Occidental College Annual Report 2019-20

Welcome to the 2019-20 Occidental College Annual Report.


Long before I first took office as Occidental’s 16th president on July 1, the global COVID-19 pandemic proved inescapable, as it dominated the agenda. Following the guidance of public health officials and in line with Oxy’s own top priority of protecting the health and safety of the College community, we made the difficult decision to pivot to remote teaching and learning in March, and then again, in July, to continue functioning remotely in the fall.

Predictably, this decision had a significant financial impact on the College, producing an estimated $33 million deficit for the 2020-21 academic year. After imposing hiring and salary freezes, cutting departmental budgets and other measures, we made the painful decision to furlough more than 120 non-academic employees for whom there was no work with only a handful of students on campus.

But while COVID-19 has brought challenges, it has also brought out the best in our community. With ingenuity and initiative, the Oxy faculty pivoted quickly and creatively to online learning, creating new courses designed to take advantage of our virtual environment. Faculty and students collaborated to put on live theatrical and musical events and keep signature programs like Campaign Semester and the Kahane U.N. program up and running. Oxy staff worked long hours, including nights and weekends, to replicate the Oxy academic experience remotely.

Despite the pandemic’s disruption, we now have raised more than two-thirds of our $225 million goal for The Oxy Campaign For Good, including new student scholarships and endowed professorships. The resilience, dedication and creativity I have witnessed on and off campus, and the continuing support of alumni, parents and friends over these first months of my presidency, have convinced me of Occidental’s potential and herald the College’s future as a national leader in liberal arts education.

Harry J. Elam, Jr.

Day For Oxy Delivers For Good

With a goal of raising 420 gifts on Founders Day, April 20, to support the College’s immediate needs, including technology equipment, academics and financial aid, the inaugural Day For Oxy shattered all expectations. As part of The Oxy Campaign For Good, the online campaign generated 2,297 gifts for a total of $1.34 million, including 879 gifts totaling $187,197 to enhance the student-athlete experience.
Campus view with tree

Edgerton Scholarship Program Announced

Thanks to a gift from trustee Louise D. Edgerton ’67 M’69 and husband Brad, a $3.2 million challenge fund will create the Edgerton-Occidental Merit Scholarship Program, a $9.6 million endowed fund that will make it possible for talented middleincome California students to attend Occidental for the same cost as attending the University of California. When fully funded, the program will support up to 12 California students each year with an annual scholarship of at least $40,000 that will make Oxy tuition comparable to the University of California’s in-state tuition. The first scholarships are expected to be awarded to three incoming members of Occidental’s Class of 2025

Jacqueline Woodson

Oxy Launches Community Book Program

President Elam interviewed longtime friend and author Jacqueline Woodson about her 2019 novel Red at the Bone on August 18 to launch the College’s new Community Book Program, in which the entire Oxy community was invited to read the same book and come together to discuss its themes and importance through shared programs. Joining the conversation were James Ford, associate professor of English, and Kitty Lu ’21, ASOC president. The yearlong program will continue this spring.

MLK Day Sees Record Participation in 2020

A record turnout of 260 students, faculty, alumni and staff participated in community-based projects as part of Occidental’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event on January 25. Volunteers helped out at an urban farm, worked with foster youth, assisted food banks and beautified surrounding neighborhoods.
Jesus Maldonado

Upward Bound Program Celebrates 55 Years

Alumni tutors and graduates of Oxy’s Upward Bound gathered on campus February 1 to celebrate the program’s 55th anniversary. “Oxy Upward Bound has helped thousands of lowincome, underserved students from local public high schools to graduate and continue on to become the first in their family to attend college,” says current program director Jesus Maldonado ’00. Over the last five years, 99 percent of Oxy Upward Bound students have advanced a grade level or graduated from high school, and 90 percent of those who graduated from high school went on to enroll in college.

Kemp Speaker Jeff Flake

2020 Kemp Lecturer Assesses Future of Conservatism

On February 5—the day the Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump in his historic impeachment trial—former U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.) expressed deep concern about the future of the Republican Party as Occidental’s 2020 Jack Kemp ’57 Distinguished Lecturer. “Not much in Washington is driven by philosophy or principle now,” Flake, right, told moderator Grant Woods ’76 before a large audience of students, faculty and alumni in Thorne Hall. “On core big issues that the president defines as important and rallies the base on, if you are contrary on those, you will have a hard time.” 

panel of Obama Scholars speaker guests

Obama Scholars Panelists Revisit Landmark Decision

“Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: Lessons Learned and Where We Are Today,” the third in Occidental’s Barack Obama Scholars Program Speaker Series, was presented February 27 in Choi Auditorium. The panel discussion explored the historic repeal of the U.S. military policy that banned openly gay, bisexual and lesbian personnel that was signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama ’83. The panel included Army Sgt. First Class Freyja Eccles, left, an Iraq War veteran and active duty transgender soldier with 21 years of service.

Oxy Completes New Aquatics & Tennis Centers

What holds 598,000 gallons, contains 15 lanes and has a capacity of 188 people (once social distancing becomes a thing of the past)? Oxy’s new De Mandel Aquatics Center, which was completed last spring. The $17 million facility—which replaces 90-year-old Taylor Pool—awaits the return of the Tigers to swimming and water polo competition in 2021. On February 7, the Tigers tennis teams played their first home match in more than a decade at the newly remodeled McKinnon Family Tennis Center, which was dedicated in fall 2019.

"The Class of 2024 at a Glance"

6,939 applicants
41% admit rate
402 First-Year Students
42% Students from California
8% international students

The 2019-20 fiscal year was thrown for a loop in the last quarter by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite unexpected revenue losses and increased costs associated with a shift to remote learning and necessary health and safety measures, Occidental managed to balance its budget for the 11th consecutive year. This was accomplished by imposing a hiring freeze and shutting down buildings, resulting in lower utility expense.

As of June 30, 2020, the College’s endowment stood at $439.1 million, a 2 percent drop over the previous year. This reflects the dramatic disruption of global financial markets by the virus.

As we look ahead, the pandemic’s financial impacts will continue to be significant. The Oxy Campaign For Good, which seeks to raise a total of $225 million to build the endowment and meet other needs, remains crucial to the College’s future. As of January 19, 2021, commitments to the campaign totaled $ 165,951,227—an encouraging sign despite the setbacks due to the virus. We appreciate your continued support.

Amos Himmelstein
Chief Financial Officer

Christopher Varelas ’85
Chair, Investment Committee
Occidental College Board of Trustees

Endowment Performance

Average annual compound returns as of June 30, 2020

  Occidental Endowment 70/30* Benchmark
1 year -1.4% 4.6%
3 year 4.2% 6.2%
5 year 4.6% 6.1%
10 year 6.9% 7.8%
15 year 6.1% 6.1%

*Invested 70% in global stocks (as measured by the MSCI All Country World index) and 30% invested in U.S. bonds (as measured by the BC Aggregate Bond Index).


Enrollment-based revenues $88,596,871 65.8%
Endowment support designated for operations $21,441,495 15.9%
Private gifts, grants and contracts $12,185,825 9.0%
Federal and state grants and contracts $7,843,826 5.8%
Auxiliary services (bookstore, conferences, filming, catering) $2,087,484 1.6%
Other $2,519,047 1.9%
TOTAL $134,674,548  


Instruction $44,324,180 34.9%
Auxiliary services $22,171,173 17.4%
Student services $17,731,519 13.9%
Institutional support $14,649,069 11.5%
Academic support $10,853,860 8.5%
Advancement $7,575,665 6.0%
Public service $6,221,712 4.9%
Research $3,643,891 2.9%
TOTAL $127,171,069  

2019-20 Giving

New Gifts & Pledges by Source

30.6% trustees, 36.1% alumni, 15.5% corporations and foundat

Trustees $12,436,709
Alumni $14,704,021
Corporations & Foundations $6,303,210
Donor-advised Funds $1,183,071
Parents $856,014
Friends $1,297,168
Trusts & Estates $3,859,410
Staff & Administration $43,718
TOTAL $40,683,321

New Gifts & Pledges by Purpose

13.0% The Oxy Fund, 29.1% endowment, 10.2% capital, 42.7 % u


The Oxy Fund (unrestricted current operations)* $5,278,407
Endowment $11,823,429
Capital $4,141,495
Undesignated $17,375,374
Other (includes restricted current operations) $2,064,616
TOTAL $40,683,321

*In recent years we reported Oxy Fund cash receipts, which included new gifts and pledge payments. The cash receipts for FY20 were $5,750,000.


New Gifts & Pledges by Type

41.7% revocable bequest intentions, 35.3% pledges, 23.0% new

New Gifts $9,340,725
Pledges $14,360,110
Revocable Bequest Intentions $16,982,486
TOTAL $40,683,321
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