Prager to Step Down as Oxy President
After extensive discussions with the leadership of the Board of Trustees, Susan Prager today announced her decision to resign as president of Occidental College.
Citing the long-term interests of the college, Prager will step down effective Dec. 31. She will take up her tenured appointment as a professor of history in January 2009.
“Occidental is fundamentally vibrant and healthy at its core, especially in how faculty work with students to build extraordinary academic and professional relationships,” Prager said in an e-mail announcement to the campus. “During my time as president, I worked to lay the foundation for a greater appreciation of this exceptional faculty, which demonstrates so well the synergies between teaching and research. I do hope that some of the ideas generated in our work together will continue to contribute to an even stronger Occidental over the next decade.”
Trustees thank Prager “for the many positive and lasting contributions she has made to the college during her presidency,” said board chair Dennis Collins. “We are delighted that Susan will be maintaining her association with Occidental and we look forward to her continued participation in the life of the college as a vital member of the faculty. She has earned an enviable reputation as an inspiring teacher and serious scholar over many years, and we are fortunate to now have her share those qualities with our students.”
The board will appoint an interim president who will be in place on Jan. 1, followed by the appointment of a widely representative committee to conduct a national search for a new president. Trustees are committed to having a new president in office by no later than July 2009.
“We are fortunate to have a highly experienced group of senior administrators and a remarkable faculty to work closely with the Board to carry out a smooth leadership transition,” Collins said. “We are confident in Occidental’s ability to attract an exceptional educational leader to build on the extraordinary momentum Occidental has generated in recent years – a momentum reflected in a wide range of achievements in student admissions, fundraising, faculty and student achievement.”
Occidental received more than 5,200 applications for approximately 455 spaces in the Class of 2011. Occidental’s student body combines both diversity and excellence: more than three-quarters of the first-year class graduated in the top 20% of their high school class; the same percentage receives some form of financial aid.
Awards to Occidental faculty in 2006-07 included a Fulbright, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Haynes Foundation, Campus-Compact-Carnegie Foundation, and at Princeton’s Davis Center for Historical Studies.
Occidental is one of the country’s top producers of student Fulbright awards among liberal arts colleges, and has one of the country’s best undergraduate research programs. Twenty-five Occidental students were accepted for the 2007 National Conference on Undergraduate Research, more than at UCLA, Caltech, Yale, and Stanford combined.
Occidental raised a record $25.7 million in gifts in 2006-07, reaching record heights for a third consecutive year and marking a decade of steady growth that has seen overall giving increase by more than 300 percent. The number of Occidental alumni making gifts also has grown, rising from 35 percent in 1997-98 to 44 percent in 2006-07.