” (and as a popular film location). But the nation’s 44th president put Oxy on the map—just as the College awakened Obama to his leadership potential.

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Yes She Can Sara El-Amine ’07 joined the Obama campaign at ground zero as a bilingual volunteer in Iowa. Having organized thousands of volunteers as a Washington insider, she’s prepared to be a revolutionary on the other side.

OxyTalk Lisa Wade examines the college hookup culture through a sociologist’s lens—in addition to renovating a 130-year-old home in New Orleans.

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First Word President Veitch asks the academic question: Read any good research lately? Also: A tribute to Jean Paule (1921-2017), Occidental’s institutional memory, and her many contributions to campus life and lore.

From the Quad Affirming the College’s cornerstone values, Oxy constructs the framework of a “sanctuary campus.” Also: Cross country finishes strong, and a novel blood anticoagulant gets an Oxyinspired name.

Page 64 For the cast and crew of Nancy Talley ’53’s retirement community repertory in Issaquah, Wash., there’s no age in stage.

36 Tigerwire Class notes for odd years.

26 No Bull Midway through his eighth year in office, President Veitch reflects on the accomplishments and controversies that have shaped his time at Oxy so far—and why he’s bullish on the challenges and opportunities ahead.

CREDITS: Sara El-Amine ’07 Yes She Can | Occidental College Special Collections Gold Standard | Marc Campos First Word, From the Quad | Jackson Hill OxyTalk | Nancy Talley ’53 Page 64


FIRST WORD » FROM PRESIDENT VEITCH

From Bunsen Burners to Page-Turners Photo by Colson Griffith

Most Oxy students will tell you that the most valuable aspect of their education is their interaction with faculty, whether in the classroom, the lab, or a casual conversation in the Quad. Oxy teaching is superb. Yet one of the chief reasons for its quality often goes unremarked—it is continually shaped and enriched by faculty research and creative work. Consider the flurry of new and recent volumes by Oxy faculty on subjects ranging from the 19th-century Atlantic slave trade (history professor Sharla Fett’s Recaptured Africans: Surviving Slave Ships, Detention, and Dislocation in the Final Years of the Slave Trade) to the failures of human intuition (Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong, by associate professor of psychology and cognitive science Andrew Shtulman).

explores World War I’s role in redefining gender roles for women. And associate professor of sociology Lisa Wade’s new book on campus sexual culture, American Hookup, has received a good deal of attention in the national press (page 32). It’s exhausting to consider the amount of work these volumes represent—research conducted side-by-side with students, and just as often on weekends, over breaks, during the summer, or on sabbatical. Finding the time to collect the data, conduct a survey, visit the archive, review the literature, or do the fieldwork is just the start. Even more precious is uninterrupted time to ponder the evidence, test an idea, and craft a compelling argument. Sharla speaks for all faculty authors when she begins her acknowledgments by saying, “This book has been long in the making.”

The academic output of faculty at a liberal arts college takes many different forms, from print to stage and screen to music and museums. It’s exciting to contemplate the kind of classroom insights Oxy students are getting from Xiao-huang Yin, professor of American studies, whose 2016 translation of the essays of Yinxing Hong, The China Path to Economic Transition and Development, gives us an insider’s view of the thinking behind China’s economic rise. Sociologist John Lang’s new book, What’s So Controversial About Genetically Modified Food?, explores how the social, cultural, religious, and ethical meanings of food have shaped the GMO debate. Dale Wright, our Gamble Professor in Religion, contemplates nothing less than the secrets of enlightenment in What Is Buddhist Enlightenment? Professor of history emerita Lynn Dumenil’s The Second Line of Defense 2

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Not all research lends itself to the book format. Oxy faculty regularly publish their work in peer-reviewed academic journals. The avian genomic research of assistant professor of biology John McCormack has carried the day in determining that the coastal California gnatcatcher will remain on the endangered species list—which has a direct impact on the development of thousands of acres of coastal real estate. Chemistry professor Michael Hill and some of his students recently published a paper on their collaboration with a surgical group at UC Irvine to develop a molecular-based surgery for reshaping cartilage of the head and neck. This kind of expertise means a regular Oxy presence in the media: Associate professor of diplomacy and world af-

President Veitch takes questions from Gloria Duffy ’75 at a San Francisco alumni event January 30.

fairs Sophal Ear responds to queries about Cambodian affairs from around the world. The creative output of faculty at a liberal arts college takes many different forms. Professor emerita and poet Martha Ronk was able to follow her muse in her latest volume of poetry, Ocular Proof, but Adam Schoenberg’s newest work, a recording of three of his compositions by the Kansas City Symphony, appears on CD. To see theater professor John Bouchard’s work, I urge you to buy a ticket to this April’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music in Keck Theater. You will find the work of Oxy artists such as Linda Lyke, Linda Besemer, and Mary Beth Heffernan in public and private art collections across the country, including the Whitney in New York City and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Put it all together, and the academic and artistic output of Oxy faculty is impressive. Equally impressive is the impact that it has back in the classroom—and in the lives of Oxy alumni, whose education helps them thrive in an increasingly complex world.


FIRST WORD

» JEAN PAULE: 1921-2017

Occidental’s Institutional Memory i

Photos courtesy Occidental College Special Collections and the Richard C. Gilman Family

It’s been 17 years now since I came to work at Occidental. That seems like a long time to me—but it’s barely one-third of the service to Oxy by Dorothea Jean Paule, who joined the College as secretary to President Arthur G. Coons ’20 on Dec. 11, 1950. Jean spent her first 15 years at Oxy working with Coons until his retirement in 1965. Coons’ successor, Richard C. Gilman, created a new administrative position— secretary of the College—especially for her. That would keep Jean busy for another 21 years, until her “retirement” in 1986. She spent the next decade working for a travel agency (she ultimately visited about 100 countries) before returning to the Oxy family under President John Brooks Slaughter in 1996. Over the next 15 years, as voluntary College archivist, Jean cemented her reputation as the institutional memory of Occidental—documenting the College’s traditions, organizing its written and visual records, even writing a pair of presidential biographies. I worked with Jean on countless projects—even on sports, a topic not particularly dear to her—and relied on her factchecking prowess to keep my own facts straight more times than I can remember. Together with her friends from Special Collections, I was fortunate to see her just before Christmas, at the retirement community in Murrieta where she moved in 2011 to be closer to her nephew, Philip, and his family. She remained alert and full of questions about Occidental—reading every campus email, and every word of every magazine—until her passing January 14 at the age of 95. “I am still aglow with your visit when we covered so much Oxy news,” she wrote in December. “You can never know how grateful I am for your friendship.” After a single year as a teacher at Redlands Junior High School (alongside future Oxy coaching legend Payton Jordan), Jean, a graduate of UC Berkeley, moved to Los Angeles looking for a job doing “anything but teaching,” she recalled in a 2002 interview. She answered a job listing in the Los

Angeles Times, and—despite the employment agency’s reservations about her youth —impressed Coons enough to hire her. “I had a lot of respect for him,” Jean said of Coons. “He was doing good things, and I was part of his team. If he had been a rascal, I would have left the second day.” Board of Trustees chair emeritus Dennis Collins, who joined the College in 1963 as an assistant director of admission, recalled waiting next to Jean’s desk outside President Coons’ office for his initial interview. “[Jean] calmed my jitters by being her gracious self,” he wrote recently. “No one knew more about the inside of Occidental and said less about it than Miss Paule! Years of Occidental lore have departed with her.” Yet, thanks to Jean’s exhaustive efforts, she leaves behind countless contributions to the College’s historical records. (After starting work at Oxy, she completed a master’s in history at USC in 1952.) In addition to her biographies of Oxy’s sixth and ninth presidents, John Willis Baer and Arthur G. Coons, Jean wrote more than a dozen monographs on subjects ranging from College traditions (the Chilcott

left: Jean (beneath the arrow) participates in a chorus line of Oxy staff in a photo she labeled “Hi-Jinks, mid-1950s.” below left: Straightening Ansel Adams’ jacket during his visit to Oxy for Convocation on Jan. 3, 1973. below right: With President Gilman following her move to Murrieta. She died nearly a year to the day after Gilman’s passing.

family barbecue was among her favorites) to the history of religion at Occidental. Although Jean never sought out any recognition of her efforts—she would likely blanch at the idea of this tribute—her time at Oxy was recognized in singular fashion: To date, Jean is the only person to have received the Fifty Year Club’s Auld Lang Syne Award (in 2002), an honorary degree (in 2005) and the College’s Presidential Medal for Distinguished Service (in 2011). In the introduction to a 53-page, 16,000-word document she prepared in 2004 with the title Occidental College— Names Appearing on Buildings and on the Grounds, Jean wrote: “Many of these persons are still among us. Others are long since gone. Passage of time has a way of deleting what was once common knowledge about a life prominent in the Occidental community. The purpose of these pages is to record something about those whose names are well known and frequently mentioned on the Occidental campus.” Jean’s name is as big as that on any building. She will not be forgotten. —dick anderson WINTER 2017

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FROM THE QUAD

Building On Values Affirming the cornerstones of the College in the wake of proposed changes to federal laws, Oxy constructs the framework of a “sanctuary campus”

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Occidental President Remsen Bird launched a campaign to try to ensure that Oxy’s Japanese-American students could continue their education. Bird was instrumental in the founding of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council to facilitate the transfer of Japanese-American students to colleges outside West Coast military zones. Revisiting that decades-old tradition of advocacy, the Occidental Board of Trustees has laid out a set of guiding principles to support students, faculty, and staff in response to proposed federal policy changes and their potential impact on Oxy’s diverse community. In a unanimous January 23 vote, trustees pledged that, absent a subpoena or other judicial order, Occidental will not honor requests for student or personnel records, voluntarily assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws on campus, or voluntarily cooperate with any effort to create a registry of individuals based on religion, national origin, or any other characteristic. “Now more than ever, we must proclaim our cornerstone values that are consistent with a deeply felt opposition to bigotry and discrimination,” President Jonathan Veitch said after the Board’s vote. “Although we cannot predict the future direction or implementation of federal law, there can be no question about our mission or the values we share as a community.” 4

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FROM THE QUAD

Illustration by Eva Vázquez

Veitch reaffirmed the newly adopted principles in the wake of a January 27 executive order by President Donald J. Trump suspending entry to the United States by people from seven predominantly Muslim countries and barring admission to most refugees. (Enforcement of the order was subsequently blocked by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.) “True to our commitment, we will continue to extend our care and support to all members of the Oxy community, regardless of their religion, country of origin, or immigration status,” he said. International students make up 7 percent of the Oxy student body, but none are currently from the seven countries named in the order. As a result of Veitch’s outreach to peer institutions, Occidental will host a March 10 symposium co-sponsored by the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities to bring together policy experts, advocacy groups, campus administrators, faculty, and students from throughout

“We will continue to extend our care and support to all members of the Oxy community, regardless of their religion, country of origin, or immigration status,” Veitch said. Southern California to share information and discuss possible options. “It is our hope that convening this extended network will make it possible to plan how we can work together and create a powerful collective voice,” Veitch said. With the Board’s action, Occidental joins the University of California, the Cal State University system, Pitzer, Loyola Marymount, Reed, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, Princeton, and other colleges and universities in declaring similar principles to guide their response to changes in immigration policy. Early in November, Veitch was among more than 400 college and university presi-

dents who signed a statement circulated by Pomona College President David Oxtoby urging the preservation and expansion of the federal Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program. Shortly thereafter, it became clear that both Veitch and Oxy faculty had reached the conclusion that the College should make a public statement of its principles, with the faculty urging that Occidental declare itself a sanctuary campus. But absent any universal or clearly understood definition of the term sanctuary, an ad hoc campus committee was formed to develop a clear set of principles to recommend to trustees at their January meeting. Based on the recommendation of Veitch and the ad hoc campus committee, Oxy trustees affirmed that absent a lawful subpoena or judicial process: • Occidental will not honor requests for the education records of students or confidential personnel records without the individual’s written consent. The College will continue to vigorously protect the privacy of all members of the Oxy community. All provisions of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) still apply. • Occidental has not and will not voluntarily assist any federal, state, or local agency in connection with their enforcement of federal immigration law. Furthermore, Campus Safety will not question or detain any person on the basis of their immigration status. • Occidental will not voluntarily cooperate with any effort to create a registry of individuals based on religion, national origin, race, sexual orientation, or other protected status. In addition, the Board pledged that: • Occidental will continue to enforce its policies and procedures that deal with harassment, discrimination, and retaliation while protecting freedom of expression. The College will continue to provide support to those who have been targeted and take appropriate action against violators of Oxy policy. • Occidental will vigilantly monitor relevant changes in federal law and policies. The College will continue to vigorously advocate for public policies that reflect the College’s values and mission, and challenge those that do not. • Occidental will continue to identify onand off-campus resources available for community members who are in need, and will update its online resource directory. WINTER 2017

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FROM THE QUAD

Photos by Jonathan Palmer

Fast Finish Led by cognitive science major Keenan Leary ’17, men’s cross country surges past its SCIAC rivals for a second-place showing and an NCAA berth

First Team All-SCIAC standout Keenan Leary ’17 paced the Tigers to a 31st-place showing as a team at the Division III nationals.

right: Thomas Robertson ’20 of Newport Beach was Oxy’s top freshman, finishing 18th at the West Regional and 230th at the nationals.

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All season long, Oxy cross country coach Rob Bartlett had the sense that his runners hadn’t been performing to their full potential, a feeling underlined by the men’s fourth-place finish in conference. Going into the West Region championships in Salem, Ore., his goal for his sixth-ranked team was modest: a top-four finish. Bartlett and the entire team surprised themselves and everyone else by vaulting over Whittier and PomonaPitzer to finish second to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and earn one of two automatic bids to the NCAA Division III national championships in Louisville, Ky. It was the first time since 2011 that the entire men’s team qualified as a group, and it lifted the Tigers to a No. 16 ranking in the USTFCCCA national poll. “I’m so proud of this team,” Bartlett says. “The men ran their best race when it really mattered, and against a conference that is arguably the most competitive it’s been in the modern era.” Oxy, CMS, Pomona-Pitzer, and Whittier all had men’s teams running in the nationals, making SCIAC one of only two conferences to have that many competitors trekking to Louisville. As he was through most of the season, senior Keenan Leary, a cognitive science major from Seattle, was Occidental’s top runner at the nationals, placing 112th overall (25:28:2) on the 8K course in a field of 280 runners. Roxanne Valle ’19, a physics major from Azusa, qualified as an individual for the Oxy women and finished 142nd overall on the 6K course. She is the first Oxy woman to go to nationals since Megan Lang ’13 did so in 2012. One of the biggest surprises of the season for the Tigers was Brody Barkan, a undeclared sophomore from San Anselmo who was named SCIAC men’s cross country Newcomer of the Year after capping a breakthrough fall with a sixth-place finish at the conference championships. Barkan, a standout on Oxy’s track team as a first-


FROM THE QUAD

left: SCIAC men’s cross country Newcomer of the Year Brody Barkan ’19 ran the second-fastest time for the Tigers at the nationals, finishing 212th (26:16.1). below: Aaron Sugimoto ’17 capped his Oxy career with a 253rd-place finish.

Before They Were Tigers Approximately 25 percent of Oxy undergrads play one or more varsity sports—one of the many attractions of a small liberal arts college competing at the Division III level. But for most student-athletes, their first experience in a uniform goes back many years earlier. Five current standout Tigers share their childhood sports memories—long before they went “All in for Oxy.”

“I’ve been playing soccer since I was 5, and it was definitely not competitive. I would accidentally score in the wrong goal or pass to the wrong team. It was kind of chaotic.” Julie Khil ’17, a psychology major from Honolulu, was the SCIAC women’s soccer Athlete of the Year as a sophomore.

left: Coach Rob Bartlett’s men’s team enjoyed its best showing since 2011, when Oxy won the West Region en route to a 27thplace finish at nationals. below: Sophomore standout Roxanne Valle finished 142nd in the 6k (22:13.7). She received an at-large bid to the nationals after placing 11th at the West Regional.

“I’m sure I started T-ball when I was 4, something like that, and I had a bat in my hand long before that.” Devon DeRaad ’17, a biology major from Scottsdale, Ariz., was second in the nation among Division III schools in home runs (16) last season, SCIAC Player of the Year, and Oxy’s first All-American in baseball since 1997.

“I started club swimming when I was a junior in high school, but up until that point I’d been a three-season athlete. When I decided I wanted to compete in college, I decided to go yearround swimming.” Rose Seabrook ’17, an art history and the visual arts major from Walnut Creek, broke two Oxy records—in the mile and the 1,000meter—in the Tigers’ last meet as a junior.

“I’ve played football since I was 5. My dad coached a flag football team with me and all my friends. I played throughout high school with the same guys that I played with in Pop Warner.” year in middle distance events, had never run cross country before or run competitively at any distance longer than 1,500m. “Brody’s improvement at such a rapid pace is really extraordinary given how new he is to the sport,” Bartlett says. “We’re excited at the progress he’s made and look forward to seeing him continue to climb the ladder as a terrific distance runner.” The Oxy women finished third in conference, led by Valle and Aria Blumm, a sophomore chemistry major from Sisters, Ore., who won All-West Region honors with a 23rd-place, 23:28.6 finish at the regionals.

Bryan Scott ’17, a sociology major from Rolling Hills, is the SCIAC’s all-time leader in passing yards (9,073), completions (763), and total offense (9,475) and was 2016 conference Player of the Year.

“When I was in kindergarten, I’d be running around the field for recess, and challenging everyone to race for some reason.” Onye Nwabueze ’17, a cognitive science major from San Francisco, ranks eighth on Oxy’s all-time lists for both the 100M and the 200M. Credits: Kirby Lee (Khil, Nwabueze, Scott), John Valenzuela (DeRaad), Marc Campos (Seabrook)

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FROM THE QUAD

» WORTH NOTING

Upping the Anti A novel blood anticoagulant discovered at Oxy creates a rush of interest among hematologists

William Reeves ’16, a kinesiology major from Claremont, was honored by the American Society of Hematology for his abstract about a novel blood anticoagulant that he—working with classmates and biochemistry majors Alexander Urry and Alexandra Filkins—discovered in associate professor of biochemistry Aram Nersissian’s research lab last year. Together, the team identified and charac-

“Will deserved everything he got,” Nersissian says of Reeves, left. Photos by Marc Campos

terized the novel anticoagulant protein and proposed to name it Occipodin in honor of the College. “I’m still in shock,” says Reeves, who accepted the $500 Abstract Achievement Award at ASH’s annual meeting in December in San Diego, where he presented his research. “I never thought in my four years I would be a part of a published and awarded project.” Urry initiated the project—a collaborative effort between the chemistry and biology departments—by bringing two marine parasites, P. cinncinatus and E. vulgaris, to Nersissian’s attention, which he was studying with associate biology professor Shana Goffredi. Similar to leeches, the parasites anchor onto a host fish and feed off its 8

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blood. Nersissian suggested his students see if the parasite contained an anticoagulant to facilitate its bloodsucking. Sidelined by a football injury and already enrolled in Nersissian’s Chemistry 395 Directed Research course, Reeves took the lead. Sure enough, the students found that the parasites contained an anticoagulant— but one that works in a way that is different than any previously discovered natural anticoagulant. This discovery has already elicited interest in the medical community due to its potential therapeutic and research applications—specifically, it could serve as an alternative to the more widely known Heparin and Hirudin blood-thinners, Nersissian says. Further study is needed to fully understand Occipodin so that it can potentially be applied to future clinical use, he adds. However, the interest in the finding at the recent ASH conference “exceeded all my expectations,” Nersissian says. “It’s one of the biggest and most prestigious medical conferences in the world, and people were lined up to talk to Will.” In addition to preparing samples of Occipodin with Nersissian and his students to send to medical school researchers, Reeves is studying for the MCAT—he plans to attend medical school—and tutoring math in Compton and Tijuana. Filkins is currently involved in cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, while Urry is working at UC San Francisco’s Gladstone Institutes. “Getting the award means a lot to our team,” Reeves says, “and shows the value and bright future ahead for the project.” —samantha b. bonar ’90

Oxy’s marine biology program is about to take delivery of a brand-new classic New England-style lobster-fishing boat. The asyet unnamed vessel is being paid for in large part by a $400,000 grant from the Keck Foundation received by the Moore Laboratory of Zoology in 2015. A full $220,000 of those funds were specifically earmarked for a new research vessel, which is scheduled for delivery this spring. “It’s being specifically built for the program with research and scuba diving in mind,” says associate professor of biology Dan Pondella ’87 M’92, director of the Vantuna Research Group. The new boat will make it possible to take larger numbers of students offshore to conduct field research and collect samples and will be the College’s largest vessel since the 60-year-old Vantuna was retired in 2004. Rafa Esparza, the Wanlass Artist in Residence at Occidental, has been selected to participate in the upcoming Whitney Biennial, generally regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art. Esparza is one of 63 participants selected by curators Christopher Lew and Mia Locks for the 2017 Biennial at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, which The New York Times calls a “sprawling survey of what’s happening now in contemporary art—the new, the influential, and the potentially provocative.” While at Oxy, he is teaching students how to craft adobe bricks—a skill he learned from his father—to be used in a temporary campus installation scheduled to open on Founders Day, April 20.


» MIXED MEDIA The Second Line of Defense: American Women and World War I, by Lynn Dumenil (University of North Carolina Press; $39.95). In tracing the rise of the modern idea of the American “new woman,” Dumenil examines WWI’s surprising impact on women and, in turn, their impact on the war. From African Americans and dissidents to pacifists, reformers, and industrial workers, Dumenil analyzes both the roadblocks and opportunities women faced while the United States mobilized for the largest military endeavor in U.S. history. She shows how women activists staked their claim to loyal citizenship by framing their war work as homefront volunteers, overseas nurses, factory laborers, and support personnel as “the second line of defense.” But in assessing the impact of these contributions on traditional gender roles, Dumenil finds that portrayals of these new modern women did not always match with real and enduring change. Dumenil is the Robert Glass Cleland Professor of American History Emerita. Balibar and the Citizen Subject, edited by Warren Montag and Hanan Elsayed (Edinburgh University Press; $110). This collection explores French philosopher Étienne Balibar’s rethinking of the connections between subjection and subjectivity by tracing the genealogies of these concepts in their discursive history. The 12 essays provide an overview of Balibar’s work after his collaboration with French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser (1918-1990). They explain and expand his framework; in particular, by restoring Arabic and Islamic thought to the conversation on the citizen subject. The collection includes two previously untranslated essays by Balibar himself on Carl Schmitt and Thomas Hobbes. Montag is the Brown Family Professor in Literature at Occidental. Elsayed is assistant professor in Spanish and French studies at Occidental. Love and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison’s Later Novels, by Jean Wyatt (University of Georgia Press; $29.95). In the seven novels she has published over the last 30

years—from Beloved (1987) to God Help the Child (2015)—Toni Morrison has experimented with narrative form as she explores each novel’s unconventional idea of love. In Home (2012), for example, love acts as a disruptive force producing deep changes in subjectivity; while in Jazz (1992) it becomes something one innovates and recreates each moment—like jazz itself. In Love and Narrative Form, Wyatt analyzes the stylistic and structural innovations of each novel, showing how disturbances in narrative chronology, surprise endings, and gaps mirror the dislocated temporality and distorted emotional responses of the novels’ troubled characters. A professor of English, Wyatt joined the Oxy faculty in 1970. Recaptured Africans: Surviving Slave Ships, Detention, and Dislocation in the Final Years of the Slave Trade, by Sharla M. Fett (University of North Carolina Press; $35). In the years just before the Civil War, the U.S. Navy seized roughly 2,000 enslaved Africans from illegal slave ships and brought them into temporary camps at Key West, Fla., and Charleston, S.C. Fett reconstructs the social world of these “recaptives” and recounts the relationships they built to survive the holds of slave ships, American detention camps, and, ultimately, a second transatlantic voyage to Liberia. She also demonstrates how the presence of slavetrade refugees in Southern ports accelerated heated arguments between divergent antebellum political movements that used recaptives to support their claims about slavery,

slave trading, and race. In providing the first history of U.S. slave-trade suppression centered on recaptive Africans themselves, Fett examines the state of “recaptivity” as a distinctive variant of slave-trade captivity and situates the recaptives’ story within the broader diaspora of “Liberated Africans” throughout the Atlantic world. Fett is professor of history at Occidental. Transforming ADHD: Simple, Effective Attention and Action Regulation Skills to Help You Focus and Succeed, by Greg Crosby and Tonya K. Lippert ’95 (New Harbinger Publications; $16.95). Accomplishing everyday tasks like paying bills, getting to a meeting on time, or simply buying groceries can be extremely difficult for people with adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Transforming ADHD draws on psychology, biology, neuroscience, sociology, and other disciplines to provide a guide for learning how to better regulate one’s attention. Lippert works for Kaiser Permanente’s mental health and social work departments in Portland, Ore. Fantastic Flowers, written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale ’76 (Peachtree Publishers; $16.95). With rhythmic, rhyming text, and beautifully patterned paintings, Stockdale’s latest science picture book introduces readers to 17 flowers that resemble all kinds of things—from upside-down pants to prickly pineapples, and even tiny babies. Children can compare and contrast the whimsical paintings of the flowers to photos of the flowers themselves. Stockdale’s award-winning books celebrate nature with exuberance and grace. She lives in Chevy Chase, Md.

Dragon Heart and Dragon Sun, by Linda Malcor ’84 (Story Merchant Books; paperback, $16.95 each). In the first two volumes of her Dragonlords of Dumnonia series, Malcor details the exploits of Shashtah, who has the heart of a trickster and the soul of a prophet. All he really wants is to bond with a dragon of his own and be a dragon rider, but the gods have other plans for him. When Shashtah finally meets the Dragonlords of the Dumnonia, the world of Centuria will never be the same. Malcor has a Ph.D. in folklore and mythology from UCLA. Her nonfiction works on the King Arthur legend include From Scythia to Camelot (2000), which she co-wrote with the late C. Scott Littleton, professor of anthropology emeritus. She lives in Los Angeles.

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GOLD STANDARD In chasing his Olympic dreams, Sammy Lee ’43 (1920–2016) dreamed big and lived even larger

far left: Sammy Lee in his student days. left: Springing into action off the high dive in 1940. below: Showing his second gold medal to wife Rosalind, which he won in 1952. Lee was an Army major at the time.

By JIM TRANQUADA Photo by MAX S. GERBER

lthough he barely topped 5 feet in height, diver Sammy Lee ’43 was a giant: The two-time Olympic gold medalist was the first person of color to be elected student body president at Franklin High School, the first Asian-American man to win an Olympic gold medal, and the first American platform diver to win gold medals in consecutive Olympics. As a coach, his athletes went on to win 10 Olympic gold medals. “Dad was bigger than life,” Pamela Lee ’77 says of Oxy’s greatest Olympic athlete, who died at age 96 on Dec. 2, 2016. “But our best memories are the simple ones: making root beer floats at home, going to his office where he always had a box of See’s candy in the drawer, or driving around in his 1964 Aston Martin.” It wasn’t what anyone would have predicted for the skinny kid born in Fresno of immigrant Korean parents, who operated a York Boulevard grocery store in Highland Park. Lee often told the story of his family’s neighbors who told them that they didn’t wants “Chinks” or “Japs” living next door, and how he was one of the “colored” 10

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children who swam in the public pool in Pasadena on Wednesdays—International Day, after which the pool was drained and refilled for the white children who used the pool the rest of the week. A talent for somersaulting led him to diving; he was practicing in the Olympic pool near the Coliseum as a high school senior when he was spotted by “Big” Jim Ryan, a well-known coach who told Lee he would make him the world’s best diver or kill him in the process. The 6'4", 275-lb. Ryan wanted Lee to go to UCLA, but Lee enrolled at Oxy, where his father had attended the old Occidental Academy and sister Elizabeth “Dolly” Rhee graduated in 1937. A chemistry major—he had promised his father he would become a doctor— Lee won the 10-meter U.S. national championship in 1942. He also won the heart of Rosalind Wong, whom he met at Taylor Pool while giving a diving exhibition on his last day as a student at Oxy and subsequently married. World War II forced the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics, but Lee—by then an Army doctor—was ready for the 1948

Games in London, where he won the 10meter gold and a bronze meal in the 3-meter springboard. He repeated as a gold medalist in platform at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, winning on his 32nd birthday. The following year, he became the first diver to win the Amateur Athletic Union’s Sullivan Award as America’s outstanding amateur athlete. On his discharge from the Army in 1955, Lee made headlines again when Orange County real estate agents refused to sell him a home in a white neighborhood. (Among those who successfully intervened on his behalf was then-Vice President Richard Nixon.) He then turned to coaching, leading the American diving team at the 1960 Olympics and coaching gold medalists Pat McCormick (1952, 1956), Bob Webster (1960, 1964), and Greg Louganis (1984, 1988). “He took a so-so high school diver and made me into an Olympic champion,” Webster says of Lee. “He made me believe in myself. That faith in me changed my life forever.” Lee—who didn’t charge athletes for his coaching—was an icon of diving whose star never dimmed. “Of all my travels, the highlight was escorting Sam and Roz to the 2012 Olympics in London,” says Tom Gompf, former president of U.S. Diving and chair of the FINA International Diving Committee. “I never saw a man so loved and admired.”

Diving photo from the Herald-Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library | Other photos courtesy Occidental College Special Collections


Inspired by the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, “I said, ‘Papa, someday I’m going to be an Olympic champ,’” Lee recalled in a 2011 visit to Oxy. “He chuckled and said, ‘What in?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but I’ll find it.’”


GOOD VIBRATIONS With a Hall of Fame clientele from the Beach Boys and Bee Gees to the Sex Pistols and Santana, John Branca ’72 has taken the art of the deal to new heights—not bad for a kid from New York who opened for the Doors on the Strip at 16 By PETER GILSTRAP Photos by MAX S. GERBER


TO CALL JOHN BRANCA ’72 SIMPLY A LAWYER IS LIKE CALLING Carlos Santana a guitarplucker. Branca is, in fact, the dean of entertainment attorneys, a man who essentially redefined the job much in the same way that his biggest client, Michael Jackson, redrew the parameters of pop supremacy. More than 30 of his clients over the course of his 40-year career were voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a list that includes the legendary Santana himself— a self-described “Mexican dishwasher who got lucky playing the guitar.”

Photos (pages 13, 15) courtesy John Branca ’72

above: In descending order, Branca with Carlos Santana, a client since 1984; with Michael Jackson at Branca’s wedding in Beverly Hills in 1987; and with David Lee Roth in 1987. “I went to Disney World with Michael, and I went on the road with the Stones,” Branca says, “but I never really hung out with clients. It was never really my thing.”

“Integrity is really important to me, and I feel very trusting and respectful of John’s integrity above all,” says the 10-time Grammywinning musician, who was awarded an honorary doctorate of music at Occidental’s Convocation in 2005 (a citation that Branca, as a trustee of the College, was instrumental in arranging). “I’m very grateful that the Great Spirit connected me with my brother John Branca.” Whether it’s through divine intervention or the terra firma need for the best representation available in the cutthroat, ever-changing world of entertainment, Branca’s skills have connected him with the cream of the musical crop. And those skills go far beyond contractual demands for, say, brown M&Ms on the rider. “Entertainment lawyers are dealmakers, psychologists, therapists, and managers,” says Branca, partner and head of the music department at Ziffren Brittenham in Los Angeles, the world’s largest entertainment law firm. To be a successful entertainment lawyer, “you have to mainly have people skills,” he adds. “If you sit down with Kanye West or Brian Wilson and you’re super intellectual but you can’t connect with them, you’re never going to have an impact.” That impact was recognized by Jackson, who wrote in his autobiography, Moonwalk, that Branca is “the kind of person that could do just about anything.”

A native of Bronxville, N.Y., John Gregory Branca grew up in neighboring Mount Vernon, where his father—one of 17 children— ran a baseball school and served as the city’s recreation commissioner. John R. Branca, who died in 2010, served two terms in the New York State Assembly and became chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission in 1983. “My dad’s whole life was about sports,” says Branca, who encountered his father’s legacy on a recent trip to his hometown. “A man came up to me and said, ‘Are you related to John Branca? You look exactly like him. Not only did he give me my first job, but when I couldn’t afford anything he gave me a football uniform to play Pop Warner.’ It brings tears to my eyes.” Branca’s mother was Barbara Werle, a professional ballroom dancer turned actress, whose screen credits include Seconds (1966) with Rock Hudson and three movies starring “Elvis Presley: Tickle Me, Harum Scarum, and Charro! (The Branca Family Patio, dedicated in 1998 as part of the renovation and expansion of Johnson Student Center, honors his parents.) When John was 4, Barbara left her husband—and Mount Vernon—to pursue a showbiz career. “She’d come to New York to do ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ or the Harvest Moon Ball, so I’d only see her maybe once a year,” Branca says of that difficult time. WINTER 2017  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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John Branca photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images; Ralph Branca photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

right: Branca in his early days as a lawyer. “I ended up representing all my idols—the Elvis Presley estate, the Beach Boys, the Doors, and the Rolling Stones—so it all came together,” he says. below: Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca, far right, with teammates Hank Behrman, Jackie Robinson, and Cookie Lavagetto in a 1947 photo. “They were lifelong friends,” John Branca says of his uncle and Robinson.

Music filled a void in his young life. “I started buying records when I was 5 or 6,” says Branca, whose childhood collection of 45s included Danny and the Juniors’ “At the Hop,” the Silhouettes’ “Get a Job,” and the aforementioned Mr. Presley. At age 11, he came to Los Angeles to live with his mother, but the move wasn’t sparked by the allure of Hollywood. “I just think I was trying to survive emotionally,” Branca says. “It was really just coming out to be with my mom, getting away from my stepmom. I didn’t have any grand ambitions.” Branca’s mother made her only son take piano lessons—“which I hated”—but he began writing music in eighth grade. By the time he was 13 he was playing guitar and had started a band, the Other Half. After some trouble with the police—“just little things”—Branca’s mother sent him to boarding school. He spent almost three years at Chadwick School in Rancho Palos Verdes “until they expelled me,” he recalls. “In 10th grade I got suspended twice, just for insubordination and long hair. I still have the letter they sent my mother, it’s very funny. They said I had all the classic symptoms of a drug user—that I didn’t give a shit about my stud14

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ies, I didn’t come close to living up to my potential, I was rude to teachers, you name it. In retrospect, it’s an illuminating letter.” At the time, he didn’t care, because he had formed a second group, the Pasternak Progress (named for bandmate Jeff Pasternak, son of film producer Joe Pasternak). “As soon as I got kicked out of Chadwick I got to start playing every night and we got a record deal,” Branca says. “That was ’66 or ’67. We opened for the Doors. We were the house band at Gazzari’s on the Strip. I was 16 at the time. It was incredible.” But rock ’n’ roll glory was fleeting. “My mom told me, ‘You’re either going to go to college or you can get a job,’” he explains. “I didn’t want to cut my hair, so I took the GED and went to L.A. City College.” He entered as a music major, but quickly discovered that was a bit different than jamming into the psychedelic night on the Sunset Strip. “I’d look around those practice rooms and I realized, I’m not really that good at this,” he says, “so I got out of music.” Branca excelled in other classes, however, and thus began his transition from a kid who’d “hated high school and junior high” to a blossoming student. “I knew then, ‘I have something,’” he says of his newfound academic confidence. After getting mostly A’s at LACC, he transferred to Oxy as a junior, majoring in political science. “It was a whole other level of academic rigor,” he says. “I loved Occidental. The professors were incredible.” Graduating cum laude and scoring well on the LSAT, Branca matriculated at UCLA School of Law, completing his studies in

1975. He took a position at Kindel & Anderson in estate planning—a “ridiculous” fit, he admits, “but I was happy to have a job at a top firm. I did really well on estate planning at UCLA”—and his professor, Susan Prager, served as Oxy’s 13th president decades later. A 1975 Time cover story on “Rock’s Captain Fantastic,” Elton John, prompted a career shift for Branca. “There was a quote from an entertainment attorney,” Branca recalls. “I had never really thought about that job.” He started to think about it. After applying to several entertainment firms, Branca was offered a position at Hardee, Barovick, Konecky & Braun in its corporate department reviewing contracts and setting up corporations for a client list that included Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, and George Harrison. Branca’s mentor, David Braun, “thought I was too square to be one of the music guys,” he says. “They had a guy who set up corporations for Dylan and did the touring contracts, but he wouldn’t get to hang out with the client. I got put in that division.” Branca handled all the clearance work for Renaldo & Clara—a docudrama-concert hybrid co-written, directed by, and starring Dylan, which was released in 1978 with a nearly four-hour running time. (“It’s about the essence of man being alienated from himself and how, in order to free himself, to be reborn, he has to go outside himself,” the future Nobel laureate told Playboy interviewer Ron Rosenbaum.) He was also tasked with talking Dylan out of investing in the business of “a friend from Minnesota who claimed he could extract hydrogen from water. [Braun] didn’t want to be the one to tell Bob no, so I had to be the one to deal with this—which was ridiculous, but I got to spend time at Bob’s house in Malibu when I was 26 or 27.” The turning point came in 1978, when Warner Bros./Reprise chairman and CEO Mo Ostin dispatched Branca to deal with the Beach Boys and their mercurial leader, Brian Wilson, after the group’s attorney tried to deliver a Christmas album—on December 1, a bit late for the holiday season—to fulfill their contract with Warner (having signed a new deal with CBS). “I was this young punk of 27, but I stayed up all night long reading everybody’s memos,” Branca says. He ultimately wound up taking over the meeting— “There was one legal point that came up and


left: Branca applauds Michael Jackson, who received an honorary doctorate from the United Negro College Fund in 1988. below: With Motown founder (and 2007 honorary degree recipient)Berry Gordy Jr. bottom: Branca was honored alongside Jimmie Vaughan, Steven Tyler, and Carole Fields by the Musicians’ Assistance Program in 2003.

I quoted something from a memo I had read” —impressing the Beach Boys in the process. “And I became their attorney. That was my first client.” Branca’s stature quickly grew. In the realm of straight, cookie-cutter lawyers, he stood out with his rock-thin frame, longish hair, and hip wardrobe. It all appealed to a client list that would grow to include the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, John Fogerty, and Elton John himself. In 1980, Branca, then 29, met Michael Jackson, who had turned 21 and, fresh off the success of his breakthrough solo album, Off the Wall, was looking to create his own legal and management team apart from his family. “Michael and I hit it off right from the start,” Branca recalls. “Michael had a spark about him. He was funny. He was polite, he was inquisitive. He was always observing and learning.” Though Jackson could be childlike, his lawyer says he had another side. “He was ambitious, driven, and competitive. He’d never accept second best.” During Jackson’s lifetime, Branca was a force to be reckoned with, brokering heavyweight contracts as the star entered his solo heyday. In 1983, he scored an unheard of $1.2-million budget to finance the “Thriller” video (by selling Making Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller,’ a behind-the-scenes documentary, to MTV and Showtime—“It seemed odd that no one had ever thought of this before,” Jackson wrote in his autobiography). He spearheaded Jackson’s 1985 purchase of the ATV Music Publishing catalog—which included the songs of the Beatles—for $47.5 million (outbidding Paul McCartney in the process). Jackson’s estate sold its 50 percent

stake in Sony/ATV to Sony last spring for $750 million. “It took about a year,” says Branca of the deal, “and along the way he had investment advisers who told him it was way too expensive. And Michael would listen and smile and say, ‘Branca, get me that catalog.’” Branca worked with Jackson from “1980 to ’89 or ’90, then I came back in ’92 or ’93,” Branca says. “Then there were little gaps when some new person would come in. I stopped representing him in 2006.” On June 17, 2009, deep into rehearsals for a 50-date residency at London’s O2 Arena, Jackson hired Branca back. He died eight days later. Fulfilling the instructions laid out by Jackson in his will (signed in 2002), Branca and music executive John McClain were named co-executors of the estate by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff. As Branca tells it, “We told the judge, ‘This isn’t like the estate of the guy who used to run Exxon where you can hire Bank of America— you’ve got to make decisions on albums and copyrights and movies. That’s not for a bank.” “When Michael passed, it was a rough situation,” notes attorney Howard Weitzman, whom Branca tapped as the chief litigator for the estate. With Jackson reportedly $400 million in debt, “It was an uphill battle to sell assets and see if there was anything left, so we were very concerned about the children. John—along with McClain—managed to turn this around. As a lawyer, he’s about as good as it can get.” Branca and McClain’s efforts were nothing short of extraordinary: A May 2013 piece on “60 Minutes” called it “the most remark-

able financial and image resurrection in pop culture history.” They made new licensing deals. They coaxed a $60-million advance from Sony Pictures for a documentary drawn from footage of Jackson’s tour rehearsals (the resulting film, This Is It, grossed $261 million worldwide). They produced a pair of shows with Cirque du Soleil—a favorite of Jackson’s—and released an album of new music, Xscape, that sold 1.7 million copies in 2014. The estate has been debt-free for years. “Our retail sales, I don’t even know what they are anymore—$3 billion or something,” Branca says. “He knows the business better than anybody,” says David Dunn, who has worked with Branca on a number of projects, including the Jackson estate, and is now managing WINTER 2017  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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Uncle Ralph was also a great supporter of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier by joining the Dodgers in 1947. “He may have been the first person in the clubhouse to have welcomed him at a time when there were a lot of racists on the team,” Branca says. “They were lifelong friends.”

Branca was named Billboard’s 2016 Lawyer of the Year and ranks No. 47 on the magazine’s 2017 Power 100 list of “visionary label bosses, tech gurus, artist managers, and media moguls” in the music industry.

partner of Shot Tower Capital, a boutique investment firm in Baltimore. “John’s at the complex intersection of the artistic and financial components,” Dunn adds. “You’ve got artists who have particular viewpoints which aren’t necessarily aligned with monetization, you’ve got labels and publishers who are more focused on monetization, and you’ve got John, who over the course of his career has been able to bridge the gap and translate in both directions.” Driving into the gated Beverly Hills community in which Branca has lived since 1992, even the birds seem to be hushed in awe. On these serene, manicured streets reside Rod Stewart, Brian Wilson, and Sylvester Stallone. Eddie Murphy lives across from Branca, Denzel Washington a few houses away. Branca’s own palatial estate (which he built) resembles a vine-covered Italian villa. He’s collected Italian antiques for years. Rarely can one describe a home as “grand,” but it fits here. The spacious living room 16

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where Branca sits for an interview is packed with lovingly curated memorabilia of his lifelong passions, baseball and music. There are photos signed by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Doors. One of Jackson’s black fedoras sits at a rakish angle on the marble bust of a nameless Roman. There are framed racks of baseballs signed by most of the game’s greatest sluggers: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson, to name but a few. Branca also owns one of the most comprehensive collections of baseball cards in existence, dating back to a 1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb. He has a lot of Brooklyn Dodgers ephemera as well, and for good reason: His uncle was Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca, a three-time All-Star best remembered for delivering a ninth-inning fastball to New York Giant Bobby Thomson on Oct. 3, 1951, with the Giants trailing 3-2. Thomson’s three-run homer into the left-field stands—the “Shot Heard ’Round the World” —sent the Giants to the World Series.

Outside of his business and personal interests, charity work has been an enormous part of Branca’s life. He co-founded the Musicians’ Assistance Program in 1989, which partnered with the MusiCares foundation in 2004 to offer assistance to music industry folks in need. He’s active in a wide variety of philanthropic, environmental, and animal causes and maintains strong ties with Occidental as a trustee. He also participated in a 2013 alumni panel on the music industry. Even more recently, fatherhood—and baseball—brought Branca back to the Eagle Rock campus. “My 12-year-old son, Dylan, did a baseball camp two summers ago at Oxy, so I dropped him off every morning up at the baseball field,” says Branca, whose offspring also include daughter Jessica, 28, and son John Connor, 14. He’s been married twice—Little Richard presided over the first ceremony, with Michael Jackson as his best man—and is engaged now to model Jenna Nicole Hurt. These days the power attorney remains active in the business, but “I’m a little more balanced now,” he says. “I care more about my kids’ welfare now, but I still get very excited about new music and new clients.” Now Branca focuses his energies on labors of love—like working on the Cirque du Soleil shows, or moving the Bee Gees’ catalog to Capitol Records. “The idea that I had with Barry Gibb was, let’s take the Bee Gees catalog and put it next to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Stones, and Frank Sinatra, and work with a frontline music guy who’s used to breaking artists and will have fresh ideas on how to reintroduce the Bee Gees to a younger generation. To me, that’s fun—it’s not doing the same old thing.” His advice to those considering a career in entertainment law? “Music is not a growth business. Distribution is—Apple, Spotify. But being a music lawyer, the only reason you would do it now is because you love it. And that’s why I did it.” Peter Gilstrap wrote “Urban Outfitters” in the Fall 2016 magazine.


SCHOOL OF BARACK Prior to 2008, Occidental was best known in many circles as an academic “hidden gem” (and as a popular film location). But the nation’s 44th president put Oxy on the map—just as the College awakened Obama to his leadership potential By ANDY FAUGHT Photos by MARC CAMPOS

top: Oxy undergrads cheer the inauguration of Obama in Keck Theater on Jan. 20, 2009. above left: Obama coffee mugs from the Oxy bookstore. above center: Bobby Phillips ’12, Justin Morgan ’09, and Darrell Winfrey Jr. ’12 show their enthusiasm for Obama prior to the 2008 election. above right: Sending well wishes to the commander-in-chief.


left: A 1980 photo of Obama by Eric Moore ’83, juxtaposed against the same spot in 2017. inset: What is a “Jeopardy!” answer from 2016? above: Room A103 in Haines Hall, where Obama shared a triple as a freshman.

n route to a Pasadena jazz and art festival in 1980, the friends gathered at Oxy’s Lucille Y. Gilman Memorial Fountain to carpool to their destination. With arms crossed over his buttoned-down Hawaiian shirt, Barry Obama ’83 stood against the fountain’s parabolic steel formations and gazed eastward. Finding inspiration in the moment was Eric Moore ’83, who took up his Canon singlelens reflex camera and snapped a photo of his friend—an image that decades later would be reprinted in publications the world over. “It was spontaneous, a candid moment— I think I was the only guy who had a camera,” recalls Moore, a diplomacy and world affairs and economics double major and one of a small number of African American students enrolled at Occidental at the time. But Moore—an Oxy trustee and principal in the Los Angeles office of Avison Young, a global commercial real estate firm—claims another role in the evolution of the man who would be president. “I was the first person outside his family to only call him Barack,” he says. “He always went by Barry, for simplicity and as an accommodation to Anglo society. I said I would only call him Barack, because it was a strong African name. I like to think that I helped him free his mind. I don’t think we would have elected a man with a name that sounds like a soft fruit!” As Obama’s eight years in the White House came to an end in January, Occidental’s influences are writ large on the president’s development and legacy. But so is his 18

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impact on the College—in everything from a bump in admission applications to sales of Obama-related merchandise at the College bookstore. Oxy found itself at ground zero in the “birther” debate, with opponents challenging his U.S. citizenship—and more than once addressing the question “How can you call Obama an alumnus when he transferred to Columbia after two years?” To which we reply: Well, he is. Obama’s Oxy story begins in 1979, when the mixed-race son of a single mother enrolled at the College from Punahou School in Honolulu to be near his girlfriend. “I had graduated without mishap, was accepted into several respectable schools, and settled on Occidental College in Los Angeles mainly because I’d met a girl from Brentwood while she was vacationing in

Hawaii with her family,” Obama wrote in his 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father. “But I was still just going through the motions, as indifferent toward college as toward most everything else.” Before his political awakening, Obama was a guy named Barry, serving coffee and busing tables at the Tiger Cooler. Raised in Hawaii, but also having lived in Kansas and Indonesia, he felt at one with all of his classmates’ backgrounds, but particularly with international students, friends say. “Here you are in Los Angeles, even then such a vibrant city, and there’s no way that you can exist as a student without also existing as a citizen of the larger city, which I suspect that Barack, who has ambition, curiosity, and a sense of his own role, did,” says Patt Morrison ’74, a Los Angeles Times columnist and former Occidental trustee. “I think that was probably a very important factor for anybody like him, coming from a smaller place—Hawai‘i—where everybody knew each other, and getting a sense of the role of the College in the community, that it doesn’t exist as a thing apart,” she adds. “President Obama had a broad vision, and Oxy may have helped to bring him some of that vision.” Writing in The New Yorker in 2012, Margot Mifflin ’83 recalled witnessing Obama’s first public speech outside the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center on Feb. 18, 1981. “As the opening speaker at a rally


left: Eric Moore and Lisa Jack ’81 at the May 2009 opening of her exhibition, “Barack Obama: The Freshman,” in West Hollywood. below: Obama biographer David Maraniss speaks at Thorne Hall in October 2012. right: 1983 alumni Lou McKellar, Wendy Paeth, and Marcia (Wilkinson) Bagnall cozy up to their cardboard classmate at their 30th reunion in June 2013.

Photo courtesy Occidental College Special Collections

protesting Occidental’s investments in companies that were doing business in apartheid South Africa, he stood with one hand in his pocket, spoke in declarative spurts, and showed no sign of being the orator who would become President nearly 28 years later,” she wrote. “Before he could say much, he was carried off by two students pretending to be oppressive Afrikaners. … Decades later, Obama would spur a new generation of students into political action, forging a connection between ’60s radicals and media-savvy millennials. But in the winter of 1981, he was just testing his courage.” Following the anti-apartheid rallies on campus, he and Moore would typically retreat to Moore’s Wiley Hall dorm roof and listen to the social justice-laden lyrics of Stevie Wonder’s music and Bob Marley & the Wailers’ 1979 Survival album, the latter a call for pan-African solidarity. By Obama’s own account, his political genesis took root in two political theory courses taught by Roger Boesche, the Arthur G. Coons Distinguished Professor of the History of Ideas. In 2010, Obama said at the White House that Boesche’s classes “sparked my general interest in politics.” “During my first two years of college, perhaps because the values my mother had taught me—hard work, honesty, empathy— had resurfaced after a long hibernation; or perhaps because of the example of wonderful teachers and lasting friends, I began to notice a world beyond myself,” Obama

noted in a commencement speech at Wesleyan University in 2008. “By the time I graduated from college, I was possessed with a crazy idea—that I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change.” Listening to a radio broadcast of the speech, Boesche recalls, “It was really clear that he was transformed—not just by me, but by the environment of Oxy, the students, and the faculty. He went from a very bright, but not terribly serious student to a very bright and very serious person.” “What is striking to me is that when asked by any number of people about his formative educational experiences, the president cites his time at Occidental, particularly his political science classes with Roger Boesche,” says President Jonathan Veitch. “It’s clear that the liberal arts education he received proved to be essential equipment in dealing with many of the most controversial issues of our time. It’s no accident that this kind of education matters so enormously at that level.” In a letter last year to Boesche, anticipating his mentor’s pending retirement, Obama wrote: “Your classroom is where my interest in politics began. Posing questions that have challenged societies through the ages, your teaching and research remind us of the importance of constant inquiry and debate, lessons that are the core of our democracy, and that I’ve drawn on throughout my life, particularly in this Office. You helped instill passion for ideas, not only in me, but in the generations of students who found in your courses inspiration that would guide them forward.”

OBAMA ON OXY At a ceremony nominating Jeh Johnson as secretary of Homeland Security on Oct. 18, 2013, President Obama noted, “Your wife, Susan, and your daughter, Natalie, couldn’t be here because they’re visiting Jeh Jr. out at Occidental College, which, by the way, I went to for two years when I was young. It’s a fine college. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to say hi to him. But your son chose well.” “I became more socially conscious at Occidental even though I was partying— anti-Apartheid movement, starting to be interested in social policy and poverty and starting to study civil rights even if through the haze of a hangover,” Obama admitted to former senior adviser David Axelrod in a podcast interview in December. “That [started] giving me a sense of what a purposeful life might look like.” In a Feb. 6, 2015, speech in Indianapolis, Obama noted that prospective college students were looking for “fancy gyms and gourmet food and really spiffy dorms.” While he was at Oxy, he added, “There was something on the menu that we called roast beast, because we couldn’t really tell what kind of meat it was.” Going back to the campaign trail in 2008, at a fundraiser in San Francisco, Obama noted that his first roommate at Oxy was Pakistani. And in Haines Hall, he added with a laugh, “Indians and Pakistanis came together under one roof … to cause havoc in the university. … Those are friendships which have lasted me for years, and continue to this day.”

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far left: A resident of the Ivory Coast visiting campus with a tour group holds a T-shirt commemorating Obama’s Oxy connection on March 26, 2009. left: An October 2009 snapshot of BarOxyWear and the like available at the bookstore. below: Oxy’s bottom line was boosted by sales of “Change We Need” Obama diaper covers—a bookstore exclusive—after a mention on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

FOLLOWING OBAMA’S ELECTION IN 2008, LOCAL VENDORS DROVE FINISHED T-SHIRTS AND SWEATSHIRTS TO THE BOOKSTORE TO AVOID SHIPPING DELAYS. ITEMS WERE AVAILABLE WITHIN DAYS. After Obama announced his presidential candidacy in February 2007, among his earliest supporters was Denise Campbell Bauer ’86, who raised a total of $4.3 million for the president’s two election campaigns and was appointed by Obama as ambassador to Belgium in 2013. (Her stint ended in January.) “I decided to support Sen. Obama because I believed that his vision for our country’s future, combined with his intellect and integrity, would make him an outstanding president,” Bauer says. “He did not let me down. I am proud of all that he accomplished, and grateful that I had the opportunity to play a small role.”

above: The late Huell Howser, pictured with politics professor Roger Boesche, visited Obama’s Oxy haunts in 2008 for an episode of “California’s Gold.” right: U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Denise Campbell Bauer ’86 with the president.

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Prior to 2008, Occidental was arguably best known to many outsiders for two pop culture touchstones from the 1990s: “Beverly Hills 90210” and Clueless. Obama’s election changed that, and the excitement on campus was palpable. “This was Oxy’s first ‘go’ as president. We thought Jack Kemp (the 1957 Oxy graduate who ran for president in 1988 and as the Republican vice presidential nominee eight years later) had a chance, but he didn’t get there, so when Barack Obama was running there was widespread pride,” says Larry Caldwell, the Cecil H. and Louise Gamble Professor in Politics Emeritus. “Everywhere I went, people were saying, ‘This is amazing, it’s good for the College.’ There was a consensus even among Oxy Republicans that this was a good thing, to have a dynamic young president elected from our small college.” Oxy clearly has benefitted from its ties to Obama. From 2007 to 2009, applications to the College jumped nearly 14 percent, and the entering first-year class in the fall of 2009—578 students—remains the largest in College history. But that was due in part to Occidental admitting a larger number of students to offset projected admission decreases due to the recession, according to Vince Cuseo, vice president of enrollment and dean of admission. Even so, the Obama connection “did generate an amplified institutional pride for the Oxy community,”

Cuseo says, “with the attendant benefit of influencing admitted students’ lived experience when they were making their college decision. And I can confidently say it raised Oxy's visibility in the African American community, and gave us a stake in international markets.” Derek Shearer, the Stuart Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs and director of the McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, seized on the Obama presidency as a learning opportunity for students. He has taught (or co-taught with Caroline Heldman, associate professor of politics) three courses on the Obama presidency, one a senior seminar called Obama Foreign Policy. In the latter, two of his students—a Democrat and a Republican—met to “figure out what to do about Afghanistan and Iraq” after the Bush presidency. “They ended up having a diplomacy session over whiskey— they called it the Whiskey Summit—where they sat down and figured out a position that they both could live with,” says Shearer, the former ambassador to Finland under President Clinton. “It was really fun for the students. I was pressuring them to be practical.” Shearer also had a hand in developing a line of merchandise—dubbed BarOxyWear— for the Oxy bookstore, with fashion choices including “Barack Rocks” T-shirts, and a garment emblazoned with “1600 Campus Road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” (with a photo of White House and Thorne Hall pillars to drive home the point).


far left: A panel on “Deconstructing Obama” in April 2010 included Thalia Gonzalez, assistant professor of politics; Caroline Heldman, associate professor of politics; New York Times columnist Charles Blow; Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison ’74; and Huffington Post political editor Tom Edsall. Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs Derek Shearer joined the group. left: An oversized contact sheet of Lisa Jack’s photos of Obama hangs outside Haines Hall, his former Oxy residence.

Another popular item, a diaper cover, was adorned with words playing on Obama’s campaign message: “Change We Need,” with a replica Obama autograph on the tush. Following a story on NPR’s “Morning Edition” (by producer Ben Bergman ’04) and a pageone feature in The Wall Street Journal, the bookstore received 25 orders the next day. Other presidential sundries include mugs, hats, keychains, and pens. “We met with vendors before the election and chose graphics to put on merchandise in anticipation of Obama’s win,” says bookstore manager Donna Huebner. “They were ready to be produced the second it was announced he would be our next president.” Local vendors drove finished T-shirts and sweatshirts to the bookstore to avoid shipping delays. Items were available within days of the election. The bookstore even carved out space to sell books that Obama read in his introductory political science courses, including Herbert Marcuse’s OneDimensional Man (1964) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961) by Frantz Fanon. The bookstore sold the bulk of its items between November 2008 and Obama’s first year in office, but Huebner notes that she got a T-shirt order in early January. All totaled, BarOxyWear has netted the College more than $39,400 in sales. Even before Obama left the White House, efforts were already underway to commemorate his two years in Southern California. In December, California state Sen. Anthony Portantino introduced a resolution that would name the stretch of the 134 freeway between the 2 and the 210 the “President Barack H. Obama Freeway.” Days earlier, a marker was placed outside the Pasadena apartment (at 253 E. Glenarm Street) where

he lived as a sophomore—the brainchild of Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison. Already there’s a memorial outside of Haines Hall, his freshman residence, in the form of an oversized contact sheet by Lisa Jack ’81, whose student photos of Obama were first published in Time in 2008. In addition, Shearer is speaking with architect Hagy Belzberg about creating a monument located on the steps leading up to the Coons Administrative Center, where Obama made his first political speech. He also asked his study-abroad students to bring back to Eagle Rock Obama memorabilia from around the world. Oxy’s Special Collections has exhibited many of those items as well as others donated to or purchased by the College, and Shearer plans to install a permanent showcase inside the McKinnon Center. On a larger scale, President Veitch has been in conversation with senior advisers close to Obama about how to perpetuate the president’s Oxy legacy. “Both Barack Obama and Jack Kemp were profoundly shaped by books and ideas, the taste for which they first acquired at Occidental,” he says, adding that the College is amplifying its efforts to recognize Kemp’s contributions as well. Meanwhile, Eric Moore—the guy with the camera—is looking forward to reconnecting with Obama over a round of golf soon. The two last visited in 2014 in the Oval Office, catching up behind closed doors for 45 minutes while Moore’s then-3-yearold son was running around and eating fruit from the presidential bowl. “I was worried he was going to break something,” he says. And his old friend, the president? “I expect to see him again when he’s got the time.” At his 35th reunion next year, maybe? Andy Faught wrote “Triumph of the Shrill” in the Fall 2016 magazine.

ALTERNATIVE FACTS On April 1, 2009, a fake news story attributed to the Associated Press circulated that claimed that Barack Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia. Although discredited, Obama detractors —including a certain future president and leader of the “birther” movement— continued to demand that America’s 44th president release his birth certificate and that Occidental open his transcripts to scrutiny. (College transcripts do not detail financial aid sources.) The 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, guarantees that school transcripts remain private. Obama’s transcripts “have been under lock and key for the last eight years, and will probably remain there,” says Jim Tranquada, Occidental’s director of communications. “At one point there was a reward being offered for someone to leak the president’s transcripts.” (A bogus transcript, above, has been circulating online since at least 2011.) “Social media provides a medium where this kind of information, or misinformation, can go viral,” he adds. “Because of social media’s tendency to segregate audiences according to their own interests, you end up with this echo chamber. The fake AP story is still circulating today. I’m still seeing people post it on Facebook or Tweet it out.”

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YES SHE CAN Sara El-Amine ’07 joined the Obama campaign at ground zero as a bilingual volunteer in Iowa. Having organized thousands of volunteers as a Washington insider, she’s prepared to be a revolutionary on the other side By SAMANTHA B. BONAR ’90

Photo by JIM BLOCK


Photos (page 23-25) courtesy Sara El-Amine ’07

T WAS WhEN The Audacity of Hope met the audacity of youth. Recent graduate Sara El-Amine ’07 was contemplating her future and leaning toward law school when a friend loaned her Barack Obama ’83’s 2006 book (subtitled Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream). The Illinois senator’s message immediately hooked the young Muslim-American from tiny Duxbury, Mass., daughter of a Lebanese physician war refugee and an Irish-American mother. In short order, El-Amine quit her temp job in the harvard Office of Career Services, borrowed a friend’s car, and drove 1,300 miles to an old ice-skating rink in Des Moines, Iowa— headquarters of Obama’s first presidential election campaign. Upon arrival, the diplomacy and world affairs major announced that she had studied diplomacy, knew Spanish and was there to volunteer. “There were not a lot of us at Obama headquarters in 2007,” she recalls of her unpaid internship. “They had me do Latino outreach. I slept on someone’s dusty basement floor and ate a lot of cereal because I didn’t really have any money, and my mom kept sending me winter jackets because she was terrified about the cold.” “She’s always had a thirst to fight for justice. That’s why Obama’s message resonated with her so much,” says longtime friend and fellow DWA major George Simpson ’07, who spent a semester at Oxy’s United Nations program in New York City with El-Amine when they were students. A few months later, El-Amine was hired as a field organizer for the Obama campaign, training people how to caucus, and “then to all of our surprise and delight we won Iowa,” she says. In the leadup to the general election, El-Amine organized in Idaho, Mississippi, Texas, Indiana, Colorado, and Virginia. “I got hooked on organizing,” she says. We all know what happened next: Obama was elected president, handily beating John McCain, and El-Amine rose with him, eventually becoming the administration’s youngest female senior staffer. Obama “really believes that leadership has no age limit—it doesn’t look a certain way, and it doesn’t have to be a man or a woman. It can take any shape or form that

I

above: As executive director of Organizing for America, El-Amine oversaw 12 national issue campaigns, from gun control and immigration reform to the rollout of Obamacare. left: With Obama at an Organizing for America summit in April 2015. “The thing I value most about our relationship is how little it’s about us, the two of us, and more about Us,” she says.

action and power take,” El-Amine says of the opportunities that were given her. “I had no idea that Sara would go into politics,” says DWA professor Anthony Chase. “But I have a distinct memory of the first time she walked into my office with incredible flair and presence. So it is not at all a surprise that she has been able to channel that presence and engagement in the political world.” After the election, Obama launched Organizing for America (OFA), an advocacy arm of his presidency that would continue to promote the issues that he believed in. ElAmine was the first staffer hired, running the healthcare reform fight in Arizona, a task she thought would take three months but ended up lasting 13. “Our numbers there, our metrics, were better than any other numbers in any other

state,” El-Amine recalls. “Three-quarters of the way through the healthcare battle, headquarters asked me to share what I was doing that was different from the rest of the states. What I was doing—I thought it was really simple and straightforward—was holding trainings for my staff.” In fact, she was an outlier. Not many other states had codified that or other “best practices of the Obama style of organizing that we’d all developed together,” El-Amine says. She was subsequently asked to take on the role of deputy director of organizational development for the Democratic National Committee. After winning healthcare reform and losing the 2010 midterm elections, “the real action started,” El-Amine says. She became the first national director of training in American presidential politics. She developed WINTER 2017  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 23


right: Since the election, El-Amine has seen a “spike in interest in civic engagement and political activism from brand new people who want to get involved.” below: With Noah Glusenkamp ’07, left, and Brian McGrane ’06 during Obama’s 2007 campaign in Iowa. opposite page: With Obama in 2012, top, and 2015. I’m proud that he knows my name,” she says. “I know our relationship will continue because the direction of his work is the direction of all of our work.”

Photo by Jim Block

curriculum and four different types of training for professionals and volunteers alike. “We basically had training for every single thing that you needed to learn how to do, and a program,” she says. Training programs were state-specific. “Some states needed way more persuasion training than get-out-the-vote training. Some states needed a lot of volunteers who were experts in outreach to a specific demographic,” she explains. “The curriculum that we built is now used in thousands of progressive organizations across the country. And all those organizers have spread out and taken it with them and made it their own. It’s trained a new generation of organizers.” From that success, El-Amine was named national director of Obama’s re-election campaign. Following his 2012 victory, El-Amine was tasked with launching “the last generation of the Obama grassroots movement” as executive director of Organizing for America, training tens of thousands of organizers across the United States. “We fought on gun control and immigration reform, and we successfully implemented the first enrollment period for Obamacare,” she says. “We tracked minimum wage, successfully passed marriage equality, and passed new regulations on climate change at the state level.” 24 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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With 250 local chapters, OFA raised tens of millions of dollars for Obama’s legislative agenda, and El-Amine was the president’s point person outside of the White house for his political program. She ran his Twitter account @barackobama—with 86 million followers, “three times what Donald Trump has,” El-Amine points out—as well as his Facebook page and barackobama.com website. With 30 million names, OFA’s political email list is said to be the largest of its kind. She naturally developed a close relationship with Obama. “It’s been beyond incredible to have the opportunity to be up close and personal with someone who feels really mythical,” El-Amine says. “he is invested in helping train the next generation of community organizers. I consider him a mentor forever and a role model.” (“I call Obama ‘POTUS’ when I’m talking about him, but ‘Mr. President’ when I’m talking to him,” she adds.) On an even more personal note, El-Amine met her husband-to-be, online organizing guru Jeff Gabriel, working on Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “he helped build the incredible muscle that was the Obama grassroots movement in California,” she says. Gabriel is now chief of staff to Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, the country’s leading kids advocacy non-

profit. “We’re getting married on Labor Day in Colorado, a state that went blue this cycle,” she says with a smile. El-Amine stepped down from her post at OFA last September to work toward hillary Clinton’s election. “I wasn’t a representative of the president in the same way that I had been for the last nine years,” she says. “OFA formally couldn’t work on the hillary campaign, but I really wanted to defeat Donald Trump, particularly as he ramped up his Islamophobic rhetoric—I’m Muslim and Arab American—and his rhetoric against women.” El-Amine worked for a number of organizations “strengthening different parts of the progressive movement that were fighting Donald Trump,” she says. “And he won the presidency despite everything everyone did. Organizers are needed now more than ever.” As an independent consultant in San Francisco, El-Amine works with organizations such as Moveon.org, Safe hands for Girls, Take on hate (a project of ACCESS Michigan that’s fighting Islamophobia), and civic tech companies in the Bay Area like Brigade (which is building a new tech platform for civic engagement). She remains on the training advisory committee for the Obama Foundation and on the OFA board.


Ironically, “The activists who are the most experienced and most knowledgeable about our political system at this moment are some of the most disenchanted and depressed people in the country right now,” El-Amine says. “A lot of us are trying to regain the feelings of hope and idealism that powered us for so many years.” The problem, as she sees it, is “we don’t actually have equal-opportunity access to democracy in our country,” El-Amine says. “Registering to vote is tough. Figuring out how and where to volunteer to move the needle on any given issue is tough. And unless we’re actually training people on basic civics, and how a bill becomes a law, and how members of Congress are influenced by their constituents, and what types of events or protests are effective, people will take action with the same confidence and ignorance as Donald Trump has on the other side. “I think being on my own and having my own consulting practice means I get to be a revolutionary in the broadest sense of the word,” she adds. “I get to be in five or six or seven battles at once. As a strategic adviser, and someone who’s helping those battles be more efficient and smarter. My obsession is always efficiency.” hearkening back to her education, she adds, “Oxy gave me incredible, diverse, critical thinker friends; professors whom I am in touch with to this day; a strong, disciplinary framework in diplomacy and world affairs and econ; and polished writing skills. Most importantly, it was a safe, supported space for me to explore and grapple with my mixed racial identities—just as it was for President Obama.” “Sara is very creative, which gives her the ability to see through complex situations and predict who’s going to be a winner and who she should get behind,” Simpson says. “She’s also extremely driven by values, many of which she learned from her family. I always joke with her that being the oldest of five kids made her a really effective manager. She’s able to create purpose out of chaos.” “I’m trying to lower the barriers for entry for political participation for the average person, and we’ve never needed the average person more than we do now,” El-Amine says of her new focus. One of her clients is Jaha Dukureh, a 26-year-old Gambian who was named to Glamour magazine’s 2016 Women of the Year list for her successful battle to

make female genital mutilation illegal in her country. Now she is expanding her campaign to other countries in Africa, and “I’m advising her and helping her turn all that enthusiasm into structure,” El-Amine says. “Sara has done so much for us,” Dukureh says. “She literally came and helped build all of our strategies, from how we recruit volunteers to how we raise money. Not only that, Sara has formed a bond with our team and become like a big sister to us. She is always there to answer a phone call or email. To me, it’s that moral support that she gives us that is so important.” “Organizing has given me the tools to face another person, no matter how different they are from me, and see the beautiful humanity and value in them and the similarities between us,” El-Amine notes. “Organizing teaches you that with 80 percent of the public, if you meaningfully engage people, drop your shoulders, smile and listen with an open heart, there’s really nothing you can’t do and

they’re more fired up than ever,” she says. “They’re getting organized and they will respectfully resist, and I know they’ll be successful. As organizers it’s our responsibility and our privilege to fight through all of this.” “It’s my opinion that in this next year at least we have to fight this battle on multiple fronts because we don’t know if [Trump’s] going to attack women first or Muslims first or the sick, so I’m really trying to put my energy in a lot of different places at once and be as nimble as I possibly can for now until we know what the resistance has to actually look like,” El-Amine says. “And then I will drop whatever I’m doing and go full bore.” “She’s optimistic, but realistic,” Simpson says. “She gets things done. We don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I know Sara will be one of the leaders guiding us through.” “That’s my next mission,” El-Amine reveals. “Some people really want to change the world—I think we need to train the world. Training the world is changing the world.”

there’s no group of people you can’t unite around some shared mission or some shared set of values. And from that a set of actions.” While admittedly “depressed” about Trump’s win, El-Amine remains heartened by the fact that legislation passed on the state and local level in the last nine years will be difficult for the Republican-controlled Congress to touch. “The second thing that gives me hope is we trained tens of thousands of new community organizers. They’re still out there. And WINTER 2017  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 25


Midway through his eighth year in office, President Veitch reflects on the accomplishments and controversies that have shaped his time at Oxy so far—and why he’s bullish on the challenges and opportunities ahead

NO BULL


A Q&A WITH

JONATHAN VEITCH By DICK ANDERSON Photo by MAX S. GERBER

Not long after his arrival at Occidental, President Jonathan Veitch had a conversation with the head of the Huntington Library —a former president of Reed College. Asked to compare the two experiences, he replied, “The Huntington is the mission of Reed without the noise.” “Oh my God, I would miss the noise,” Veitch recalls thinking, “because the noise is the commotion of democracy.” That was Veitch’s “working hypothesis” going into the job in 2009, he says. It’s been tested more than once in the 71/2 years since, as student and faculty protests over College policies have sometimes threatened to overshadow his administration’s considerable accomplishments, from academic initiatives to capital improvements. In a wide-ranging interview, Veitch— whose current contract with the College runs through 2020—reflects candidly not only on the fallout from the protests but also the unexpected rewards of shaping an institution, Oxy’s progress on its 5-year-old Strategic Plan, the perils of parenthood, and the roads not traveled. Looking back to your arrival at Oxy, what were your expectations for the presidency? I don’t know what I expected. You don’t come into a position that had four presidents

in five years and think that everything’s going to be easy. So certainly I had some idea that there were challenges, and maybe I was a little bit overconfident in my abilities to address them. You can’t control what you can’t control. I also don’t think I fully appreciated what a deep source of satisfaction it is to have a hand in building an institution. The closest most people get to that is child-rearing. And, much like being a parent, there’s the same sense that while it’s out of your control at some point, some of your DNA will stay. I look around Oxy and I see the DNA of Remsen Bird, Dick Gilman, John Slaughter, and so many others. Like your predecessors, you’ve had your share of controversy in dealing with students and faculty. You’ve experienced protests over sexual misconduct, the 2015 sit-in, and the vandalism of a 9/11 memorial. What have you learned from this? Ironically, if you were to take a cross-section of Americans and create a focus group around any one of these issues, I probably would have been the person closest in terms of the political concerns to the students and the faculty that were protesting. So the old phrase narcissism of small differences [a term coined by Sigmund Freud in 1917]—I think WINTER 2017  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 27


we are susceptible to that. We have small ideological differences that get magnified. Meanwhile, there’s a whole world around us that needs attention. To be more specific, we live in a culture in which sexual assault is rampant. Colleges and universities are not primarily responsible for that culture, but they are part of that culture. The activists’ call for a renewed and more invigorated role is the right one. Instead of being resigned to a culture that one feels one can’t control, colleges and universities have an obligation to intervene. And the way they can intervene most effectively is through education early and often, to make their processes more transparent, and to provide resources to survivors of sexual assault. We have learned that you can have the best policies in the world, but if you have mediocre execution you can be nowhere. Now we are creating a campus culture where we’re attentive to the way we execute our policies, and then examine our execution on a regular basis. The sit-in also is an example of how campuses can’t escape larger cultural phenomena. People rightly expect that colleges and universities will provide leadership on important issues. As an institution, Occidental made an early commitment to diversifying its student body. It is one of the top five liberal arts colleges in the number of Pell Grant recipients from underserved communities. But that was never meant to be an end in itself. That’s the foundation for a conversation, a culture, a curriculum, and a way of orienting oneself to the world. That is our next challenge. But I don’t think we’ve done a very good job at holding that conversation. We live in a culture that is so deeply polarized that people don’t talk to one another. They demonize each other, and thoughtful discussions are kind of a rarity. We have to become a place for thoughtful discussion in which we can disagree and profit and learn from our disagreements. I think we can do it with respect, tolerance, thoughtfulness, and an appreciation for complexity. If these issues were easy, they would have been solved by now. They’re not easy. There are cultural, historical, social, political, and financial factors involved that make them infernally complex. We owe it to ourselves as a community to be able to create the circumstances where people can talk effectively. 28 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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Does it bother you that some of your most vocal critics are faculty? Yes, but some of my strongest supporters are faculty as well—I wouldn’t be here without them. For those who are critics, I would submit that we are actually closer than people imagine. I think that sometimes the critics haven’t taken the time to find out what the College is doing on those issues and given us the benefit of the doubt that we care about some of the same things they do. What have you learned from your dealings with students in particular, and if you had the chance to do something over again, what would you do differently? The thing that attracted me to being a president in the first place is working with students. But this job is all-consuming, and

that I’m more inspired by them than they are by me. There’s a kind of worldliness and sophistication and appetite for the world that I hope I had at that moment in my life. I don’t know that I did. Have you had the opportunity to reflect a little about leadership style and what’s effective and what isn’t? In this job, you can be “right” and still lose the battle. As I said, I wish we could find a way to talk to one another in thoughtful ways that acknowledge complexity and nuance and differing points of view. We seem to prefer the grand confrontation of political theater to thoughtful discussion. If you are, as I am, fundamentally an introvert compelled to play the role of an extrovert, that political theater doesn’t come naturally. I can do that, but I prefer a one-on-one discussion. “We’ve made immense Who do you turn to for advice? Who’s in your inner circle? progress trying to leverage I’ve been blessed with having very good leadership on the Board the resources around us. of Trustees and Faculty Council. Business people call them So I talk frequently to a number of our trustees and faculty. I talk underappreciated assets. to my counterparts at the ClareLos Angeles is one vast mont Colleges. I talk to my wife. And actually, I talk a lot to my colcollection, to my mind, of lege-age children, because there’s underappreciated assets.” no one with a bullshit meter better than a late adolescent— particularly your own children. They the access I have to students is limited. I am are very good at saying, “You should phrase searching for more informal ways that I can it this way,” or “I wouldn’t go there,” or engage with our undergraduates so we can “Here’s what students are likely to think.” have a less high-stakes conversation about As a president with two children in the things that they’re most concerned with. college, you’re simultaneously a leader in, I think by the time it gets to a protest, you’re and consumer of, higher education. Has not likely to have the kind of conversations that provided you with any insights? that you want to have. Going on a college tour with your chilSo I would find ways to reach out to stu- dren is a sobering experience. You see just dents more. For example, I recently went to how much faith and hope parents put into a pub night and talked to some of our seniors the institutions to which they send their chiland was so deeply impressed with the work dren, and just how foundational it is for althey are doing. One student was working on most every single thing that’s going to be the politics in Jane Austen’s novels; another important in their lives. I always had a keen was studying soccer hooliganism as an ex- sense about my responsibilities, but they pression of working-class culture in Europe were sharpened through that experience. and the differences between that and workWhat parents most want from a college ing-class culture in the United States. education for their son or daughter is that Do you keep in touch with many for- their future is assured in some way or other. mer students? One of the very tangible things I came back I do. I have a set of students that I’m very with was a real commitment to our career close to that I like a great deal. And I suspect services, because a liberal arts education is


absolutely the best preparation for any potential career, even if the major doesn’t exactly map onto what someone might do. But I don’t think that parents and students fully appreciate that. So our Hameetman Career Center becomes vital in helping our graduates make the case effectively for themselves. I also saw how polished our competitors’ communication is so that eventually almost all colleges start to look like one another. And that was a small epiphany for me because I thought I had an acute sense of our distinctiveness. But I came away wondering if we’re able to communicate that adequately and separate ourselves from the pack because they all talk about international education and civic engagement. The last revelation from these tours is a certain amount of humility. When my daughter was touring a school in New England that I fell in love with, I turned to her afterward and asked, “What’d you think?” And she said, “Did you notice the tour guide? Well, he was wearing flip-flops.” And I said, “Big deal.” She said, “Well, did you notice that he had an extra toe?” That’s all she’s going to remember about that college. And I was crestfallen because I thought that this is a great place for her. And she doesn’t want to go there because the tour guide has an extra toe. So should our tour guides all wear closed-toed shoes? (Laughing) Exactly. If you ran across a high school senior on campus, how would you sell Occidental to them? I would say that what a residential college offers is close relationships with faculty members, a set of friends that will become lifelong, the ability to talk through more readily the challenges of any particular assignment, the opportunity to participate in athletics—things you can only do in a particular place and time. And I wouldn’t say it this way to a high school senior, but it’s awesome. But in addition to Oxy’s signature programs—study abroad, the Kahane United Nations program, Campaign Semester, undergraduate research—I would also cite all the things that probably are too far distant for them to think about: their friendships, their intellectual passions, the foundation for their career, questions about what brings meaning to their lives, even a potential partner. What do you say to parents about the high cost of higher education?

Photos (pages 27, 28) by Marc Campos

We’ve had the lowest tuition increases in the last 20 years over the last several years, but we’re keenly aware that for some middle-class households student debt has made college an almost impossible stretch. One of the things the forthcoming comprehensive campaign will be focused on is scholarship support, not only for families of modest means but middle-class families as well. So is Oxy able to meet the financial needs of all of its admitted students? We’re able to meet full demonstrated need of all the students we admit. But there are only a handful of colleges and universities that are need-blind. We are need-sensitive, which means that we turn away some students that we would love to have here because we just don’t have enough financial aid money to go around. But the students we admit, we support fully—another reason we need to raise more money for scholarships. Our

future fundraising efforts are designed to extend this support. What are the biggest misconceptions you come across in talking with alumni? There’s a misperception about the management of the endowment. Thanks to Ian McKinnon ’89, Chris Varelas ’85, and the work of the Board of Trustees investment committee, we have exceeded our benchmarks for the last decade. Another misconception is that the curriculum isn’t as rigorous as it may have been in the past. Quite the contrary. While the curriculum will inevitably change over time, the core skills that Oxy teaches—interpretation, analysis, effective communication, etc.—are very much the same. I think that alumni sometimes imagine that this is a campus that is immersed in constant controversy, and that it consumes our entire bandwidth. And the truth is, those WINTER 2017  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 29


Oxy at 130: The College Today “I believe fervently that the best preparation for success in a career is a liberal arts education,” Veitch says—and that takes a commitment to leveraging Oxy’s assets and growing its resources. Here’s a snapshot of the College on his watch.

31 Tenure-track faculty hires since 2010. Oxy’s student-faculty ratio is now 10:1, with 179 full-time faculty in the classroom.

6,409 Applicants to the Class of 2020, an all-time high.

9 Major capital improvement projects completed since June 30, 2009. The list includes Swan and Hinchliffe halls, the McKinnon Family Center for Global Affairs, Choi Auditorium, Samuelson Alumni Center, a 1-megawatt solar array, Alumni Fitness Center, Rose Hills Student Activities Center, the Mullin Campus Entrance, and Hameetman Career Center.

207% Increase in fundraising from fiscal year 2008-09 ($12.2 million) to 2015-16 ($25.2 million).

38 Participants in InternLA last summer— one offshoot of a renewed commitment to career development.

$ 371.7 million Endowment as of June 30, 2016—up from $273.8 million when Veitch took office in 2009.

268 Study-abroad participants (for credit) in 2015-16. An additional 15 students participated in Oxy’s Kahane United Nations program last year, while another 16 students were full-time interns during Campaign Semester in fall 2016.

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controversies float on the surface of a much deeper intellectual enterprise that’s going on every day in our classrooms and laboratories. I get letters from alumni all the time, and occasionally some criticize Occidental for being too PC. I think we do have a problem with political correctness, so that’s not a misconception. One alumnus wrote me a letter about Campaign Semester and a student who was doing research on Occupy Wall Street. I sent him a list of the research projects across the College—everything from molecular research to medieval French peasantry to post-apartheid politics in South Africa— to give him some idea of the breadth of the work that our students are doing. Do you think Occidental has gone too far to the left? The general sense that Oxy is a left-leaning campus is accurate—I’m not going to pretend otherwise. But I don’t think that we are unique in that. Certainly if you walked on the campus of Berkeley or Pomona or Bard or Barnard, you’d find essentially the same circumstances. I don’t really believe it’s my job to proselytize for one political point of view or the other; it’s up to students to make up their own minds about that they believe. But does it make it difficult to get the financial support of older alumni, for instance, who disagree with the College’s direction? Yes, it does. So how do you address that? I tell them that the things they cherish most about Oxy remain the same. When I was relatively new as a president, I attended a yield event in San Francisco, to which we invite admitted students and their families to hear more about the College. As part of the program, the admission office asks alumni from different eras to talk about their undergraduate experiences. And you could have put a blindfold on and not known when they had graduated. That said, we do need to make overtures to bring disenfranchised alumni back into the fold. I often use the example of the late Jack Kemp ’57. He cared deeply about social issues and had market-based solutions for those concerns. He was very active in civil rights, and brought ideas to political life. I don’t think it’s an accident that people like Paul Ryan look to him as a political mentor. So we created a Kemp Distinguished Speaker Series that brought Condoleezza Rice to

campus last spring. We welcomed David Brooks [the conservative-leaning New York Times columnist] to my first Commencement as president. It has to be our business to challenge people’s views on the right, in the center, and on the left. In these pages in 2012, you said: “We must reinvigorate our curriculum, make the case for the liberal arts to our prospective students and the public at large; and define the skills and qualities of mind that we want our students to possess when they graduate.” To that end, the College came up with a strategic plan titled Mapping the Future of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, with six key initiatives. How do you feel that’s going? I was very pleased with the way that we put the strategic plan together, because all the key stakeholders—faculty, trustees, alumni, staff, and even students—weighed in. At bottom, the strategic plan recognized that the thing that set Oxy apart was our location. But what does it mean to be in Los Angeles? It means being part of our local community. Our students and faculty are very active in everything from local high schools and K-12 on college readiness, to working with homeless shelters and battered women’s shelters. So there’s a high level of student activity in our community, which we have tried to expand and support. That’s meant doing things as banal as maintaining a vanpool that will get our students out into the community. Los Angeles also provides innumerable opportunities in terms of cultural institutions as well as employment opportunities. We’ve expanded our Hameetman Career Center and invested in internships so that our students have the opportunity to work in Silicon Beach, and the entertainment industry and financial services. We’ve developed partnerships with institutions like the Huntington and the Autry. Our next initiative is to develop a footprint around entertainment and media, where our students can take full advantage of Los Angeles as a global center in these fields. The city also is unique in its location and three distinct ecosystems—our oceans, deserts, and mountains—that present other opportunities. So we are in the midst of a renovation that’s going to use our new Cosman Shell Collection and Moore Bird Lab as the basis for an environmental science program that will be a marquee program for us.


We’ve made immense progress from that simple notion of location, and trying to leverage the resources around us. Business people call them underappreciated assets. To my mind, Los Angeles is one vast collection of underappreciated assets. And if we’re smart about the way we draw connections to those assets, the sum will be greater than its parts. Our goal is to build a profile as the most distinctive urban liberal arts college in the country. What is Oxy going to look like 10 years from now? In some ways I would say Occidental will be very much the place that its alumni remember, regardless of when they graduated. It will be technologically more sophisticated. The curriculum will continue to evolve. It will be stronger in terms of career readiness so that our students go out prepared for the marketplace. It will be much more tied into its location and leveraging that advantage more effectively. I think it will be known more for key programs like the Kahane United Nations program, the McKinnon International Center, our environmental science program, and our new arts programming on York Boulevard. And we will be more effective in communicating that. The bigger challenge for us is around the sciences. I just hung up the phone with the president of Union College, which is building a $100-million integrated science facility. Liberal arts colleges have to attend to the sciences. For most academic disciplines, a good professor and a classroom will meet your needs. That’s not enough in the sciences. Looking at fundraising, few Oxy presidents have raised as much money as you have (more than $136.6 million from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2016). So is it a stretch for Oxy to raise its game? That’s going to depend on a handful of outsized gifts, but I like our chances going forward. I can say that, to my surprise and delight, I enjoy fundraising. It matters enormously to Oxy’s future, and we have incredibly generous alums who are willing to support the College if you can make the right case to them. We’re in a race, and if you’re standing still, you’re losing ground. We need to be as nimble and as aggressive as our peers. The biggest existential threat to colleges like Occidental is affordability. Scholarships are crucial, and in a way they’re a proxy for the endowment. For a lot of people, the en-

experience—a love of books and an appetite for, and curiosity about, the world. I want our students to have an appreciation of complexity, a respect for intellectual culture, and a capacity for reflection. That’s the legacy I want to have as president of Occidental. Had you not gone into academics, what would you be doing right now? It’s funny you should ask that, because I used to think about that all the time. One of my favorite books is by Studs Terkel called Working, where he interviews everyone from detectives to factory workers to astronauts. And the truth is, I could imagine a dozen careers on any given day. I’ll tell you how I became a professor, and it goes back to a job that I had working in a public parking lot in Santa Monica. I shared this job with a guy who always wanted to work on sunny days because he could double park the cars and “I think it’s within our pocket the extra money. I always wanted to work on foggy capacity to raise $1 billion days because it meant nobody by Oxy’s 150th anniversary showed up and I could read all day. I thought, “This is amazin 2037. That will require ing. I’m earning $3.50 an hour to read Thoreau. What job can building a fundraising I get where somebody’s going to pay me to read books?” So I operation that is the best became a professor. in our class, and I truly According to the most recent survey by the American believe we can do that.” Council on Education, the average tenure of a college or that doesn’t mean that their interiors have university president is seven years. How to be staid and traditional. We’ve added to does it feel getting past that milestone? I was flipping around channels the other the legacy of Beatrix Farrand through the night, and I came across professional rodeo. beautiful Mullin Entrance. Finally, we’ve put some real muscle be- And I became mesmerized by the bull-riding hind why a liberal arts education matters and competition. I thought to myself, Why am I why it’s the best foundation for success. I’m so interested in this? Then I realized that a particularly proud of this, because other lib- professional bull rider and a college presieral arts colleges have gone to nursing and dent have a lot in common. In an increaspre-business programs in response to wor- ingly challenging environment for anyone ries that they won’t be able to command the working in higher education, I’m proud of tuition unless they have clear trajectories. staying on the bull, and not getting bucked Our answer is that our career services is off. It’s a modest victory, but it’s not an ingoing to provide a scaffolding around a lib- significant one. So eight years as president is compaeral arts education so that when students graduate, they’re ready and competitive for rable to eight seconds on a bull? (Smiling) That’s an interesting question. the best-paying jobs that are available. What do you hope your legacy will be? I think I made it past the qualifying time. I’m I don’t think it’s been achieved yet, actu- now in the running for real points. But that’s ally. Outside of my personal life, my deepest the bare minimum for a college president: commitment in life has been my intellectual Staying on the bull. dowment is an abstraction, but a student who’s benefitted from a scholarship is very real. So we need to tell those stories about how transformative Oxy was in changing the course of a life. How would you say you’ve made an impact on Occidental? We have established that we can raise serious money for this institution. We have addressed some long-standing capital needs, from renovating Swan Hall and the Rose Hills Student Activities Center to replacing Taylor Pool and expanding the McKinnon Family Tennis Center very soon. And we’ve done so with a set of design principles that I’m really proud of. The Hameetman Career Center and McKinnon Center for Global Affairs are beautiful additions. We have this gorgeous historic Myron Hunt campus, but

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OXYTALK

Works in Progress Author and associate professor Lisa Wade examines the college hookup culture through a sociologist’s lens—in addition to renovating a 130-year-old home in her adopted New Orleans Photos by Jackson Hill

Wade (shown in her New Orleans home) will be speaking at almost three dozen campuses in seven cities nationwide on the issues raised by American Hookup.

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Associate professor of sociology Lisa Wade fell in love with New Orleans during an extended visit to the city eight years ago—so much that she put down roots there. Knowing she could never afford to own a home in Los Angeles, buying a “small house in a humble neighborhood” in the Big Easy instead made sense to her—particularly once she decided to take a two-year leave of absence from Oxy to work on her newly published book, American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus (Norton, $27). “It’s the city that care forgot,” says Wade, who in 2014 bought a fixer-upper in the city’s St. Roch neighborhood near the historic French Quarter—a dilapidated shotgun shack that she has been renovating while completing the book. “It seemed like something I could do to embrace my love of New Orleans and enable me to spend more time there, and give that city some tender loving care.” While American Hookup was received enthusiastically upon its release in January— including a high-profile excerpt at Time.com and a mostly positive review in The New York Times—Wade’s side project has proved more challenging. “I’ve spent every penny I’ve ever made in my adult life on that house,” she says, adding that the structure basically “dissolved the moment I bought it.” Home-improvement plans are temporarily on hold, however, as Wade takes to the road on a seven-city, three-month tour (“with a nice two-week break for Mardi Gras in the middle”) to promote American Hookup. She will be speaking at almost three dozen campuses nationwide on the issues raised by her book, which examines aspects of race, class, and gender under the guise of the “hookup


OXYTALK

above: Within a day of its publication, American Hookup was the No. 1 new release in Gender Studies, College and University Student Life, and Psychology of Sexuality on Amazon. left: “I’ve never owned a home before, so it was definitely a throw-youinto-the-deep-end-andtry-to-survive-type situation,” Wade says.

culture” that has come to dominate romantic relationships on campuses today. Having spent the last five years examining the issue through a sociologist’s lens, “What I get from students is that they’re really grateful to see the rules of hookup culture laid out clearly,” she says. “It’s a relief that someone has been able to put clear, nonjudgmental words to their experiences—just someone who stands up and says ‘I see what you’ve been going through.’” While Wade previously published a textbook, Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions (Norton, 2014), writing a trade book for a nonacademic audience raised the bar for her efforts. “I tried my hardest to do a good job and threw myself into it,” she says. “I had a lot of responsibility, because I had 101 students [whose survey results form the core of her research] counting on me to represent them in a way that was authentic. My care for them, my tenderness toward them, is the heart of that book.” Wade is already working on ideas for a new trade book—one possibility would examine political unrest on college campuses, the debate over safe spaces, and the snowflake generation. A big motivation, she admits, is the expense involved in renovating her new New Orleans home. “I’ve been slowly

but surely trying to patch it back up,” she says of the 130-year-old, 1,200-square-foot home. The first thing Wade did was split the space in half, creating two 600-square-foot apartments—one that she could rent out, and the other to stay in during breaks from school (with cats Oliver and Otis). While the rental apartment is complete, Wade is still working on her own living quarters. She replaced and painted all of the home’s siding. Her favorite renovation has been raising the ceiling in her portion of the home up to the roofline and building a sleeping loft over the hallway. “I took the wood from the original ceiling, flipped it upside down, and used it for the floor,” she says. The old clawfoot only had one foot—“I managed to buy new feet. Just little by little.” When asked what she loves about the Crescent City, Wade answers like a typical sociologist—but one with a romantic streak. “New Orleans is a city that has suffered so much pain and deprivation, so much poverty and corruption—so much evil really, being a hub of the slave trade—that its culture has had to put a premium on the pleasures of life that cannot be taken away,” she says. “The pleasure of a cool breeze on a hot day, the pleasure of food and drink, the pleasure of horns playing music—the way they rattle

your neurons. No matter how poor you are, your tongue still tastes and booze still makes you feel woozy. Those pleasures are the only real pleasures in life. Everything else is just invented and imposed upon us. “Los Angeles is a really interesting contrast in that sense,” she continues, “and how much of the pleasure we are told to have comes from exclusive access, status, and titles. I think that’s why I’m attracted to New Orleans, because it’s the most human place I’ve ever been.” Wade will be returning to Los Angeles this summer to prepare for the 2017-18 school year, when she will be teaching gender, research methods, and introduction to sociology. She has also written the first three chapters of her next project, a sociology textbook that she hopes will “revolutionize the approach to Sociology 101 in this country.” Instead of a dry textbook, “My goal is to make it an intellectual journey,” she says. “I really want to take a student down a path and feel like they’ve really grown as a person in the process of reading it. I think that learning sociology should be mind-altering and it should be riveting and it should be emotionally powerful.” But first, Mardi Gras. —samantha b. bonar ’90 WINTER 2017  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 33


OXYTALK

Lessons From

Campaign Semester For the 14 undergrads who worked on campaigns nationwide, they learned a lot about American values, grassroots politics, messaging, T-shirts, and the myth of the perfect candidate Photo by Marc Campos

Campaign Semester participants Mickey Yao ’18, who worked on Jacky Rosen’s successful U.S. House race in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District; Meghan Hobbs ’18, who hit the trail for GOP congressional candidate Jack Martins on Long Island; and Ricardo Parada ’17, who worked on the Nevada Coordinated Campaign in Las Vegas.

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While the 2016 election felt all but inescapable for most of us leading up to the November 8 vote, 14 Oxy students lived and breathed nothing but politics as participants in Campaign Semester. Scattered across nine states around the country, students spent 10 weeks in the trenches of some of the most heated races up and down the ballot. While receiving college credit for their internships —still the only program of its kind in the country—they had front-row seats to the most memorable election of a generation. “These students learned a lot about themselves, they learned a lot about democracy and its flaws and strengths, and they learned a lot about America,” said Peter Dreier, the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, who organized the program with politics professor Regina Freer. “Even though this was for many of them a depressing outcome on the national level, most of them somehow have hope that we can overcome this and turn America into a better place, because they met people who don’t fit the stereotype. They saw how complicated people are.” In sharing their findings at a gathering in Choi Auditorium on December 8, a number of common threads emerged among the students’ experiences. Interestingly, they all concurred that the Electoral College should be abolished. Among other conclusions: There’s more to winning a race than just looking good on paper. “We get obsessed on the Democratic side with building the perfect candidate,” said Seth Miller ’18, a politics major from Vermillion, S.D., who worked for Tammy Duckworth’s U.S. Senate campaign


OXYTALK

Cooper photo by Alex Tricoli

in Chicago. “I don’t think that’s what is necessary. We need more candidates like Barack Obama who are legitimately inspiring and legitimately connect to people—not just candidates with the right track record and resume.” Choose a candidate whom you believe in. “If you’re not 100 percent in and passionate about what you’re doing, it’s going to be not fun,” said Mackenzie Bretz ’18, a politics major from Edmonds, Wash. She picked Florida House of Representatives candidate Dan Horton—who lost his race to the Republican incumbent— “because he was young, passionate, exciting, and looking to make a lot of changes.” The Oxy network is alive and growing in politics. Katharine Tobler ’17, a politics major from Ijamsville, Md., was recruited to work on Chris Koster’s gubernatorial campaign in Missouri by Alexis Greco ’13, who participated in Campaign Semester in 2012. Tobler signed on because Koster “stood by Planned Parenthood and women, which I really liked,” she said. “I also thought it would be a really interesting experience to go to Missouri, and it definitely was.” There’s more than one way to spin a spat. As a member of North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper’s communications team, “I saw how much power there is in marketing and messaging and how a message is framed,” said Arianna Sue ’17, a politics major from Elk Grove. “We spent a lot of time talking about how HB2 [the transgender bathroom law] was affecting the economy vs. the inhumaneness of the law.” The strategy worked: While Donald Trump carried the state by more than 173,000 votes, GOP incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory lost to Cooper by 10,277 votes. Grassroots politics can truly make a difference. “I did a lot of phone calls and knocking on doors,” Bretz said. “It’s easy to get discouraged when people are mean to you. But I learned that most people are genuinely good people and want to learn and hear what you have to say. When you have that moment when you see someone understand what your candidate is trying to do, it makes every other moment when someone slams their door in your face worth it.” No one feeds you, unless you count the occasional pizza. In the thick of a political campaign, “You don’t have the blessing of

far left: Sign in hand, Hobbs stumps for Jack Martins on Long Island. left: Seth Miller ’18 worked on Tammy Duckworth’s successful Senate campaign in Illinois.

above: He’s with her: Ronald Chan ’18 of Hong Kong worked for the Pennsylvania Democratic Coordinated Campaign. left: Arianna Sue ’17, Manjun Hao ’19, Carson Malbrough ’18, and Joscelyn Guzman ’18 canvassed for votes in Raleigh, N.C., for Roy Cooper, who upended incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory.

the Marketplace or the dining halls on campus to walk to,” said Joscelyn Guzman ’18, a religious studies major from Modesto, who also worked for Cooper. While she packed her own lunches and bought groceries every two weeks for the majority of her time in Raleigh, in the election’s frenzied final weeks, “you have to throw homemade cooking out the door,” she added. While many were shocked by the Donald Trump victory, there were inklings of it in the field. Carson Malbrough ’19, a politics major from Los Angeles who campaigned for U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross in Raleigh, saw a lot of enthusiasm for Trump at the North Carolina State Fair in October: “There were a lot of angry white guys wearing ‘Lock Her Up’ T-shirts.” In talking with prospective voters in Pennsylvania, “I didn’t get any sense of excitement [for Hillary Clinton] that I think was probably there with Obama,” said Milo Keller ’18, a politics major from Graton, who worked for the state’s Democratic Coordinated Campaign. “That was worrying to me.” Red state or blue state, we can all get along. “I really valued my talks with people, such as my host family in North Carolina,” said Manjun Hao ’19, an undeclared major

from Beijing who campaigned for Cooper in Raleigh. “I learned about the beautiful history of North Carolina and all of its artists and writers. What I took away helps me not to judge people. We need to sit down and talk. We all just want a good life.” “It blew my mind how people from different coasts can have similar values and ideas,” Sue noted. “I think those are shaped by their experiences more than where you live.” Guzman concurred as well: “Even though we may disagree, people take care of each other and care about one another.” Don’t skip the midterms. To effect longterm change, especially at the local level, “We need to find ways [to make voters] care more about elections every year. We can’t care just about the presidential elections,” said Ricardo Parada ’18, a politics major from New Mexico who worked for the Nevada Democratic Coordinated Campaign in Las Vegas. “People devalue elections, but every vote matters.” The Andy Beattie ’75 Endowment for Campaign Semester has been established in memory of Beattie, who volunteered with the White House Office of Advance for more than 20 years before his death in 2014. For more information, contact Kim Beattie at kbeattie@oxy.edu. WINTER 2017  OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE 35


PAGE 64

Mistress Quickly, left, and Falstaff from the Providence Point Players production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Talley, below. Photos courtesy Nancy Talley ’53

The Gray’s the Thing For the members of Nancy Talley ’53’s retirement community repertory, there’s no age in stage

As a junior at Eagle Rock High School, Nancy (Boyden) Talley ’53 got her first exposure to Shakespeare—Sir Laurence Olivier’s Oscar-winning 1948 adaptation of Hamlet. “I had never seen a man in tights,” says Talley, who has taught the Bard’s canon and watched 290 stage productions (including 14 Hamlets) over the last seven decades. Now she has combined her love of drama and passion for teaching into an opportunity for a small group of seniors at Providence Point, an over-55 community of 1,008 homes in Issaquah, Wash. Talley leads a drama class for two hours each week over eight weeks. One dress rehearsal later, the troupe takes to the stage for three performances. (Their most recent production, The Merry Wives of Windsor, played to packed houses in November.) It’s a readers theater; the actors use scripts because there simply isn’t enough time to memorize their lines. Even so, they understand the plays enough to put on an exceptional show. 64 OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

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“What delights me is the fact that our audience is laughing at the subtle jokes that Shakespeare tucks in,” Talley says. “This is a fine tribute to my cast, as it means they know who they are playing and really get Shakespeare’s language.” The average age of her students is 80, and while some of them have theater experience, most have never acted before. Some of Talley’s best actors first sign up for the class wanting only to be stage assistants. By the next play, Talley says, they want some lines, and after that they want a bigger role. “One woman told me, ‘I didn’t have any idea I was an actor.’ And she is. She’s wonderful.” While she never set out to be a director, teaching was always part of Talley’s career plan. She majored in physical education at Oxy and taught modern dance for several years before two spine injuries prompted her to pursue a new path. She continued teaching, this time with teenage mothers trying to finish their high school education.

In 1979, she took an interest in senior issues and went back to school for a master’s in human development specializing in gerontology at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. Talley began counseling senior women, which she loved. She moved to Providence Point in 2004 because of the learning in retirement program, and began teaching the drama class six years ago. “I cannot imagine my life without Shakespeare,” Talley says, quoting classmate Ming Cho Lee ’53, the Tony-winning theater set designer and professor at the Yale School of Drama. But her troupe stages other shows as well, from Harvey and Mame to Guys and Dolls and The Producers. Next up is the annual dinner murder mystery, an improvisational show for which Talley’s class devises the situation and casts a stage full of suspects. (This year, it’s The Curious Case of the Cranky Custodian, set at the 50th reunion of a senior class sock hop.) “The audience decides who done it, so every character has to have a motive and an alibi,” Talley says. The combination of teaching and drama still thrills the tireless educator. “When you see an idea click in somebody’s brain, and they get something new to think about or chew on, it’s very satisfying to me,” Talley says. “I have people come up to me now and say, ‘My teacher ruined Shakespeare for me. I didn’t realize Shakespeare was so exciting.’” “She brings such energy and love for the material,” says Tony Curry, a professional actor and executive director of Providence Point’s learning program. “In my career, I have done Shakespeare, but I don’t have the wealth of knowledge she has regarding the plays.” “In this community, we’ve done everything, from doctors to auto mechanics, but we’re not actors,” says Gordon See ’54, who acted in Providence Point’s drama program for years before recently moving across town. “Nancy is able to help this group understand the poetry and the meaning of what Shakespeare was saying 400 years ago.” While her classes savor the opportunity to perform the Bard, Talley whittles the plays down to a running time of about 90 minutes, including a 10-minute intermission. No easy task, but “I have become pretty good at it,” she says. “The trick is to keep the story and the characters. You do lose some of the beautiful language, but our audience can’t take more than that. They are old, too!” —ashley festa


OXYFARE  FROM THE BOG PRESIDENT

Volume 39, Number 1 oxy.edu/magazine OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE

Jonathan Veitch President Kerry Thompson Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Vince Cuseo Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid Rhonda L. Brown Vice President for Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer Amos Himmelstein Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Charlie Cardillo Vice President for Institutional Advancement Erica O’Neal Howard Acting Dean of Students Marty Sharkey Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jim Tranquada Director of Communications editorial staff

Dick Anderson Editor Samantha B. Bonar ’90 Contributing Writer Marc Campos Contributing Photographer Gail (Schulman) Ginell ’79 Class Notes Editor SanSoucie Design Design DLS Group Printing OCCIDENTAL MAGAZINE

Olivia Sabins Athletics Department Services Coordinator

Black marble cardigan with orange Oxy paw Made in USA by U-Trau Sizes S-XL, $49.95

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

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

Letters may be edited for length, content, and style. Occidental College online Homepage: oxy.edu Facebook: facebook.com/occidental Twitter: @occidental Instagram: instagram.com/occidentalcollege Cover photo: Max S. Gerber Oxy Wear photo: Marc Campos

Dear Alumni, Parents, and Friends, I am pleased to report that Occidental College alumni engagement is on the rise. As a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors since 2013 (and current BOG president), I see firsthand the many ways in which Oxy graduates are contributing to the life of the College. Whether through increased activity at regional events, participation in affinity groups, support for admission and career development efforts, the loyal reporting of nearly 70 class secretaries in these pages, or the success of Oxy’s Annual Fund and planned giving programs, alumni are getting involved in record numbers. The Alumni Association, through its Board of Governors, helps to facilitate communication between the College and its former students. Working closely with Oxy administrators, the Alumni Association keeps alumni informed, interested, and active in the affairs of the College through publications and a broad program of alumni activities; represents the views of alumni to the administrative leadership and Oxy Board of Trustees; acts as a coordinating agent for the many diverse alumni groups interested in maintaining ties to the College; assists in student-recruitment efforts across the country and internationally; and aids in the development of unrestricted financial support to meet the College’s highest priorities. Oxy has recently updated its alumni website (alumni.oxy.edu), making it easier than ever for you to connect with old friends, special events, and campus developments. Also, be sure to check out the Oxy Switchboard (oxy.switchboardhq.com), where you can offer your services to students and alumni as well as ask for help with your needs. Each of us shows our dedication to the wellbeing of Occidental through the time, treasure, and talent that we contribute with our volunteer efforts. On behalf of the board, I encourage you to communicate with us through the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement so that we can collectively and effectively contribute to Oxy’s continued prosperity. Io Triumphe!

O CC I D E N TA L CO L L EG E

Save the Dates: June 23-25

Alumni Reunion Weekend 1967

1972

1977

1982

1987

1992

1997

2002

2007

2012

Welcome the Class of 1967 into the Fifty Year Club! (And, hey, Class of 1992— it’s your 25th anniversary!) All Tigers are welcome back to Occidental! Join your fellow alumni returning to campus to reconnect with friends, relive your youth (or at least try to), and rediscover the magic of Oxy.

Get involved! If you have any questions about Alumni Reunion Weekend or would like to serve on your reunion planning committee, please contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement at 323-259-2601 or alumni@oxy.edu.

Snapshots From San Francisco January 30

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Charles McClintock ’68 President, Board of Governors

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Nearly 100 alumni, parents, and friends of the College gathered at the Battery for a fireside chat with President Jonathan Veitch. 1. Lucia Choi-Dalton ’89, Rod Diridon, trustee John Farmer P’98, and trustee Gloria Duffy ’75, who conducted the Q&A. 2. Bob Williams ’47 and Betsy (Helter) WIlliams ’46. 3. CJ Cruz ’14 and David Sohm ’70. 4. Becky Siegel ’09, Kathleen Jo Luevano ’09, and Kevin Adler ’07. 5. Ray Yen ’92 and Gloria (Clark) Short ’56. 6. John Willsie ’92 and Nicholas Lee ’10.

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Photos by Colson Griffith

alumni.oxy.edu


WINTER 2017

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

Nonprofit U.S. Postage Paid Occidental College

President Veitch on the Commotion of Democracy

Oxy and Obama: Eight Years Later

Address Service Requested

WINTER 2017

When Christine Ray ’59 enrolled at Oxy, she was on very familiar ground. Her grandparents, John and Gertrud Addison, moved to California from Michigan and built their home at the corner of Escarpa Drive and Campus Road in the early 1920s. As children, she and her older brother loved to explore the campus. Russ Ray ’57 was the first to matriculate, and she followed two years later. Chris has vivid memories of Clancy’s Sunday morning breakfasts of sausage and sautéed apple slices made with butter and cinnamon. She enjoyed living in Erdman and Newcomb halls as well as the Gamma House, and fondly recalls language department chair and professor James G. Bickley, who taught Spanish with a Southern accent. An education major, Chris taught elementary school in Carmel after college along with some of her friends from Oxy. She was playing bridge on Cannery Row when she met Emlen “Bill” Holmes in September 1962. Bill was taking a year of Russian in the Army Language School at the historic Presidio of Monterey after completing two years in the service. The couple was married in Johnson Hall on June 22, 1963, with professor of religious studies Franklyn Josselyn, the College chaplain at the time, officiating. “It was elegant and beautiful,” Chris says.

Chris hailed from a family of teachers—her mom, aunts, uncles, and so on. She taught for a total of 28 years, including 20 years of kindergarten at Mayfield Junior School in Pasadena. And her family inspired Bill, a graduate of Williams College, to go into education as well: He taught at South Pasadena High School for 30 years before retiring in 1995. Chris and Bill enjoyed their experience as Oxy parents. Their son, Bill ’88, majored in Spanish studies, with a minor in art history and visual arts, and worked for two College legends: food director Clancy Morrison and professor of art George Baker ’58. The younger Bill married a classmate, Marybeth Maury ’88—and Photo by Marc Campos their son, Sam Maury-Holmes, enrolled at Oxy last fall, much to his grandparents’ delight. Chris and Bill Holmes continue to give to Oxy because, “oddly enough, our backgrounds at small liberal arts residential schools are similar,” Bill says. “We are pretty well committed to that model.” Chris appreciates the personal attention she received as a student and treasures the lifetime friendships that began at Occidental. Having created four charitable gift annuities to the College, Chris and Bill agree that supporting Oxy is beneficial for everyone. Bill calls it a “win-win-win all the way around. It is so important to sustain institutions like Occidental, because education is a worthwhile cause.”

oxy.edu/magazine

Occidental College Office of Gift Planning M-36 | 1600 Campus Road Los Angeles CA 90041-3314 | Phone: 323-259-2644 Email: giftplanning@oxy.edu | oxy.edu/giftplanning | facebook.com/BenCulleySociety

OXY’S GREATEST OLYMPIAN: SAMMY LEE ’43 REMEMBERED /// WHAT’S NEXT FOR SARA EL-AMINE ’07?

A Benchmark for Success

BEING JOHN BRANCA Legendary music lawyer John Branca ’72 discusses his Hall of Fame clientele, his baseball card collection, and his crowning work on the Michael Jackson estate

Occidental College Winter Magazine 2017  
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