While Barack Obama ’83 is the best-known example of an Oxy student who has made a difference, he is part of a century-old Occidental tradition of service, both at home and abroad.
Former congressman and Buffalo Bills quarterback Jack Kemp ’57 was the first Oxy alumnus to run for president, standing as a candidate in the 1988 Republican presidential primaries and serving as Bob Dole’s vice presidential nominee in the 1996 race.
Kemp followed in the footsteps of Robert Finch ’47, who outpolled Ronald Reagan in 1966 when he was elected lieutenant governor and Reagan governor of California. The former Oxy student body president turned down Richard Nixon’s offer to be his 1968 vice presidential running mate, but later served as U.S. secretary for Health, Education and Welfare.
Other examples of Oxy public service include:
- U. Alexis Johnson ’31, who served as U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Thailand, and Japan, headed the American delegation to the U.S.-Soviet SALT talks, and served as undersecretary of State for political affairs.
- Janette Sadik-Khan ’82, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation
- Leon Dostert ’28, chief of the languages division at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, who helped develop the simultaneous translation system now used at the United Nations
- Gloria Duffy ’74, former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of Defense and special coordinator for cooperative threat reduction
- John Parke Young ’17, who served as chief of the U.S. State Department’s Division of International Finance and helped draft the charters of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank
- Angelica Salas ’93, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
- Toshiro Shimanouchi ’31, who served as Japanese ambassador to Norway, Japanese consul-general in Los Angeles, and translator for Japanese prime ministers
- Carmen Chu ’00, San Francisco County supervisor
- Richard Falkenrath ’91, former deputy commissioner for counterterrorism for the New York Police Department, and deputy Homeland Security advisor to President George W. Bush
- Acquanetta Warren ’78, the first African-American to serve on the Fontana (Calif.) City Council, and now currently serves as mayor