President Elam announces the creation of a new multi-constituent commission that will conduct a comprehensive examination of the College’s intercollegiate athletic activities and programs.

Dear Oxy Community:

I am pleased to announce the creation of the new multi-constituent Occidental College Commission on Athletics (OCCA). Vice President for Student Affairs Rob Flot and I formed the commission to conduct a comprehensive examination of the College’s intercollegiate athletic activities and programs, with a focus on issues of competitiveness and diversity.

Occidental strongly believes that competitive intercollegiate athletics, wellness and sports participation are critical elements in our mission and vital components of a liberal arts education. Based on this belief, we have charged the Commission with assessing how each program is currently addressing competitiveness and diversity and what areas will require more investment to effectively address these issues (see full details below).

OCCA will look at facilities, equipment, and the allocation of coaching and support staff in order to understand the strengths of each existing program as well as where they can be improved. Notably, the Commission will consider how athletics operates in relation to the overall mission of the College—including how diversity can be increased through athletic recruitment—and its relationship with the academic program. In addition, Title IX and gender balance will be critical elements in the Commission’s review.

The Commission, which will be co-chaired by Athletic Director Shanda Ness and Associate Professor of Kinesiology Marci Raney '01, is scheduled to begin its work this month and will meet biweekly during the spring semester. OCCA’s members are:

Faculty: Linda Lyke (Art and Art History) and Movindri Reddy (Diplomacy and World Affairs)

Athletic Staff: Tyler Yamaguchi (track and strength and conditioning); Anahit Aladzhanyan (women's basketball); and Joe Gonzalez (athletic trainer)

Staff: Jordan Brown (Admissions) and Chris Arguedas (Intercommunity Cultural Center)

Institutional Advancement: Tamara Himmelstein

Students: Haley Carlton '23 (softball); Jazz Henry '23 (men's soccer); and Zoe Campbell '22 (women's tennis)

Alumni: Jackie Provost '02 (women's water polo); Erik Rasmussen '00 (baseball)

The Commission’s report and recommendations will be submitted to the vice president of student affairs and me by April 30.   

All the best,
President Elam


Occidental strongly believes that providing opportunities for sport participation through competitive intercollegiate athletics enhances the liberal arts student experience and helps the institution achieve its mission. Occidental recognizes the physical, emotional, mental, and social benefits that arise from athletic participation. Some 25% of Occidental students participate on athletic teams at Occidental. Accordingly, this is an important area of activity that we need to emphasize and to evaluate as to whether it is receiving the amount of attention and the resources necessary to thrive.

Building on the work of previous athletic task forces and strategic plans, this new Commission will conduct a comprehensive examination of the athletic activities and programs at Occidental. The focus will be on issues of competitiveness and diversity. The Commission will review all intercollegiate programs at Occidental to observe how they are currently addressing these issues and what areas will require more investment. OCCA will consider where and how each program can be strengthened and supported to best serve student-athletes and their College experience. OCCA will specifically review facilities, equipment, staffing, alumni support, Title IX compliance, recruitment processes, educational programs and leadership/diversity training.

The Commission will explore how athletics can be a more critical part of educating the whole student-athlete, mind, body, and spirit. Notably, the Commission will also consider how athletic teams and the program more generally operate in relation to the overall mission of the College and in consort with the academic program.

The Commission will deliver a report of its findings along with recommendations to the President and the Vice President for Student Affairs.


The Commission will work collaboratively with coaches, student-athletes, and alumni. It will actively seek input from the current student body through campus surveys and communications with members of ASOC, DEB, SAAC and other student organizations. It will examine previous athletic reports and review the recommendations. OCCA will also look at our peer institutions and institutions within the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) to understand what best practices can and should be adopted at Occidental.

Commission Makeup:

The committee will consist of 15 members and will be co-chaired by Athletic Director Shanda Ness and Professor Marci Raney. The Commission will have three student-athlete representatives, selected in consultation with the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) committee advisors, three Athletics staff, two additional faculty members, two alumni who were former student-athletes, an institutional advancement representative, and two staff members.


The Commission will begin its work in full in January 2021. It will deliver this report and recommendations to the President and Vice President of Student Affairs by April 30, 2021.

Contact the President’s Office
Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center, 3rd Floor

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