Jonathan Veitch, the Innovative Face of Occidental College

Once best known as President Obama’s former college, Occidental College is now gaining recognition for the work of its president, Jonathan Veitch. His work in community relations and green energy has taken the school known as Oxy to new heights.

Veitch began his professional career in the Midwest at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he served as an English professor for four years. His next stint was at The New School in New York City as a professor of literature and history. He also served as dean of the school’s liberal arts division.

In 2009, Veitch returned to California, succeeding Robert Skotheim as president of Occidental College. Veitch brought his track record of proven success at fundraising and engaging with the community at The New School. He also brought stability to Oxy, proclaiming a goal of remaining president for at least ten years.

Under Veitch’s direction, Occidental installed a 1-megawatt ground-mounted solar array, generating 11% of the school’s electrical usage. New construction projects included the Samuelson Alumni Center and renovation of Swan Hall, which houses much of Occidental’s faculty. Veitch’s strategic planning has involved community partnerships with Southern California’s cultural organizations.

Veitch’s education spans the United States. After graduating from Loyola High School in California, he received his B.A. from Harvard University. Returning to California, he next got his M.A. from Stanford. But then he once again traveled back to Harvard for his Ph.D in the History of American Civilization.

A native of Los Angeles, Veitch’s family has strong film connections. Alan Ladd, his step-grandfather, was an actor. Veitch’s father, John Veitch, was president of Columbia Pictures. Veitch himself considers American film one of his academic specialties.

Veitch published American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s. His academic specialties also include American literature from the 19th and 20th centuries.

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